The Right Side of Truth
Updated: Jul 21, 2020
*This is a letter (email) I wrote to a pastor in response to a 4-part Sermon Series of his I came across on YouTube that dealt with the Biblical issue of homosexuality.
Sunday, July 12, 2020
Happy Sunday Pastor -!
First of all, I hope this email not only finds your eyes - but finds you well. I am searching for answers and I am hoping you can shed some light.
I recently came across a series that you did called "What Does the Bible Say about Homosexuality?" In the 4-part series you preached on a series of Scriptures that not only showed that the act of homosexuality is, indeed, a sin but also, and perhaps more importantly, you stressed the importance of sharing this truth not through a filter of hate and judgment but through a filter of love and compassion. (I'm hoping you would agree with this very general assessment but being as how brevity has never been my strong-suit I am trying really hard to be concise with what I am asking of you.)
In the Q&A installment of the series, the topic of comparing the Church's stance on homosexuality to that of racism was discussed and you asked an interviewee his thoughts on that topic. I was actually pretty excited that you did this because that was actually the exact issue I am hoping to address in this email to you. However - it became clear to me that this his response indicated that I am looking at this topic from a different perspective than what you and were addressing and therefore my question was not really answered.
SOME BACKGROUND BEFORE MY QUESTION
I am assuming you are aware of much, if not ALL, of what I am about to share with you.
For centuries Scripture was used to promote, endorse, defend and justify racism, slavery and segregation not JUST in the United States but globally within the church. Indeed, there are still groups TODAY that use Scripture to justify this brand of hate but these groups are mostly considered to be an extreme and not considered to be part of the mainstream of society nor the church.
Unfortunately, there is ample evidence that shows that for centuries, up until even the mid-20th century, the belief that Scripture could be used to promote, endorse, defend, and justify racism, slavery and segregation was NOT the aberration that it is today but was, indeed, considered the "norm." It was considered "natural." It was imbedded in the very character of the Christian church not just in Europe but would eventually make its way to America.
To substantiate my claim, I am listing some evidence/sources from the past here as well as attaching some pictures to further shed light on this claim.
19th Century Books used to justify slavery and racism:
BIBLE DEFENSE of SLAVERY: Origin, Fortunes, and History of the Negro Race by Josiah Priest. *A book published, I believe 1853 that used Scripture to promote, endorse, defend, and justify racism and slavery.
"THE NEGRO a BEAST" or "In the Image of God" by Charles Carroll. *A book published in 1900 that claimed that Adam only gave birth to the White Race and that only the White Race was made in the image and likeness of God and used Scripture to promote, endorse, defend, and justify racism, slavery and segregation.
Other books and literature written by Christian Church Leaders that used Scripture to promote, endorse, defend, and justify racism, slavery, and segregation:
A DEFENSE OF SOUTHERN SLAVERY by a Southern Clergyman - 1851
AN ESSAY ON THE ORIGIN, HABITS of the AFRICAN RACE by John Jacobus Flournoy - 1835 (Expounds on the "Curse of Cain."
COTTON IS KING AND PRO-SLAVERY ARGUMENTS by E.N. Elliot LLD, 1860 - over 900 pages.
SLAVERY AS RECOGNIZED IN THE MOSAIC CIVIL LAW by Rev. Stuart Robinson
BIBLE SERVITUDE RE-EXAMINED, with Special Reference to Pro-Slavery Interpretations and Infidel Objections by Rev. Reuben Hatch 1862
SLAVERY SANCTIONED BY THE BIBLE - A Tract for Northern Christians 1861
THE AMERICAN CHURCHES THE BULWARKS OF AMERICAN SLAVERY by James Gillespie Birney 1885
THE PRO-SLAVERY ARGUMENT, as Maintained by the Most Distinguished Writers by William Harper, William Simms, James Hammond, Thomas Dew 1852.
RELIGION AND SLAVERY by Rev. James McNeilly, D.D. (Presbyterian Minister) 1911
The Right of American Slavery by True Worthy Hoit 1815
THE CHRISTIAN DOCTRINE of SLAVERY by George Armstrong 1857
DOES SLAVERY CHRISTIANIZE THE NEGRO? by Thomas Wentworth Higginson 1855
SLAVERY ORDAINED BY GOD by Rev. Fred. A. Ross, D.D.
SLAVERY EXAMINED IN THE LIGHT OF THE BIBLE by Lee Luther 1855
BIBLE VINDICATED: A SERIES OF ESSAYS ON AMERICAN SLAVERY by Jonas Hartzel 1858
THE INTEREST IN SLAVERY OF THE SOUTHERN NON-SLAVE-HOLDER. THE RIGHT OF PEACEFUL SECESSION. Slavery in the Bible by JDB De Bow 1860
THE BIBLE AND SLAVERY - A BRIEF EXAMINATION OF THE OLD AND NEW TESTAMENTS on SERVITUDE 1867
SOUTHERN SLAVERY AND THE BIBLE - A Scriptural refutation of the principal arguments upon which the abolitionists rely. A vindication of southern slavery from the Old and New Testaments by EW Warren 1864. *Please note that the red texts is actually a part of the TITLE of the book and not simply my interpretation of the book.
BIBLE SLAVEHOLDING NOT SINFUL by HD Ganse 1856
SCRIPTURAL RESEARCHES on the LICITNESS of the SLAVE-TRADE by R Harris 1788
WHITE SUPREMACY AND NEGRO SUBORDINATION; Or. Negroes a Subordinate Race, by John H. Van Evrie 1870.
Here are two that I find to be especially disturbing:
1. DAKES ANNOTATED REFERENCE BIBLE (1963) 30 Reasons for Segregation of Race. In this literature specific Scriptural references are used to justify segregation
2. IS SEGREGATION SCRIPTURAL? (A 1960 sermon/address given by Dr. Bob Jones, Sr. Founder of Bob Jones University) During the address Dr. Bob Jones, a fundamentalist evangelical Christian, used Scripture to defend the institution of Segregation. A policy that was upheld until the University officially removed it in the year 2000.
*SIDE NOTE: In 1959, only 4% of Americans approved of biracial marriage between black and white. In 2013 that number grew to 87%. Three centuries of institutionalized slavery in America, along with the generations of racist practices and oppression that followed (indentured servitude, Jim Crow Laws, Segregation, Interracial dating/marriage bans, etc. *please also see SIDE NOTE above) COUPLED with the SCRIPTURAL JUSTIFICATIONS of such practices by Spiritual and Christian leaders - should be enough to convince us that, during these centuries these practices were NOT simply an ABERRATION but the NORMAL FUNCTION of our society as well as the Christian Church. In fact, the aberration would have been with the Christians who attempted to use Scripture to support the abolition of the institution of slavery. Indeed, there was a time that the aberration would have been with those who spoke out against slavery, racism, and segregation in general.
NOW TOWARD MY QUESTION One of the aspects you discussed during the "What Does the Bible Say About Homosexuality?" series was the common phrase thrown out there concerning the importance of being on the "RIGHT SIDE OF HISTORY." You mentioned your displeasure with that phrase and, instead, said we should be more concerned with being on the "right side of TRUTH" and NOT on the right side of common and majority opinion. As far as our society (and the role that the Christian Church played in our society) is concerned, there was a period of time that Scripture was used to defend the "TRUTH" that slavery, racism, and segregation were all justified. God's Word was used to prove that THOSE WHO endorsed, justified, promoted, and defended the institution of slavery, racism, and segregation were the ones on the "RIGHT SIDE OF TRUTH - and that those opposed to these practices were on the WRONG side of truth. In fact, the Christian Church in America did not begin to shift its view on these issues until it was made to do so by not just COMMON and MAJORITY opinion, but also by federal legislation. Gradually, over time, what was once deemed to be the WRONG side of TRUTH was now the RIGHT side of TRUTH and vice versa. GETTING CLOSER TO MY QUESTION As uncomfortable as it is to say, I don't think that it's too far a stretch to say that, even today in 2020, Scripture could still, and quite easily, be used to argue and justify that the institutions of slavery and even practices of racism such as Segregation are all justified by God's word. In fact, there are still groups that do so. As evidenced by the hundreds of pieces of CHRISTIAN literature which cited specific Scripture (some titles I included above) the Bible itself appears to endorse the practice of slavery thoroughly throughout Scripture in both the Old and New Testaments, including the specifics on how to obtain and treat slaves. In fact, outside of Spiritual Slavery, the Bible seems to provide no justification for ending the practice of earthly slavery nor even the mindset that one race could be superior or inferior to another. Indeed, abolitionists back in the day, more than turning to Scripture, relied on a deeply felt understanding and conviction that slavery and racism were morally wrong. Slavery, and its defense, was such a NORMAL aspect of society and the Church that the abolitionists' reasons for opposing slavery seemed rather vague, self-serving and MORALLY wrong.
*In order to save time and space, I did not include them here but please let me know if you would like to see a list of Scriptures that were commonly used to promote, defend, endorse, and justify the practices of slavery, racism, and segregation. NOW FINALLY MY QUESTION Though spoken through a refreshing filter of love and compassion, you still made it quite clear throughout the series that you believe the act of homosexuality is, indeed, not pleasing to God and is a sin. You used Scripture to support that claim. You even indicated that your belief and perspective on this issue puts YOU on the "RIGHT SIDE OF TRUTH." Considering EVERYTHING that I have spoken to and offered above, how do YOU - a Christian pastor of many and one that looks to Scripture to speak to what he believes to be "The Right Side of Truth" - reconcile your conclusion that the act of homosexuality is a sin by using the same Bible that was once passionately used to promote, endorse, defend, and justify the practices of slavery, racism, and segregation? Just like these practices were once considered to be the "RIGHT SIDE OF TRUTH" before they were forced by a personal AND societal conviction of morality to be deemed the "WRONG side of TRUTH" - how do we know that 100 years from now the moral acceptance of the practice of homosexuality will be considered the RIGHT SIDE OF TRUTH as opposed to the WRONG side of TRUTH as you see it today? I am quite genuinely asking this question and I do hope that you will take the time to consider my question and answer. And again, please let me know if you would like that list of Scripture references that were commonly used to promote, endorse, defend, and justify the practices of slavery, segregation and other forms of racism. Thank you for your time Pastor, Sincerely, Cliff Carbone