Give Me a Bible Verse and I Will Believe

In the last week I have had several people lay down an ultimatum to me – show me where scripture endorses Gay relationships, give me a bible verse! I didn’t say it at the time but there was one verse I had in mind.

From the Gospel according to Luke:   “Jesus said, “This is a wicked generation. It asks for a sign, but none will be given it except the sign of Jonah.”

I see a lot in common with this demand for a sign and the demand for a bible verse. No sign was going to be good enough and no verse will be good enough – there is a dogged determination to stand ones ground and even if  someone was to come back from the dead…..would they listen?

Jesus did come back from the dead and no, many of them did not listen. What does the sign of Jonah have to say to us today?

The death of Jesus is a pivotal point in our history – the Bible uses many metaphors to explain the benefits of Jesus death for us – for example, “being washed in the blood of the lamb” or “Jesus paying the price to redeem us”. The importance of this occasion is paramount and the richness of the metaphors used, I believe can help us to experience the depth of God’s Love for us. In a book* I was reading the author suggested that as far as metaphors go, we have a sweet tooth and tend to prefer certain metaphors over others – a sweet tooth in diet terms is not good for us, similarly concentrating on certain metaphors at the expense of others is also not good for us. There is one metaphor that I had never heard about – which is certainly a message of the cross but is rarely talked about – and that is the picture of Jesus as a scapegoat.

Rene Girard, a French historian, litery critic and philosopher of social science in researching the origins of society and religions talks about scapegoating as a dynamic that holds societies together and forms the basis of the worlds religions. It is human nature to scapegoat – that is to place the blame for what is going wrong in society onto someone else – this has a unifying effect whereby enmity is put onto a common enemy, a third party. (A party that is innocent) A glue that holds societies/religions together. I quoted Rene Girard in a previous post but here is what he had to say again:

It is easier than in the past to observe collective transferences upon a scapegoat because they are no longer sanctioned and concealed by religion. And yet it is still difficult because the individuals addicted to them do everything they can to conceal their scapegoating from themselves, and as a general rule they succeed. Today as in the past, to have a scapegoat is to believe one doesn’t have any. The phenomenon in question doesn’t usually lead any longer to acts of physical violence, but it does lead to a “psychological” violence that is easy to camouflage. Those who are accused of participating in hostile transference never fail to protest their good faith, in all sincerity.”

A horrific example of what scapegoating is in action is precisely what happened in Nazi Germany. Of course we have learned many lessons since then, but the worrying thing about scapegoating is that it is concealed – we don’t believe that we do it. Listen to what we as a society have to say about refugees – refugees that are fleeing for their lives are told “Fuck off Austalia’s full”, they are supposedly here to take our jobs and destroy the Australian way of life. A good honest look reveals that we do scapegoat, an innocent third party does face the enmity of a unified voice against them.

The same dynamic is in action as we talk about Gay marriage. lcamyopinion posted this letterhead which was on a document that was written to the Government in Illinois to oppose marriage equality and as he said it is worth a 1000 words.

Can you see the scapegoating principles in action as we talk about Gay people – notice the names on the letterhead – under normal circumstances this letter head would be sinful unionism but because we now have a common enemy it suddenly goes under the radar.

Returning to Jesus death and resurrection the sign of Jonah – the metaphor of scapegoating is so vivid in this event but largely goes unnoticed – Caiaphas advised the Jewish leaders that it would be good if one man died for the people  John 18:14 Jesus became the innocent scapegoat – He became the Jew in Nazi Germany, He became the refugee, He became the Gay man and took the brunt of the worlds “need” to scapegoat. This metaphor in no way cheapens any of the others but it doesn’t appeal to our sweet tooth, we are the ones that nail Jesus to the cross as we continue to scapegoat in our world today – we stand with nail in hand as we stand united against an innocent third party.

A reminder from the words of Girard: “Those who are accused of participating in hostile transference never fail to protest their good faith, in all sincerity.”   and also “The phenomenon in question doesn’t usually lead any longer to acts of physical violence, but it does lead to a “psychological” violence that is easy to camouflage”  with flowery words we talk about gay people, not recognizing the violence our words cause. Psychological violence that directly and indirectly causes thoughts of self harm and depression, isolation and substance abuse. Psychological harm that places Gay people in a dangerous position of  “Your OK I’m not OK”

The sign of Jonah points to a cohesive religion that doesn’t need to scapegoat – Jesus has become that scapegoat.



For more on Girard click here.

lcamyopinion click here

*Richard Beck –  author of “Unclean”

“I’m OK your OK”  Thomas A Harris

7 Responses to “Give Me a Bible Verse and I Will Believe”
  1. lcamyopinion says:

    Jesus has become the final scapegoat… the end to scapegoating…if only we would open our eyes to see. If only we could dream together of a new way to live as community. Good post Tapman. It is a shame that this degree of thoughtful reflection and challenge doesnt come very often from our pulpits. Keep up the prophetic word… even if you do feel like a voice crying out to the vast empty spaces of the wilderness.

  2. Erich says:

    I Samuel 18

    1 And it came to passe when hee made an ende of speaking vnto Saul, that the soule of Ionathan was knit with the soule of Dauid, and Ionathan loued him as his owne soule.

    2 And Saul tooke him that day, and would let him go no more home to his fathers house.

    3 Then Ionathan and Dauid made a couenant, because he loued him as his owne soule.

    4 And Ionathan stript himselfe of the robe that was vpon him, and gaue it to Dauid, and his garments, euen to his sword, and to his bow, and to his girdle.

    5 ¶ And Dauid went out, whither soeuer Saul sent him, and behaued himselfe wisely: and Saul set him ouer the men of warre, and he was accepted in the sight of all the people, and also in the sight of Sauls seruants.

    Sounds like a marriage to me.

  3. stasisonline says:

    This is so true. Human beings love to blame the ‘other’ and the blame game goes in two directions. EG sometimes Christians will blame gays for various things, and other times, gays will blame Christians for their problems. In both cases you can find examples of unfair scapegoating.

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