Don't judge all Christians by Evander Holyfield's homophobic comments

If you’re going to live your life according to the teachings of a book, you should at least study it in an objective way

Related Topics

Yesterday, a mass Twitter-furore was caused after former heavyweight boxing champion and sporting icon Evander Holyfield made homophobic remarks on camera in the Celebrity Big Brother House.

He espoused the view that being gay “ain't normal” and claimed that sexuality can be “fixed” in the same way you would “fix” a broken leg. When questioned, he used the sophisticated repost – “it says it in the Bible”.

Technically, he is right of course - it does say that being gay is wrong in the Bible, although interestingly not in any of the four main Gospels. Incidentally, the book also expresses similar sentiments about getting a tattoo (just a few pages later in Corinthians 6:19-20), of which Holyfield has several. In fact, there are many things “it says” in the Bible which we have consented to overlook as a society.

For some reason, the Biblical references to homosexuality appear to be the last bastion of wilful ignorance amongst some Christians. It would be easy to delude ourselves that Holyfield is a one-off, indeed during a subsequent ticking-off by Big Brother Evander was told that his views did not represent those of the majority and for that reason could cause offence. However, a phone-in radio show I listened to afterwards on the topic revealed some UK residents coming out in support of Holyfield’s viewpoint - all citing the Bible as their reasoning.

Whilst of course I am concerned about any negative impact on gay people arising out of these kinds of public statements, I actually found myself more sympathetic towards all the Christians I know who are intelligent enough not to uphold this stance. In an increasingly secular society, the impact of homosexual people dismissing all Christians as religious zealots is perhaps as damaging as the impact of a small but vocal section of the Christian community condemning homosexuality.

Personally, I am not religious in any sense, but I studied the New Testament in quite a lot of depth at college as half of my Religious Studies A Level, because I wanted to understand where Christians were coming from. That was a frighteningly long time ago and I’ve continued to have an interest in Christian Theology, and in particular the historical Jesus (who was, in my opinion, an absolute dude) ever since.

As the only agnostic in a class of 20 or so life-long Christians I expected to encounter a lot of bigotry because I had seen and heard the 90s equivalents of the Holyfield exchange in the media. I thought extreme views like that were a representation of the Christian faith. But I discovered my classmates understood that all passages in the Bible have a historical context and a personal bias determined by the writer, and that they had been endlessly translated (academics often argue about the Greek word that has been translated as ‘homosexuality’ – some say it should have been ‘prostitution’). They knew discretion was needed in many instances and that above all they had to uphold the central and unquestionable themes of the text – tolerance and resisting the temptation to judge others.

When it comes to homosexuality, I learned that Jesus, as far as we know, never touched on the subject. The most often-quoted anti-gay passage in the New Testament  (“The sexually immoral …..idolaters nor adulterers nor men who have sex with men……. will inherit the kingdom of God”) actually come from St Paul’s letter to the Corinthians, in which he is, in my understanding, addressing the very specific problem of the townsfolk using Church as a way to meet other townsfolk for sexual shenanigans.

So my teenage classmates knew that it is perfectly possible to be a Christian and not to denounce homosexuality, and in fact, that it is perfectly possible to be a Christian and gay. Under Jesus’ teachings about forbearance an open minded and non-judgmental stance towards others is pretty-much mandatory. They knew that because they had taken the trouble to study it in the most objective way they could, which if you’re going to live your life according to the teachings of a book, it is probably shrewd to do.

Mr Holyfield and his ilk are less representative of the faith they claim to belong to, but for some reason homophobia and a tendency to want to spout-off in a public forum tend to go hand-in-hand. In order to promote a harmonious society we must not only make it clear that Mr Holyfield’s comments were unacceptable, but also give the Thinking Christian a louder voice.

React Now

  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant - Dublin

£13676.46 - £16411.61 per annum + OTE: SThree: SThree Trainee Recruitment Cons...

Ashdown Group: Marketing or Business Graduate Opportunity - Norwich - £22,000

£18000 - £22000 per annum + training: Ashdown Group: Business and Marketing Gr...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£20000 - £25000 per annum + Commission: SThree: Are you great at building rela...

Ashdown Group: Database Analyst - Birmingham - £22,000 plus benefits

£20000 - £22000 per annum + excellent benefits: Ashdown Group: Application Sup...

Day In a Page

Read Next
Labour leader Ed Miliband unveils Labour's pledges carved into a stone plinth in Hastings  

Election 2015: Smash the two-party system! Smash the voting system!

Armando Iannucci
Tactical voting is a necessary evil of the current first-past-the-post system, where voters vote against what they do not want rather than in favour of what they do  

Election 2015: Voting tactically has become more fraught in new political order

Michael Ashcroft
General Election 2015: Ed Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

He was meant to be Labour's biggest handicap - but has become almost an asset
General Election 2015: A guide to the smaller parties, from the the National Health Action Party to the Church of the Militant Elvis Party

On the margins

From Militant Elvis to Women's Equality: a guide to the underdogs standing in the election
Amr Darrag: Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister in exile still believes Egypt's military regime can be replaced with 'moderate' Islamic rule

'This is the battle of young Egypt for the future of our country'

Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister Amr Darrag still believes the opposition can rid Egypt of its military regime and replace it with 'moderate' Islamic rule, he tells Robert Fisk
Why patients must rely less on doctors: Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'

Why patients must rely less on doctors

Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'
Sarah Lucas is the perfect artist to represent Britain at the Venice Biennale

Flesh in Venice

Sarah Lucas has filled the British pavilion at the Venice Biennale with slinky cats and casts of her female friends' private parts. It makes you proud to be a woman, says Karen Wright
11 best anti-ageing day creams

11 best anti-ageing day creams

Slow down the ageing process with one of these high-performance, hardworking anti-agers
Juventus 2 Real Madrid 1: Five things we learnt, including Iker Casillas is past it and Carlos Tevez remains effective

Juventus vs Real Madrid

Five things we learnt from the Italian's Champions League first leg win over the Spanish giants
Ashes 2015: Test series looks a lost cause for England... whoever takes over as ECB director of cricket

Ashes series looks a lost cause for England...

Whoever takes over as ECB director of cricket, says Stephen Brenkley
Fishing for votes with Nigel Farage: The Ukip leader shows how he can work an audience as he casts his line to the disaffected of Grimsby

Fishing is on Nigel Farage's mind

Ukip leader casts a line to the disaffected
Who is bombing whom in the Middle East? It's amazing they don't all hit each other

Who is bombing whom in the Middle East?

Robert Fisk untangles the countries and factions
China's influence on fashion: At the top of the game both creatively and commercially

China's influence on fashion

At the top of the game both creatively and commercially
Lord O’Donnell: Former cabinet secretary on the election and life away from the levers of power

The man known as GOD has a reputation for getting the job done

Lord O'Donnell's three principles of rule
Rainbow shades: It's all bright on the night

Rainbow shades

It's all bright on the night
'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

Bread from heaven

Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

How 'the Axe' helped Labour

UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power