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Biblical Homosexuality 2 - Leviticus The Moral Code
The Moral Code - Do We Still Follow It All?
To begin - Welcome to the Second Hub re: the Bible and Homosexuality. Please see "Biblical Homosexuality" for information on Genesis 19 or "Sodom and Gommorah".
Leviticus is often considered the "Moral Code" of the Bible. The chapter lays down all the laws on ways of life, the do's and dont's, the apparent rights and wrong. Laws in this chapter include rules on what to eat or not to eat, to do, to wear, the way in which to slaughter a sacrifice, which animals to give in honour of your God, ways of absolving themselves of unintentional sin, regulations around skin disease, sexual relations with people. Many many laws - hundreds if not thousands of rules.
Rules such as
- not eating certain meats,
- not wearing two different types of woven material (Lev 19:19),
- not touching a woman on her period (Lev 15:19-25, Lev 20:18)
- not tattoo'ing or marking your body (Lev 19:28)
- The ways to treat others (Lev 19)
- Dowry to pay for females (Lev 25)
Why Did They Have These Rules?
These rules served the Israelites well, for the time in which they were written, and followed to the letter. In the time of Leviticus, the Israelites were desperate to forge an existence in the world. So it stands to reason that preventing things such as food poisioning, in a time in which severe dehydration could not be treated, or diseases spreading, such as skin disorders etc, is all about making sure the civilisation survived.
Many of these rules are no longer followed, by even the most devout Christian. Why? Because the New Testament overwrote the rules of the Old, and many of the old Laws are not required any more.
Examples of the Leviticus Laws no longer followed
Rules like not wearing two different types of woven material - I ask you to do something for me - check your underwear. Actually check any item of clothing. Many items are a percentage of something, and a percentage Cotton. Underwear is often a Poly-Cotton blend - Polyester and Cotton. Gasp! Two woven materials. Heck, one of them isn't even NATURAL!. Yet, we all wear it at some point.
Touching a woman on her period - the woman is supposed to stay away from others, and anything she touches is unclean. Now, look at yourself (if you are a woman) or your wife (if you are not) - can you see this happening today? I don't think so. No woman is going to take a week off every month. Nor are you going to destroy anything she touches - hmm, she needed to use your $250,000 Lexus to drive to the supermarket to buy pads/tampons - can't see you destroying it.
IN FACT, the only time this is actually followed - it is not the Christian woman, or men, who do it. It is the Muslim. It is forbidden in Islam for a menstruating woman to touch the Holy Qu'ran (Koran). Hmmmm.
How many of you have, or know someone who has, a cross or rosary tattoo'd somewhere (often their ankle!) on their body? A way for them to show that they love Christ, or that they are religious within a Christian way? I'm sure you at least know ONE person. Are you advocating that they be stoned? That their blood be on their head? No? Hmmmm, But, it is decreed that God has decided these are wrong. Yet, it's just them "showing their faith". This does reek of double standards, doesn't it?
It is apparent that the laws are made in an effort to protect the people from illness, disease, and things that they do not understand. At the same time, providing guides to follow for the way to treat others. Though, these "treat others well" rules are often found in all forms of society, not just Christian.
Homosexuality in Leviticus
But, on to why we are here - Leviticus and Homosexuality. There are two verses dealing with this - one in the sexual relations section (Lev 18) and one in the treatment of others (Lev 20) NIV edition follows:
Do not have sexual relations with a man as one does with a woman; it is detestable (Lev 18:22)
If a man has sexual relations with a man as one does with a woman, both them have done what is detestable. They are to be put to death; their blood will be on their own heads. Lev 20:13
When you look at these two verses in the context in which they were written, they make perfect sense. However the context they were written, and the context that they are now used in, are completely different. Remembering that Leviticus was written in a time when a fledgling society was trying to forge an existence, it makes perfect sense to outlaw any sexual relations that do not produce offspring, or would produce offspring with defects, so homosexual sex was lumped in with incest - a COMPLETELY different entity. You want your society to thrive? You need to encourage population growth, and perfect specimens at that.
Fast forward to now - we are NOT struggling to survive as a species or a race - we are OVER POPULATED. 7 BILLION people - we can't feed a large proportion of them, countries are making rules which seem odd, but in their own way work in the same way as the rules of Leviticus did for population growth, to limit their population, we have over crowding, poverty at crisis levels. Gay sex, non-reproductive sex could save the world, not harm it. Gay sex does NOT produce babies. In a world with 7 BILLION people, we don't NEED more babies.
Translation Is Always An Issue
Depending on the particular version of the Bible you may be quoting/reading from, the two verses in Leviticus have some issues with translation also.
"If a man [ish] … lie with mankind [zakhar, NASB: 'a male'], as he lieth with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination [to'ebhah, NASB: 'detestable act']; they shall surely be put to death…"
That there are two different words used to describe Man - ish and zakhar - suggests that it may not be as simple as a 'man having intercourse with another regular man". It is ONLY in the KJV that zakhar is translated as "mankind" rather than "a male" The large majority of the use of the word zakhar in the OT is used to describe a man or male animal that has been dedicated to a deity or God for a sacred function. These included circumcised Israelites, Israelite priests, and occasionally those dedicated to Pagan deities. Several scholars have pondered that perhaps it is a forbidding of Israelite men from visiting the male prostitutes that were dedicated to Canaanite deities. Combined with the fact that the words used for abomination/detestable act (to'ebhah) was most often applied to things that related to idolatry, which is the most offensive to God.
It makes more sense when you look at Deut 23:17-18
 "There shall be no whore [NRSV: 'temple prostitute'] of the daughters of Israel, nor a sodomite [NRSV: 'temple prostitute'] of the sons of Israel.  Thou shalt not bring the hire [NRSV: 'fee'] of a whore [NRSV: female 'prostitute'], or the price of a dog [NRSV: 'male prostitute'], into the house of the Lord [Yahweh] thy God for any vow: for even both of these are abomination unto the Lord [Yahweh] thy God."
Both the word for whore and sodomite (qedheshah female sacred prostitute, qadhesh - male sacred prostitute) in 17 are derived from the root of "Holy" qadhosh. The words used in 18 are referring to secular female and male prostitutes. So, if you take this into consideration, there were basically some men, and women, that were "untouchable" - those who were dedicated to a Holy cause, for a sacred purpose - which may or may not have been sexual in nature. A regular man should not be having 'relations" with a sacred man, as this would be akin to idolatry - most displeasing to God.
Now, when people say "but it's giving the death penalty, that makes it worse" - the Bible calls for death a lot in Leviticus as it was a wonderful deterrent, and has been applied to cursing one's parents, adultery and blasphemy - I don't hear you calling for the deaths of your teenager children (cursing parents), cheaters (unless they were your significant other), or anyone who takes the Lords name in vain - so why call for the death of homosexuals based on these two verses?
However, the use of the Leviticus verses is now not about population growth protection, preventing regular people from having relations with those dedicated to a sacred position or purpose, or anything of the sort. It is now used to degrade a section of society, who are human just like everyone else. It is used in Hatred, which in itself is not morally right, so is against the Moral Code of Leviticus
Do not swear falsely by my name and so profane the name of God. I am the Lord (Lev19:12) Using God's word to spread hatred is swearing falsely by his name.
Bears thinking about doesn't it?