Christianity Today weblog on Swaggart:

To its credit, Christianity Today magazine’s weblog reports (thanks to Patrick Oden for the pointer):

Speaking of televangelists …

Crouch [a figure from the preceding story] isn’t the only TV preacher who needs help with his theology this week. In his September 12 broadcast, Jimmy Swaggart (remember him?) demonstrated exactly how not to oppose gay marriage. “I’m trying to find the correct name for it . . . this utter absolute, asinine, idiotic stupidity of men marrying men,” he said. “I’ve never seen a man in my life I wanted to marry. And I’m gonna be blunt and plain; if one ever looks at me like that, I’m gonna kill him and tell God he died.”

One might think that someone who has publicly experienced brokenness in his sexuality might be a bit more careful in his words. In this line of thinking, wouldn’t the prostitute that Swaggart hired have been justified in killing him?

Homophobia might be a word thrown about too carelessly by the left, but remarks like Swaggart’s are why the word exists in the first place. Let’s be “blunt and plain”: Biblically speaking, for a Christian minister to make such a comment is at least as sinful as it is for people to engage in homosexual activity.

The Canadian Radio Television Commission is investigating whether the broadcast, which aired on a Toronto station as well as several Christian stations in the U.S., constituted a criminal offense. The station that aired it apologized and called it “a serious breach” of Canadian broadcast regulations.

Jimmy Swaggart Ministries has removed the broadcast from its online archives.

One more related point: Leviticus 20:13 unfortunately does say “If a man also lie with mankind, as he lieth with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination: they shall surely be put to death; their blood shall be upon them.” I am very glad that most, likely nearly all, American Christians — and even those who tend to endorse a literal approach to the Bible — do not to my knowledge take this as a literal suggestion to kill homosexuals. I’m sure there are good Biblical arguments for why this passage ought not be taken that way, and I certainly hope that people follow these arguments.

But it seems to me that Christian leaders, especially in those denominations that do often speak about the importance of literal adherence to the Bible — and particularly stress the literal force of the Bible when citing Leviticus 18:22 (“Thou shalt not lie with mankind, as with womankind: it is abomination”) as their chief support for less militant opposition to homosexuality — be watchful for other Christian leaders who may have been unduly swayed by the isolated Leviticus 20:13 text, or who may in any event be reinforcing the tendency of some parishioners to focus on the isolated text.

Again, I stress that American Christians, including ones who are relatively literal in their Biblical interpretation, generally do not support killing homosexuals. Yet it seems to me that thoughtful Christians should be aware of the potential of Leviticus 20:13 to do harm (especially, as I said, when citing Leviticus 18:22), and should use those opportunities that arise to warn fellow Christians about it. The Swaggart outburst seems to me one such opportunity.

Comments are closed.

Powered by WordPress. Designed by Woo Themes