27 May 2020   |

Topic: Race, Homosexuality and How We Use the Bible

A common argument against homosexuality, and an argument for why it’s OK to discriminate against homosexual people, is that the Bible prohibits it.

Didn’t people once use the Bible to say the same thing about the integration of the races? Smuts van Rooyen has experienced that firsthand, and in our article this week he talks about how people use the Bible to support their prejudices. Excerpt;

Racist South African Christians used the Scriptures to justify their right to be separate and superior. The state received moral and theological backing for its apartheid policies from the Dutch Reformed Church (DRC). One proof-text used by the DRC was Acts 17:26, where the apostle Paul said of God, “From one man he made all the nations, that should inhabit the whole earth; and he marked out their appointed times in history and the boundaries of their lands” (NIV). This was used as a theology for the separation of ethnic groups. When the Lord saw the Tower of Babel going up, he said: “If as one people speaking the same language they have begun to do this, then nothing they plan to do will be impossible for them. Come, let us go down and confuse their language so they will not understand each other” (Gen. 11:6-7, NIV). So God was responsible for both the separation of races and the misunderstandings between them, they argued, and he intended it to remain that way. That white people would be superior in this relationship came from the story of Noah’s three sons, Shem, Ham and Japheth (Gen. 9:18-27), from whom “came the people scattered across the earth” (verse 19, NIV). Ham found his father drunk and naked, and he treated him disrespectfully. For this he was cursed to be “the lowest of slaves” to his brothers (verse 25, NIV). This has been widely interpreted to mean that the descendants of Ham were the dark-skinned races, and their curse was to serve white people

The hard truth is that virtually none of us accept everything that is in the Bible. Take the trial by ordeal as described in Numbers 5:11-31, where a woman who is suspected of unfaithfulness by her jealous husband must drink a concoction of dirt swept from the temple floor mixed with water to prove her innocence—if she gets sick, she is guilty. Our courts use rules of evidence, not the ingestion of filth, to determine guilt or innocence. Nor do we subscribe to being governed by either priests or kings. Democracy is Christians’ favorite form of governance, although it is not found in the Bible. We wear clothes made of more than one fiber, and we find mules useful, although in the Bible both were prohibited (Lev. 19:19). We reject all slavery outright, even though the Israelites were permitted to buy and trade slaves as long as they came from other nations (Lev. 25:44-46). Don’t get me wrong: I live my life marinated in the Scriptures. My grouse is not with the Bible, but with literalists who claim they accept everything in the Word but do not want to admit that they, too, use their reasoning powers to interpret the Bible and pick and choose what they want to support and oppose.

You can read the article from this link.


Loren Seibold, Adventist Today Executive Editor


Smuts van Rooyen is a retired pastor living in Central California. He holds an M.Div. and a Ph.D. in Counseling Psychology from Andrews University. His ministry was divided between teaching undergraduate religion and pastoring. He retired as the pastor of the Glendale City Church. He has been married to Arlene for a long time.


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Coming up:

  • 6 June: Raj Attiken on the sunk cost fallacy in church decisions
  • 13 June: Christopher Thompson on violence against unarmed black men in America

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