The dangers of selective reading from the Bible
More than ever, Christians need to be humble and acknowledge the many potholes they can stumble into when interpreting the Bible to find answers for the pressing issues of our times. This is especially with regard to the issue of homosexuality. There’s a growing consensus that there are explicit dangers in reading the Bible which need to be avoided.
One of the dangers normally associated with traditionalism or fundamentalism is to isolate specific verses from their broader meaning or context, to read them literally and then to regard them as eternal and unchanging norms for your own life. A good example of this danger is the way in which women were forced for centuries to wear hats in church 1Cor.11.5. The same has been happening with the verses that refer to homosexual deeds (Lev 18:18, Rom 1:22 and 1Cor 6:9). The churches have been interpreting these verses literally then taking them as eternal absolute norms.
Today, most Biblical scholars agree that these verses were primarily aimed against sexual perversions like temple prostitution and pederasty that were practiced by the neighbouring heathen cultures. As such, many heterosexual men were guilty of these “homosexual perverted deeds”.
The second danger that is common in fundamentalism or literal interpretation is the inconsistent application of the literal method. This happens when the reader regards certain verses as eternal, authoritative truths while totally ignoring verses similar in context, style etc. For example some Christians read Lev 18:22 literally: “You may not lay with another man as with a woman, it is an abomination” and use it as an argument against all gay people.
While in the other hand verses like the law against the wearing of men’s clothes by women (Deut 22:5), or the wearing of clothes made of two different fabrics (Deut22:11), or the lending of money against interest to a fellow Israelite are completely ignored.