Homosexuality as an Abomination as per Leviticus 18:22

I post this exchange without comment, though I would welcome any theologians, who can shed any light on this topic, especially those who can read Leviticus in its original language Ancient Hebrew to make sure we don’t lose any nuance in translation.

Laura Schlesinger is a US radio personality, who dispenses advice to people who call in to her radio show. She recently said that, as an observant Orthodox Jew, homosexuality is an abomination, according to Leviticus 18:22, and cannot be condoned under any circumstances. The following response is an open letter to Dr. Laura which was posted on the Internet.

Dear Dr. Laura:

Thank you for doing so much to educate people regarding God’s Law. I have learned a great deal from your show, and try to share that knowledge with as many people as I can. When someone tries to defend the homosexual lifestyle, for example, I simply remind them that Leviticus 18:22 clearly states it to be an abomination… End of debate.

I do need some advice from you, however, regarding some other elements of God’s Laws and how to follow them.

1. Leviticus 25:44 states that I may possess slaves, both male and female, provided they are purchased from neighboring nations. A friend of mine claims that this applies to Mexicans, but not Canadians. Can you clarify? Why can’t I own Canadians?

2. I would like to sell my daughter into slavery, as sanctioned in Exodus 21:7. In this day and age, what do you think would be a fair price for her?

3. I know that I am allowed no contact with a woman while she is in her period of menstrual uncleanliness – Lev.15: 19-24. The problem is how do I tell? I have tried asking, but most women take offense.

4. When I burn a bull on the altar as a sacrifice, I know it creates a pleasing odor for the Lord – Lev.1:9. The problem is, my neighbors. They claim the odor is not pleasing to them. Should I smite them?

5. I have a neighbor who insists on working on the Sabbath.Exodus 35:2. clearly states he should be put to death. Am I morally obligated to kill him myself, or should I ask the police to do it?

6. A friend of mine feels that even though eating shellfish is an abomination – Lev. 11:10, it is a lesser abomination than homosexuality. I don’t agree. Can you settle this? Are there ‘degrees’ of abomination?

7. Lev. 21:20 states that I may not approach the altar of God if I have a defect in my sight. I have to admit that I wear reading glasses. Does my vision have to be 20/20, or is there some wiggle- room here?

8. Most of my male friends get their hair trimmed, including the hair around their temples, even though this is expressly forbidden by Lev. 19:27. How should they die?

9. I know from Lev. 11:6-8 that touching the skin of a dead pig makes me unclean, but may I still play football if I wear gloves?

10. My uncle has a farm. He violates Lev.19:19 by planting two different crops in the same field, as does his wife by wearing garments made of two different kinds of thread (cotton/polyester blend). He also tends to curse and blaspheme a lot. Is it really necessary that we go to all the trouble of getting the whole town together to stone them? Lev.24:10-16.

Couldn’t we just burn them to death at a private family affair, like we do with people who sleep with their in-laws? (Lev. 20:14)

I know you have studied these things extensively and thus enjoy considerable expertise in such matters, so I am confident you can help. Thank you again for reminding us that God’s word is eternal and unchanging.

Your adoring fan,

Homer Simpson-Caldwell

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About creativeconflictwisdom

I spent 32 years in a Fortune Five company working on conflict: organizational, labor relations and senior management. I have consulted in a dozen different business sectors and the US Military. I work with a local environmental non profit. I have written a book on the neuroscience of conflict, and its implications for conflict handling called Creative Conflict Wisdom (forthcoming).
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8 Responses to Homosexuality as an Abomination as per Leviticus 18:22

  1. This exchange is quite famous in Christian LGB&T circles and exposes the absurdity of basing our understanding of God and sexuality on a cultural context from the late bronze age…

    • @Benny Hazelhurst. What remains interesting is why this particular selection of focus by conservative Christians? I guess I suspect they disagree on a lot of doctrine, and Gay Marriage is one thing they can agree to be against. (Though they often also agree on very oppressive attitudes to women.) But what is strange is how this focus that Gay Marriage threatens real marriage in some deep way, ignores the real threats to marriage such as entering into it without proper thought, domestic violence/violence against women and children, and the modern secular over-romanticized ‘love’ which supposedly dissolves all practical marital problems. A movement that, for perhaps understandable and conservative reasons, wanted to strengthen marriage, because at its best it provides a strong foundation for raising children, seems strange in its priorities when it focuses on Gay Marriage, which is aiming to extend the virtues of marital commitment to gay people.

      The other interesting angle is recent research on differences in fear. In laboratory experiments, subjects with higher fear reaction to fearful images, than positive reaction to positive images, tend to rate more highly on conservative political views. And those who react to positive images more than fearful ones, tend to be more liberal. So any conservative mind set will tend to see threats more easily, especially I suppose if they are novel threats. So maybe the issue is more psychological than theological?

  2. Shane says:

    You might want to rethink that Leviticus thing. Are you a Levite Priest? Do you follow all the other restrictions of the Levitican purity code? No shaving? No tattoos? No vegetable gardens? No ground meats? No shrimp, clams, mussels, oysters, and lobster in your diet? Are you sure? No rabbits around anywhere? Have you worked on Saturday recently? Better ditch all that Poly-cotton in your wardrobe. Oops. Quote one, you gotta quote ’em all. No cherry picking allowed.

    You see, the Levitican code was designed to make the PRIESTS, and ONLY the priests of the tribes of Levi live in a highly-ritualised way to ensure that they wouldn’t fall into the practises of the priests of their rival religion, that of Ba’al. The ‘Thou shall not lie with mankind’ verse was a reference to the temple prostitution which was part of Ba’al’s services. The actual “sin” was worshiping Ba’al, NOT boinking a guy.

    Another part of what’s wrong with insisting on Leviticus is that word ‘abomination’. The actual Hebrew word is ‘To’evah’ which really translates to ‘doctrinal error’. Now in what world is a doctrinal error an abomination? This is one of those translation errors we keep talking about. This ‘error’ was inserted deliberately to allow the Emperor Justinian to get rid of a Bishop of Alexandria that he didn’t like. Why should modern gay people suffer because a mouldy old Emperor wanted to purge a political problem almost two thousand years ago.

    Now that you know all this, tell me: in what way is a ritual purity code intended ONLY for ancient priests to follow applicable to me in the 21st Century? I really want to know.

    Lastly, (and this one confuses homophobes a lot), the last Levite priest died more than 2000 years ago. Therefore the entire Levitican code has been obsolete since before your Christ was born. You may as well be insisting that we follow the practices of the Egyptians, the Phoenicians, the Sumerians or any other of the thousands of societies and religions that died out before Christianity arose. Sense. Your insistence on Leviticus makes none.

    • @Shane. Sorry it seems the original piece has for some reason disappeared leaving you maybe the wrong impression. I completely agree with your comments which are consistent with the parody I posted and which I have now reinstated, hoping it won’t disappear because I wear mixed fabrics and keep sheep and goats together in my field.

      • amelia says:

        Very Funny!!!!!! Your sarcasm is pathetic – grow up.

      • @amelia. Technically the piece I posted is irony not sarcasm. Glad you appreciated it: more irony. And I turn the other cheek to your comment ‘grow up’. As the Torah says: ‘We see the world as we are not as it is’ and I suggest you reflect more deeply on your own moral state before indicting others and I commend Matthew 7.3 to you for your daily contemplation.

  3. amelia says:

    The Leviticus reference is simply a red herring, a convenient one, but still a distraction. The NEW TESTAMENT also forbids un-natural affections and practices between people of the same sex, and also says that NO ONE who practices such perverted acts will EVER SEE THE KINGDOM OF GOD. How much plainer does the Scripture need to be? But I suppose we shouldn’t be surprised that so-called Christians endorse such vile behaviour and indeed promote it, the Bible says that there will be teachers who decieve and promote false doctrine. Wolves who come in sheeps clothing and call day, night and evil, good. A shame on you. And by the way, is incest and sex between adults and children also approved by God’s love, and I WAS BORN THIS WAY SO IT MUST BE O.K.? I think not, God says “Be holy as I am holy”, there is nothing holy about sodomy and the females equivilent.

    • @amelia. Your posting is actually quite hate filled and therefore profoundly un-Christian in my view. My evangelical neighbor Peter, who does not approve of homosexual acts, always tells me he hates the sin but not the sinner and you would do well to reflect on his advice. I think you are indeed one of the teachers who ‘the Bible says that there will be teachers who decieve and promote false doctrine. Wolves who come in sheeps clothing and call day, night and evil, good. A shame on you’.

      In any event can you cite me chapter and verse in the four Gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John where homosexuality is condemned in Christ’s words? The clearest statements on the subjects are in Leviticus, hence the posting. And presumably you are following all the other Levitican commandments as you are presumably a Levitican not a Christian? I know of one reference to marriage in Mark, but other than that not only was Jesus silent on the subject of marriage and homosexuality, but he also spent much of his time with the marginalized in society and for me love is indeed holy where adults are concerned. There abide faith, hope and love and the greatest of those is love. Sexually exploiting children is as abhorrent to me as sexually exploiting women and you would do far better to turn your attention to the 7 million women and children who are sex slaves in the world and work for their salvation that focus on homosexuality.

      I pray for forgiveness for the hatred you show and respect your different interpretation of the Bible, and have no intention to force you to commit acts that you consider are sinful. ‘Do unto others as you would be done by’ which Rabbi Hillel said summarized the whole of the Old Testament in one line and that the rest was commentary: go study.

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