Homosexuality or Idolatry
10And the brethren immediately sent away Paul and Silas by night unto Berea: who coming thither went into the synagogue of the Jews.
11These were more noble than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were so.
Acts 17: 10 -11
When I went to a private fundamentalist Christian school, this was its motto. Unfortunately, the part they always emphasized was “searched the scriptures daily,” while I preferred “whether those things were so” Even years later, I still hold this passage in high regard.
I’ve done some studying and I would like to share my results with you. Let’s talk about the Bible and homosexuality. When browsing LGBT sites, I always see the same tired arguments. “Well, so what if the Bible doesn’t like the gays? It also condones *horrifying things*.” While true, a better reasoning exists. The whole truth and the dirty little secret that challenges traditions and brings scary, unknown change could be that the Bible may be misinterpreted and people pick and choose what they believe from it.
Let’s talk about Leviticus. Specifically, Leviticus 18:22 and 20:13.
Thou shalt not lie with mankind, as with womankind: it is abomination.
If a man also lie with mankind, as he lieth with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination: they shall surely be put to death; their blood shall be upon them.
That is a very serious condemnation. Let’s shed some context onto this, though. First off, the word “abomination” is a little harsh. The word it’s translated from is to’evah. To’evah is an interesting word – it’s used quite often in the Bible. It has two qualities that make it worth examining here. First, it’s always used to refer to a religious taboo. “We can’t eat that shellfish because it’s totally to’evah.” “The Egyptians can’t do that with us because it’s to’evah to them.” Second, it’s always limited to a certain group of people. So, who’s “thou” in “thou shalt not lie with mankind”?
Leviticus 17-26, which encompasses both passages, is known as the Holiness Code. You see, Leviticus was written in two parts: The Prophetic Code and the Holiness Code. The Holiness Code was written way later, sometime around the reign of King Josiah. During this time, the people of Israel were very nationalistic. They wanted to separate themselves from those around them, and they went to great lengths to do so.
When thou art come into the land which the LORD thy God giveth thee, thou shalt not learn to do after the abominations of those nations.
Sure enough, that use of the word “abomination” there is also to’evah. In fact, the to’evah in Leviticus falls under this umbrella. You see, Assyrians had a ceremonial practice of homosexual prostitution. During this, priests would wear women’s clothing in order to gather the spiritual powers of Ishtar, and more importantly, money for the temple. There’s evidence that this kind of practice was going on in Israel, and King Josiah was not pleased. They were all put to death, just as Leviticus 20:13 describes. These events helped shape what we now know as the Holiness Code, a manual *made for priests* in order to guide them.
Earlier in Leviticus, you’ll find another few verses that fall into the same category as mentioned just above:
21And 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.
22Thou shalt not lie with mankind, as with womankind: it is abomination.
23Neither 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.
24Defile not ye yourselves in any of these things: for in all these the nations are defiled which I cast out before you.
Leviticus 18: 21-24
Temple prostitution of many kinds and human sacrifice were common to this ancient Ammonite god known as Molech.
Leviticus says nothing about homosexuality: it only talks about religious prostitution and the worshiping of other Gods. Priests were worshiping the Gods of other nations, and the nationalistic Israel killed them for it. That homosexual prostitution was the means by which the ceremony was performed is an unfortunate coincidence. This is supported by other verses in the Bible:
Thou shalt not bring the hire of a whore, or the price of a dog, into the house of the LORD thy God for any vow: for even both these are an abomination unto the LORD thy God.
“Dog” is a term used for male prostitutes. So once again, bringing them into the house of the Lord is a to’evah.
Okay, so we have verse after verse that reaffirms the context. But it’s not like the Bible’s saying homosexuality is ok ……. or does it?
1And it came to pass, when he had made an end of speaking unto Saul, that the soul of Jonathan was knit with the soul of David, and Jonathan loved him as his own soul.
2And Saul took him that day, and would let him go no more home to his father’s house.
3Then Jonathan and David made a covenant, because he loved him as his own soul.
1 Samuel 18:1-3
Substitute the name “Jonathan” with a female name and tell me how anyone could think this isn’t a love story. Here, let me do it for you:
“.. That the soul of Veronica was knit with the soul of David, and Veronica loved him as her own soul… Then Veronica and David made a covenant, because she loved him as her own soul.”
But, you know, heteronormativity and all. People assume it was just platonic.
A final note for this time on Leviticus; a little quote that I came across earlier:
“I think part of the problem comes in failing to understand that the Bible wasn’t written to us. Leviticus wasn’t written to Christians living in America (or wherever you live) in 2014. It was written to Jews living in the Middle East several thousands of years ago.
“Whenever we read the Bible, we must recognize that we are reading someone else’s mail.”