This little mini-series of posts aims to give an alternative viewpoint on people or ideas that have been suggested as being part of the lgbt community. Today I present my personal interpretation on a controversial subject.
Way back in the 1980s I spent a few years as a Methodist lay preacher. At the time there was a big fuss about gay clergy, and not being “out” at the time I felt too uncomfortable to continue.
More times than I care to remember I’ve heard people trot out those tired old verses from the Book of Leviticus :-
“Thou shalt not lie with mankind, as with womankind: it is an abomination”.
(Leviticus 18:22, King James Version);
“If a man also lie with mankind, as he lieth with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination: they shall surely be put to death”.
(Leviticus 20:13, King James Version)
If you heard these words coming from a Christian you’d suppose they’d be speaking with some authority on the subject – but they’re not. Using selective quotations doesn’t prove you are right.
Leviticus was written 3,000 years ago and is essentially a “holiness code”. The name Leviticus means “book for the Levites – the junior priests”. It lists many things Hebrew priests can and cannot do. They can’t work on Sundays, have tattoos, eat pork or prawns, read horoscopes, play with a pig’s skin (at last, a reason to ban football!), or “lie with mankind, as with womankind.” Leviticus was primarily intended for Hebrew priests which, as a Christian, I’m not, so they don’t apply to me. As
explained to the early Christians in St. Paul the old Hebrew laws of Leviticus (whether for priests or anyone else) have been replaced by Christ’s laws. Greece
The Bible has been translated and transcribed many times, and each time the scribe has reflected his/her own times and attitudes. And if they didn’t have their own word for what was written they’d replaced it with one they did have, usually one which may have had a different meaning. In the case of the quotations about the word “abomination”, the word doesn’t even appear in the original Hebrew texts.
Briefly, the word as it appears in Hebrew is (in Latin script) “to’ebah”. It doesn’t mean abomination, it has several meanings which include “idolatrous” and “unclean”. Fortunately, some modern translations of the Old Testament have gone back to the original texts and chosen different words for “to’ebah” – usually “distasteful”, which doesn’t sound as bad as “abomination”.
Anyway, Leviticus 20.13 doesn’t even say “lie with mankind, as with womankind…” It says “You shall not sleep the sleep of a woman with a man” – even Jewish historians haven’t worked out what that means, so its wrong to place any meaning on it today.