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Take that....

  • Feb. 15th, 2007 at 3:18 PM
OMG
Leviticus 18:6 reads: "You shall not lie with a male as one lies with a female. It is an abomination." A similar verse occurs two chapters later, in Leviticus 20:13: "A man who sleeps with another man is an abomination and should be executed." On the surface, these words could leave you feeling rather uneasy, especially if you are gay. But just below the surface is the deeper truth about God -- and it has nothing to do with sex.


Leviticus is a holiness code written 3,000 years ago. This code includes many of the outdated sexual laws we mentioned earlier, and a lot more. It also includes prohibitions against round haircuts, tattoos, working on the Sabbath, wearing garments of mixed fabrics, eating pork or shellfish, getting your fortune told, and even playing with the skin of a pig. (There goes football!)

So what's a holiness code? It's a list of behaviors that people of faith find offensive in a certain place and time. In this case, the code was written for priests only, and its primary intent was to set the priests of Israel over and against priests of other cultures.

At the age of 10, I signed a holiness code written by the Women's Christian Temperance Union that said I would never taste beer, wine, or liquor. I thought signing it would please God and my grandmother. That's a holiness code. When I was in high school we evangelical Christians had an unwritten holiness code that went like this: "I don't drink, smoke, or chew, or go with girls who do." Now I know what you're thinking. That last part about "girls who do" proved especially easy for me. But the point is that I obeyed this evangelical holiness code because my parents said that breaking these rules didn't please God, and I knew it didn't please them.

We had another evangelical holiness code while I was in high school that prohibited dancing. I was student body president, yet I refused to go to the prom because I had promised not to dance. I did this to please God and my mother -- whose mother had made her sign a holiness code that she wouldn't go to dances either.

What about this word abomination that comes up in both passages? In Hebrew, "abominations" (TO'EBAH) are behaviors that people in a certain time and place consider tasteless or offensive. To the Jews an abomination was not a law, not something evil like rape or murder forbidden by the Ten Commandments. It was a common behavior by non-Jews that Jews thought was displeasing to God.

Jesus and Paul both said the holiness code in Leviticus does not pertain to Christian believers. Nevertheless, there are still people who pull the two verses about men sleeping together from this ancient holiness code to say that the Bible seems to condemn homosexuality.

But wait, before we go any further, let's ask: What does this text say about God? Even if the old holiness codes no longer apply to us as Christians, it's important to remember that in every age, people of faith are responsible for setting moral and ethical standards that honor God. But we people of faith must be very careful not to allow our own prejudices to determine what those standards should be.

Instead of selecting one item from an ancient Jewish holiness code and using it to condemn sexual or gender minorities, let's talk together about setting sexual standards that please God -- standards appropriate for heterosexuals and homosexuals alike, standards based on loving concern, health, and wholeness for ourselves and for others.

Now what do the Leviticus passages say about homosexuality?

I'm convinced those passages say nothing about homosexuality as we understand it today. Here's why. Consider this single Bible passage that was used for centuries to condemn masturbation:

"He spilled his seed on the ground... And the thing which Onan did displeased the Lord: wherefore he slew him also" (Genesis 38:9-10).

For Jewish writers of Scripture, a man sleeping with another man was an abomination. But it was also an abomination (and one worthy of death) to masturbate or even to interrupt coitus (to halt sex with your spouse before ejaculation as an act of birth control). Why were these sexual practices considered abominations by Scripture writers in these ancient times?

Because the Hebrew pre-scientific understanding was that the male semen contained the whole of life. With no knowledge of eggs and ovulation, it was assumed that the man's sperm contained the whole child and that the woman provided only the incubating space. Therefore, the spilling of semen without possibility of having a child was considered murder.

The Jews were a small tribe struggling to populate a country. They were outnumbered by their enemy. You can see why these ancient people felt it was an abomination to risk "wasting" even a single child. But the passage says nothing about homosexuality as we understand it today.

The Apostle PaulWe've talked about the passages in the Hebrew Scriptures that are used (or misused) by some people to condemn sexual minorities. Now let's look at three verses from the letters of the apostle Paul in the Christian Scriptures that are used the same way. Remember: First, we'll ask what the text says about God; second, we'll consider what it may or may not say about sexual orientation.

From http://www.soulforce.org/article/homosexuality-bible-gay-christian

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Comments

the_yiddish wrote:
Feb. 17th, 2007 05:06 pm (UTC)
Very good find, and I shall definitely be using that in some arguments with Mrs. Barlow!
_aikaterine_ wrote:
Jun. 21st, 2007 12:31 am (UTC)
I'm glad you posted this. More people should think this way, I'm glad you shared it with your part of the world.

By the way... we have the same name and many of the same interests, and from the look of it, same beliefs. What's up with that? lol
lots_of_roxz wrote:
Jun. 28th, 2007 03:56 am (UTC)
Oh wow do we?
Thats awesome. Thanks for the comment. I do wish people would open their minds and realize that the way the run their lives don't work for everyone.
_aikaterine_ wrote:
Jun. 28th, 2007 06:52 am (UTC)
Yeah, but it looks like you married into yours? I'm a born Lindstrom. At least you're a Kat. Good enough. :D
romancedeath wrote:
Aug. 15th, 2011 06:29 am (UTC)
I think I love you.

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