November 28, 2009 by D Stack
Opponents of same-sex marriage often use the Bible as their basis for their views. I view that as somewhat pointless, as the Bible does not have the power of law in the United States.
That said, as a veteran of Catholic High School, I’m well prepared for this discussion. Especially since sophomore year religion class was split between the Old Testament and Sexuality and Dating. Even more helpful, the girl who sat behind me was vastly amuse by the restrictions in the Book of Leviticus and shared them with me.
So, Leviticus does indeed state:
You shall not lie with a male as with a woman; such a thing is an abomination.
– Leviticus 18:22
The great thing about Leviticus is it has tons of other commands.
You shall not have carnal relations with an animal, defiling yourself with it; nor shall a woman set herself in front of an animal to mate with it; such things are abhorrent.
– Leviticus 18:23
I think we are safe from that one. What else?
You shall not approach a woman to have intercourse with her while she is unclean from menstruation.
– Leviticus 18:19
That one is a little tougher. I’m willing to venture there’s a decent number of men who have violated that. Should this be a law?
Leviticus 20 begins outlining penalties. Besides ordering the deaths of those having homosexual intercourse (and bestiality) it has the following:
Anyone who curses his father or mother shall be put to death; since he has cursed his father or mother, he has forfeited his life.
If a man commits adultery with his neighbor’s wife, both the adulterer and the adulteress shall be put to death.
– Leviticus 20:9-10
But perhaps I sound like I’m being trite. And I am being a little snarky, but it is clear as a society we don’t plan on following all of this. For example, consider:
You shall treat the alien who resides with you no differently than the natives born among you; have the same love for him as for yourself; for you too were once aliens in the land of Egypt. I, the LORD, am your God.
– Leviticus 19:34
There is no caveat for the alien’s legal status.
Now one can make the argument that this is all Old Testament and Christians only need follow the New. So let us go with that. I’m willing to bet a fair number of people can recall Jesus saying that those who feed the least of his people feed him. But let us examine the actual passage from the Book of Matthew:
“When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit upon his glorious throne, and all the nations will be assembled before him. And he will separate them one from another, as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats.
He will place the sheep on his right and the goats on his left.
Then the king will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father. Inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, a stranger and you welcomed me, naked and you clothed me, ill and you cared for me, in prison and you visited me.’
Then the righteous will answer him and say, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? When did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? When did we see you ill or in prison, and visit you?’
And the king will say to them in reply, ‘Amen, I say to you, whatever you did for one of these least brothers of mine, you did for me.’
Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you accursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. For I was hungry and you gave me no food, I was thirsty and you gave me no drink, a stranger and you gave me no welcome, naked and you gave me no clothing, ill and in prison, and you did not care for me.’
Then they will answer and say, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or ill or in prison, and not minister to your needs?’
He will answer them, ‘Amen, I say to you, what you did not do for one of these least ones, you did not do for me.’
And these will go off to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life.”
– Matthew 25:31-46
I encourage you to read it carefully. Please note that it is not individuals that are being separated to be judged, but rather nations. It is easy to forget that. To me it sounds like it describes the responsibilities of a nation. It does not seem to suggest a low taxation structure to encourage economic growth, it sounds like a directive for nations to care for the least of their people. Are we prepared to put that into law?
And consider the economic system described of the early Christians as described in the Acts of the Apostles.
All who believed were together and had all things in common; they would sell their property and possessions and divide them among all according to each one’s need. Every day they devoted themselves to meeting together in the temple area and to breaking bread in their homes. They ate their meals with exultation and sincerity of heart, praising God and enjoying favor with all the people. And every day the Lord added to their number those who were being saved.
– Acts of the Apostles 2:44-47
This sounds an awful lot like communism. Not, to be certain, the vile form of communism as seen in the Soviet Union, but more like the “idealized” form. But it is certainly not a community that would seem “normal” to us in the United States or much of the West.
My point isn’t that I have the one true way of translating the Bible. Indeed, a reading of the history of how the Bible came to be makes that near impossible – different authors had different objectives. This is why I’ve never been one for absolute literal translation in any case. But my point is that it is a dangerous road to trod on using the Bible to justify yourself.