In this refutation of the Clobber Passages, I can’t move away from Leviticus without at least mentioning the issue of what the Torah calls “abominations.” God is recorded as having called a number of things abominations—mainly different kinds of food. For example, God said, “No eating food the third day after it’s been out of the refrigerator.” And come to think of it, most food left out for three days looks and smells pretty bad. So that one makes sense. But God called it an abomination. Okay. (Stupid is the first word that would come to my mind if someone ate meat left out for three days, but I didn’t write it.)
- Leviticus 7:18 “And if any of the flesh of the sacrifice of his peace offerings be eaten at all on the third day, it shall not be accepted, neither shall it be imputed unto him that offereth it: it shall be an abomination, and the soul that eateth of it shall bear his iniquity.”
- Leviticus 11:10 “And all that have not fins and scales in the seas, and in the rivers, of all that move in the waters, and of any living thing which is in the waters, they shall be an abomination unto you.”
- Leviticus 11:11 “They shall be even an abomination unto you; ye shall not eat of their flesh, but ye shall have their carcasses in abomination.
- Leviticus 11:12 “Whatsoever hath no fins nor scales in the waters, that shall be an abomination unto you.”
- Leviticus 11:13 “And these are they which ye shall have in abomination among the fowls; they shall not be eaten, they are an abomination: the eagle, and the ossifrage, and the ospray . . .
- Leviticus 11:20 “All fowls that creep, going upon all four, shall be an abomination unto you.
- Leviticus 11:23 “But all other flying creeping things, which have four feet, shall be an abomination unto you.
- Leviticus 11:41 “And every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth shall be an abomination; it shall not be eaten.
- Leviticus 11:42 “Whatsoever goeth upon the belly, and whatsoever goeth upon all four, or whatsoever hath more feet among all creeping things that creep upon the earth, them ye shall not eat; for they are an abomination.
There are, I believe, over 100 food sources that are labeled abominations in the Law.
Sorry, but I’m not giving up frog legs or mussels, and certainly not my shrimp and my bacon. I’m not being funny. When shrimp and bacon are included on the list of things called abominations, then it is clear that the word abomination doesn’t carry quite the thunder it carries when applied to other abominations.
“You shall not eat shrimp—it is an abomination to God!”
“You shall not eat rabbit—it is an abomination to God!”
“We do not tolerate shrimp-eaters and rabbit-eaters in this church!”
“Let them find some apostate church that will tolerate their loathsome appetites!”
Personally, I would leave that abomination talk at the door–unless you want to want to warn Christians against going into Red Lobster, which tempts us at every turn with those forbidden, never-ending shrimp bowls and what-not.
Then there’s tossing around the football. And celebrating with an Easter ham. I am not making this discussion ridiculous. The person who seriously invoke the word “abomination” makes it ridiculous.
Non-Dietary Death Penalty Offenses
And then of course there is male homosexuality.
- Leviticus 18:22. “Thou shalt not lie with mankind, as with womankind: it is abomination.”
- Leviticus 20:13. “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.”
It could be argued that as abominations go, homosexual relations are in a class by themselves since the scripture demands the death penalty. Eating octopus or squid, for example, were not death penalty offenses. Certainly the fact that execution is required for men caught having sex with one another speaks for itself, right?
That might be persuasive if it weren’t for the variety of execution-worthy crimes in the Torah. It is not surprising that murder requires the death penalty.
- Leviticus 24:17. “If anyone takes the life of a human being, he must be put to death.”
But the People of God are commanded to execute people caught working on the Sabbath, who curse their parents, people who blaspheme the name of God, and sons who are incorrigibly disobedient to their parents.
- Exodus 31:15. “For six days, work is to be done, but the seventh day is a Sabbath of rest, holy to the LORD. Whoever does any work on the Sabbath day must be put to death.”
- Exodus 21:17. “Anyone who curses their father or mother is to be put to death.”
- Leviticus 24:16. “Anyone who blasphemes the name of the LORD must be put to death. The entire assembly must stone him. Whether an alien or native-born, when he blasphemes the Name, he must be put to death.”
[Note: I have blasphemed God on numerous occasions. If your church says you must follow the Torah, then send me air fare to your city and I will submit myself to your congregation to give you an opportunity to fulfill the righteous demands of the Law. If Christ’s death on the cross and the presence of the Holy Spirit in your lives enable you to keep the Law’s requirements, this shouldn’t be too hard. PM me for my contact info. This is a limited time offer.]
Political & Governmental Capital Crimes
A key moment occurred in Moses’ consolidation power over the very issue of keeping the Sabbath.
- “While the Israelites were in the desert, a man was found gathering wood on the Sabbath day. . . . And the LORD said to Moses, ‘The man shall surely be put to death: all the congregation shall stone him with stones outside the camp.” (Numbers 15 :33,35)
The rebellion that ensued after the execution of this stick-gathering individual resulted in the deaths of thousands, and solidified Moses’ authority. It is obvious that God takes gathering stick on Saturday very, very seriously. I’m not sure the stick thing was that serious for Moses.
Incorrigible delinquency is also worthy of the death penalty.
- “If a man has a stubborn and rebellious son who does not obey his father and mother and will not listen to them when they discipline him, his father and mother shall take hold of him and bring him to the elders at the gate of his town. They shall say to the elders, ‘This son of ours is stubborn and rebellious. He will not obey us. He is a profligate and a drunkard.’ Then all the men of his town shall stone him to death. You must purge the evil from among you. All Israel will hear of it and be afraid.” (Deuteronomy 21:18-21)
It must be acknowledged that there are legitimate spiritual, moral, and political reasons for the existence of these laws. That fact does not mean that Christians have to subscribe to all of the values implicit in the “death penalty” label.
Someone will immediately think of the church-created distinction between the so-called Moral Law and the so-called Ceremonial Law.
Let’s say for a moment that they’re right, that there is a difference between the “Ceremonial Law” and the “Moral Law” (which I do not concede). My response is, “If God changed ‘his’ mind once, ‘he’ can do it again.”
You insist on the difference between the “Ceremonial Law” and the “Moral Law”? Okay. Does my blaspheming the name of God count as a violation of the ceremonial law or the moral law? Does picking up sticks on Saturday count as a violation of which kind of law?
Paul’s Role in all This
Do you see the kind of Scribal, intellectual nit-picking that results when we try to dissect the Law in order to have our “objective record” of God’s expectations? Paul saw the futility of hanging onto the Law. That’s why he banished it from our lives. As a rabbi in Tarsus Paul ministered to both Jews and Gentiles in his synagogue. He was a bicultural pastor. He got tired of trying to rationalize the Law to Gentiles. Something inside him told him that this whole Law requirement was a dead-end street. And what was the something that told him that? The Image of God (Imago Dei), the Holy Spirit, and his conscience.
You say that the Bible is consistent in both testaments regarding homosexuals, that God condemns homosexuality in both the Hebrew scriptures and the Greek scriptures? Well, that remains to be seen. That’s why I am laying out the elements of the Gay Apocalypse in Luke 17, starting with the gay and lesbian couples.
Exodus 31:15. “For six days, work is to be done, but the seventh day is a Sabbath of rest, holy to the LORD. Whoever does any work on the Sabbath day must be put to death.”
Hmm! Sounds like a good way to get rid of all those hate-mongering fundamentalist preachers.
Ted, you are sooo bad!
However, like Mae West used to say, “But when I’m bad, I’m sooo good.”
And discussing Leviticus, we certainly can’t overlook Leviticus 26:14-16:
“If you do not obey me and do not carry out all of these commandments, if instead, you reject my statutes, and if your soul abhors my ordinances so as not to carry out all my commandments …I, in turn, will do this to you: I will appoint over you a sudden terror, consumption and fever that shall waste away the eyes and cause the soul to pine away; also, you shall sow your seed uselessly, for your enemies shall eat it up.”
We pay a heavy price for our love of jumbo shrimp….
Giving up shrimp is bad enough, but according to a Jewish friend, I would also have to give up barbecue pork, pork of all kinds, cheeseburgers, and even having a milkshake with my hamburger, even without the cheese. There must be a multitude of us abominations walking around if this is the case! 🙂
You see why Paul cancelled the written code, Bob? As a bicultural rabbi in Tarsus (Turkey), Paul (Saul) knew that the minutiae of the Torah were a barrier to god-fearing Gentiles. Yes, it was mainly circumcision, but there was a lot more that went along with that.
“Rabbi Saul, we know that Adonai is superior to Zeus and the pantheon of gods, but are all these picky rules really necessary?”
Do you have any viewpoint on the distinction between the Leviticus passage that does not specify the death penalty vs the one that does mandate death:
Leviticus 18:22. “Thou shalt not lie with mankind, as with womankind: it is abomination
Leviticus 20:13. “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.”
I am theorizing that (18:22) merely having male-male sex is an abomination; but if (20:13) you ALSO have male-male sex IN ADDITION to having sex with a woman (perhaps a gay man marrying a woman, but also sneaking out to play with men on the side), it ‘s more serious, and warrants the death penalty. What do you think?
I truly love your series on Gays & Lesbians in Luke!! Thank you!!!
Well, I did study Hebrew in college, but not enough to feel at home in the Hebrew scriptures. There is a good Hebrew-English interlinear at http://www.scripture4all.org/OnlineInterlinear/Hebrew_Index.htm, and there are resources like http://www.biblegateway.com.
After comparing the Hebrew-English interlinear and several English translations, it seems that the English Standard Version (ESV) is the most accurate. The ESV does not attach a personal pronoun to “as with a woman.” Here are the two verses from the ESV:
Lev. 18:22 reads: “You shall not lie with a male as with a woman; it is an abomination.”
Lev. 20:13 reads: “If a man lies with a male as with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination; they shall surely be put to death; their blood is upon them.”
This is not a final answer, obviously. Good eye–if the KJV captures something other translations don’t, then your explanation is intriguing. Unfortunately I didn’t see anything in the interlinear about personal prononouns.
Thanks for prompting me to look at the Hebrew of the Leviticus verses. I discovered something quite interesting!
Thanks for another fantastic post! I’ve been reading/rereading them for a while, and it’s really helped to clear up some doubts and concerns I have as a God-fearing, saved bisexual.
With that said, I have a few questions I could really use some clarification on. I am also not much of a Bible expert, so forgive me if my questions seem foolish. Didn’t it say somewhere in the New Testament that the only things that were perfect were God and His Ten Commandments? And if that’s the case, wouldn’t it mean that the other laws in the Bible (like you mentioned here also in the Torah) are not and could be wrong? Also, could that also be part of the reason why Paul also called to get rid of all those old laws? And even then, Jesus gave exceptions to the Commandments (like being able to work on Sunday if it’s needed. I think it was something about someone working in the fields on Sabbath? I can’t remember the exact verse).
In any case, the Ten Commandments never expressly state anything against homosexuality. But any clarification or insight you can give to this would be really appreciated. Thanks in advance!
Please forgive me for being so slow to reply.
I have published a number of posts discussing Paul’s cancellation of the Law. In Paul’s mind, we are to be lead by the Holy Spirit, by our conscience, and by the command to love. As I read Galatians and Romans, the Law has been entirely abolished as a measure of how we’re doing or what we should do. He was originally a rabbi in Tarsus, and I believe he saw the futility in teaching the God-fearing gentiles to live by the Torah.
We are still to walk with God, but the Torah is no longer the guide. While there is valuable material in the Torah, Paul abolished the Law for the believer.
Seems convenient enough. If we change the rules to match the popular culture belief system as it evolves, we can change the word of the lord to fit modern times. Why then believe anything we read in the Bible? I don’t for this very reason. The church changes “the word of god” and always has to reflect new ways of thinking. What is sacred about that? Fools rush in.
Actually the law was never abolished. See Matt 5:17-20. The reason the believer isn’t under the law is because he has accepted his death to the law “in Christ”. See Rom 6:6/7:4 The following makes this very clear: “But now, by dying to what once bound us, we have been released from the law” Rom 7:6. Note what was abolished – our fallen Adamic life, not the law. We have been legally delivered from under the law because “our old life was crucified with Christ” (Rom 6:6). So the law still stands, but as far as the law is concerned we are dead. Therefore “in Christ” justice of the law has been satisfied. This is justification by faith. Those who reject Christ will have to stand before the law on judgment day without an intercessor. The law will find the unbeliever guilty and the punishment demanded will be the 2nd death.
Thanks for your discussion of why the believer is no longer under the law.
What does it mean to you personally that you are a letter from God? “You yourselves are our letter, written on our hearts, known and read by everyone. You show that you are a letter from Christ, the result of our ministry, written not with ink but with the Spirit of the living God, not on tablets of stone but on tablets of human hearts.”
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Okay. (Stupid is the first word that would come to my mind if someone ate meat left out for three days, but I didn’t write it.)
That shows the type of irrational visceral reaction to a text which is a major obstacle to learning. I would ask where was it left and was it perishable? But since leftovers are apparently targets of the Scripture, maybe we should think twice about them and look at the reasons why.
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