The Levitical Argument Against Marriage Equality

Some of the arguments made against marriage equality in the amicus briefs filed with the Supreme Court in the marriage cases they heard this week were appalling and idiotic, but at least none of them advocating the Levitical argument against it like a Georgia pastor did.

The Ten Commandments Church in Milledgeville is known for its hateful messages about homosexuality, but neighbors said the church’s latest sign had crossed a clear boundary, reported WGXA-TV.

The roadside sign informs passersby that “homosexuality is a death worthy crime,” citing Leviticus 20:13…

Pastor Robert Lee, who has previously described gays and lesbians as “disgraces to humanity” on his church sign, said he was merely quoting scripture.

“Homosexuality is an abomination, and the Bible says that homosexuality is a death worthy crime,” Lee said…

“The institution of marriage was instituted by God and it should not be changed by people who deserve not to live,” Lee said.

We’ll call this the Roy Moore argument. Moore has actually quotes that verse in at least one court ruling, in a case that didn’t involve marriage at all. It was a custody case where the mother was lesbian, which was not an issue in the case in any way.

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  • Al Dente

    Actually the Bible calls for capital punishment for many “sins”:

    And he that blasphemeth the name of the LORD, he shall surely be put to death, and all the congregation shall certainly stone him. –Leviticus 24:16

    And they [the parents] shall say unto the elders of his city, This our son is stubborn and rebellious, he will not obey our voice; he is a glutton, and a drunkard. And all the men of his city shall stone him with stones, that he die. –Deuteronomy 21:20-21

    They found a man that gathered sticks upon the sabbath day. … And the LORD said unto Moses, The man shall be surely put to death: all the congregation shall stone him with stones –Numbers 15:32 & 35

  • sigurd jorsalfar

    His neighbors complain that a sign quoting the bible is ‘crossing the line’ but I’ll bet his neighbors all consider themselves good christians.

  • Pierce R. Butler

    And three local clothing stores and a Red Lobster restaurant asked for extra police protection.

  • Marcus Ranum

    Leviticus was the piece of jewish law that jesus rejected, right? I have actually heard christians tell me that the difference between christians and jews is that they believe jesus was the messiah and discard leviticus.

    But, with thousands of goofy christian sects it’s hard to lump them precisely as anything other than “dumbfuck”

  • Phillip Hallam-Baker

    Marcus, no not really. The order in which the books were written is Mark, Mathew, Luke, John. Whether or not Mark is writing about a historical Jesus (see Richard Carrier for that argument), it is pretty obvious that Mathew and Luke are up to the game of putting words in Christ’s mouth.

    Mathew is a clearly observant Jew who is reaffirming the dietary etc. observances. Luke is clearly from the non observant faction. At any rate, there is no need to hypothesize the existence of a document ‘Q’ unless you desperately need to support the notion that Mathew and Luke are accurate.

    I suspect that the difference between Jews and Christians is how they reacted to the Roman’s banning all mention of the Messiah after the second Jewish war. One solution to the Roman’s concerns would be to say ‘he has already been here’.

  • raven

    Leviticus was the piece of jewish law that jesus rejected, right?

    Xians claim the New Testament superceded the Old Testament. And then they claim the opposite an hour later. Whatever is convenient. That is how you get Ten Commandment monuments (from the Old Testament) wherever they can stick them.

    The guiding principle of bible believing xians is…Cafeteria Xianity. AKA the giant Rorschach inkblot source. They just pick and choose from day to day.

  • raven

    But if this thing be true, and the tokens of virginity be not found for the damsel: Then they shall bring out the damsel to the door of her father’s house, and the men of her city shall stone her with stones that she die. Deuteronomy 22:13-21

    There are ca. 20 or so death penalty offenses in the bible. Many of which are not crimes today.

    Being a nonvirgin bride is one of them. 85% of brides today are…nonvirgins. Going to be a lot of dead women and the USA population will drop sharply.

  • doublereed

    @4 Marcus

    There’s no particular reason for Christians to reject Leviticus in particular. That’s just obvious BS.

    Christians generally use the New Testament as an excuse for not doing things that the Old Testament says, because the Old Testament is so harsh and brutal and awful. It’s actually kind of funny, because Jews tend to get around the Old Testament stuff by simply admitting that the Old Testament is harsh and brutal and awful.

  • raven

    The penalty for false prophecy, is capital punishment (per Deuteronomy 18:20).

    But a prophet who presumes to speak in my name anything I have not commanded him to say, or a prophet who speaks in the name of other gods, must be put to death.

    The fundies never, ever mention Deuteronomy 18.

    False prophets are to be stoned to death. That would fix our fundie xian problem. Their leaders would all be dead under a pile of rocks.

  • rietpluim

    So the Bible is evil. What else is new.

  • Hoosier X

    The only part of the Old Testament that is still binding on christians is half the verse about homosexuality. The part that says homosexuality is bad is binding, but the part about killing homosexuals is no longer official scripture.

  • dan4

    @11: “…but the part about killing homosexuals is no longer official scripture.” LOL, I don’t think PASTOR Robert Lee got the message…or are you making an (implicit) No True Scotsman argument (Pastor Lee, on his church sign, advocates for the killing of gays; therefore, he is not a “real” Christian)?

  • sunsangnim

    I think the world in Game of Thrones has a more modern morality than these guys.

  • StevoR

    @10.rietpluim : “So the Bible is evil. What else is new.”

    Images of Ceres just in from the Dawn spaceprobe and soon to be followed by images from Pluto when New Horizons flies past in a few months time plus some new exoplanets discovered by Kepler? Also the word “new” and the “Bible” don’t really go together that well!

  • StevoR

    PS. Pretty sure in my country (Australia) Pastor Robert Lee’s sign would be illegal as it would be considered hate speech and maybe incitement to murder too. Pity if it isn’t treated similarly and illegal in the States too.

  • StevoR

    PPS. (Because, dammit! I always think of something else just after clicking submit.) I wonder how Pastor Robert Lee and his “flock” / “mob”* would react to someone putting up a billboard opposite or next to his saying that “Adultury, false prophecy, eating shellfish and gathering firewood on the Sabbath are death worthy crimes” citing the relevant bits of Leviticus too?

    * The usual Aussie word for sheep seems more appropriate here somehow.

  • birgerjohansson

    The way Leviticus phrases it, cunnilingus should be OK.


    Maybe we should encourage the fundies to build a new Jerusalem on Pluto?

    (coughArk B coughcough)

  • 0nlythis

    Leviticus 20:13 prescribed communal stoning for “men of Israel” apprehended in flagrante delicto having sex with each other as they would with women – by at least two male witnesses, accused by them before the council of elders and found guilty.

    Communal stoning served to obfuscated the actual instrument of death, absolving all involved of the individual spilling of Jewish blood and laying the blame fully upon the heads of the offenders. To do so individually was murder – their spilled blood was upon one’s own head.

    The levitical lawgivers were fastidiously legalistic.