At first glance, Leviticus seems pretty clear:
- “You shall not lie with a male as with a woman; it is an abomination.” Leviticus 18:22
- “If a man lies with a male as with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination; they shall be put to death, their blood is upon them.” Leviticus 20:13
But it is very much not clear for two reasons:
- The harsh word abomination is an inaccurate translation of the original Hebrew word toebah.
- The list of abominable things in Leviticus is the Holiness Code – also known as the law – and it is not meant for Christians.
About toebah –
- The word in Hebrew at the time of the old testament meant ritually unclean, impure. Toebah was used in the Old Testament to describe something that Jews should not do. Non-Jews eat shrimp; for Jews, it’s toebah.
- Toebah does not mean anything as strong as abomination. Some translators and conservatives may like to use words like abomination or detestable in order to show they feel about homosexuality, but it’s not supported by the Bible.
About the Holiness Code and being put to death:
- For Christians, Jesus took away the need for the Holiness Code, the law. You don’t need to follow it. That’s part of the Good News. That’s one of the foundations of Christianity.
“You who want to be justified by the law have cut yourselves off from Christ; you have fallen away from grace.” Galatians 5:4
- However, if you do chose to follow the Holiness Code, the Bible says you must follow ALL of it.
“You shall therefore keep all my statues and all my ordinances, and do them; so that the land to which I bring you to settle in may not vomit you out” Leviticus 20:22
“Once again I testify to every man who lets himself be circumcised that he is obliged to obey the entire law.” Galatians 5:3
- So if one chooses to believe that men lying with men should be put to death, then one must believe the entire list of people who should be put to death, including:
Children who curse their parents, Leviticus 20: 9
Adulterers, Leviticus 20: 10
Mediums or wizards, Leviticus 20: 27
Cursers of God, Leviticus 24: 10-16
Murderers, Levitius 24: 17
Those who commit incest, Leviticus 10: 11-14, 17-21
Those who engage in bestiality, Leviticus 20: 15-16
- And, whether one chooses to believe that Leviticus says that homosexuality is an abomination, or just unclean, then one must follow the entire code, meaning that one would also:
Bathe after every emission of semen, Leviticus 15:16
Avoid menstruating women, even where they sit, Leviticus 15: 19-24
Leave food on your fields for the hungry, Leviticus 19: 9-10
Eat no bloody hamburger or steak, Levitius 17: 10-15
Pay your employees daily, Leviticus 19:13
Not cross-breed cattle, Leviticus 19: 19
Not wear clothes of two different materials, Leviticus 19:19
Not have a rounded haircut or rounded-trimmed beard, Leviticus 19: 27
Not have a tattoo, Leviticus 19: 28
Stand before the aged, Leviticus 32
Not charge interest on a loan, Leviticus 25:37
Also, someone who is disabled may not become a priest, Leviticus 21: 18-23
Some say that the rules don’t apply to everything today because times are different.
- So, times are different for children who talk back to their parents or for menstruating woman, but not for gays or lesbians? That’s inconsistent. That’s homophobia.
- Regardless if one thinks that toebah should be abomination, it is part of the Holiness Code and does not apply to Christians.