| Leviticus 18:22
22 Thou shalt not lie with mankind, as with womankind: it is abomination
The hebrew word for abomination in this passage is "to'ebah" it means "ritually improper" or "involves foreign religious cult practice" it does not mean "moral evil".
In the Lev passages it is also unclear what is being prohibited. The Hebrew reads literally, "You should not sleep the sleep of a women with a man." Jewish moralists have debated for a millennium about exactly what constitutes "the sleep of a women" and who is technically a "man": see e.g. in the Talmud, Sandedrin 7.4.53A; and Maimonides' commentary in Code 5.1.14. Moreover, since the actions of the "kadeshim" were specifically labeled as "toevah" (e.g., in 1 (3) Kings 14:24), one might well infer that the condemnation in Leviticus were in fact aimed at curbing temple prostitution in particular rather than homosexual behavior in general. This was not the usual understanding of the later Jewish tradition, but it is suggested by the LXX, upon which Christian moralists drew.
LEVITICUS IS IN THE JEWISH HOLINESS CODE
The Jews are the only people that follow this anymore. This code was abondoned in the Christian Church because those laws were only pertaining to that CULTURE at THAT time.
First, it doesn't matter what this passage was "abomining" This law doesn't pretain to today.
The Jewish holiness code also permits slavery (Leviticus 25:44)
THEN the New testament says:
for it is written, Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and him only shalt thou serve.
Leviticus 18:19, states: "Do not approach a woman to have sexual relations during the uncleanness of her monthly period."
Also, 18:8 and 18:18 show that this code allows for polygamy yet this is now considered immoral.
11:7 forbids the eating of pigs, yet people unashamedly have a side of bacon with their eggs!
11:6 forbids the eating of rabbits (hares) because they don't have cloven hooves but they chew cud, yet some Christians love to eat rabbit.
11:9-10 forbids the eating of any seafood that doesn't have fins and scales, yet shrimp and lobster lovers are not told to repent by Christians, nor is Red Lobster picketed!
23:3 instructs that the seventh day of the week is to be the Sabbath, not Sunday, yet the Christian church disregards this.
When Jesus died on the cross he made a new covenant:
Colossians 2:16-17 "Therefore let no one judge you in food or in drink, or regarding a festival or a new moon or Sabbaths, which are a shadow of things to come, but the substance is Christ."
Hebrews 8:18 "For on the one hand there is an annulling of the former commandment because of its weakness and unprofitableness, for the law made nothing perfect."
Hebrews 9:9-10 The Old Covenant "was symbolic...concerned only with foods and drink, various washings, and fleshly ordinances imposed until the time of reformation."
Jesus in Mark 7:18-23 chided his disciples for their lack of spiritual understanding. Jesus and his disciples had been condemned by the religious leaders because they did not wash and eat according to the Law. Jesus said, "Are you too so uncomprehending? Don't you see that whatever goes into your mouth from the outside cannot defile you; because it does not go into your heart, but into your stomach, and is eliminated? (Thus Jesus declared all foods clean."). And Jesus added, "That which proceeds from within you, out of your heart, defiles you. Evil thoughts, abusive sex acts, thefts, murders, adulteries, deeds of coveting, wickedness, deceit, not caring, envy, slander, arrogance and foolishness: all of these evil things proceed from within and defile you."
Paul also rejected the absolute commands of Leviticus in Colossians 2:8-23, where he said, "If you have died with Christ to the elementary principles of the world, why, as if you were living in the world, do you submit yourself to decrees, such as, 'Do not handle, do not taste, do not touch!' (which all refer to things destined to perish with the using) in accordance with human commandments and teachings? These are matters which have, to be sure, the appearance of wisdom in self-made religion and self-abasement and severe treatment of the body, but are of no value against human indulgence." (2:20-23). Paul declared in 2:14 that Jesus has "canceled out the certificate of debt consisting of decrees against us which was hostile to us; and Jesus has taken it out of the way, having nailed it to the cross."
Some say they only picked the moral laws out of there but what about this? Lev.24:18-20 "Anyone who kills an animal shall make restitution for it, life for life. Anyone who maims another shall suffer the same injury in return: fracture for fracture, eye for eye, tooth for tooth." Do we or should we require an eye for an eye justice? Let's look at what Jesus Himself said in Matthew 5:38-39 "you have heard that it was said 'an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth' But I say to you, do not resist one who is evil. But if anyone strikes you on the cheek turn to him the other also" In this portion, Jesus refutes the priestly teaching recorded in Leviticus - why? Jesus recognized that the Levitical teachings were for a specific time, people, and cultural setting, but not binding upon believers during His time or our time.
From a Jewish prospective, the commandments given at Sinai, including those of Leviticus (in Hebrew Jews simply name a book after the first word that appears - "V'yikra" - which means "then he spoke") were given to the Jewish people. Since they were only commanded to Jews, no one who is not Jewish need worry about obeying them. Judaism holds God taught basic laws to all humanity before Sinai (no murder, rape, etc), but that the more specific laws such as in Leviticus, apply only to Jews.
Lev 20:13 is giving the penalties for the Lev 18:22 "abomination" or in the Hebrew "toevah" Unlike what the English translation implies, toevah did not usually signify something intrinsically evil, but something ritually unclean for Jews. Eating pork, shellfish, lobster, eating meat 3 days old, trimming beards, etc is just as much an "abomination". It is used throughout the OT to designate those Jewish sins which involve ethnic contamination or idolatry. In many other OT verses it simply means idolatry. Lev 18 is specifically designed to distinguish the Jews from the pagans among whom they had been living. The prohibition of supposedly homosexual acts follows after the prohibition of idolatrous sexuality of worshipping Molech, whose cult included male cult prostitutes and bestiality.
In context this passage is not talking about homosexuality. Its obvious that its talking about a perversion that goes on in there rituals because its only talking about MEN here. Why did it say men when it could've easily said women also and it DID in the very next passage:
22 Thou shalt not lie with mankind, as with womankind: it is abomination.
23 Neither shalt thou lie with any beast to defile thyself therewith: neither shall any woman stand before a beast to lie down thereto: it is confusion.
It's being DISTINCT when it talks about men and women. That wouldn't include lesbians.
It's also obviuos that its talking about what goes on in rituals. The passage RIGHT BEFORE it says:
21 And thou shalt not let any of thy seed pass through the fire to Molech, neither shalt thou profane the name of thy God: I am the LORD.
22 Thou shalt not lie with mankind, as with womankind: it is abomination.
Molech, or Moloch, which signifies "king," was the idol of the Ammonites. His statue was of brass, and rested on a pedestal or throne of the same metal. His head, resembling that of a calf, was adorned with a crow, and his arms were extended in the attitude of embracing those who approached him. His devotees dedicated their children to him; and when this was to be done, they heated the statue to a high pitch of intensity by a fire within, and then the infants were either shaken over the flames, or passed through the ignited arms, by way of lustration to ensure the favor of the pretended deity. The fire-worshippers asserted that all children who did not undergo this purifying process would die in infancy; and the influence of this Zabian superstition was still so extensively prevalent in the days of Moses, that the divine lawgiver judged it necessary to prohibit it by an express statute.
The Canaanites practiced ritual prostitution and infant sacrifice under the guise of worship to gods like Molech and Baal.
This passage does not refer to gay sex generally, but only to a specific form of homosexual prostitution in Pagan temples. Much of Leviticus deals with the Holiness Code which outlined ways in which the ancient Hebrews were to be set apart to God and not do any of the things going on in the surrounding cultures and needs to be interpreted thusly.
" You must not do as they do in Egypt, where you used to live, and you must not do as they do in the land of Canaan, where I am bringing you. Do not follow their practices. You must obey my laws and be careful to follow my degrees. I am the Lord your God" (Leviticus 18:3-4).
Leviticus refers to a deep contempt towards temple prostitution in other cultures. Some of the temple prostitutes let themselves be used for homosexual acts (Hosea 4:14). There is sufficient evidence that homosexual temple prostitution was widespread in Canaan of which heterosexuals made use. Even in the temple in Jerusalem such practices occurred (II Kings 23:7) ! This explains the harsh words which condemn homosexual temple prostitution. Cultural prostitution by males or females was strictly forbidden (Deuteronomy 23:17)
Some fertility worship practices found in nearly Pagan cultures were specifically prohibited; ritual same-sex behavior in Pagan temples was one such practice. Lev.18:6
The status of women in ancient Hebrew culture was very much lower than that of a man and barely above that of children and slaves. When a man engaged in sexual intercourse with a woman, he always took a dominant position; the woman would take a submissive posture. When two men engage in sexual intercourse, one of the men, in effect, takes the position of a woman. When a man takes on the low status of a woman, the act makes both ritually impure.
The word "abomination" was a very poor translation of the original Hebrew word which really means "ritually unclean" within an ancient Israelite era. If the writer(s) of Leviticus wished to refer to a moral violation, a sin, he would have used the Hebrew word "Zimah". The Hebrews used special words to condemn specific wicked or abominable misdeeds. For example, in condemnation of temple prostitutes involving idolatry, "toevah" is employed (e.g. 1 (3) Kings 14:24), while in prohibitions of prostitution in general a different word "zimah," appears (e.g. Lev. 19:29). Often but yes, not always, "toevah" specifically means "idol" (E.g., Isa. 44:19; Ezek 7:20, 16:36; Jer. 16:18; cf. Deut. 7:25-26). The Greek Septuagint translation of the Hebrew Scriptures (circa 3rd century BCE) translated "to'ebah" into Greek as "bdelygma," which meant ritual impurity and not the word "anomia", which would have meant a violation of the law or a wrong or a sin. The author was obviously meaning something different than what many Christians try to make them mean today.
In fact, in some cases anomia was used to translate toevah- when the offense in question was not just a ritual impurity but also a real wrong of an injustice, like offering child sacrifice or having sex with another man's wife, in violation of his property rights. The Greek translators could have used anomia; they used bdelygma in this passage.
It is in this setting of a need to be different from those around them that same-gender sexual activity is condemned, together with other sexual activities including having intercourse during menstruation. (Spong, 144)
To make a comparison, there used to be a church law that forbade Roman Catholics to eat meat on Fridays, and that is still observed less strictly by many Catholics during Lent. That church law was considered so serious that violation was a mortal sin, supposedly punishable by hell. Yet no one believed that eating meat was something wrong in itself. The offense was against a religious responsibility, to act like a Catholic.
In context Leviticus 20:13 states, in part, "When a man lies down with a male the same as one lies down with a woman". Had the writer intended to convey homosexuality being condemned here, he would have likely used the Hebrew word 'iysh, which means "man", or "male person". Instead, the author utilizes a much more complicated Hebrew word, zakar, which literally translated means "a person worthy of recognition". This word was used to refer to high priests of the surrounding idolatrous religions. It was believed that by granting sexual favors to the high priest (a fertility rite), one would be guaranteed an abundance of children and crops. Taking Leviticus 18: 22 into proper context, then, one looks at the preceding verse 21: "And you must not allow the devoting of any of your offspring to Molech". What we see here in actuality are warnings to the Israelites not to engage in the fertility rituals of the worshippers of Molech, which often required the granting of sexual favors to the priest. Had this been a mere condemnation of homosexuals, the writer would have used clearer language.
Other scriptures which specifically forbid male cultic prostitution, (Deuteronomy; 1 Kings 14:24, 15:12:, 22:46, 2 Kings 23:7), use the same word to'ebah is used in Leviticus 18 and 20.
John McNeil, in The Church and the Homosexual, writes (page 57) that any time homosexual activity is mentioned in the Old Testament, "the author usually has in mind the use male worshippers made of male prostitutes provided by temple authorities."
Proverbs 6:16-19 gives the Hebrew Bible definition of "an abomination":
16 There are six things with God hates,
Yes, seven which are an abomination to God.
17 Haughty eyes, a lying tongue,
And hands that shed innocent blood,
18 A heart that devises wicked plans,
Feet that run rapidly to evil,
19 A false witness who utters lies,
And one who spreads strife among friends and family.
(This definition of "abomination" describes the attitudes that arise from homophobia and the religious and biblical abuse of GLBT people.)
The land was full of idolatry. The Palestinian god of the sun, Baal and his consort, the fertility goddess Ashtoreth, were commonly worshipped in the area and toevah appears throughout the Law to denounce these idolatrous practices. But zimmah is used wherever immoral acts such as prostitution or rape are the subject. Whatever detestable acts here are being prohibited have something to do with idolatry.
This verse says nothing about consensual same-sex activity today. It only condemns same-sex religious prostitution.
Of course, some acts that are "toevah" were more serious than others. It too carried a death penalty. Now, one common form of idolatry among the peoples surrounding Israel was male sacred prostitution. It is quite natural that engaging in that specific form of idolatry would also carry the death Penalty.
Of course, if something carries the death penalty, it is of particular importance to the Lord. If you draw up a list of all the offenses given in Leviticus for which the death penalty is prescribed, you will find every one of them (with some minor shifts concerning particular forms of sanguinity in incest) is forbidden expressly once again in Deuteronomy.
There is one exception. Only one. Of all the capital crimes, only one was so unimportant to God that He didn't bother to bring it up again. Guess which one. :-)
However, interestingly enough, Deuteronomy does forbid male sacred prostitution. And Leviticus does not. Do you think, juuust maybe, that God did forbid it in Leviticus? Say, around 20:13?
No, if that were true, God would probably have put commands against other kinds of idolatry in the same place. You know: no fortunetelling, no wizardry, no sacrifices to Moloch.
Oops, what do you know, those are all right there in the same section of Leviticus too. Chapter 20. And when 1 Kings tells about the sacred male prostitutes being kicked out of the Temple, it repeats not just the word "toevah", but the assertion which closes chapter 20, that the former peoples were kicked out of the promised land for doing "all these toevah". Apparently male sacred prostitution made the writer of Kings think of Leviticus 20, rather than of Deuteronomy.
And we never once see a concrete example of a condemned homosexual act in the old testament which is not an act of temple prostitution. (unless you argue that the Sodomites must have been frowned on for their homosexuality, since we all know that rape-murder of angels is just fine with God). And here those nasty male temple prostitutes get kicked out again over in 2 Kings.
Using the same logic that, that would condemm homosexuals in general then I guess that would make this true.."the Bible contains six admonishments to homosexuals, and 362 admonishments to heterosexuals. That doesn't mean that God doesn't love heterosexuals, It's just that they need more supervision. lol!" according to the www.godlovesfags.com website which is in contridiction to the www.godhatesfags.com website.
The struggle over the issue of Christian and the Mosaic law was a serious area of confusion for the new converted Christians. Paul addresses this in Gal 5:1-2 urging Christians not to be "entangled again with the yoke of bondage" or to give "heed to Jewish fables, and commandments of men, that turn from the truth," for "unto the pure all things are pure" (Titus I: 14-15). Jesus said aside the purity laws and gave the commandment of love.
Almost no early Christian writers appealed to Leviticus as authority against homosexual acts. Those few that did, exercised extreme selectivity in selecting which Levitical laws to say are legitimate for Christians and which are not, whatever suited their personal prejudice. It was clearly not their respect for the law which created their hostility to homosexuality but their hostility to homosexuality which led them to retain a few passages from a law code largely discarded. Most of Leviticus is simply not appropriate for Christians. We no longer make animal sacrifices to God as commanded in Leviticus. Most of us eat shrimp and lobster which is forbidden. Many people eat that unclean animal the pig. How many are guilty of rounding off the hair on their temples and marring the edges of their beard (Lev 27)? Jesus set aside all of these obsessive-compulsive purity laws and gave the commandment of love.
Regarding the Leviticus reference to toevah being false translated and having nothing to do with homosexuality: A further evidence of this is toevah is used throughout the OT to designate those Jewish sins which involve ethnic contamination or idolatry and very frequently occurs as part of the stock phrase "toevah ha-goyim" "the uncleanness of the Gentiles" (e.g., 2 (4) Kings 16:3).
Clearly, then, Leviticus does not say that a man to lie with man is wrong or a sin. Rather, it is a ritual violation, an "uncleanness"; it is something "dirty" ritualistically. Lev 18 is specifically designed to distinguish the Jews from the pagans among whom they had been living, or would live, as its opening remark make clear - "After the doings of the land of Egypt, .....etc and the prohibition of supposedly homosexual acts follows immediately upon a prohibition of idolatrous sexuality (the female temple prostitutes worshipping the pagan fertility gods) (often mistranslated fornication but a obvious mistranslation in the proper context).
England points out the implications of a patriarchal society in the identification of only males with the prohibition:
Because males embodied the image of God, the male sex was believed to have an absolute and inviolable dignity. To treat a man as one would a woman, then, was to violate the image of God by reducing the man to the status of property. This cast a new light on the phrase "lie with a man as with a woman" or "has intercourse with a man as with a woman." (It is especially telling to note that some surrounding cultures emphasized the status of conquered enemies as property by subjecting them to anal penetration. As far as we know, this was not a practice of the Israelites.) (England, Michael E. The Bible and Homosexuality. 4th ed. Gaithersburg, Maryland: Chi Rho Press, 1991
One might also call into question why certain archaic passages in Leviticus are given such emphasis by some who routinely ignore others. For example, the prescribed "cure" for mold or rot on the wall of a house ("a leprous disease in a house") was first to take out the stones in the area and scrape off all of the plaster. If that doesn't work, the house is to be torn down. 28 If biblical literalists were literal about everything, a good many bathrooms would be in serious jeopardy. One might also ask such a person how many modern blended fiber garments they have in their wardrobe and call their attention to Leviticus 19:19's injunction against putting on a garment made of two different materials.
Within the Hebrew Bible itself we see a debate about purity issues in sexual or biological terms. Deut. 23:1-3 says, "No one whose testicles are crushed or whose penis is cut off shall be admitted to the assembly of the LORD. Those born of an illicit union shall not be admitted.... Even to the tenth generation, none of their descendants shall be admitted.... No Ammonite or Moabite shall be admitted.... Even to the tenth generation, none of their descendants shall be admitted to the assembly of the LORD." However, see also Ruth 4:17 and Isa. 56:4-5 for differing perspectives. The point is that the Levitical prohibitions against homosexual intercourse fit squarely in the same Old Testament purity concern that Deut. 23:1-8 does and that Jesus condemns in the New Testament.
Far more important though is calling attention, as England does, to the Christians freedom from the law as set out at Romans 7:6, "But now we are discharged from the law, dead to that which held us captive, so that we are slaves not under the old written code but in the new life of the Spirit," and to the stern warning at Galations 5:4 that "[y]ou who want to be justified by the law have cut yourselves off from Christ; you have fallen away from grace." NRSV; England, 39
Male cult or temple prostitution was enormously popular during all the period of Scripture and seemed to have been awfully attractive to many of the Hebrews, leading to the demand in Deuteronomy 23:17-18: None of the daughters of Israel shall be a cult prostitute, nor shall any of the sons of Israel be a cult prostitute. You shall not bring the hire of harlot or the wages of a dog into the house of the Lord your God..., for both of these are an abomination to the Lord your God. (New American Standard). As I noted in the last chapter, male priests of the Great Goddess were called dogs by the Hebrews. David Greenberg, in The Construction of Homosexuality (pages 96 and following), finds further support for this in other nearby ancient cultures: among others, a fourth century B.C. Phoenician inscription found on Cyprus "refers to a category of temple personnel who played a role in the sacred service of Astarte, identifies the kelev (dog) as a religious functionary.... The Sumerogram [a picture-word] for assinu, a male-homosexual cult prostitute... joines the symbols for 'dog' and 'woman.'"
Greenberg points out Hittite, Babylonian and Assyrian texts which refer to these male prostitutes. The texts picture assinu and kurgarru as "religious functionaries particularly associated with the goddess Ishtar, who danced, played musical instruments, wore masks, and were considered effeminate.... such functionaries were believed to have magical powers... 'if a man touches the head of an assinu, he will conquer his enemy'... 'if a man has intercourse with an assinu, trouble will leave him.'"
Sumerian priests, Greenberg says, held titles which, translated literally, meant "'womb', 'penis-anus,' and 'anus-womb.'... Sumerian preistesses were called assinutum.... Babylonian and Assyrian cuneiform texts assert that 'the high priestess will permit intercourse per anum in order to avoid pregnancy.'" (p. 97)
Even later, during Roman And Christian rule, the Great Goddess and her eunuch priests attracted many worshippers. Lucian, in The Syrian Goddess, described how the Galli, the eunuch priests of the Goddess, would "'...sing and celebrate their orgies... [to become one of the Galli, a young man] strips off his clothes and with a loud shout bursts into the midst of the crowd and picks a sword.... He takes it and castrates himself, and runs wild through the city bearing in his hands what he has cut off. He casts it into any house at will, and from this house he receives women's rament and ornaments.'" On the other hand, your average male worshipper would simply have sex with the male priests to offer his semen to the goddess. (Horner, p.65)
The Bishop of Caesarea, Eusebius (260?-340? A.D.) wrote in The Life of Constantine that the goddess worshipers still held homosexual cult worship on Mount Lebanon. (Greenberg, p.98)
So, culturally, the Hebrews were surrounded by religious worship which involved the use of male homosexual practices. In context, our references are also surrounded by references to other religious practices.
(Even Maimonides, who is considered the greatest Jewish philosopher, and who lived from 1134-1204, did not believe the Levitical passages had anything to do with normal male homosexuality. He wrote in his Guide to the Perplexed that Leviticus 18:22 simply prohibited pederasty ("child corruption") and that the reason for all of these laws was to hold all sex in contempt and to avoid pleasure so that one's mind stays strictly on the Law and God. (Moses Maimonides, The Guide For The Perplexed, trans. from the original Arabic text by M.Friedlander, 1904. New York, Dover Publications, p. 376.))
Do these laws then apply? There are still people who worship idols, using sexual activity in their worshipping services, and who sacrifice infants to demon gods. To these people I believe the Law still applies. To the people naturally gay or lesbian seeking committed, stable, healthy relationships, I do not believe these laws apply.
Homosexuality in The Hebrew Patriarchy Culture
Although there is no moral condemnation of homosexuality as such in the Bible, those who cite the Bible, especially the OT, to condemn homosexuality need to realize the OT was written in a very patriarchal society. Homosexuality, at least among males, poses a serious threat to patriarchy and could not be tolerated. This influence in a social context clearly left a mark on the writings of the authors of scripture.
At first it might seem that homosexuality among men should be well received. After all, the preeminent dignity of the male is a central doctrine of patriarchy, and what could be more affirming of that dignity than men loving men? However, this argument assumes that sexuality is closely associated with the sort of love that values the beloved and respects his/her dignity. Love in this sense is not an important component as sexuality in a patriarchy. Rather, sexual intercourse is one of the means by which the active male subjugates, controls and makes use of the passive female. Sex between men, at least when it involves some sort of bodily penetration, is seen as requiring that one of the partners assume the passive, female role. It is therefore inimical to the masculine dignity of that partner. If it is accepted as a possibility, it threatens the dignity of all men. This was a threat well understood by the Hebrews, who had spent a significant portion of their early history under Egyptian domination. Egyptian soldiers routinely sodomized their defeated enemies as a means of affirming the enemies' absolute subjugation. This indignity was no doubt suffered by many a Hebrew male during the Egyptian captivity, and its bitter memory probably influenced the approach to homosexuality in the holiness laws. Even today, it is not uncommon for men to assert their domination of other men by forcing the others to assume the "female" role. This is an important means of defining and enforcing the pecking order in male prison populations. In urban gangs dominant males often address subordinate males in derogatory terms that are feminine in gender.
It is also interesting to note the absence in the OT of any hint that lesbianism is frowned upon. So long as marriage is obligatory for women and their sexuality is tightly controlled, lesbian dalliances pose no threat to the patriarchal order. It in only when women achieve some degree of control over their sexuality and committed lesbian relationships begin to be seen as an alternative to marriage that they become a threat.
|Duetoronomy & Kings|
|Corinth & Timothy|
|In Conclusion & References|