clobber passage, clobber text, Big Eight

Where there is church controversy, you will usually find some Christianese thrown into the mix. In some parts of the church these days, there is debate and conversation about what the Bible says about homosexuality. Below are definitions for three Christianese terms that are commonly used in that ongoing debate.

Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the past 40 years, you’ve probably already heard the most famous Christianese term related to the discussion of homosexuality in the church: “pray away the gay.” I’m still in the process of researching the complex backstory of that particular term, so today I’m sharing three other terms that may be less well-known but are nevertheless still frequently used in conversations about what the Bible says about homosexuality.

The first two terms are “clobber passage” and its synonym “clobber text.” Clobber passages are those verses in the Bible that are commonly used to argue that homosexuality is a sin. The third term, “Big Eight,” refers to the eight most common clobber passages. See the dictionary entries below for the definitions of these three terms and to find out which specific Bible verses are meant by these terms.

Three additional Christianese terms that are sometimes heard in these conversations are “Side A,” “Side B,” and “Side X.” In a nutshell, those terms refer to various positions held by participants in the debate about homosexuality and the church. Side A is the position that homosexual activity is not sinful. Side B is the position that homosexual activity is sinful and that Christians who feel tempted to homosexual activity should remain celibate. Side X is the position that Christians should not only abstain from homosexual activity but should even strive to become “cured” of any homosexual urges they may have (e.g., by “praying away the gay” or participating in other remediation techniques) so that they can go on to live heterosexual lives.


clobber passage n. Also *clobber text. Any of several passages in the Bible (such as Leviticus 18:22) that are routinely used by some Christians to condemn homosexuality and homosexuals.
As few as four and as many as eight passages in the Bible are typically meant by the term “clobber passages.” If there are only four clobber passages, they are usually these: Genesis 19:1-5; Leviticus 18:22; Romans 1:18-32; 1 Corinthians 6:9-10. The eight passages are usually these: Genesis 19:1-5; Leviticus 18:22; Leviticus 20:13; Deuteronomy 23:17; Romans 1:18-32; 1 Corinthians 6:9-10; 1 Timothy 1:9-10; Jude 1:6-7. (The term *Big Eight is sometimes used to refer to all eight passages.)
The Christians who use such scriptural passages to condemn homosexuality rarely themselves refer to the passages as clobber passages and clobber texts; rather these Christianese terms are typically used by the gay Christians who feel “clobbered” when such passages are invoked.
See also *Adam and Steve; *pray away the gay.
1990 San Francisco Chronicle (19 Sep.) A1 : Bailey agreed that all gay Christians struggle with the Bible and what are known as the “clobber passages,” verses in which homosexuality is condemned as a sin and “abomination.” But he said fundamentalists take those few verses out of context, both textually and historically. 1992 Mollenkott Sensuous Spirituality 157 : Of course there are the “clobber passages,” the proof texts in the Bible that are often used out of context as evidence of the sinfulness of homosexual relationships. 1992 Williams Just As I Am: A Practical Guide to Being Out, Proud, and Christian 52 : This text [=Romans 1:26-27] is unique among the traditional “clobber passages” in that it is the only one that makes any mention of lesbian activity. 1993 Whitacre Will You Be Mine? 188 : There are seven passages that we refer to as “clobber passages” that have been used to hit us over the head with, repeatedly, to tell us that we are inherently evil. 1994 Piazza Holy Homosexuals 27 : First, we will look at what are commonly known as the “clobber passages.” Those are the scriptures that the religious right has used to attack lesbian and gay people. 1995 White Stranger at the Gate: To Be Gay and Christian in America 335 : The familiar Old Testament clobber passage had been misused by Robertson, Falwell, and other “selective literalists” to condemn homosexuality, but this Presbyterian literalist was going all the way. 1995 Dallas Morning News (4 Nov.) : He believes the “clobber passages” used by some Christians to condemn gays have been misinterpreted and misused. 1999 Wink Homosexuality and Christian Faith 68 : The Bible’s mere seven mentions of homosexual behavior—what gay Christians have called “the clobber passages.” 2002 Miner, Connoley The Children Are Free: Reexamining the Biblical Evidence on Same-Sex Relationships 1 : As we begin to grapple with this question, in this first chapter we examine what are often referred to as the “clobber passages.” These are the handful of Bible passages that some Christians use to “clobber” gay, lesbian, and bisexual people. 2004 Seattle Times (7 May) : Some gay Christians refer to the six biblical references to homosexuality as “clobber passages,” traditionally used by some churches to condemn them. 2005 Sundby Calling the Rainbow Nation Home 109 : While there is much debate amongst Bible scholars whether any Scriptures specifically address homosexuality, there are eight references that are used by some to condemn gays. These are commonly referred to as “the Clobber Passages” or the “Big Eight.” Of these eight, only six are still used with any regularity as two have been accepted by most as not pertaining to homosexuality. 2007 Tennessean (18 Nov.) : Known as the “clobber passages,” these six or seven Scriptures are commonly cited as evidence that God condemns homosexuality. Probably the best known is Genesis 19:1-5. 2008 Marks Reasons to Believe 320 : He focused, in particular, on what he called “the clobber passages,” gay Christian shop talk for those six or seven points in the Bible where the authors singled out homosexual behavior for attack. 2010 New York Times (8 Oct.) : The conventional Judeo-Christian view of homosexuality as a sin, an abomination, largely derives from six sections of Biblical text, some in the Old Testament and some in the New, known colloquially as the “clobber passages.” 2010 Rix Ex-Gay No Way 117 : I looked closely at the “clobber passages,” (the four or five spots in the Bible that the ex-gay movement and conservative groups believe speak against homosexuality). 2010 Lurie The Less-Dead 222 : [There are] six “clobber” passages that so many evangelical teachers quote to support their hard stance against homosexuality. 2013 Hall A Thorn in the Flesh: How Gay Sexuality Is Changing the Episcopal Church 245 : There are seven passages in the Bible that relate to homosexual behaviors. They are often called the “clobber passages” because they have often been used to attack gays and lesbians.
clobber text n. Synonymous with *clobber passage.
1997 Piazza Holy Homosexuals (back matter: advertisement for four-part video presentation of book’s material) : Among the topics he examines are the infamous “clobber” texts in the Bible used to condemn homosexuality. 2000 Wolfe Same-Sex Matters 181 : Both the Old and New Testaments contain what the movement [of gay Christians] calls “clobber texts,” meaning texts that condemn homosexual activity in rather clear terms. 2003 Lopata Fortunate Families 000 : These stories and passages are sometimes called the “Clobber Texts,” because they are used to “clobber” our gay children. Indeed, these passages surfaced in response to the survey. Most noted was Leviticus 18:22. 2006 Schlager in Kuefler, ed. The Boswell Thesis: Essays on Christianity 77 : With regard to what contemporary gay Christians and other have often termed the “clobber texts” of the Bible, that is, those seven passages from the Old and New Testaments which have been most frequently cited as clear condemnations of homosexual behavior. 2007 Huntsville Times (AL) (2 Feb.) : Gay Christians know the, as they call them, “clobber texts” in the Bible that are trotted out to prove that gay relations are an abomination to the Lord. 2008 Jones Progressive and Religions 102 : No one that I interviewed denied that there were six biblical “clobber texts” that are unequivocally negative about particular sexual acts between members of the same sex.
Big Eight n. The group of all eight *clobber passages.
2005 Sundby Calling the Rainbow Nation Home 109 : While there is much debate amongst Bible scholars whether any Scriptures specifically address homosexuality, there are eight references that are used by some to condemn gays. These are commonly referred to as “the Clobber Passages” or the “Big Eight.” Of these eight, only six are still used with any regularity as two have been accepted by most as not pertaining to homosexuality.
  • icecitizen

    I learn new stuff every day! Thanks! M&D

  • pwlsax

    Are there clobber texts for issues other than homosexuality? Say, abortion?