Among the many apocryphal sayings imputed to the theologian and Catholic saint Thomas Aquinas was “hominem unius libri timeo.”
A very loose translation of the Latin phrase is still in use, usually by individuals positively allergic to any mention of biblical wisdom: “Beware the man of one book.”
While its place in modern argot definitely isn’t how Aquinas originally intended it, the message is clear: If you want to believe in that dusty old Scripture, go right ahead, but don’t you dare use it as a guide for life or espouse any of its more restrictive precepts in public.
Thanks to the prevailing cultural current, the man of one book is scorned, derided and cast aside as outmoded and intolerant.
On Wednesday, however, he can be said to have scored a small victory — for, as it turns out, he’s gotten one book further than “The View” co-host Joy Behar.
(Behar is usually intolerant of almost any kind of biblical morality — but sadly, she’s hardly the only one in the entertainment industry who feels that way. Here at The Western Journal, we’ve been chronicling Hollywood’s fight against traditional religious values — and we’ll continue to hold the establishment media to account. You can help us by subscribing.)
Behar and her co-panelists were discussing a speech by Mike Pence at the University of Virginia on Tuesday night where the former vice president was asked, “If one of your children came out to you as gay, how would you respond? What would you tell them?”
“I’d look them in the eye and tell them, ‘I love you,’” Pence responded.
“I believe marriage was ordained by God and instituted in the law,” he said. “But we live in a pluralistic society, and the way we go forward and the way we come together as a country united, I believe, is when we respect your right to believe, and my right to believe, what we believe.”
Alyssa Farah Griffin, a former Pence aide who has been filling in for Whoopi Goldberg on the show, said she felt it was a sign Pence’s views on same-sex marriage might be changing.
Another co-host, Julia Haart, talked about her own daughter’s same-sex relationship.
“To me, having the right to choose who you want to be and not made to feel shame is what democracy is,” Haart said.
“Who decided that a traditional marriage is a man and a woman? Who came up with this plan? Everything that exists in nature — right?
“People say it’s unnatural. But isn’t everything that exists in nature natural?”
As for what happened next — well, beware the woman of zero books.
“Is homosexuality even mentioned in the Bible? I don’t think it is,” Behar said.
“It is,” the rest of the table assured her.
“That’s how much I know about the Bible,” Behar quipped.
You don’t say.
The rest of the discussion centered around the idea that no matter how Pence’s views may or may not evolve, he’s a man of one book, and unless he spends the rest of his life wearing a rainbow-colored hair-shirt shackled to a 40-pound boombox that plays nothing but the Pet Shop Boys, he’s still a loathsome bigot for believing what’s in the Bible. (This wasn’t the exact language used, but I’d like to think it’s a fair synopsis.)
But … while we’re at it, let’s talk about what’s in that one book and why Behar’s co-hosts seemed so eager to pivot away from her ignorance about it.
Leviticus 18:22: “You shall not lie with a male as with a woman; it is an abomination.”
Leviticus 20:13: “If a man lies with a male as with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination; they shall surely be put to death; their blood is upon them.”
1 Kings 14:24: “… there were also male cult prostitutes in the land. They did according to all the abominations of the nations that the Lord drove out before the people of Israel.”
Jude 7: “… just as Sodom and Gomorrah and the surrounding cities, which likewise indulged in sexual immorality and pursued unnatural desire, serve as an example by undergoing a punishment of eternal fire.”
And we won’t even get into that whole Sodom and Gomorrah thing, which takes a while to go through. Joy should look it up, however, because it’ll explain a lot.
But that’s the Old Testament, right? That’s the God of the old covenant. Squishy Christians and nonbelievers with nothing more than a passing knowledge of the Bible like to think of him as an irascible, mercurial despot. Once that hippie Jesus came along and was crucified in his Birkenstocks, the new covenant did away with all of that rank homophobia — right?
You can see where this is going. Here’s some New Testament wisdom:
1 Corinthians 6:9-10: “Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality, nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God.”
Romans 1:26-27: “For this reason God gave them up to dishonorable passions. For their women exchanged natural relations for those that are contrary to nature; and the men likewise gave up natural relations with women and were consumed with passion for one another, men committing shameless acts with men and receiving in themselves the due penalty for their error.”
1 Timothy 1:9-10: “… understanding this, that the law is not laid down for the just but for the lawless and disobedient, for the ungodly and sinners, for the unholy and profane, for those who strike their fathers and mothers, for murderers, the sexually immoral, men who practice homosexuality, enslavers, liars, perjurers, and whatever else is contrary to sound doctrine.”
Matthew 19:4-6: “He answered, ‘Have you not read that he who created them from the beginning made them male and female, and said, ‘Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh’? So they are no longer two but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let not man separate.”
Yes, there’s Jesus not only explicitly prescribing marriage (and therefore sexual relations) as being between a man and a woman but also touching on transgenderism (“he who created them from the beginning made them male and female”) and divorce (“What therefore God has joined together, let not man separate”) and making it clear both are sinful. That’s a three-for!
So, TL;DR: Yeah, homosexuality is in the Bible, and God’s not exactly on the fence about it.
It isn’t that I’m irked at another segment on “The View” where we get to hear what a gaggle of people who aren’t thinking are thinking — and that they’re paid to expound on what they aren’t thinking, at that. It’s not that I enjoy dunking on Joy Behar, either. It’s like beating the computer on easy mode in a video game you’ve mastered; at a certain point, it just gets boring.
Rather, Behar’s gaffe is emblematic of where “hominem unius libri timeo” has taken us.
Aquinas, of course, meant that learning shouldn’t be narrow or focused solely on Scripture. Over the past few centuries — and particularly over the past few decades — the wariness of the man of one book has turned into a wariness of that one book, period.
For most who aren’t Christians — and sadly, even for some who are — the Bible isn’t actually read but instead learned in outline form and used to confirm personal biases. The real message of the Bible, for a great many people, is contained in just one verse, Matthew 7:1: “Judge not, that you be not judged.”
Never mind the context of the passage (for it’s almost never taken in its correct context) and never mind the other 66 books in the Bible. Jesus is love, and their version of love is whatever they already believe — which usually contradicts the rest of biblical morality, but it’s not like they know that.
As for those of us who have read the rest of the Bible and apply its precepts accordingly, well, we’re the unloving, intolerant ones. If only we hadn’t made the mistake of reading God’s word and following it, we’d be just as lovingly Jesus-like as the people who have remained blissfully ignorant about who Jesus really was.
We’ve become a culture full of men and women of zero books, and we should rightly beware of all of them.
Most of them don’t broadcast their lack of knowledge quite as openly or hilariously as Joy Behar did, however. If only more of them would do us that favor.