Gwyneth Paltrow, homosexuality, the Bible and GOOP

The actress/advocate's misguided attempt to understand religious intolerance goes off track

Published June 9, 2011 9:10PM (EDT)

Gwyneth turns to the holy scriptures for answers.
Gwyneth turns to the holy scriptures for answers.

Gwyneth Paltrow has devoted this week's GOOP newsletter to the issue of homosexuality in the Bible. She wants to know exactly what that book says that gives people -- like that Arkansas board member she saw on TV a couple of months ago -- the right to tell kids they should kill themselves if they are gay. Somehow, she raises the question in a way that is not obnoxious or sanctimonious, which is hard for anyone dealing with Bible debate, but I imagine especially hard for Ms. Paltrow:

This concept, while foreign to me, is interesting, as it used to justify so much judgement and separation in our society. When my daughter came home from school one day saying that a classmate had two mommies, my response was, "Two mommies? How lucky is she?!" What does it actually say in the bible that will cause some people to be upset by my line of thinking?

It might have made for an interesting read, especially considering that Gwyneth's mommy-blogger fan base comes from all walks of life and could have provided her with some responses that actually come from outside her own worldview. Instead, she picks three spiritual leaders whose ideas very clearly match how she thinks the Bible should be interpreted, and one guy whose fundamental belief that homosexuality is wrong comes with an asterisked caveat:

*Note: We wanted to include as many perspectives as possible on this issue and so we are also including a more conservative voice here below.

The problem is that aside from the conservative perspective (from the book "Issues Facing Christians Today" by British Rector Emeritus Dr. John Stott), nobody answers her question with any specific passages from the Holy Scripture. That's what she was asking for, right? Not for people to excuse what is said in the books, or to say that their church doesn't believe in condemning people, but actually where in the Bible it says homosexuality is wrong.

Instead, Gwyneth got an Episcopal priest saying the Old Testament shouldn't be taken literally, a Kabbala scholar quoting a story from Kabbalist teachings about the Bible ("Love your neighbor as yourself. Everything else is commentary") and a priest from the Episcopal Church saying that a lot has changed over the years and his flock now accepts everyone.

And while that's all good stuff, not one of them answers the question Gwyneth poses. They just make excuses for it. You have to wonder whom that's actually helping, when the one guy who is actually able to cite Levitical texts and the part of Corinthians where homosexuals are listed as a type of sinner is the same guy who is preaching against homosexuality.

By Drew Grant

Drew Grant is a staff writer for Salon. Follow her on Twitter at @videodrew.

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