“Nobody Is Innocent”: David Gushee on Sexual Ethics, Suffering, and Full Inclusion for LGBT Christians

David Gushee is either a heretic or a hero, depending on which side of the theological spectrum you tend to inhabit—there will certainly be no middle ground after the release of his new book, Changing Our Mind.

For evangelicals, Gushee, a minister and Mercer University professor, has been their “leading” ethicist, with his award-winning Kingdom Ethics (available in six translations), used as an ethics textbook for evangelical seminars. This new book, however, might be more likely to be used as a doorstop in those same hallowed halls. That’s a shame, because there is plenty for anti-LGBT evangelicals to learn here—and plenty here for them to find biblical and theological cover if they find their own hearts and minds moved to change.

In the spirit of full disclosure, I must admit that I have been critical of Gushee in the past—something we touch on in this interview. I saw him as someone who called the church to simply be nice to LGBT people, but he drew a line at full affirmation and acceptance of our community into the church. I am happy to report that with this book, Gushee has completely erased that line.

You devote a good part of the book to talking about paradigm leaps you have noticed in the Bible itself—such as the one made by the two heartbroken disciples who walk the Emmaus Road with Jesus without recognizing him at first. What made you finally take that final jump (or paradigm leap) to becoming an ally of LGBT people?

What I actually end up saying in the book is not a radical departure from what the trajectory of my thought over twenty years. I think that the most radical expression of the paradigm leap is what I would describe as an existential core decision to stand in solidarity with LGBT people—and especially LGBT Christians and ex-Christians, those who’ve been pushed out. It’s a choice of community, in a sense, a choice about loyalty. It has been gradually developing over a long period of time.

The last chapter in the book talks in the most detail about that leap, that change in loyalties that has happened; it certainly includes learning about my sister Katy and her suffering as a deeply repressed lesbian unable to claim her own sexuality and identity and learning more recently that a major factor for her was the fear of the disapproval of her church—and actually of her brother, me. I didn’t know all that.

I would say I managed to live the great majority of my life without a lot of exposure to the actual lives and journeys of LGBT people. That speaks very much to what happens in the evangelical world—if you create an environment inhospitable enough you drive people out or underground. That’s how I could manage not to have much exposure until I came to Atlanta and started to be in a seminary setting and in a church setting—neither of which were flag-waving kind of pro LGBT environments, but they were open and safe enough that people began coming.

So, friendships began developing, notably in my church setting and Sunday school class over time, and I went from zero to a fairly decent understanding of what it’s like to be an LGBT person and a Christian in America.

I would say that beginning to learn more and more about the suffering of wounded and closeted and exiled LGBT young people really began to affect me deeply, beginning with Katy. But obviously there’s a literature out there I had never studied; I began to read some of that and began to hear stories of the cruelest kind of rejections from families and churches.

I remember a long time ago somebody noticed that human suffering is really important in my ethic—my dissertation was on the Holocaust — and I’ve written a lot about those issues, but at last I began to focus on the suffering of what I would say is the church’s own most oppressed and wounded minority group. It’s not enough to kind of cluck sympathetically, “Oh, isn’t that too bad, we need to do better.” But, I was still being a bystander. I needed to stand in solidarity and be more like the rescuers—not that I can rescue anybody—but to stand in full support of those who had been so mistreated.

It was in 2009 when you and I had an exchange by email about my response in RD to  your review of Mitchell Gold’s book Crisis. You told me back then that you were in a rethinking process—at least willing to be in dialogue. What do you think it would take for the traditionalists, as you call them in your book, to come into that kind of dialogue? Do you think your book can move some of them?

I hope so. I think that the most promising site of dialogue is intergenerational in evangelical families, either because a young person comes out or because young people have friends who they also become loyal to and they find the tension between caring about their friends and processing what they’re being told at home and at church to be unbearable and they want to talk about it. The transformative change that I have most often seen in the evangelical world seems to be almost impossible without some kind of relational connection — a brother, a sister, child, cousin, a friend — that cognitive dissonance then forces a return to the scriptures and then there is an openness. Maybe then what the preachers have said about these passages or the overall message of the Bible can be questioned.

Evangelicals are interesting in a lot of ways. One of the ways they’re interesting is that they claim such an unparalleled authority for the Bible but tend to be resistant to recognizing the forces that affect how the Bible is read, including personal loyalties and life experiences and emotional commitments, convictions and feelings. On the other side, there’s often a refusal to recognize that we don’t just have scriptural texts, we have traditions of interpreting those texts. We have even the selection of which texts will be important and which texts will drop to the periphery. So, part of what I do in my book is to challenge that, to get that named and suggest new ways of configuring texts—and which texts would get attended to if we were to reopen this conversation.

But, I do think that some kind of driver of a personal nature seems almost always to be required to get people off of the existing paradigm enough to even be in dialogue about it.

As a lesbian who has been told repeatedly that my sexual expression is an abomination, I was particularly struck by your statement that no adult sexuality is innocent. Heterosexuality is not the gold standard of sex, inherently pure. You make the argument that none of us is sexually innocent, whether we are gay or straight.

Just as none of us are innocent in any dimension of our being. If we take a classic view of Christian theology seriously nobody is innocent. If nobody is innocent then we don’t get to rank ourselves as better than other people. This is an example where when you reopen some of these question other passages come to mind that had not been in the conversation. I started noticing passages such as “No one is good but God alone.” Jesus tells a parable to “those who look with religious contempt on others,” and all the warnings about self-righteousness and judging other people, like in Matthew 7.

All these core texts teach us gratitude for God’s grace, awareness of our sinfulness, humility before God and others and a posture of introspective desire to be a better person myself—and then a posture of love, and not of judgment, toward other people. I think those are core gospel themes that have been obscured while we argue about the six or seven passages that mention sexuality.

In the conversations I’ve had with more conservative Christians, this is a blind spot—a belief that heterosexuality is the purest form of sexual activity. But, also, it seems conservative Christians have forgotten that Jesus condemns divorce  and even calls those who remarry “adulterers.” You call the collapse of lifetime covenantal marriage as the greatest sexual familial ethic issue of our time.

I believe that’s true partly because of the dramatically negative consequences for children. Jesus actually teaches very strictly about divorce and I think the reason he did so was to cut off at the pass those who were attempting to stretch Jewish law so as to allow men to casually divorce their wives. The assumption seems to be that men are divorcing their wives in order to remarry someone they find more appealing, leaving their wives and children in the lurch … abandoned.

All over America, there are Christians in violation of this teaching—as many as 20% to 30% in a lot of our churches. There was a faint effort to fight this in the 70s that nobody even remembers and now, including in evangelical churches, almost nobody puts up a fight related to anything about divorce and remarriage, unless it’s especially egregious. Meanwhile, children suffer and families are dislocated and a lot of people get mistreated.

Teaching people to make a covenant with one person and keep it faithfully, for better, for worse, across an entire lifespan and raise children together is the standard. The “radical” innovation is, I’m suggesting, that maybe gay and lesbian people ought to be invited into that standard as well.

I think we ought to be having that conversation. I think one reason we’re not having that conversation is because it’s easy for pastors to pick on 5% of the population. It’s harder to criticize 30% of your own church members.

Do you support full marriage rights for gay and lesbian people in a civil sense?

Yes. I already pointed to that in 2008’s The Future of Faith in American Politics. I think the state and the church have very different purposes when it comes to marriage. The state recognizes that adult sexual relationships are important for two main reasons: one is that they often produce children, and the other is that they involve the sufficient intertwining of lives and emotional vulnerability that when they break up, it can be problematic in terms of disentangling lives in terms of property.

So the state cares about marriage fundamentally because of property and associated economic rights during marriage and what happens when the marriage is dissolved and the wellbeing of children. It’s also to regulate relationships with the goal of stability for the wellbeing of the adults and children involved.

Correct me if I’m wrong, but what I get from your book is that what you’re calling the church to do is to welcome LGBT people fully within the body of the church, expecting what is expected of the heterosexuals in the congregation such as celibacy in singleness and fidelity in marriage. Is that right?

Yes. It’s interesting how simple things get when you come to conclude that what we’re really dealing with here is a historic misreading of the overall message of the Bible that is essentially a form of discrimination against a group when science clearly shows that one out of 20 or so in the human population have a gender identity or sexual orientation different from the heterosexual and male/female majority.

We have mistakenly made this into a moral problem when what we have is a variation in the human family that just exists.

When you make that pivotal shift then the issue looks a whole lot more like race and gender and every other group of people who were treated as other because they were different. So, the principle is simple enough an eight-year-old could get it: LGBT people should be treated just like everyone else.

But, again, it points up the larger problem that the church itself has about how it preaches its sexual ethics even to the straight people. With the proliferation of cohabitation, there are straight people living together who are obviously in sexual relationship with one another who either have no intention of getting married or just haven’t yet and there’s no church discipline for that. So, when LGBT people arrive at the church, we’re suddenly held to a higher standard. You can understand how we might say, wait a minute …

All of a sudden, you’ve got standards.

Yeah!

That’s why I would say that really coming to terms with the LGBT issue provides an opportunity to really come to terms with the overall Christian sexual and relational ethic issue.

Do you think the church is up for that?

I think some are. What I think is happening, and I consider it a great tragedy, is a deep dis-ease with what is wrong with American culture and what’s wrong with the churches related to lax moral standards and disintegrating families and so on. It’s a narrative of decline. There are a lot of reasons to have a narrative of decline. It’s very much related for people in America who have sense of cultural decline generally: “We’re not moving up, we’re sliding down.”

Then LGBT people come along and they get slotted into the narrative of decline: “If everything were right, the way it was supposed to be, the way it used to be then we wouldn’t have to be dealing with this problem.” So, a lot gets loaded on the shoulders of LGBT people. They become a symbol that’s not about them after a while. It’s about anxieties about cultural decline and moral confusion, Christendom fading, American religious pluralism, you name it.

The story of LGBT people is a different narrative, one of discrimination and liberation. That narrative looks more like women’s rights, the civil rights movement and the end of widespread Christian teaching of anti-Semitism and racism. That’s the narrative this needs to be placed in.

So many have so much invested in the moral decline narrative. Many traditionalists that I have met have a sense that they’ll lose something if they lose this battle.

I wish that everybody could focus—and I’m using my volunteer time on this issue—on the teenager trembling before their parents or their pastor getting ready to say, “I think I might be gay or lesbian.”

What we have to gain is the mental health and in some cases even the physical survival of that child. That ought to matter to everybody. But I really think the story has not been told that way. I think the starting point on this issue is suffering children and what happens when they speak to their families and bullying and rejection and psychological distress. When you start there, I think it can be a different conversation.

I think your book goes a long way to doing that and helping people. You talk about the bullying you suffered in school over different issues that helped you be able to step into the shoes of LGBT people who may face the same violence.

It took me a long time and I hope that my regret for the long journey is clearly communicated in the book. I am sorry it took me so long to put it all together. It’s like being in a movie where someone is trying to crack a safe and there’s six numbers and you have to get all six numbers right for the safe to open. I think that’s what’s happened for me. Finally, all six numbers came up and I was able to open the safe and I could see this in a new way. That needs to happen for all of us.

 

  • Whiskyjack

    Meanwhile, evidence continues to point to the fact that homosexuality is not a voluntary orientation. The anti-LGBT stance becomes less and less tenable. The eternal verities begin to look less and less eternal…

    http://news.sciencemag.org/biology/2014/11/study-gay-brothers-may-confirm-x-chromosome-link-homosexuality

  • Frank6548

    He’s neither. He simply has lost his way and denies the Will of God in the process. So sad.

  • Frank6548

    It’s irrelevant if people are born gay, although there is zero evidence to conclude that. Disease and addictions have genetic components but no one call those things good. If people are shown to be born gay, no evidence yet, it doesn’t matter because it doesn’t make homosexual behavior any less sinful or change the definition of marriage as man plus woman.

  • joeyj1220

    I was going to ask when Closeted Frankie was going to come on here and spew (since he is like a moth to flame with stories on LGBT issues) but I see he has beat me to it.

  • Andre M

    Just call him Franky the Romancer, folks! No young lady can resist his anti-gay rhetoric!

  • Frank6548

    I have no need to be in a closet.

  • Guest

  • jhr459

    Frank wouldn’t know the will of God if it bit him in the behind – NO ONE can know the mind of God; especially when they continue to pick and choose which Biblical canon they think is important (as David Gushee points out) The absolute hubris to think they know what God thinks !!!!

  • LegalizeLezMarriage

    “It’s irrelevant if people are born gay, although there is zero evidence to conclude that.”

    Whiskyjack JUST POSTED AN ARTICLE giving evidence people are born gay. So even if you don’t think it’s definitive, you can’t honestly say there’s “zero evidence.” There’s obviously at least a little evidence (although truthfully there’s a lot of evidence.) You didn’t even read it, did you. You just dismissed it because it doesn’t benefit you. pity.

    Can someone block this thread hijacker already? He does nothing to contribute to discussion and just posts the same thing over and over again. He probably lives a sad little life anyway, he doesn’t need us.

  • fkissling

    I have long admired David Gushee’s willingness to struggle with difficult issues in the Evangelical community, to change publicly – remembering Tolstoy who wrote that “everyone wants to change the world, but nobody wants to change themselves”. We could all benefit from understanding that we may not be right on many issues in the progressive and traditional canons. I have always worried that the lgbt effort for recognition of marriage was a double edged sword – absolutely people whoa re gay should have the right to marry, however, to the extent that that right reinforces a view of sexual behavior that insists that only in lifelong marriage is sexuality morally good, it carries its own exclusions and a definition of sexually goodness that is not necessarily correct. I believe the yardstick for “good” sex is justice, not marriage. Justice includes the commitment to care for children resulting from sexual activity – but it is not bound by marriage. There are those. like myself who have lived sexually active lives in justice to my self, my partners and society and never wanted to be married. I once asked Gushee if he thought God intended for me to never experience sexual intimacy with anyone I loved, if I did not marry them. His answer was a bit equivocal – http://www.onbeing.org/program/pro-life-pro-choice-pro-dialogue/4863. These matters are part of on going dialogue among people of good will. It is important as one is properly inclined to enthusiasm for Gushee on marriage equality, not to lose sight of the kind of equality that is being suggested – and to raise those issues, kindly and respectfully but in the interests of those who hold a different view of sexual morality and are also marginalized in the faith community.

  • Guest

    The question is just exactly which 18 year old girl is in danger of that twisted old pervert’s cold embrace.

  • Frank6548

    Looking foolish is what happens when you speak before you read.

    I quote from the link:

    “But not everyone finds the results convincing. And the kind of DNA analysis used, known as a genetic linkage study, has largely been superseded by other techniques. Due to the limitations of this approach, the new work also fails to provide what behavioral geneticists really crave: specific genes that might underlie homosexuality.”

    “Any genetic predispositions probably interact with environmental factors that influence development of a sexual orientation.”

    “Many researchers were skeptical that an analysis of only 38 pairs of gay brothers was reliable, and several other groups failed to replicate the results.”

    “Neil Risch, a geneticist at the University of California, San Francisco, disagrees. The paper does little to clear up question about Xq28, he says. Risch collaborated on a 1999 study that found no linkage at that region and says that more recent evidence casts further doubt. He also says the two linkages reported in the new work are not statistically significant.”

    So in other words…. No reliable evidence.

    Next?

  • Frank6548

    Yeah how could we possible know what God thinks after he has told us? Run along son.

  • LegalizeLezMarriage

    They just said there’s evidence of genetic influence for sexual orientation determination. That a couple people mentioned in the article disagree doesn’t dispute the study – it just shows that a couple people mentioned in the article don’t agree with the conclusions offered.

    Reading comprehension: Something I guess they don’t teach in your church.

    Next? Oh, and how many people have you convinced to “come to the light?” How many people have you converted? How many have you brought out of gayness?

    Zero?

    Pity. Must be exhausting.

  • cranefly

    This is a lovely interview. I too know what it’s like to realize that people you cared about hid their true selves from you, because they knew you were Christian and thought you would judge them for being LGBT. I never want it to happen again.

    “I saw him as someone who called the church to simply be nice
    to LGBT people, but he drew a line at full affirmation and acceptance of
    our community into the church. I am happy to report that with this
    book, Gushee has completely erased that line.

    It seems like taking the step of “being nice” can lead someone to embrace full acceptance, and that’s good to see.

  • Frank6548

    Yeah that’s what I thought. Remember read first so you don’t look foolish.

  • fiona64

    Frank is an idiot who has been banned here repeatedly. I’m sure it will happen again soon.

  • LegalizeLezMarriage

    hopefully.

  • fiona64

    Hey, Frank? How’s that personal ad going for you? Have any 18-35 year-old women found themselves attracted to your 53-year-old virgin self?

    Andre M. really outed you on that one, didn’t he?

    I think it’s past time to come out of the closet and find a nice, age-appropriate guy to settle down with,Frank.

  • Frank6548

    Your immaturity is embarrassing for someone of your age. Sad.

  • fiona64

    Frankie, you’re the one who put up a personal ad asking to meet women less than half your age. All of the embarrassment and shame is on you.

  • Frank6548

    I have a bridge to sell you in Brooklyn. I’ll give you a good price.

  • fiona64

    Sorry, bud. Andre outed you and your personal ad big-time. Suck it up, Buttercup; we know you’re trolling for not-quite-jailbait to try to disguise the fact that you’re so far in the closet that you can see Narnia.

  • Frank6548

    My gosh your ignorance is truly embarrassing. Pitiful as usual.

  • Aravis Tarkheena

    Why do you engage him like this? It is exactly what he wants.

    If no one ever replied to him, he would stop. Your sniping is what keeps him coming back here.

  • Frank6548

    You are not entirely correct but at least someone here has at least a part of a brain. I was getting worried.

  • GoldHorde

    IF no one is innocent then what is the correct response to the bakers who do not wish to bake wedding cakes for gays?

  • cranefly

    What’s the correct response to bakers who don’t want to bake wedding cakes for interracial couples?

  • GoldHorde

    If none are innocent…what is the response? Is it not forgiveness in every case?

  • fiona64

    That they should not open a public accommodation like a bakery. Pure and simple.

  • fiona64

    My guess is that he wants “his girl” to be way younger so that she looks more like a boy and less like a woman. 🙁

  • GoldHorde

    So your response is to close their business?

  • fiona64

    Was I unclear? If they do not want to serve the public, they should not open a public accommodation like a bakery. Once you do that, by law you are not permitted to discriminate. The law is pretty clear on that matter … and has been since the 1960s in the wake of the Woolworth lunch counter sit-ins.

    If they only want to bake cakes for their friends, then they do not need to open a public accommodation.

  • cranefly

    Yes. Though I can see why that’s not particularly useful as a legal policy, where ensuring equal protection is concerned.

  • GoldHorde

    Forgiveness is precisely for infraction, disparity, offense and all the forsaken ills of fallen man. Legal policy from the courts do not redeem but punish. The point here is both sides need to practice forgiveness rather than a litigious society. Consider: “So if you have cases pertaining to this life, do you select those who have no standing in the church to judge? I say this to your shame! Can it be that there is not one wise person among you who is able to arbitrate between his brothers? Instead, believer goes to court against believer, and that before unbelievers! Therefore, to have legal disputes against one another is already a moral failure for you. Why not rather put up with injustice? Why not rather be cheated? Instead, you act unjustly and cheat—and you do this to [other] believers!” ~1 Corinthians 6:4-8 (HCSB).

    There was no greater offender of this, I had to come to repentance of myself. Born a conservative with socialist liberal parents I grew to a seething dismissal of progressives across the board as nothing more than the drug infested, lazy low lifes they always proved to be – UNTIL the Lord gave me a dream that scared the shit out of me. The moral of the dream is that He is coming with OUR judgements – not His. In all this, I remain a conservative – it IS who I am – but I cannot dismiss, condemn or commit action against anyone else – without the same blade falling against my own neck.

    Ciao & Bless!

  • cranefly

    Okay, but does that mean you oppose laws completely? For those people who want to live in a society that upholds equal protection for marginalized minorities, it makes sense for discrimination based on prejudice to be illegal. If you oppose the Civil Rights Act, then you might logically also oppose non-discrimination protections for LGBT people. But without the Civil Rights Act (and even with it), our country tolerated great injustice. Refusing to condemn gets more complicated when withholding any judgment means refusing to stand up for the weak and/or oppressed.

  • GoldHorde

    In the Corinthian instance – the “legal right” is legit and it is obvious that the Corinthian believers are in the habit of using legitimate legal claims in a civil court of law against each other; the writer (Paul) is asking them to lay down their legitimate civil right – choosing rather to be cheated or wronged for the sake of Christianity – to lay down judgement as God laid down His claim against us (as fallen humanity). So it is not in opposition to civil law (or rights) but a choice as to refuse to pick up the right against another. A hard path no doubt – but as for the law of Christ it is deemed better than using the ‘righteousness of man’ to judge. It is a difficult truth – but the scriptures and early church writings bear it out – yet we are left also not to judge those who don’t – the blade cuts severely both ways.

  • cranefly

    There are a lot more Christian anarchists in theory than in practice.

  • GoldHorde

    Yes – but it IS a lifelong journey – PLUS a endless conveyor belt of birth is delivering a million more imperfect and fallen humans every 24hrs; If anyone were to achieve any of the practical realities in their belief before they die, they are quickly drowned out by the loud and proud. I think this is by design (none can ever boast). There is a ‘near-canonical’ piece from circa 130AD called the ‘Epistle of Mathetes to Diognetus’ it is quite revealing of the civil daily behavior of the first century Christians in non-Christian culture(s) – of particular interest being Chapter Five. LINK: the
    Roberts-Donaldson English Translation is the easier read.

    Enjoy your own personal journey! Current book I am reading is “Glorious Ruin” (reality of suffering) – I know I am ready for it because I LAUGHED when I read the title.

  • GoldHorde

    FIONA64 –

    MANY APOLOGIES for my late reply – I missed your response in replying to other. It was unintentional miss – NOT dismissive!

    FIRSTLY – I agree with you on public business & civil law. Scriptural ‘laws of business’ in civil commerce are quite liberal unless you want to force them to sell specific items, i.e. condoms, pornography, confederate flags or guns, that they may find either unprofitable or unethical in their specific business or personal faith.

    I personally do not agree with any form of economic warfare – coercion via boycott/sanctioning – I find it unethical to deprive anyone of ‘buying or selling’ (making a living) of services/products in their community – and yes that goes both ways.

    In my current view (views change) these self-described bakers of a particular orthodox belief have misread the tenets of their faith, however I personally find the “Kristallnacht” response equally repelling. I would be interested in a dialog with these bakers to find out if they would deprive a physically wounded LGBT of food, water or shelter (where their orthodox faith prescribes an absolute indiscriminate response)

    Nonetheless, the choice of any religious orthodoxy to limit their own public business is no different to me than an orthodox halal public food vendor refusing to knowingly serve Jews or orthodox Jews refusing to knowingly purchase halal meats from a public business. Civil policies are being made in many cities with civil laws being written for public accommodations in the “rights” of halal foods.” which by description are discriminating “by design” as is “kosher” and not allowing of other foods to be served in or near the same establishment. So we know there are valid civil allowances for discriminatory preferences in public accommodations based on religious beliefs.

    In regards to these bakers, if and when a specific law or legal judgement is served in this case (made firm after obvious appeals) – they either will close up or obey the civil law. Is it correct that have said they would close rather than serve LGBT? Do you know if they consider baking cakes for the LGBT community to be synonymous with the religious taboo of “baking cakes for the Queen of Heaven”? (sex goddess of Jeremiah 7).

  • fiona64

    I don’t care what their reasoning is. When you open up a public accommodation, you *cannot* discriminate against the public. This has been settled law since shortly after the Woolworth lunch counter sit-ins. Thus, an orthodox halal public food vendor could not legally discriminate against Jews. Your second example doesn’t even make sense, and is thus irrelevant.

    Anyone who is unable to do their job should seek alternate employment. If these bakers don’t want to serve the public, they should stick to making cakes for friends in their kitchen.

  • GoldHorde

    Thank you for the response.

  • DaFoo

    Gosh, as a t person what i see as endemically wrong with religion today is that the blind are leading the blind with wrong views, and mis-interpretations. Mostly what I see is people who believe that God is a sky being outside of themselves who is going to someday save them from thier sins, all the while ignoring the truth that God’s spirit resides within each, and every one of us. we are taught these wrong views from the beginning to the end. How many of us actually don’t recognize, or acknowledge this spirit within us? mostly all of us! What do you get when you combine Nihilism with eternalism? Modern day Pharisee I would think. We trans, and gay’s have existed throughout time. Back in early biblical times we Trans, and gay people were called Eunichs. The definition of that term translated means “soft”. Read Isaiah 56:3, Matthew 19:12, and acts 8:38, and after reading them could one still say we are lesser than all of the other Christ people? So if Jesus the Christ accepts us, and other biblical figureheads do as well, then where is this hatred coming from? mis- interpreting. As well in many instances in the bible it calls out wrong behavior, but also what people fail to acknowledge is that these instructions were meant in accordance to which tribe, and sect one belonged to. There is an obscure passage in the book in which it is stated that what might just be wrong for one person might just be a-ok with another (not verbatim obviously). (can’t remember which book, and passage) Well, so there is my rant!