Homosexuality and the Aspiring Priests of Israel

Turns out, tattooing quotes from Leviticus isn't the smartest thing you can do.
Turns out, tattooing quotes from Leviticus isn't the smartest thing you can do. | Source

Y'all Aspiring Rabbis?

Maybe you've seen this photo before: a man tattooed his arm with a quote from Leviticus that forbids homosexuality, unaware of the fact that the same book forbids tattoos.

This is a perfect illustration of how religious fundamentalists treat the Bible - as a convenient justification for their prejudices, picking and choosing which commandments to call the Divine Word of God, and which to consider an outdated Jewish law.

You can't have your pie and eat it too. If you choose to justify your homophobia with passages from Leviticus 18:22 and 20:13 ("Thou shalt not lie with a man, as with a woman: it is abomination." and "If a man lie with a man, as he lieth with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination: they shall surely be put to death; their blood shall be upon them."), don't stop there - obey the rest of the religious tribal law! For example, you are forbidden from:

  • Eating fat (3:17)
  • Touching an unclean animal (5:2)
  • Carelessly making an oath (5:4)
  • Tearing your clothes Eating an animal which doesn’t both chew cud and has a divided hoof (11:4-7)
  • Eating – or touching the carcass of – any seafood without fins or scales (11:10-12)
  • Having sex with a woman during her period (18:19)
  • Seeking revenge or bearing a grudge (19:18)
  • Mixing fabrics in clothing (19:19)
  • Trimming your beard (19:27)
  • Marking your skin with tattoos (19:28)
  • Not standing in the presence of the elderly (19:32)
  • Marrying a prostitute, divorcee or widow (21:7,13)
  • Doing any kind of work on Saturday (23:3)
  • Selling land permanently (25:23)

Sounds good? If you think that the Bible is an explicit Word of God, then please be obliged to follow everything it contains, not just the parts that appeal to you.

And to a larger point, the Book of Leviticus was written for an ancient Israeli tribe of priests at the time of Exodus. Here is how Baruch A. Levine from MyJewishLearning.com explains its purpose:

"Leviticus is known formally as Torat Kohanim, "instructions for the priests" (Mishnah Megillot 1:5). This title defines Leviticus as a prescription for the proper worship of the God of Israel."

Y'all aspiring Rabbis?

The Sodom and Gomorrah Story

"The Destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah," John Martin, 1852.
"The Destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah," John Martin, 1852. | Source

In other words, the historical and cultural context of these passages is crucial for understanding the message.

Take another biblical "clobber passage" that gets quoted often for being "anti-gay" - the Sodom and Gomorrah story. God sends two (male) angels to find good people in these sinful cities. When angels arrive, Mr. Nice Guy Lot welcomes them into his house. This is where things get weird: the citizens demand that Lot gives up his guests so that they can do sexual things to them. Moments later the cities are destroyed, and the convenient conclusion is formed: God hates fags.

Isn't it more likely that God condemns gang rape rather than "homosexuality"? Besides, in ancient world, rape wasn't based on sexual preference; it was a form of punishment, humiliation and a display of dominance. Mass rape after a military defeat was a common occurrence, and applied equally to men and women.

Not only that, as stated in Ezekial 16:49, God disapproved of the greed and the wickedness of the Sodomites, not their sexual orientation:

"Now, this was the sin of your sister, Sodom. She and her daughters were arrogant, overfed, and unconcerned, they did not help the poor and needy."

What gives these people the right to speak for God?
What gives these people the right to speak for God? | Source

"If a person is gay and seeks God and has good will, who am I to judge them?" -- Pope Francis

"We don't actually believe gay people are sick or stunted or criminal. We don't believe God is an angry old man out to get us. Let's stop behaving as though we did." -- Revd Alan Wison, Bishop of Buckingham

What Liberal Christians Think About Homosexuality

Even liberal Christians often hesitate to clearly state that homosexuality is not a sin, and that same-sex couples should have the same rights as the straight ones.

For example, in his book "UNFAIR: Christians and the LGBT Question" the author John Shore points out that only several out of the Bible’s 31,173 verses mention homosexuality, which should be an indication of its moral irrelevance. And even when it is mentioned, it's all about the context:

"The Bible is not a rulebook for being Christian. We would be foolish to fail to understand that not everything in the Bible is a commandment, and that Christians cannot take a small section of the Bible out of its larger context, and still hope to gain a clear understanding of that section."

Your Opinion

Homosexuality is...

  • a sin.
  • normal part of life.
  • awesome.
See results without voting

So, it's just not that important and it's not a commandment.

But it's more than that. All things considered, God doesn't care who you sleep with, unless you're a Levite priest, or you're trying to rape an angel. But the Bible does mention justice, love and compassion quite a bit. When it's not talking about war and incest, anyway.

And no, gay people are not trying to purposely infect you with AIDS, as the popular televangelist Pat Robertson recently claimed on his show with 1 million daily viewers.

“You know what they do in San Francisco, some in the gay community there they want to get people so if they got the stuff they’ll have a ring, you shake hands, and the ring’s got a little thing where you cut your finger,” Robertson said.

Wow. And they say the Muslims are crazy.

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Comments 14 comments

jmark13 profile image

jmark13 12 months ago from Dallas

I got into some exchange with someone online who was trying to make the connection from Baal in the bible to make Allah, Satan somehow, without taking into account that it's used in two different context in the bible. That's why I'm militant about my atheism and working on a plan to overwhelm my community with seminars, activism, etc.


Oztinato profile image

Oztinato 12 months ago from Australia

Correct me if I'm wrong but I don't think it bans homosexuality but using the fecal excretery organ for sex.


SpiritusShepherd profile image

SpiritusShepherd 12 months ago

Romans 1:25-27 and 1 Corinthians 6: 9 are verses in the New Testament that clearly state that homosexuality is a sin. However, the New Testament also states that divorce is a sin (see Matthew 19: 3-9) and so is premarital sex, or even to look at someone lustfully. Before God, all of us are sinners, with no sin being greater than the other. James says that he who breaks one commandment of the Law is guilty of breaking all of it. The sin of the Christian is many have forgotten how much they have been forgiven. For if they remembered they would not stand with signs that say "God hates fags" but would lovingly preach that God hates all sin, but that is why he sent Jesus to die for us, that all are sins might be forgiven, and we might be righteous before God. For those Christians holding these hateful signs read Matthew 18: 23-35


kalinin1158 profile image

kalinin1158 12 months ago from California Author

Wise words, Spiritus. Although I disagree that homosexuality (or divorce, or premarital sex for that matter) is a sin, I agree that as Christians, people would be better off focusing on acceptance, forgiveness and compassion. Thank you for stopping by!


kalinin1158 profile image

kalinin1158 12 months ago from California Author

Oztinato, in my understanding, the Bible frowns upon pedophilia and sexual relations outside of marriage, not homosexuality per se, whichever way it's practiced. Thanks for stopping by!


kalinin1158 profile image

kalinin1158 12 months ago from California Author

jmark13 LOL in my book, atheism is as good as any belief system, as long as you're not using it to spread hate and intolerance. Sadly, religion is often guilty of that. Thanks for stopping by!


Mel Carriere profile image

Mel Carriere 12 months ago from San Diego California

Once again you hit a home run girl, and they say Russians don't play baseball. I believe in that story about Sodom, you might have left out the part where good old righteous Lot offers to give up his daughters to appease the "fags" pounding on his door. Father of the year award for good old Lot.

Leviticus was a book of the Old Covenant. The Old Covenant, according to scripture, was replaced and supplanted by the New Covenant, who was Christ Jesus. Hard line evangelicals are quick to point this out when explaining why they oppose the dietary restrictions of the Old Testament, but develop a sudden case of Biblical amnesia when it comes to things like stoning homosexuals in the public square.

Once again I applaud and salute you for this fantastic piece of writing.


kalinin1158 profile image

kalinin1158 12 months ago from California Author

Lol I really truly don't get baseball, but thank you :-) Yeah a lot of weird things were going down in Sodom, that story raised more questions than answers...


Oztinato profile image

Oztinato 12 months ago from Australia

Kal

The OT word for using the backside for sex was sodomy.

I think there is an obvious argument for this view. Diseases for example were discouraged by banning sex via the fecal excretery organ.


kalinin1158 profile image

kalinin1158 12 months ago from California Author

Oz

I know what sodomy means, and I understand your argument. My point was that everything in the bible has a historical and cultural context. Thank you for commenting.


Oztinato profile image

Oztinato 12 months ago from Australia

Kal

correct. Therefore my argument is the bible didn't specifically ban gays just anal intercourse/sodomy which could apply to everyone. In many countries that definition of sodomy still exists. Generally speaking it is inadvisable to force the human body to go against its natural function. eg Deliberate vomiting by ancient romans or midern drinkers. The medical evidence against anal sex is quite scary. Better not go into details


Larry Rankin profile image

Larry Rankin 12 months ago from Oklahoma

Well written, as always.


kalinin1158 profile image

kalinin1158 12 months ago from California Author

Thank you Larry!


kalinin1158 profile image

kalinin1158 12 months ago from California Author

Oz, you're right, let's not go into details, I'm quite over this topic :)

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