Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Leviticus? We Don' Need No Stinkin' Leviticus...Or Do We?

So Sodom isn't the answer? What about elsewhere in the Old Testament? Here, I'm not talking about indirect references. It has to be directly talking to the issue. The answer here is that--well--there's not much. We've only got these two passages:

Leviticus 18:22 "'Do not lie with a man as one lies with a woman; that is detestable.

Leviticus 20:13 "'If a man lies with a man as one lies with a woman, both of them have done what is detestable. They must be put to death; their blood will be on their own heads.

Puts a whole different spin on ex-gay ministry, eh?

Of course, we don't stick to the Levitical codes now. We don't mind if women come inside a church when..uh..Red Skelton's payin' 'em a visit. So to speak. There are countless verses--whole chapters--dealing with the Monthly Messiness. There are entire chapters explaining how priests are to assess and treat skin diseases. Yet another duty that would now get turned over to the youth pastor, no doubt.

We just don't use Leviticus as our guide. We don't kill adulterers. That'd seriously cut down on membership. We don't kill kids who sass their parents. Tempting though that may sometimes be.

So we just toss out Leviticus, right? We've got Jesus, we don't need no stinkin' Leviticus. It's superceded. It's out of date. Read Leviticus 19:9-18. Are we ready to dismiss those verses as irrelevant, archaic laws? Verse 18 in particular. What about the proclamations of Leviticus 25, which prohibits us from being in debt slavery to one another, and calls out for us to care for God's creation? What about the prohibition of adultery? If you can't hear God speaking in these verses, then you're not listening very closely.

As we approach Leviticus, we need to use Christ and Christ's love as our measure. We accept those portions that are magnified in Christ's teachings, like his perspective on wealth and care for the poor, or of love of neighbor. We change our interpretation of those sections that Jesus modifies, like his willingness to forgive--not kill--adulterers. We reject those portions that seem either in opposition to his teachings or irrelevant to his teachings.

Jesus, of course, says nothing about homosexuality at all. Not a peep in Matthew, Mark, Luke, or John. Nada. Zip.

So can we rely on Levitical codes as the foundation of Scriptural disapproval of homosexuality? You make the call.

On, then, to the Epistles.

Back to Pastor Strangelove