NY Times Misunderstands Bible Verse, Thinks Republican Called for Gays to be Executed


New-York-Times-1If you read the New York Times Thursday, you’d be shocked to discover that recently a Republican congressman read to his colleagues a New Testament verse written by the Apostle Paul calling for the execution of gays.

No doubt you’d be doubly shocked if you are a Christian or have even a passing familiarity with the New Testament, since such a verse does not actually exist.

According to the Times, “A Republican congressman read his colleagues a Bible verse from Romans that calls for the execution of gays.” Their source for that accusation is a May complaint by the gay rights organization Human Rights Watch: “HRC Calls on Republican Leadership to Condemn Lawmaker’s Attacks on LGBT People as ‘Worthy of Death.'” Neither the Times or HRC names the verse in question, but according to Roll Call, Georgia Congressman Rick W. Allen read from Romans 1:18-32.

Here is the part of that passage which apparently drew the ire of the HRC:

Because of this, God gave them over to shameful lusts. Even their women exchanged natural sexual relations for unnatural ones. In the same way the men also abandoned natural relations with women and were inflamed with lust for one another. Men committed shameful acts with other men, and received in themselves the due penalty for their error.

Furthermore, just as they did not think it worthwhile to retain the knowledge of God, so God gave them over to a depraved mind, so that they do what ought not to be done. They have become filled with every kind of wickedness, evil, greed and depravity. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit and malice. They are gossips, slanderers, God-haters, insolent, arrogant and boastful; they invent ways of doing evil; they disobey their parents; they have no understanding, no fidelity, no love, no mercy. Although they know God’s righteous decree that those who do such things deserve death, they not only continue to do these very things but also approve of those who practice them.

It’s that bolded section that appears to be the source of the misunderstanding. Yes, it says that those who practice the listed sins “deserve death”… but that’s because Christians believe that everyone deserves death. That’s kind of the whole point of our religion: through the mercy and sacrifice of Jesus, we can avoid the punishment we justly deserve.

If HRC or the New York Times had actually sat down for a second and listened to what Allen said, it would have been painfully obvious that it was not a call for execution. The condemnations of homosexuality come alongside condemnations of those who envy, lie, boast, cheat, gossip, disobey their parents, fail to love others, etc. You would have to believe that for the past two thousands years, Christian teaching has called for the execution of every person who has ever lived.

The Federalist’s Mollie Hemingway (who first pointed out the error, and masterfully so) explains just how common the phrase is in Christianity, and how two minutes of research could have avoided this mistake:

The “worthy of death” phrase (in my Bible, it’s “deserve to die”) is simply a restating of a basic teaching of Christianity. Let’s hop on over to Romans 6:23… “For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

This is the good news of Christianity! We’re all sinners who deserve death, but in Christ Jesus, we receive forgiveness and eternal life. If [Roll Call and the Times] go just one verse past the “execution” passage they claim to have discovered, they would also find: “For in passing judgment on another you condemn yourself, because you, the judge, practice the very same things.”

It’s not surprising that there was no one in the Times editorial staff who had alarm bells go off upon seeing a gross misrepresentation of Christian beliefs. It’s not like Christianity is the nation’s largest religion or something, or has a central place in the development of Western Civilization itself.

So no, a Republican congressman didn’t actually call for the murder of gays two weeks before that very thing happened in Orlando. Perhaps The New York Times‘ Jeremy Peters, when notified of his error, will make a correction.

Perhaps not.

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This is an opinion piece. The views expressed in this article are those of just the author.

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