Don’t let gay-bashers cherry pick the Bible.

| August 31, 2006 | 8 Replies

63% of Americans say that the Bible is literally true.   Those who rely on the Bible to condemn and harass gays often point to the book of Leviticus.  If that is a worthy strategy, let’s follow everything the Bible teaches us, including everything from Leviticus, right? 

The following excerpts are from a list that is commonly posted on the internet.  According to this site, the writer addressed his letter to conservative radio host Dr. Laura Schlessinger after Schlessinger relied to justify her disparagement of gays.  I double-checked each of these citations to the Bible before posting this.  The writer is right on the money with his comments:

  • I know that I am allowed no contact with a woman while she is in her period of menstrual uncleanliness – Lev.15: 19-24. The problem is how do I tell? I have tried asking, but most women take offense.
  • Lev. 25:44 states that I may indeed possess slaves, both male and female, provided they are purchased from neighbouring nations. A friend of mine claims that this applies to Mexicans, but not Canadians. Can you clarify? Why can’t I own Canadians?
  • I have a neighbour who insists on working on the Sabbath. Exodus 35:2. The passage clearly states he should be put to death. Am I morally obligated to kill him myself?
  • A friend of mine feels that even though eating shellfish is an abomination – Lev. 11:10, it is a lesser abomination than homosexuality. I don’t agree. Can you settle this? Are there ‘degrees’ of abomination?
  • Lev. 21:20 states that I may not approach the altar of God if I have a defect in my sight. I have to admit that I wear reading glasses. Does my vision have to be 20/20, or is there some wiggle room here? [Dwarfs and people with bad backs are also forbidden to approach.]
  • Most of my male friends get their hair trimmed, including the hair around their temples, even though this is expressly forbidden by Lev.19:27. How should they die? [also forbidden: marring the corners of one's beard]

Again, for the complete letter, click here.

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Category: Bigotry, Religion, Sex

About the Author ()

Erich Vieth is an attorney focusing on consumer law litigation and appellate practice. He is also a working musician and a writer, having founded Dangerous Intersection in 2006. Erich and his wife, Anne Jay, live in the Shaw Neighborhood of St. Louis, Missouri, where they are raising their two extraordinary daughters.

Comments (8)

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  1. Erika Price says:

    I once asked a pastor about some of the absurd demands of Leviticus, including some of the above as well as that God will condemn us as "unclean" for touching the skin of a pig (Lev 11:6-8). I asked if that scripture deemed anyone who has ever played football unclean. He gave some vague response that "we have moved beyond biblical times, times have changed, and the Lord understands that those rules aren't important anymore." He also said that Jesus presented a new covenant between God and man, which he claimed negated the Old Testament's demands.

    Yet somehow, this same Pastor still fell back on Leviticus to oppose homosexuality! I asked him what made this Old Testament law any different from the rest, and he went on an essentially unrelated diatribe about the high rate of drug addiction and suicide among male homosexuals, and how this serves as "proof" that God still doesn't approve of gays. Obviously, the Bible has nothing to do it- it just serves as an excuse for bigotry the same way this man's psuedoscience did.

  2. Erich Vieth says:

    Here is full copy of the anonymous letter sent to radio personality "Dr. Laura":

    Dear Dr. Laura,

    Thank you for doing so much to educate people regarding God’s Law. I have learned a great deal from your show, and I try to share that knowledge with as many people as I can. When someone tries to defend the homosexual lifestyle, for example, I simply remind him that Leviticus 18:22 clearly states it to be an abomination. End of debate.

    I do need some advice from you, however, regarding some of the specific laws and how to best follow them.

    a) When I burn a bull on the altar as a sacrifice, I know it creates a pleasing odor for the Lord (Lev 1:9). The problem is my neighbors. They claim the odor is not pleasing to them. Should I smite them?

    b) I would like to sell my daughter into slavery, as sanctioned in Exodus 21:7. In this day and age, what do you think would be a fair price for her?

    c) I know that I am allowed no contact with a woman while she is in her period of menstrual uncleanliness (Lev 15:19-24). The problem is, how do I tell? I have tried asking, but most women take offense.

    d) Lev. 25:44 states that I may indeed possess slaves, both male and female, provided they are purchased from neighboring nations. A friend of mine claims that this applies to Mexicans, but not Canadians. Can you clarify? Why can’t I own Canadians?

    e) I have a neighbor who insists on working on the Sabbath. Exodus 35:2 clearly states he should be put to death. Am I morally obligated to kill him myself?

    f) A friend of mine feels that even though eating shellfish is an Abomination (Lev 11:10), it is a lesser abomination than homosexuality. I don’t agree. Can you settle this?

    g) Lev 21:20 states that I may not approach the altar of God if I have a defect in my sight. I have to admit that I wear reading glasses. Does my vision have to be 20/20, or is there some wiggle room here?

    h) Most of my male friends get their hair trimmed, including the hair around their temples, even though this is expressly forbidden by Lev 19:27. How should they die?

    i) I know from Lev 11:6-8 that touching the skin of a dead pig makes me unclean, but may I still play football if I wear gloves?

    j) My uncle has a farm. He violates Lev 19:19 by planting two different crops in the same field, as does his wife by wearing garments made of two different kinds of thread (cotton/polyester blend). He also tends to curse and blaspheme a lot. Is it really necessary that we go to all the trouble of getting the whole town together to stone them? (Lev 24:10-16) Couldn’t we just burn them to death at a private family affair like we do with people who sleep with their in-laws? (Lev. 20:14)

    I know you have studied these things extensively, so I am confident you can help.

    Thank you again for reminding us that God’s word is eternal and unchanging.

    Your devoted disciple and adoring fan.

    For more on this letter, see http://www.snopes.com/politics/religion/drlaura.a

  3. Erich Vieth says:

    My conversion text is the 25th chapter of Matthew, where Jesus said, “As you’ve done to the least of these, you’ve done to me.” I don’t hear Bush ever talking about the Sermon on the Mount; I just don’t hear it. I’m hard pressed to think of teachings of Jesus that are being talked about in the White House.

    Jesus didn’t speak at all about homosexuality. There are about 12 verses in the Bible that touch on that question. Most of them are very contextual. There are thousands of verses on poverty. I don’t hear a lot of that conversation.

    What you really don’t hear [from Bush] is Jesus saying, “Blessed are the peacemakers.” Or even more, how many sermons have we heard since Sept. 11 on the text, “Love your enemies?” It hasn’t been a very popular text since Sept. 11. Well, we should at least have a debate about what Jesus meant by blessed are the peacemakers and love your enemies in a world full of terrorism and tyranny.

    I remember Bill O’Reilly one night was yelling at me about Iraq. I said, “Bill, what would Jesus do? Can you imagine him climbing into the cockpit of a B-52 and dropping a load of bombs over Baghdad?” And Bill said, “Well, Jesus would surely want to protect the American people.” And I said, “Really? What about the Iraqis?” “Well, well, them, too.” Once you start talking about this in a religious frame, it’s troubling.

    The Republicans will not hold [Bush] accountable to the biblical prophets when they think all the issues are about abortion, and the Democrats don’t even know the language. He gets away with it. There’s got to be a progressive religious response to Bush that says, “We don’t quibble with your piety, but we challenge your theology.” There is no American exceptionalism in the Bible. The Gospel is uneasy with empire—except American empire?

    Jim Walls, an evangelical Christian, in an interview with Mother Jones. http://www.motherjones.com/news/qa/2005/03/gods_p

  4. Erich Vieth says:

    Dan Savage talks about cherry-picking:

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  5. Concerning Homosexuality LEV. 18:22 reads:

    "Thou shalt not lie with mankind, as with womankind: it is abomination."

    http://bible.cc/leviticus/18-22.htm

    When reading the Bible I have noticed that it must be read in context in order to understand. I think that is the most commom mistake I see with many people Christian and non-Christian alike. Many people do not undestand the context.

    In the OT it worshiping God was alot different, priest had to make saraficed etc. but we are not living in the OT age, we are living in the church age and Jesus is that perfect saracfice to cover us from our sins.

  6. Inhisnameable says:

    To the gentle man who asked if he should kill people because they have . The answer is no.

    Also you must realize that while God's law did not change his covent with mankind did. Anyone can freely worhship God it does not matter if you have a physical defect or not.

    I would like to explain some more about the OT / NT and how it relates to the church age ( the age we are living in today).

    I will have an example with witchcraft:

    “And the soul that turneth after such as have familiar spirits, and after wizards, to go a whoring after them, I will even set my face against that soul, and will cut him off from among his people. Sanctify yourselves therefore, and be ye holy: for I am the LORD your God.”

    Leviticus 20:6-7 (KJV)

    I don’t want you to think that this means for people to kill witches or anyone who sins. The Bible says that the wages of sin(not just witchcraft) is death , but through Jesus Christ we may have eternal life.

    “For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.” – Romans 6:23

    God told Adam in the Garden of Eden that if he eat the fruit he will surely die.

    “And the LORD God commanded the man, saying, Of every tree of the garden thou mayest freely eat: But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die.”

    Genesis 2:16-17

    This shows that in God’s law the wages of disobedience is death. Now again, this does not mean that Christians should kill witches or anyone for that matter. You may be wondering why the passages above are calling for death for those who practice witchcraft. Well, that was written in the Old Testament before Jesus came to die for our sins. When Jesus came, he died and paied the price for our sins (because the wages of sin is death) .

    A scripture from the New Testament that supports what I said . There was a woman who was caught in the act of adultery . I will show you the scripture so that you know how Jesus handled the situation.

    “And the scribes and Pharisees brought unto him a woman taken in adultery; and when they had set her in the midst, They say unto him, Master, this woman was taken in adultery, in the very act. Now Moses in the law commanded us, that such should be stoned: but what sayest thou? This they said, tempting him, that they might have to accuse him. But Jesus stooped down, and with his finger wrote on the ground, as though he heard them not. So when they continued asking him, he lifted up himself, and said unto them, He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her.”

    -John 8:3-7

    No one was without sin , so they could stone her.

    Please don’t think that God’s law changed (It says that he is the same yesterday today and tomorrow) . In the Old testament she would have been senctenced to death here a twp scriptures to support that:

    Leviticus 20:10

    And the man that committeth adultery with another man's wife, even he that committeth adultery with his neighbor's wife, the adulterer and the adulteress shall surely be put to death.

    Deuteronomy 22:22

    If a man be found lying with a woman married to an husband, then they shall both of them die, both the man that lay with the woman, and the woman: so shalt thou put away evil from Israel.

    Keep in mind both of those scriptures are from the Old Testament. This was before God sent Jesus to save us from our sins. In the paragraph above , we see how Jesus’s acted in the situation. Please don not get me wrong Jesus did not come to destroy the law, but to fulfill it. The wages of sin is death, but what did change is that he sent His only begotten Son (Jesus) to pay the price for our sins by dying for us.

    “For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved.”

    - John 3:17 (KJV)

    I hope this helps to clear some things up. Any questions then please ask!

    • Erich Vieth says:

      Inhisnameable: Thank you for your comment. I'd love to say that I find it helpful, but I don't. It's preaching, which I try to minimize on this site because the only people for whom it is helpful are those who already believe it. Thus, "preaching" is banned in the comments policy. I am printing this comment as an opportunity to remind readers why. But thank you for your effort.

  7. Inhisnameable reminds us also how difficult it seems to be for some folks to wrap their heads around the idea that the Bible was written by MEN, who had agendas, and that maybe it should be read in light of that fact.

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