Thursday, February 19, 2009

"They Are Christians and Follow The Scripture"

From The USC Daily Trojan:

On my fifth and final day rushing Alpha Gamma Omega, two AGO brothers confronted me about my sexuality. That is, two AGO brothers confronted, questioned and attacked my sexuality. Although I was honest with them about my being gay, I was made to feel extremely uncomfortable. From these conversations, it became inescapably clear that AGO would not extend a bid to me because I am gay, an instance of blatant homophobia.
This one just gets better and better:
He told me that he entered the fraternity a “broken man” and how the fraternity has helped him to improve. He also said that the fraternity is not affirming of homosexuality, because they are Christians and follow the scripture. He also said that since tomorrow is bid night, they want to know how my relationship with God is.

So, even though this kid professes to be a Christian, he can't join a "Christian" frat because his relationship with God is not so good. Apparently. Let's see what the Bible says.

Matthew 7:1-5 says:
Judge not, that ye be not judged.
For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged: and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again.
And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother's eye, but considerest not the beam that is in thine own eye?
Or how wilt thou say to thy brother, Let me pull out the mote out of thine eye; and, behold, a beam is in thine own eye?
Thou hypocrite, first cast out the beam out of thine own eye; and then shalt thou see clearly to cast out the mote out of thy brother's eye.
Kay, so kind of a "He who is without sin" deal. Too easy? How about this?

John 12:47 says:
And if any man hear my words, and believe not, I judge him not: for I came not to judge the world, but to save the world.
So now we're not judging AND Jesus isn't judging. That really should do the trick, but just in case it doesn't, let's talk about what the Bible actually says about them gays. Here you'll find a douchebag website with douchebag Bible verses condemning homosexuality. I figured it'd be fun to pick them all apart. Let's see what transpires...

According to the New American Standard Bible, Leviticus 18:22 says:
You shall not lie with a male as one lies with a female; it is an abomination.
To be fair, this is pretty similar to what the King James version has to say in that particular verse, but I feel like we should probably take a look at some of the other shit in Leviticus to get a sense of perspecitve

Leviticus opens with:
And the LORD called unto Moses, and spake unto him out of the tabernacle of the congregation, saying,
Speak unto the children of Israel, and say unto them, If any man of you bring an offering unto the LORD, ye shall bring your offering of the cattle, even of the herd, and of the flock.
If his offering be a burnt sacrifice of the herd, let him offer a male without blemish: he shall offer it of his own voluntary will at the door of the tabernacle of the congregation before the LORD.
And he shall put his hand upon the head of the burnt offering; and it shall be accepted for him to make atonement for him.
And he shall kill the bullock before the LORD: and the priests, Aaron's sons, shall bring the blood, and sprinkle the blood round about upon the altar that is by the door of the tabernacle of the congregation.
And he shall flay the burnt offering, and cut it into his pieces.
It goes on and on, actually, describing various sacrifices in great detail. Some are to make amends for various sins and some are just for the hell of it. Either way, I can only assume you guys are all making sacrifices to the Lord in this way, right? Cuz it's totally not archaic or ridiculous or anything, right? That's what I thought. Moving on...

Leviticus 11:1-12 says:
And the LORD spake unto Moses and to Aaron, saying unto them,
Speak unto the children of Israel, saying, These are the beasts which ye shall eat among all the beasts that are on the earth.
Whatsoever parteth the hoof, and is clovenfooted, and cheweth the cud, among the beasts, that shall ye eat.
Nevertheless these shall ye not eat of them that chew the cud, or of them that divide the hoof: as the camel, because he cheweth the cud, but divideth not the hoof; he is unclean unto you.
And the coney, because he cheweth the cud, but divideth not the hoof; he is unclean unto you.
And the hare, because he cheweth the cud, but divideth not the hoof; he is unclean unto you.
And the swine, though he divide the hoof, and be clovenfooted, yet he cheweth not the cud; he is unclean to you.
Of their flesh shall ye not eat, and their carcase shall ye not touch; they are unclean to you.
These shall ye eat of all that are in the waters: whatsoever hath fins and scales in the waters, in the seas, and in the rivers, them shall ye eat.
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:
They shall be even an abomination unto you; ye shall not eat of their flesh, but ye shall have their carcases in abomination.
Whatsoever hath no fins nor scales in the waters, that shall be an abomination unto you.
So Christians are all Kosher, right? No bacon? No shrimp cocktail? No?! BUT WHAT ABOUT LEVITICUS?!?! Man, you guys are in so much trouble.

Leviticus 12:1-7 says:
And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying,
Speak unto the children of Israel, saying, If a woman have conceived seed, and born a man child: then she shall be unclean seven days; according to the days of the separation for her infirmity shall she be unclean.
And in the eighth day the flesh of his foreskin shall be circumcised.
And she shall then continue in the blood of her purifying three and thirty days; she shall touch no hallowed thing, nor come into the sanctuary, until the days of her purifying be fulfilled.
But if she bear a maid child, then she shall be unclean two weeks, as in her separation: and she shall continue in the blood of her purifying threescore and six days.
And when the days of her purifying are fulfilled, for a son, or for a daughter, she shall bring a lamb of the first year for a burnt offering, and a young pigeon, or a turtledove, for a sin offering, unto the door of the tabernacle of the congregation, unto the priest:
Who shall offer it before the LORD, and make an atonement for her; and she shall be cleansed from the issue of her blood. This is the law for her that hath born a male or a female.
Well that's just amazingly offensive, actually.

Leviticus 19:27-28 says:
Ye shall not round the corners of your heads, neither shalt thou mar the corners of thy beard.
Ye shall not make any cuttings in your flesh for the dead, nor print any marks upon you: I am the LORD.

I assume, then, that every good Christian who values the poignant and relevant words of Leviticus walks around looking like my cousin Lippa the Rabbi and doesn't have any tattoos or anything. I mean, cuz Leviticus says so...

I think you get the point. We'll skip the next one because I'm pretty sure we've all had enough of ancient Jewish law that has nothing to do with Jesus (apart from the fact that those dicks at Nicea decided to throw it in the Bible).

According to the NASB version, 1 Corinthians 6:9-10 says:
Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived; neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor homosexuals,
nor thieves, nor the covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers, will inherit the kingdom of God.

And the King James?
Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Be not deceived: neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind,
Nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners, shall inherit the kingdom of God.
"Abusers of themselves with mankind"? Mercytoall.net has an interesting take on this:
Its meaning is at best questionable. If it refers to homosexuals, the question arises why Paul would have used such an obscure and questionable term when he could have used other much clearer terms to describe what he meant. The Greek culture was filled with homoerotic words used to describe various homosexual relationships, but instead he used a word that does not appear anywhere in Greek homoerotic literature. Transliterated, the word arsenokoitai means “man-active-bed”. It could mean a male prostitute who takes the active role sexually. Modern day male prostitutes are differentiated by their trade, either for women, “gigolos” or for men, “hustlers”. Similarly, the Greeks also may have identified prostitutes by their trade. If Paul had wanted to condemn a group more inclined to be exclusively homosexual, he might have chosen the term arenokoitai (“man-passive-bed”) which would indicate a male prostitute who takes the passive role sexually.

The King James Version avoids a direct translation of this word with the phrase “abusers of themselves with mankind”, but it is interesting to note that even though the word homosexual did not exist at the time and wasn’t even coined until the late 19th century, a word existed in 1611 which if used by the King James translators would have left no question as to what they were talking about. This word is “invert”, which meant homosexual, but they did not use it. More in keeping with the context in both this passage and in 1 Timothy 1:10, a suggested better translation might be “rapist” since it has something to do with someone who takes the active role in the sex act.
So there's another one debunked. They actually pick apart the entire verse, and it's a pretty interesting read.

On to the next one...

According to the NASB version, Romans 1:26-27 says:
For this reason God gave them over to degrading passions; for their women exchanged the natural function for that which is unnatural,
and in the same way also the men abandoned the natural function of the woman and burned in their desire toward one another, men with men committing indecent acts and receiving in their own persons the due penalty of their error.
In the King James version, it's:
For this cause God gave them up unto vile affections: for even their women did change the natural use into that which is against nature:
And likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust one toward another; men with men working that which is unseemly, and receiving in themselves that recompence of their error which was meet.
Again, it's pretty similar wording. According to religioustolerance.org, however, there are a few possible interpretations from the original text:
Some interpret the "men...with other men" clause to be a translation of the original Greek word for "pederasty" which was commonly practiced at the time by adult males with male children (often slaves). Thus Paul might have been criticizing child sexual abuse.
Well then, there's another strike against those baby-raping priests we keep hearing about.
Another interpretation:
From Paul's era, until today, many people have believed that the only natural, normal sexual activity was between one man and one woman for the purpose of procreation. Thus "unnatural" sex would include:

Anyone engaging in sex for pure enjoyment
Married couples who engaged in intercourse even though one or both partners were sterile.
Married couples who had sex even though the woman was not in the fertile part of her cycle, or was past childbearing years

Perhaps Paul's use of the phrase "para physin" (unnatural) simply meant that when the people engaged in same-sex practices, there was no procreative function to the behavior. Thus, it was unnatural.

Christians, take heed! Even if you're married, sex that isn't for the purpose of making babies is (possibly) strictly prohibited.

There are several other takes on the verse presented. Apparently, some also interpret "unnatural" acts as dominant/submissive relationships; the Archbishop of Cantebury says the whole passage is not, in fact, about sinning, but about law-abiding; and others claim that it's actually about abandoning Christianity for pagan religions. Either way, it's worth noting that the next chapter opens with:
Therefore thou art inexcusable, O man, whosoever thou art that judgest: for wherein thou judgest another, thou condemnest thyself; for thou that judgest doest the same things.
So here we are again, douchebag "ex"-gay frat boys. Judge not lest ye be judged. That's WTF Jesus would do.

10 comments:

Carman said...

Hey there, I really like what you're doing here, but I have one technical complaint. There's no AGO at South Carolina, whose newspaper is the Daily Gamecock. I can appreciate why one would assume that the USC in question here would be South Carolina, but it's Southern California this time.

Jocelyn said...

Oops! Hold on I'll fix it.

Chris down in The Couv said...

As someone who believes that some, but not all, of the Bible is divinely inspired, I've always felt that the "Levitican code" is an early attempt at a public health code, and not an Utterance From Above in any way.

Context is everything here.

Something I'm sure those overly-made-up Southern Christian women with the big hair never think about is the general level of hygeine in biblical times. People didn't bathe nearly as often as we do today, and when they did, it was often in stagnant water, polluted by human waste. (I hope nobody's eating lunch right now.)

Food was another issue. Obviously, there wasn't any sort of refrigeration then, and I'm pretty sure the only way to preserve meat was to turn it into the biblical-times equivalent of the "jerky" we eat today on camping trips. The whole thing about shellfish? Well, as yummy as it may be, we know for a fact that the stuff doesn't keep very long, especially without refrigeration. So between the food issues and being well aware of the general level of hygeine, the Jewish elders decided it would be a good idea to write a "health code", saying things like, "Look folks, this stuff goes bad pretty quickly, and when it goes bad, you can get really sick or die from eating it. So just play it safe and don't eat it, OK?" Pretty simple, huh?

If one looks at Leviticus in this way, then the question of why they threw in the "male lying with another male" stuff becomes rather immaterial.

Jocelyn said...

Yeah I definitely agree that a lot of Leviticus was written in reaction to food poisoning, etc. That's exactly why it's so archaic now. A lot of these rules made sense in a time without refrigeration and running water, as you said. But to continue citing them as a means to justify being a bigoted prick is just totally lame.

If you're going to use Leviticus to argue a point, you should be prepared to give all of it the validity you've assigned to the verses you're using.

Gypsy Kaz said...

Another possible interpretation for why man/woman only sex is even mentioned in Leviticus (along with other public health warnings which Leviticus is riddled with) is for population growth. Wasn't it believed that men's seed could wear out, so to waste it on another man endangered the possibility of population growth, particularly in a time of such increased infant mortality? That's always been my take.

Great blog!

J.M. Snyder said...

I found your blog through Twitter ... I love it!

My take on Leviticus has always been that it was written by Jewish elders in an attempt to subdue a pagan, matriarchal population. Most of the laws seem geared toward convincing women that they should only have sex with one man. In a matriarchy prior to the discovery and understanding of genetics, it's hard to trace paternal lineage when women have multiple sexual partners. Therefore, to enact a patriarchal system, you need to curb woman's sexuality. The majority of Leviticus is geared toward doing just that.

Why Bible-thumping women quote Leviticus as a response to homosexuality without getting their panties in a bunch about the laws and treatment of women in the book astounds me.

I look forward to reading more of your blog!

Jocelyn said...

Both interesting ideas, guys. And thank.

...You know, I'd really like there to be more matriarchal societies floating around these days. Perhaps I'll found one.

Anonymous said...

I've also read a translation of Leviticus as something along the lines of: Men shall not lie together in a woman's bed; this is confusion. Which would be consistent with other prohibitions, such as that against mingled fibres (It is confusion!). So, David and Jonathan were fine doing the dirty, so long as they didn't do it in the same bed in which they did a wife. Or female concubine. Or female servant. Or female slave. Or female handmaiden of a wife. (Stop me now, somebody.)
Seriously, how can anyone who has actually READ the Bible claim that the Biblical model is one man and one woman being monogamous with each other. It is to laugh.

Jocelyn said...

Well, to be fair, it depends on which parts you read. The vast majority of the bible, however, doesn't really have a lot to say about who you should bone/what constitutes marriage. There's a fair bit about it in books like Leviticus, but we're talking about ancient Jewish law here where marriages were arranged and if your brother died, you were supposed to marry his wife. Why they decided to stick this stuff in the bible is beyond me, as most of Leviticus is almost completely ignored by most Christians (unless something in it is useful in proving their point). Plus, it's just mean.

Phoebe said...

Someone who likes baseball [not me] should go to a game and hold up a sign saying Leviticus 11:1-12

These are probably the most flouted of all of God's laws, and need to be publicized the most.

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