A ‘clobber verse’ is an often-quoted verse
intented to pack a punch against a certain sin — and most often, the sin under attack is homosexuality.
You may never have heard the term clobber verse but you probably have heard the various verses that have earned the nickname.
There are generally six passages of the Bible that are regarded as clobber verses or clobber texts.
The first, from Genesis 19, tells the story of Sodom and Gomorrah. The second, perhaps among the best-known, are two passages from the book of Leviticus — verses 18:22 and 20:13. The third is found in 1 Corinthians. Clobber verse #4 comes to us from 1 Timothy Chapter 1. The fifth is Jude chapters 6 and 7, and the sixth comes from Romans Chapter 1.
The PostBartian notes that theologians have, in recent decades, “recognized that these six verses are difficult to interpret” and says many have even questioned the traditionally-taught interpretations. Regardless, the verses are still “frequently cited at anyone who is gay, lesbian, in a same-sex relationship, or anyone who supports the LGBTQ+ community to condemn them,” the site says.
Doesn’t sound all that compassionate, does it?
Make no mistake: for people who use the passages as “clobber verses,” they’re not meant to be.
A progressive Christian pastor I follow, Stan Mitchell, recently posted on Facebook a different kind of clobber verse. The verse he quoted is Matthew 23:4:
They crush people with unbearable religious demands and never lift a finger to ease the burden.
In a public Facebook post, Mitchell then writes this:
The gay kid told they have to be straight to please God is the one upon whom the “unbearable religious demand” is made. And, the religiously crushed gay kid who has been destroyed by that impossible demand, is the one the Church “never lifts a finger to ease the burden” of.
That is a
clobber text. But it’s the Church, not the LGBTQ+ that gets clobbered.
I’ve noted before that I’ve attended churches where it’s presumed that gay people would never set foot there. Yet in those churches, there was often a great deal of attention given to homosexuality.
I never understood that.
There were people facing addition problems. But the pastors didn’t talk much about that.
There were people facing (heterosexual) marital problems. But the pastors didn’t talk about that too much, either.
There were people who clearly weighed more than they would if they treated their bodies as a temple. The pastors conveniently ignored that, too.
They assumed there were no gays in attendance. But they talked about how terrible the gays were whenever possible.
Up to the point that someone pointed a finger at someone who might be gay and then the clobber verses rolled. Again.
Maybe Christ’s own words about the religious teachers and Pharisees might at least make us stop and think. If we’re putting enough pressure on those around us as to cause damage, are we really treating them the way Christ wanted?
I’m reminded about the recent news of a 9-year-old who took his own life. The fourth grader had come out as gay.
His mother says he’d been bullied the previous school year but that things got worse after he came out.
If the kind of bullying kids do to each other at school can have that big of an impact, imagine how damaging religious bullying might cause. The school kind is only about peer pressure. The religious kind implies eternal damnation.
Maybe it’s time we stopped trying to clobber each other.
Maybe it’s time we spent more time trying to listen and love.