Jesus vs. Leviticus

David Pickett, a FB friend, suggested I read an article alleging that Jesus condemned homosexuality since the Torah condemns it.  I’d like to share my response, which is different from some I’ve written in that it is short and sweet.

There’s an unspoken (and spoken) equation, a faulty assumption in this article, which runs like this.

  • The whole Bible is inspired by God,
  • God’s inspiration makes the literal Bible inerrant,
  • Jesus is God, therefore
  • Jesus inspired every literal word in the Bible, so
  • A quote from Leviticus or Deuteronomy is as valid as quoting the words of Jesus in Luke or John.  

This faulty reasoning causes fundamentalists to scoff at Jesus Followers and Red-Letter Christians (also click here) who elevate the Jesus of the gospels above Paul, Moses, or David. For the fundamentalist, all of the words Biblical authors wrote or spoke were inspired by God, which is to say inspired by Jesus, making them of equal value in discussions of theology and doctrine.

Here is the problem with that reasoning scripturally speaking. 

The author of Hebrews emphasizes how everything about Christ and the New Covenant is superior to what came before. Hebrews says that the words and ministry of Christ trump anything in the Hebrew Bible.

In the past God spoke to our ancestors through the prophets at many times and in various ways, but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed heir of all things, and through whom also he made the universe. (Hebrews 1:1-2)

The writings of the Hebrew Bible are often summed up as “the Law and the Prophets.” While Moses is often known as the Law-Giver, he is called a “prophet” in Deuteronomy 18:15 and Deuteronomy 34:10 (click here). The author of Hebrews says “but in these last days he has spoken by his Son.”

Of course I disagree with original author’s assumption that Jesus never mentioned homosexuals. (click here)

Nothing I’ve written here is a slam-dunk response to people determined to use the Bible as a club to subdue their scapegoats. But it works for me.

This is not denying the inspiration of scripture, or the utility of the Bible for teaching and training in righteousness.  I have only one Lord, that’s Jesus.  I don’t acknowledge Moses as Lord, Isaiah as Lord, David as Lord, or Paul as Lord. I don’t acknowledge the Bible as Lord.

For me, Jesus is Lord.

About Ron Goetz

Author, Widower, Grandpa, Son.
This entry was posted in Bible, Homosexuality and the Bible, Leviticus and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

24 Responses to Jesus vs. Leviticus

  1. xnlover says:

    Hi Ron,
    Good post!
    I think the word “trumps” – or maybe something similar – was omitted between “Christ” and “anything” in the paragraph immediately prior to the quotation from Hebrews.
    Doug Asbury

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  2. Duncan Beach says:

    I think Mike Benson is, forgive me, an idiot. That’s my opinion of the man. That Jesus advocated for heterosexual marriage doesn’t mean that he condemned nor even accused any homosexuals. As to any evidence offered in later parts of the New Testament (ephesians, lets say, or the book of ‘revelation’), let me point out that Saul of Tarsus never really changed. He went from being a man who condemned Christians for their faith (particularly women) to being a man who condemned Christians for not living up to his “high moral standards” (particularly women, the misogynist). As to the book of ‘revelation’, I would like to say that it’s evident from the books that precede it that “St. John” was physically sick when he wrote it. A fever dream is far more likely than an authentic vision. I therefore discount, not Jesus and his actual words and actions, but Paul and John. They needed to be patted on the head and sent to a corner to pick their noses – the only tasks they seem, at least from my 43 readings of the Bible, to be qualified to handle.

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    • Ron Goetz says:

      By their logic, single mothers are to be condemned, widows are to be condemned, Kings David and Solomon should’ve been condemned, commonlaw couples should be condemned, etc.

      My hope for them is that they derive their eternal value from their relationship with God, which should eventually deliver them from their need to elevate themselves above the “unacceptable.”

      But, until they are delivered from these ungodly needs, we must do all we can to prevent them from oppressing others, prevent them from depriving others of their God-given dignity. The fact that they say they are acting in accordance with the Bible does not excuse them. The Bible says that they know that God’s judgment is upon those who judge others, yet they not only continue in their “sins of the depraved mind,” but they heartily encourage others who indulge in the sins of the depraved mind.

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  3. Tim Kelly says:

    Sometimes short and sweet is all you need. This is why when churches that announce that they are “Bible Believing Churches” I get kinda nervous. Most of them should be called “Bible Believing (the way WE say it is) Churches.”

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    • Ron Goetz says:

      I agree, Tim. “Bible-believing” churches ignore an incredible amount of the Bible they claim to believe. In any conservative forum I’ve participated in, when I bring up actual Bible passages, the other participants only refer to doctrines and theological ideas, and when I persist, they finish up by calling me a false teacher, a heretic, or a wolf in sheep’s clothing. It’s amazing how unprepared they are to actually discuss the Bible they say they believe.

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  4. Floyd Miller says:

    Paul also acknowledges the preeminence of Christ’s teachings as follows:

    1 Corinthians 1:12-13

    12 What I mean is this: One of you says, “I follow Paul”; another, “I follow Apollos ”; another, “I follow Cephas”; still another, “I follow Christ.”
    13 Is Christ divided? Was Paul crucified for you? Were you baptized into the name of Paul?

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    • Duncan Beach says:

      The challenge for me as a Christian is to try to ignore all that Paul said that was not directly linked to Jesus. Paul was, for all his good qualities, a misogynist, a homophobe, and a racist. Those traits never left him, according to the bible, and again, he largely went from being someone (Saul of Tarsus) who persecuted Christians for being Christian, to being someone who persecuted Christians for not living up to what he percieved to be Christianity’s high moral standards. He was influenced in this largely by his own life- he started out Jewish, and had been raised according to those beliefs. Too many people today think that he was somehow the post-life host for Jesus, rather than a fallible man who was influenced by Jesus. Jesus, I should point out, does NOT possess people.

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      • Ron Goetz says:

        I agree that Paul was not a “re-incarnation” of Christ. There are several different representations of Paul, ranging from 1) Acts to 2) Paul’s epistles to the 3) next-gen Pauline epistles to 4) Peter. In Galatians and Colossians, Paul refutes, in theological statements, both misogyny and racism:

        “There is no longer Jew or Gentile, slave or free, male and female. For you are all one in Christ Jesus.” (Galatians 3:28)

        “In this new life, it doesn’t matter if you are a Jew or a Gentile, circumcised or uncircumcised, barbaric, uncivilized, slave, or free. Christ is all that matters, and he lives in all of us.”

        So, while I acknowledge Paul was a flawed human being, I believe that he was working his way away from misogyny and religious racism. Unfortunately, misogynists and racists utilize and misuse statements throughout the Bible to their own ends.

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      • Duncan Beach says:

        I can agree that Paul was in fact aware of his shortcomings & tried not to influence his work with them. However, I as a Christian, do not use Pauls example as anything but that – an example of how a man totally opposed to the teaching of Christianity could himself become a Christian. I will reiterate: For me, as a Christian, Jesus stands as the example of how we are to behave, and taught us the things we are to believe. And Jesus NEVER – at least in my bibles – said anything about lifting the requirement of circumcision. He also never asked anyone with whom they slept before healing or helping them. He in fact, refused to accused an admitted adulteress – most likely because if he had done so, he knew she would be put on ‘trial’ and stoned to death. Paul was too quick to point out the shortcomings of others, in my opinion, while simultaneously making loopholes for himself.

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      • Ron Goetz says:

        Agreed. For some time now I’ve found it helpful to see the man behind the letters, as opposed to thinking of Paul’s letters as things God dictated to a mere conduit for messages from on high. Paul held himself up as an example, but only insofar as he was faithful to the example of Christ. Imitate me, as I also imitate Christ. Where Paul did not imitate Christ, we do not imitate. Where Paul was not faithful to the example of Christ, we are not required to follow.

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  5. Kathleen says:

    Interesting, I wrote on another blog recently that my perspective was that the Bible was indeed flawed despite being inspired by God. The books are based on experiences the people had with God as they lived, thus inspired. Of course these were written in terms understood at the time as well as the science known at the time.

    Much of the New Testament we know was written decades after the death of Christ which also would skew perceptions of the events. Memory isn’t as reliable as we may think. Because these were written as the people believed they are indeed truth, their truth. I also believe that although God remains consistently the same, His way of speaking to us changes as the Old and New Testament reveal.

    Therefore as a believer in a living God it is very possible many are clinging so tightly to the “Word of God” as written they are simply living an obedient life. They are failing to live according to faith in a living God speaking to us perhaps in entirely different way, We can lead a sanctified life according to scripture but faith is a verb and requires a true practice.

    “Progress” and “science” have a significant influence on our life today as compared to these centuries old passages. Attempting to live solely on scripture as literally read today isn’t possible without interpretation and walking in faith with a living God just as those people in scripture walked. Obedience to the word won’t allow people to function in society because of science ethics and morality are in constant flux.

    If we try to so literally adhere to scripture, is it at all possible to to consider spiritual maturity is attainable? Faith is daring and bold and for me that is how we grow spiritually and strive for spiritual maturity. I am a layperson and therefore not as well educated as a true scholar. However I am a woman of deep faith and walk and serve others as truthful and with as much justice I can muster. Amen

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    • Ron Goetz says:

      Kathleen, I wish more Christians dared to live with the ambiguity you embrace. “We walk by faith, and not by sight,” but we have turned faith in the Bible into a kind of sight/certainty. I am grateful many of us live with the ambiguity of a historically conditioned book. It’s sometimes hard to share the “Christian” label with literalists, but such is life. Everyone is occasionally embarrassed by their allies and colleagues.

      Keep the faith, Kathleen!

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      • Duncan Beach says:

        Christian (I won’t use your full screen name here, it constitutes an insult, and it’s one thing for you to insult yourself, another entirely for me to do it), I never insinuated that Paul didn’t advocate for Jesus, nor did I ever say that Paul wasn’t Christian himself. I stated the man’s flaws as reasons that we shouldn’t glorify the products of those flaws, including the pronouncements he made against women and homosexuals – the sources of some of those “Clobber Verses” the good Pastor here keeps talking about. See, my belief is that as a Christian, I should follow the teachings of JESUS, the Christ, not necessarily those of Paul, the apostle.

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  6. Kathleen says:

    It saddens me to think you may or that i have insulted myself as I am an authentic person. To think of any of my journey and growth in Christ is in any way shameful would indicate insult but there you are very wrong. I have lived the life of lies to myself and to an ex-husband in effort to appease the so called “Norm”. It was unfair to my ex-husband and to myself to live a lie, i suppose then you would say it would be best that I live alone without any companionship my entire life. All i have to say is I am a lesbian and it is assumed I am in a relationship. This must be true according to the whispering behind my back, the scornful looks and the isolation I encounter by many who don’t know my current status.

    Who is anyone to judge me? Truthfully according to the most conservative literalist I really only must refrain from sexual activity. i too believe in following Christ and I also believe that Paul is very misunderstood and that his clobber verses are taken out of context and without the understanding of Jobs versus Justices which explain how wrong many so called followers spewing vile hatred are because they have shut the door on willingness to even listen.

    Forget Paul for now then, . . . Christ spoke in parables in order to teach those unable to understand unless it applied to the persons way of life. Therefore since our way of life is very different today these parables will hold a different meaning when applied in life today. It doesn’t mean the Bible is a falsehood by any means, I does however imply things differently. For example the Story of the Good Samaritan was to indicate we are our brothers keepers. If today we were to jeopardize our lives needlessly to help another we would be fools. However today we could still help. The Samaritan couldn’t dial 911, or drive to the nearest populated area in record time for assistance. The parable doesn’t say whether the person was a young well armed man yet many hear this story (or read) and think they are being called to be willing lay down their life for another. Do we do that and risk not being being here any longer to support our families? Does it mean we should be willing to take up arms against another to protect a stranger? This was a very risky endeavor for the Samaritan in a hostile land. perhaps some who is a soldier would say I will defend you, or a selfless Christian would do the same if they saw the person in trouble but technology now adds the new dimension. Should we discount technology? Here is a teaching by Christ that will tell you how to treat your fellow man of diversity.

    HMMMM How do we treat the Jew Gentile, lowly Samaritan, black man or the gay man or lesbian beaten and left for dead? A stranger, with an unknown past, what of their sin?? Would you even call 911? many won’t because of who they are or what they might represent. These are the same people claiming they are Christian and have a right to tell me what is morally right and what an awful person i am because I am a lesbian.

    As a Christian I have stopped and helped someone, and i have called 911 if it appeared too dangerous to expose myself openly. i pray and I sin and I repent and i am forgiven does that belief mean I am not a Christian because I am a lesbian? Does that mean I cannot spread the Word, does that mean I am doomed to an eternal Hell. Does that mean the fact that I am a daughter, and aunt, a sister, a homeowner, caregiver and groomer not count for something? Please I am so sick and tired of the black and white translation of the Bible. I am sick of the Black and White world of those not willing to agree to disagree because only they hold the absolute truth and the absolute correct translation of what God Christ spoke in the times written in the Old and New Testament. I believe there is a living God who is speaking to us today and far too many aren’t listening.

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  7. Duncan,

    The first name of my screen/blog title DOES fit you. It fits all of us because we are all ‘rotten’ from the fall of Adam and no one is ‘good.’ Since you claim to be a Christian, my wild guess is the “queer” part of my screen name is what’s bending you out of shape. People tend to not use their name as a blog title and since I’m using my wordpress blog to comment, forgive me if I’ve insulted your sensibilities, I think it’s catchy myself, a little rough, but catchy.

    My point with the link, if you read it, is that Paul did not preach a different message from Paul on homosexuality. Neither condemned homosexuality if that’s what you’re in a tizzy about.

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    • Duncan Beach says:

      No, Christian, I understand that most Christians think we’re born into sin, live in sin, and die in sin. I have no problem with the idea that you’re queer, or gay, or if you have pink and purple polka-dots all over you – or with the idea of a gay Christian either in specific or in general.

      My only issue is in insulting others. I’m not in a tizzy about what Jesus preached. I’m not even irritated with Paul. Hard to be when both of them have had a serious case of ‘dead’ for close to two thousand years.

      No, my issue is with people who want to glorify Paul as somehow being analogous with Jesus. He wasn’t. I know, as should anyone who’s read the bible, that Paul had issues – with authority, with women, with homosexuals – that he made no bones about having. He was mortal, as am I. I have different issues than he did. Same kinda sinner, different sins, if you want to put it that way (I don’t). As to either the Pastor or myself giving him ‘a bad rap’ – well, he was chosen as an apostle. I never have been. That’s an honor in and of itself, and not one that was bestowed lightly.

      Oh, and I don’t think being gay is a ‘sin’.

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      • You have a point with people becoming the “Disciple of Paul” instead of “Disciple of Christ.”

        You say Paul and Christ have a serious case of the ‘dead,’ so I’m going with that you don’t believe Jesus resurrected. Just out of curiosity, do you believe Paul was inspired at all to write anything he wrote? Or was he just a mess of issues?

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      • Duncan Beach says:

        Christian, I have noticed that the oldest living things I can find on our planet are less than a thousand years old. I am well-enough versed in medicine and the weirdness that inhabits our planet to come up with a dozen explanations for Christs apparent resurrection that have nothing whatever to do with the divine. I am not denying, btw, that he WAS divine. I wasn’t there to meet the man in life. I doubt he’s wandering the world right now, if that’s what you’re asking. And yes, Paul was a mess of issues. We all are. But I do believe that he was a good man, as we understand the term, and that he WAS, in fact, inspired by Jesus – but he became overzealous, I believe, and, as with all of us, his particular ‘mess of issues’ colored his ministry and his responses to people with whom he disagreed.

        I do apologize for the lateness of my reply. My computer decided to mutiny and not allow me on the net. The hard drive WAS executed, and now I’m back.

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  8. Kathleen says:

    Well, i guess we are on the same page and I did misunderstand what you were saying. Yes I like your name and yes I have a very mean and sometimes almost evil streak that erupts from within at times.

    I have become adept in quelling that monster within and prevent the evil from spewing from my lips even if it is just to walk away for a time. A quality I am not proud of at times and at other I can embrace the surge as courage and passion to go forth boldly. What I have done is found a way to channel the evil to good and productive. I am no saint but I am through the grace of God becoming better rather than bitter. I am not an in your face activist, but I live as a authentic person with no false pretenses. I am who I am and serve to the capacity the church allows for now.

    Frankly God called us all to serve and and I don’t recall anything about actual ordinations or even ceremonies for marriage in the Bible. just speak from my experience. I continue to serve and slowly I am being embraced by a very conservative church which many would say is very white. I am in a rural area in upstate NY and it is considered red neck country. The mindset is quite bigoted for the most part, but I am fortunate to have a Pastor who is very much a man of conviction and love for Christ. I still belong to one of the most diverse Districts so there is support and I grab it and hold on tight, but at the same time move forward in service as an example of Christian life.

    I am a CLM because I can’t be ordained and I can serve in mission. My current mission is to devise workshops and small groups to address the issues of diversity so I am beginning to step out as a pastoral activist. I am simply compiling information from everywhere and choosing tools that seem to provide progress and I am also modifying some steps. Mostly I try to empower those wanting to serve and can’t seem to get started. I have a gift for matching gifts and mentors so I use it but in such ways to foster fellowship and growth. If someone is growing in Christ you have a much greater opportunity to reach a person struggling with diversity issues. We shall see.

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  9. Kathleen says:

    I believe Paul was converted and indeed was an Apostle but as with the rest of the Bible I believe these letters he wrote were indeed intended to convey a particular message to a particular group. I do believe he prayed for these people and I do believe he was given divine direction however he was still living in the world we live in and his perception was tainted by the times and his own difficulties. Paul did indeed live more in the spirit than most yet human frailties did get in the way.

    Is this all true? Yes, because it was written as Paul perceived he was being led and so it was true to him. Acts, all the letters were about Paul’s experience with Christ and our risen Lord, which is how some of today’s texts could be written as divinely led and true to the writer. It does not mean absolute though. Certainly we can live a sanctified life by living much of what is written in the Bible. Therefore I believe the bible to be flawed but one can discern what is written accurately and what is likely influenced by the time it was written. The Bible is fascinating and if you consider how often it seems to contradict other writings within it only stands to reason that we are to think about the scripture, not just accept a literal translation. Truthfully, anyone who takes the Word of God out to the people are Apostles just as we are also considered disciples.

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