Christians like US Attorney General Jeff Sessions like to smugly recite biblical scripture to promulgate their self-righteous acts of discrimination. In defending President Trump’s now-scrapped yet still indefensible policy of separating children from their families—even a child being breastfed—Sessions cited a passage from Apostle Paul’s epistle to the Romans.
“I would cite you to the Apostle Paul and his clear and wise command in Romans 13, to obey the laws of the government because God has ordained them for the purpose of order,” he said. “Orderly and lawful processes are good in themselves and protect the weak and lawful.”
Sessions is no biblical scholar; that’s evident in his bastardization of Paul’s message. Nonetheless, the attorney general knows Romans 13 is used as an edict to obey authority. The scripture has been used as a text of terror by miscreant thugs in power throughout history: slave owners, Nazi sympathizers, apartheid enforcers, supporters of Japanese-American internment, and loyalists opposed to the American Revolution, to name a few. Now, Christians like Sessions apply Romans 13 to issues like abortion, taxes, and same-sex marriage.
Meanwhile, our LGBTQ community continues to be clobbered with biblical texts used to either scare us straight, or terrorize our everyday existence. I recently received a query from a troubled soul in our community:
I’m a transman. One of my brothers from church asked me this: if being an LGBTQ+ is not a sin because it is part of human diversity then what is? Does that mean we are allowed to do anything that we desire like adultery, incest, prostitution, pornography (just to name a few)? I don’t know how to respond, so please enlighten me regarding this subject matter.
The Bible is replete with contradictory and damning messages to all people, and is filled with homophobic scriptures, like Genesis 19, Leviticus 18:22, Romans 1:26-27, Matthew 19:3-6, Corinthians 6:9-10, to name a few. Determining which messages are discarded and which are upheld is not a battle about biblical inerrancy or God’s will. It is an unmitigated battle of human will either to uphold justice as Jesus spoke about it, or to codify discrimination as Sessions is so fond of doing.
For example, there are two creationist myths in the Bible (Genesis 1:27 and Genesis 2:22). The first myth says that God made woman and man simultaneously. The second creation myth is our “rib story,” in which Eve is born from a rib of Adam. Undoubtedly this story has poked at Christian women throughout the centuries since it’s used to justify gender inequality. Likewise, the Curse of Ham (Genesis 9:18-27), and Apostle Paul’s edict to slaves (Ephesian 6:5-8) served as the scientific and Christian legitimation for the enslavement of people of African ancestry. While the Sodom and Gomorrah narrative (Genesis 19:1-29) is one of the most quoted scriptures to argue for compulsory heterosexuality and queer bashing.
My heart aches and soul cries out knowing what’s going on at our country’s southern border. But sadly that’s not the case for many of Trump’s henchmen. To watch these children traumatized and held in human cages is not only an act of personal moral turpitude, but it’s also a pox on the moral integrity of this country.
Legally, it is a universal human right to seek asylum. Morally, governments have an obligation to come to the aid of those fleeing persecution, a minimum standard any decent administration recognizes.
As for Sessions, members of his own church back home have responded. Citing Paragraph 2702.3 of the 2016 United Methodist Book of Discipline, 640 of his fellow parishioners leveled “the chargeable offenses of” child abuse, immorality, and racial discrimination.
“As his denomination, we have an ethical obligation to speak boldly when one of our members is engaged in causing significant harm in matters contrary to the Discipline on the global stage,” the church letter states.
In his role as AG, Sessions won’t be held accountable for his severely heinous acts. But as a Christian, he will be.
Rev. Irene Monroe can be heard on the podcast and standing Boston Public Radio segment ALL REV’D UP on WGBH (89.7 FM). Monroe’s syndicated religion columns appear and the Boston voice for Detour’s African American Heritage Trail. She is a s a Visiting Researcher in the Religion and Conflict Transformation Program at Boston University School of Theology.