Archive for May 18th, 2012
Maybe you have seen this somewhere before. If you spend a lot of time on the internet—especially on Facebook—I bet you have come across it at some point. Personally, I have seen it a number of times. I often wonder why the person posts it—Do they disagree with the Bible? Do they desire to better understand the Bible? Do they simply like to ruffle feathers? Are they responding in anger against the popularized version of what the media suggests the Bible or Christianity teaches about homosexuality? I don’t know. What is clear however is that there are very few accurate representations of what the Bible teaches concerning sexual perversion, including but not limited to homosexuality.
Recorded below is my response to a Facebook post in which Dr. James M. Kauffman, Professor Emeritus at the University of Virginia, responds to a comment made by Dr. Laura Schlesinger, the famous radio talk show host. It is not intended to be an exhaustive response, but rather it is a place to start the discussion from a Christian perspective.
The Facebook Post
In her radio show, Dr Laura Schlesinger said that homosexuality is an abomination according to Leviticus 18:22, and cannot be condoned under any circumstance. The following response is an open letter to Dr. Laura, which was posted on the internet.
Dear Dr. Laura: Thank you for doing so much to educate people regarding God’s Law. I have learned a great deal from your show, and try to share that knowledge with as many people as I can. When someone tries to defend the homosexual lifestyle, for example, I simply remind them that Leviticus 18:22 clearly states it to be an abomination… End of debate. I do need some advice from you, however, regarding some other elements of God’s Laws and how to follow them. 1. Leviticus 25:44 states that I may possess slaves both male and female, provided they are purchased from neighboring nations. A friend of mine claims that this applies to Mexicans, but not Canadians. Can you clarify? Why can’t I own Canadians? 2. I would like to sell my daughter into slavery, as sanctioned in Exodus 21:7. I this day and age, what do you think would be a fair price for her? 3. I know that am allowed no contact with a woman while she is in her period of Menstrual uncleanliness -Lev.15:19~24. The problem is how do I tell? I have tried asking but most women take offense. 4. When I burn a bull on the altar as a sacrifice, I know it creates a pleasing odor for the Lord -Lev.1:9. The problem is my neighbors. They claim the odor is not pleasing to them. Should I smite them? 5. I have a neighbor who insists on working on the Sabbath. Exodus 35:2 clearly states he should be put to death. Am I morally obligated to kill him myself, or should I ask the police to do it? 6. A friend of mine feels that even though eating shellfish is an abomination, Lev.11:10, it is a lesser abomination than homosexuality. I don’t agree. Can you settle this? Are there ‘degrees’ of abomination? 7. Lev.21:20 states that I may not approach the altar of God if I have a defect in my sight. I have to admit that I wear reading glasses. Does my vision have to be 20/20, or is there wiggle-room here? 8. Most of my male friends get their hair trimmed, including the hair around their temples, even though this is expressly forbidden by Lev.19:27. How should they die? 9. I know from Lev.11:6~8 that touching the skin of a dead pig makes me unclean, but may I still play football if I wear gloves? 10. My uncle has a farm. He violates Lev.19:19 by planting two different crops in the same field, as does his wife by wearing garments made of two different kinds of thread (cotton/polyester blend). He also tends to curse and blaspheme a lot, is it really necessary that we go to all the trouble of getting the whole town together to stone them? Lev.24:10~16. Couldn’t we just burn them to death at a private family affair, like we do with people who sleep with their in-laws? (Lev.20:14) I know you have studied these things extensively and thus enjoy considerable expertise in such matters, so I’m confident you can help. Thank you again for reminding us that God’s word is eternal and unchanging.
Your adoring fan, James M. Kauffman, Ed.D. Professor Emeritus, Dept. Of Curriculum, Instruction and Special Education University of Virginia
My Response to My Friend and to This Article
I am supposing that by posting this you are looking for some responses/discussion. If not, forgive me. Neither Dr. Laura nor Dr. James do justice to the biblical texts as they drop their Leviticus bombs on this issue and others. The Law of Moses as recorded in the Pentateuch was given to Israel in order to make them distinct worshipers of Yahweh in a world that worshiped many gods. Therefore, all of these things that seem dated, culturally insensitive, or just inexplicable to us were very relevant for them in their time and culture and worship. We are often too critical of the ancients and uncritical of ourselves, and we typically don’t do the study necessary to find out why they did what they did, that is, what is the meaning behind the practice.
Today, those who believe in Yahweh (i.e., the Christian God) worship him in the spirit and truth revealed in the New Testament. Acts 15 is very informative about the responsibilities of worshipers – whether Jews or non-Jews – today as differing from those of the Old Testament.
However, the bible’s position on homosexuality remains the same throughout both testaments. Why? Because of what God established in the beginning at creation – the covenant union of a husband and a wife (a man and a women). For this same reason, my own adulterous thoughts, premarital immorality, and other internal and external sexual perversions are sin – not just homosexuality. All sexual deviations from the divine standard established in the beginning are abominations to God. And we are all guilty before him. These things are sin because God ordained from the beginning that the covenanted relationship between a man and a woman would be an image of his Son’s great love for his bride. He has not ordained any other relationship to image this truth (see Ephesians 5:22-33).
So for all of us who are all screwed up sexually (literally, intellectually, emotionally, and spiritually), what do we do? We find forgiveness in the death of Jesus and new life in the resurrection of Jesus. When we are born again of God’s Spirit, we begin to see life as God sees it. This is God’s grace and love to us, that though we are sinners, Christ died for us, and that by believing in him, we may have life in his name.
I hope this was helpful to the discussion.