I mentioned yesterday that I am in New Orleans this week to deliver a paper on homosexuality at the Evangelical Theological Society. Yesterday I came across an article that relates to the subject matter of that paper. In an interview with Details magazine, gay actor Ian McKellen says that he tears pages out of Bibles that he finds in hotel rooms. Some of the Bible pages are hung up in his bathroom as toilet paper. Here’s the exchange:
Interviewer: Is it true that when you stay at hotels you tear out the Bible page that condemns homosexuality?
Ian McKellen: I do, absolutely. I’m not proudly defacing the book, but it’s a choice between removing that page and throwing away the whole Bible. And I’m not really the first: I got delivered a package of 40 of those pagesâ€”Leviticus 18:22â€”that had been torn out by a married couple I know. They put them on a bit of string so that I could hang it up in the bathroom.
Interviewer: So did you?
Ian McKellen: It is in the bathroom, yes, but it’s too much of a curiosity to actually put to use.
What a futile enterprise. One would have to tear out far more than Leviticus 18:22 if one wanted to eliminate the pages that relate to this topic. One would have to tear out Genesis 1 and 2 where God first sets forth His creational purposes for male and female (Genesis 2:24). One would have to tear out Genesis 19 and Judges 19 where the first homosexual transgressions of that norm are manifest. Then one would have to tear out Exodus 20 and the command not to commit adultery (Exodus 20:14; cf. Deuteronomy 5:18; Matthew 5:27-28). One would then have to tear out every one of Jesus’ affirmations of Genesis 2 that establish the monogamous heterosexual union of a man and woman as the norm for human sexuality (Matthew 19:5; Mark 10:7-8). Then one would have to tear out Paul’s affirmations of the same (1 Corinthians 6:16; Ephesians 5:31) and his explicit proscriptions of homosexual behavior (Romans 1:26-27; 1 Corinthians 6:9; 1 Timothy 1:10). One would have to tear out the entire fabric of biblical theology to suppress this point.
One final note. Are biblical scholars who employ clever hermeneutical maneuvers to relativize the Bible’s teaching on human sexuality any better off than those who tear pages out of the Bible? I think not. And that’s the argument I will be making in my paper tomorrow.
McKellen’s protest is tragic beyond words. And it ought to evoke our compassion as much as anything. We should pray that McKellen would see the Bible for the treasure that it is (Psalm 119:97-104) and that he would see Christ for the treasure that He is (Philippians 3:7-11).