Can the love between two people ever be an abomination? Is the chasm separating gays and lesbians and Christianity too wide to cross? Is the Bible an excuse to hate?
Winner of the Audience Award for Best Documentary at the Seattle International Film Festival, Dan Karslake’s provocative, entertaining documentary brilliantly reconciles homosexuality and Biblical scripture, and in the process reveals that Church-sanctioned anti-gay bias is based almost solely upon a significant (and often malicious) misinterpretation of the Bible. As the film notes, most Christians live their lives today without feeling obliged to kill anyone who works on the Sabbath or eats shrimp (as a literal reading of scripture dictates).
Through the experiences of five very normal, very Christian, very American families — including those of former House Majority Leader Richard Gephardt and Episcopal Bishop Gene Robinson — we discover how insightful people of faith handle the realization of having a gay child. Informed by such respected voices as Bishop Desmond Tutu, Harvard’s Peter Gomes, Orthodox Rabbi Steve Greenberg and Reverend Jimmy Creech, FOR THE BIBLE TELLS ME SO offers healing, clarity and understanding to anyone caught in the crosshairs of scripture and sexual identity.
Right Reverend Richard Holloway, noting that biblical literalism is a “modern
invention” dating to the early 20th century, says literalists tend to resist the
conversation. He says in the film:
Biblical literalists are people who “know” the truth absolutely. So they’re not
able to engage in a conversation—they’re only able to engage in a
Reverend Dr. Joan Brown Campbell notes that biblical literalism does not extend to
following Jesus’ admonition to give all you have to the poor, to which Rev. Holloway
“Most of the literalists in America are also capitalists. You know, they’re
making money being a biblical literalist. You don’t take interest; you
couldn’t possibly have investments because usury is condemned in the Bible.”
And everyone—literalist or not—brings their own perspectives and biases to
scripture. As Rev. Irene Monroe says in the film,
!ere are many readings to any passage. You and I can read the same
passage and get a different interpretation, and the reason for that—it has to
do with our social location. I’m going to read the passage very differently
than someone who might be white, male and straight and upper class. I am
going to read it as an African American who’s had a history of how the Bible
has been used to denigrate black people; I’m going to read it as a woman—
the Bible has been used to subordinate women. I’m going to read it as a
lesbian—another, okay, use of the Bible to denigrate another group of
Even a biblical literalist would probably agree with evangelical preacher Brenda
Poteat when she says, As I grow in Christ, he opens up the Bible more and more to me.
Rev. Laurence Keene provides a helpful distinction between “what the Bible says” and
“what the Bible reads”: I have a soft spot in my heart for literalists because I used to be one.
However, when someone says to me, “!is is what the Bible says,” my
response to them is, “No, that’s what the Bible reads.” It is the struggle to
understand context and language and culture and custom that helps us to
understand the meaning of what it is saying.