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Leviticus and the LGBT

Guest Author - Barbara Sharpe

There are two Bible verses which many so-called Christians smugly point to and say, “See? The Bible clearly states that homosexuality is a sin.”

Those two verses seem to not be open to interpretation and, at first glance, it would seem that they condemn gay people. They are Leviticus 18:22 (“You shall not lie with a male as with a woman; it is an abomination”) and Leviticus 20:13 (“If a man lies with a male as with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination; they shall be put to death; their blood is upon them”).

The term we have translated to “abomination: (to’ebah) is a religious term that was used with regard to idolatry. In the Middle East, at that time, temple prostitutes were the norm. This verse would seem to be talking about the temple prostitutes because that would be considered idolatry. That somehow got lost in the translation, though.

Even if those two verses were originally intended to ban same-sex sexual relationships, there is still more to the story. Given that same sex relationships such as we have now were not truly possible then, it seems to me that the ban would be more on extramarital sex rather than homosexual sex. Today, same sex people can have monogamous, committed relationships and many churches, along with several states, now recognize those marriages.
Further, Hebrew society viewed women as little more than livestock. The idea of being penetrated sexually was abhorrent because it meant being treated like a woman. It’s interesting to note that there is no Biblical injunction against same sex sexual activity between women.

However, that’s still not the end of the story. Those verses are part of The Jewish Holiness Code. Few Christians are held to the Holiness Code, yet some clergy still pull these verses out to suit their anti-LGBT stance.

You might wonder what else is in the Holiness Code. What are those clergy ignoring? They are ignoring that the Bible clearly permits polygamy, for one thing (Leviticus 18:8 and 18:18). The Holiness Code prohibits eating pigs (11:7), rabbits (11:6) and any seafood without fins or scales (11:9-10). Tattoos are banned (19:28) as are wearing clothes made from blended fabrics (19:19). All those cotton-poly blends? A sin! A blatant disregard for the Bible! Not only that, the Holiness Code clearly requires that the Sabbath be observed on Saturday, not on Sunday (23:3).

Some Christians will say that the Holiness Code isn’t binding on Christians because there is a new Covenant with Jesus. Well, okay, then. Why are we still holding on to the Holiness Code with regard to LGBT people? Some try to equivocate and say that the Holiness Code was a three-part covenant that included civil, ceremonial and moral aspects. Interestingly, the code itself makes no mention of that. I can find no Scripture to back this claim.

Besides, if there is a new Covenant in Jesus, it would seem that He would have covered all the bases, wouldn’t he? Are the Christians saying Jesus was half-hearted in his attempt to create a new Covenant? I’m fairly certain they wouldn’t say that.

If we’re going to follow the Holiness Code, then we need to stop having church services on Sunday, get rid of all those mixed fibers and stop with the side of bacon at breakfast. Hypocrisy should be the opposite of Christianity, yet sadly it is a part of human expression.

At Unity, we say that we are human expressions of the divine. We are all Children of God. Should Children of God be hypocritical? Should we not, at the very least, attempt to be clear in our behavior and thinking? There are a number of things on which the various churches of our world mislead their congregants, even though they know the truth. They know that many of us will simply follow and not think through the implications.

I challenge you, regardless of your spiritual orientation, to challenge what you’re told. By finding out for yourself, either you will find you were wrong – or your faith will only be stronger for having clarified what you believe.

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Content copyright © 2013 by Barbara Sharpe. All rights reserved.
This content was written by Barbara Sharpe. If you wish to use this content in any manner, you need written permission. Contact J. Ruel for details.

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