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  10. What I think About Leviticus

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What I think About Leviticus


Fundamentalists and religious conservatives quote Leviticus and Saint Paul to condemn contemporary same gender orientation.

I find reading Leviticus to be like chewing on moth balls. So archaic, stuffy, stale and out of date. It is a code of behavior from the 6th Century B.C.E. That is 2600 years ago.

Excuse me, but I like shrimp and the two fabric cloth (cotton and polyester) that I wear for work is the most practical available and I donít for one minute believe that the Holy Spirit I worship and love has any problem with either of those infractions of the ancient Hebrew code of behavior. And I certainly donít believe that young people who curse their parents should be put to death. That would certainly solve the population problem.

To understand Leviticus you have to understand the cold war of ancient Israel: the monotheistic god of the Jews versus the pagan gods of their neighbors. The Mosaic Code of the Torah is strict in its list of behaviors that defined Jews from their Canaanite neighbors.

Their neighbors worshiped Molech. His worship included ritual sex including same gender, the idea being that to worship in that way would increase the fertility of your family, flocks and fields. It was about ancient fertility rites that humanity had probably practiced in one form another since the dawn of humanity. This is the context of Leviticus 18:22 that prohibits a man lying with a man. It is about ancient sexual politics. It does not apply to modern understanding of sexual orientation which wasnít even on the map in 600 BC.

But modern fundamentalists will quote Leviticus 22:18 (out of the context in which it was written since they eat shrimp, cut their hair, and wear cotton polyesteróall forbidden in Leviticus) to condemn contemporary same gender sexual orientation. Sorry, guys, that doesnít work.

How can they justify that? They do so because of St. Paulís apparent condemnation of same gender relationships in Corinthians and Romans. Here is where it gets touchy. How you interrupt these passages will probably be determined by your position in the literal/analytical scale of reading the Bible.

But this is fact. Paul did not use the Greek word paiderasste which was the standard word for socially acceptable male sex in ancient Greek He used malako and arsenokoitai which are words that imply the sexual abuse which was common in the First Century. So it can be reasoned that Paul was condemning the sexual abuse of young boys which was very common in those ancient days. And Christians couldnít do that. And they still canít. It is interesting that the Roman Catholic Church is still struggling with this while gays and lesbians are creating relationships built on solid moral values based on Jesusí commandment ďto love one another as I have loved you.Ē

Leviticus is not about modern sexual ethics. To base modern ethics on these texts is to ignore the insights of contemporary wisdom which spiritual progressives experience as the unfolding of divine love and compassion. The very heart of the spiritual life.





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