Saturday, January 21

Polyester, Homosexuality, and Leviticus

We all know the cycle. It's occurred in the ND student newspaper. Person A writes in that homosexual acts are intrinsically disordered, referencing Lev. 18:22 ("Do not lie with a man as one lies with a woman"). Person B responds by quoting Lev 19:19 ("Do not wear cloting woven of two kinds of material"). "What about cotton-polyester blends?"

The implication is this: because the Jews might have worn polyester if they had the chance, we can't comment on the morality of homosexuality. Certainly, because we wear polyester, homosexuality must be moral.

This argument hides a number of prejudices.
(1) Primarily, it is anti-Semetic: "Those silly Jews condemned stupid things. They're idiots, not worth listening to."
(2) It is anti-Christian: "Your whole Bible is silly by implication."
(3) It is anti-Catholic: "Who can follow the law anyway? Don't try: follow the spirit of the law, which doubtless amounts to hugging strangers."

At it's heart, though, claiming that homosexuality is OK because everyone wears polyester is bad exegesis.

The Book of Leviticus has, of course, many laws. But, it distinguishes between two types of laws:
(1) Laws for the Jewish people
(2) Laws that "defile the land"
The first type of laws (like not wearing polyester) apply only to those initiated into the Mosaic covenant. These are the laws attacked as "stupid" by an anti-Semetic bias.

The second type of laws, laws which prevent the defilement of the land, apply to all peoples, regardless of whether or not they are initiated into the covenant. Lev. 18:26: "The native-born and the aliens living among you must not do any of these detestable things" lest "the land bec[o]me defiled."

Here is a list of all the "sins which defile the land," all of the laws in the Old Testament which non-Jews had to obey, or risk being "cut off from the community."
  1. Exod 12.19: Do not eat leaven at Passover
  2. Lev 17.8-9: Only offer sacrifice at the Tabernacle door
  3. Lev 17.10-12, 14: Do not eat blood
  4. Lev 18.26: Do not commit sins listed in 18.6-26 (including homosexuality)
  5. Lev 20.2-3: Do not give children for Molech
Jewish Law suddenly seems a lot more reasonable.

The final question: do these laws which Judaism extended to all people also extend to Christians?

The Council of Jerusalem, which decided to admit Gentiles to the Church, admitted them to the Church on four conditions (Acts 15:29):
In otherwords, the only condition which the Apostles laid down for Gentiles to enter the Church was that they keep all the laws which the Jewish Law commanded non-Jews to keep.

Proper exegesis of Leviticus, then, justifies its condemnation of homosexual acts as relevant to Christians and non-Christians. Despite the attempts of many to dismiss the Old Testament as "ridiculous" based on some of its Mosaic laws, proper exegesis establishes that very few of these laws apply to non-Jews--and, in fact, that the prohibition of homosexuality is among them.

Even if one disagrees with the Church and Scripture and believes that homosexual acts are not sinful, at least read the Bible correctly.

*Presumably, none of us would eat leaven should we attend Passover, either.

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