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What the Bible really says about gays

Chicago fillmmaker Ky Dickens director 'Fish Out Water.'

Chicago fillmmaker Ky Dickens, director of "Fish Out of Water."

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Updated: December 20, 2013 12:12PM

If something is repeated often enough, it can become, well, gospel truth.

Countless times people have told me that as “good Christians” they cannot accept homosexuality because it’s against their faith. “It’s in the Bible,” they’ll explain.

I found it hard to believe that the same Christianity that preaches “love thy neighbor” could single out gays for exclusion. Yet I couldn’t argue because I’m not much of a Bible reader. I figured they knew what they were talking about.

I was wrong.

As I watched a documentary, “Fish Out of Water,” I knew I’d found my ammunition for the next “the Bible told me so” argument.

“Fish Out of Water,”, was directed by Chicago filmmaker Ky Dickens, whose friends collectively told her “the devil must have your heart” when she came out.

But as Dickens said during a phone interview this week, she knew from the time she was 7 she was gay. Yet, as a person of faith, the thought that the Bible denounced her was disheartening.

“My faith was an important part of my life in high school and college,” she said.

Dickens set out to find the answers she needed, and “Fish Out of Water” is the result.

Among the things it does is ask everyday people to explain what exactly the Bible says (most replies are along the lines of the barber who answers, “Well, that’s a tough question”).

Then she took the seven Bible passages most mentioned by those who condemn homosexuality and asked ministers and theologians if the passages were being fairly interpreted.

Well, suffice it to say, they are not. (I knew Jesus wouldn’t be down with hatred, I just knew it!) For instance, the story of Sodom and Gomorrah is about the violation of hospitality; basically, be nice to strangers. (If only the “Christians” who always write such awful things to me about immigrants read this passage correctly. But I digress.)

The neat thing about “Fish” is that it does more than preach to the choir, so to speak.

Instead, the documentary — which is very approachable and non-judgmental — has become popular with community groups, schools and, yes, churches. Audiences have seen it across the United States — including the Bible Belt — and as far away as Israel, South Africa and Korea.

When I caught up with Dickens, she was heading to Tennessee and then southern Illinois for showings. Dickens admits that the film probably won’t change the minds — or hearts — of diehard ultra-conservatives.

But for those in the middle, seeing these biblical experts explain what certain hot-button passages really mean and how they’ve been taken out of context, can be eye-opening and reassuring.

The documentary “is giving them permission to accept,” she said. “It’s telling them, it’s OK to love your gay brother.”

For gay Christians, it has been a comfort as well. Dickens has received letters from people so happy to discover “I can have a faith.”

Wow, faith helping people feel able to give love and be accepted. Of course, that’s really what it’s all about.

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