Understanding and Using the Bible
The Book of Leviticus
This book in the Bible is concerned with giving huge chunks of the Law, observed today by Orthodox Jews. It is concerned with stating what behaviour and moral codes separate out the Jewish people from the surrounding nations and is very clear in prohibiting behaviour which was part of the worship of fertility gods and goddesses.
The two passages which are used to condemn us read:-
"Do not lie with a man as with a woman; that is detestable." (18:22)
"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 hands." (20:13)
The questions around this text for us today are quite interesting. Firstly there are very few Christians who take this book seriously. If we are to obey these two passages then we should obey all the book which condemns: cutting men's hair, eating meat with blood in it (eg: rare steak), eating rabbit or certain kinds of seafood (like mussels or shellfish), sexual intercourse during menstruation, cross-breeding cattle, and wearing garments made out of more than one material. If we are quite happy to do all of the above, then why on earth should we not be happy being lesbian or gay?
An interpretation based on feminist thought would also question the assumptions made in the text. Firstly, they only apply to men. Obviously the writers, having something in common with Queen Victoria, didn't think women did things like this! Secondly, they assume that women take the passive role in sex and that this is inherently demeaning. The tone of the passage is that if you are passive in penetrative intercourse you become less of a man and more like a woman. This is seen as being shameful. Apart from the fact that we do an awful lot more with each other in bed than penetration, the passage assumes that women are less equal than men. This passage is sexist and irrelevant. Also it concerns laws and behaviours that most people would not wish, or see any need, to keep today.
Read on to "Romans".