Does the Old Testament Condemn Homosexuality? (2 of 2)

Does the Old Testament Condemn Homosexuality? (2 of 2) January 29, 2014

Bible HomosexualityLast time we looked at the Sodom and Gomorrah story. Let’s move on to the book of Leviticus.

You must not have sexual intercourse with a male as one has sexual intercourse with a woman; it is an abomination (Leviticus 18:22).

Sounds pretty damning, but the word “abomination” also describes eating forbidden food (Deut. 14:3), sacrificing blemished animals (Deut. 17:1), performing divination and similar magic (Deut. 18:12), and women wearing men’s clothing (Deut. 22:5). These are ritual abominations.

Making sense of ritual abominations

Mary Douglas clarifies the confusing purity laws in Leviticus, where things are clean or unclean seemingly arbitrarily. She argues that “clean” things are proper members of their category. A proper fish has fins and scales, so that makes it an abomination to eat improper sea animals like clams and shrimp. A proper land animal—one that is part of civilized society—is cloven hoofed and cud chewing like a cow or goat. To be clean, any animal or wild game must share these characteristics—hence no rabbits (not cloven hoofed) or pigs (not cud chewers). “Unclean” means “imperfect members of its class.”

A sacrifice must be a perfect animal, hence no blemishes. A priest must be a perfect man, hence he can’t be blind or lame. Don’t mix seeds in a field; don’t mix textiles in a garment.

Homosexuality fits easily into this taxonomy—proper sex is man with woman, so man/man or man/animal sex is explicitly forbidden. But it’s ritually forbidden, not forbidden because of any innate harm.

Leviticus, take 2

Here’s another popular bludgeon:

If a man has sexual intercourse with a male as one has sexual intercourse with a woman, the two of them have committed an abomination. They must be put to death; their blood guilt is on themselves (Lev. 20:13).

First, note that this again is nothing more than ritual abomination.

Second, note the punishment. Don’t point to the Bible to identify the crime but then ignore its penalty. There is no crime if there is no penalty. Do modern Christians truly think that the appropriate response to male homosexuality is death?

Third, note what else this chapter demands: unclean animals can’t be eaten (20:25), exile for a couple that has sex during the woman’s period (:18), death to spiritual mediums (:27), death for adultery (:10), and death for anyone who curses his father or mother (:9). It comes as a package of out-of-date tribal customs—with what justification can a Christian select the anti-homosexual verse and ignore the rest?

Cafeteria Christianity

If Jesus was the once-and-for-all sacrifice that did away with the need for the Old Testament ritual laws (Heb. 7:11–12 and 8:6–13), then get rid of them all.

God said, “I will establish my covenant as an everlasting covenant between me and you and your descendants after you for the generations to come, to be your God and the God of your descendants after you” (Gen. 17:7). Verses like this would saddle Christians with all the Old Testament customs, from the sacrifices to the crazy stuff like genocide that they’d like to distance themselves from, and they’ll say that these verses apply to Jews only. Fair enough—then stop cherry picking Old Testament passages from sections of the Old Testament that don’t apply to you.

This selective reading reminds me of Rev. O’Neal Dozier, an honorary co-chair of Rick Santorum’s election committee, who said that homosexuality is the “paramount of sins” and that it is “something so nasty and disgusting that it makes God want to vomit.” My first impulse to this energetic condemnation is to wonder if Haggard’s Law applies, but more to the point, why is homosexuality at the top of the list? Why should it be any worse than any other “abomination” such as eating shrimp, telling a fortune, or a woman wearing pants? (Unless, of course, Rev. Dozier is simply using the Bible as a sock puppet to have it speak his opinions, which is certainly where the evidence points.)

Apologists like Dozier who say that the Bible is clear in its rejection of homosexuality won’t say the same thing about the Bible’s support for genocide, slavery, and polygamy. They’ll say, “Okay, slow down and let me tell you why the surface reading isn’t correct.” The predicament for today’s Christian is the clash between modern morality and the warlike culture of the early Israelites.

A common response to God’s embarrassing actions in the Old Testament is to say that he is mysterious and inscrutable to our simple human minds. But then these same Christians will contradict themselves and say with certainty that God is against homosexuality, abortion, and taxes.

Apologists who pick and choose which commandments must be taken literally are beating the copper of the Bible against the anvil of their faith. Shouldn’t it be the other way around? Why is the atheist the one letting the Bible speak for itself?

Or if the Bible is simply the sock puppet used to give an argument credibility, I’d appreciate Christians dropping the middleman, admitting that their beliefs come from their innate moral sense, and defending them as such.

Morality is doing what is right regardless of what we are told. 
Religious dogma is doing what we are told regardless of what is right.
— Unknown

Photo credit: Wikimedia

(This is an update of a post that originally appeared 3/12/12.)

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  • Y. A. Warren

    “Clearly Thinking About Christianity” indeed! you would probably enjoy theories explaining many food rituals this book:
    The Sacred Cow and the Abominable Pig: Riddles of Food and Culture (A Touchstone book) by Marvin Harris (Jan 1987)

  • Excellent points. Even when I believed the Bible, I tried to make the point with people that having gay sex was no more of a sin than getting divorced or exceeding the speed limit. A sin was a sin was a sin. The real reason people were appalled by homosexuality is that they weren’t “tempted” by it, not that it was really “worse” than other sins.

    Now it feels wrong to even speak in those terms — it bothered me to write the above paragraph!

    • Gay sex is disgusting. But the thing that we so often forget is that sex is disgusting.

      Imagine meeting someone at a party, and he quickly turns the conversation to his last sexual experience. Not cool.

      A sexual person has the passion (in the right circumstances) to overcome that disgust for some flavor of sex, but perhaps not all. It’s symmetric with respect to gays and straights.

      I would also say that sex might be a sin, but exceeding the speed limit is a crime. The difference is that consensual sex doesn’t hurt anyone, while speeding (or other crimes) can.

      With a sin, a god is offended. Who cares? With a crime, society is endangered. That’s a problem.

      • RichardSRussell

        Gay sex is disgusting. But the thing that we so often forget is that sex is disgusting.

        Indeed, to the religiots who express revulsion at the way gay men have sex, I usually offer a standing invitation to try to describe male-female sex to a 9-year-old to get an honest, unbiased reaction to what they consider “normal”. It usually begins with “ewwww” and often ends with “I’m never gonna do that!”

      • MNb

        “the thing that we so often forget is that sex is disgusting.”
        Hmmm – I always felt it’s kind of silly.

        “Imagine meeting someone at a party, and he quickly turns the conversation to his last sexual experience. Not cool.”
        No, but not because it disgusts me. Sexual experiences are very personal, so I’m not interested. But as soon as I know someone better I don’t really have problems to discuss it.

        • smrnda

          Depending on the party and the person, I might or might not be disgusted. I dislike it when it’s bragging about sex, particularly when it’s combined with idiotic macho posturing, but I’ve had people talk about sex around me that I did not know that well and I wasn’t particularly shocked or horrified.

        • MNb

          Yeah, OK. Bragging about everything is not cool. Have you ever had to listen to someone endlessly explaining how fantastiwastic their children are?

      • Kodie

        I was thinking that yesterday – I don’t know if sex is actually any more disgusting than eating, it’s just that society stigmatizes it. Then again, we’re just so used to eating that we can even do it in front of other people. Anyway, what’s the deal with urinals? Men just somehow get used to peeing in the same open room with other guys but you have all these rules about not looking or talking to each other, I mean, just some kind of code of decency, like, “we’re all doing this private thing, publicly, so let’s be cool and not turn our heads accidentally or on purpose, or try to strike up a conversation; let’s just get through this and act like this is totally normal, since it is, even though it’s not.”

        Eating has this social aspect that it’s often hard for people to dine out alone. You’re supposed to prefer to dine with company, watching them lift a fork of food (is food even attractive?) up to their face, and stick it in their gross mouth, and masticate, while laughing and having a good time. This is a demonstration of love in many families, especially Sundays, or holidays, or breakfast in bed for your mom on Mother’s Day, etc. When you go on a date, you’re supposed to get fed. When it’s your friend’s birthday, you’re supposed to take him out to dinner.

        Because we have to eat, we have decided there’s nothing too obscene or personal about ingestion and digestion, only pooping, and so much that it’s an art form (except pooping, normally). Sex can also be an art form, and I think it’s equally weird to eating. I do hear people talking about sex more than I want to hear about. I don’t want to sound like a prude, but why do people think I want to have a conversation about them having sex and what kind and with whom and reviews and all?
        I don’t think sex is as weird as how much people talk about it or have a compulsion to… not dirty jokes, per se, but non-stop innuendo. I can’t really put the point on where is the line where I’m just being a prude, and this is how adults actually relate to each other, because it’s a lot like junior high. Maybe that’s supposed to make it less weird. Maybe talking about it is supposed to make it as normal and social as eating. Maybe nobody’s getting any so it has to bubble over somewhere.

        • purr

          I can’t stand noisy eaters. It’s like nails on a chalkboard for me. And I go absolutely insane when people clang their spoons and forks against their plates arrrgghhhh

          I am very careful when I eat, so as not to be a hypocrite:P

        • Kodie

          It’s eating in general – the process of it. Bad table manners are another thing. Of course, there are specific sins about eating, like gluttony. I’m talking about the natural and essential process of filling the gullet, which is out in the open – the cooking, the feasting, and the social act of dining together. It’s a biological process that ends in poop.

          If sex is for procreation only, we seem to have no problem making food as yummy and pleasurable and diverse and creative as possible while not altogether ignoring nutritive qualities, really lower the priority of fueling efficiently in favor of fueling often – I get it from a caveman view, but the more we know, the less we care. Traditional recipes are part of our culture, and in some (most?) cultures, it’s rude not to ask visitors to the table – when it’s dinnertime, it’s dinnertime, so we’re going to eat, join us; and it’s rude to decline food (I hate this stupid “faux pas” of refusing food is insulting – I don’t want to be forced to eat something I don’t like begrudgingly).

          As humans across cultures do not consider putting food in your face to be embarrassing an act, in a few minutes who would want to look at it or taste it. It is a transient pleasure that rocks parts of our brains like sex does, and then the good part is over, and then we wait, and we don’t talk about that (except how many products are advertised on tv that have something to do with digesting and pooping and farting).

        • purr

          It’s eating in general – the process of it

          Yeah, I also cannot stand the sound of chewing or swallowing. Makes me ill.

        • I’m kinda the same way. I like music in the background for that reason.

        • Castilliano

          And that’s just how I feel in urinals!

      • Consensual sex can hurt people in some circumstances, such as by causing a sexually transmitted infection or unplanned pregnancy. In the former case, some people have proposed that failing to reveal that you have an STD which is then transmitted to another person (at least when it’s known to the infected person beforehand) should be a crime. Of course I agree consensual sex is not harmful itself, but in these cases it can be.

        • smrnda

          Another example could be that having sex with someone other than your partner, or even talking about doing it can hurt the other person’s feelings. However, I know people in open relationships who do this and neither party feels wronged.

        • Yeah, that’s why I didn’t include the “hurt feelings” bit.

    • Greg G.

      The real reason people were appalled by homosexuality is that they weren’t “tempted” by it, not that it was really “worse” than other sins.

      I’m not so sure that they are not tempted by it. Those that speak out about it a lot seem to be thinking about it a lot. It’s like they are obsessed with the thoughts. It’s barely even news when a prominent homophobe is caught in a tryst.

      • Kodie

        I’m not only sure some are tempted by it, but I’m also kind of sure they don’t know how to file those feelings. They are indoctrinated to divide their feelings into sinful lust and sacred procreative sex within the marriage bond.

        Putting this in the spirit of other morality issues that Christians often bring up – that without god, they could just go nuts murdering, etc., there are straight and gay Christians – some of whom assume everyone else lusts after men sometimes, but hold together with the strictness of their god-given morality, marry straight and think acting on homosexual urges is disgusting. To mean, they assume we’re all sinners, and that being an atheist means you deny god so you can fornicate like everyone really wants to.

        To put it a completely secular way, by the time you grow up, you’re supposed to ditch the urge to skip your responsibilities, and just do what you’re supposed to do, even if it sucks. Everyone wants to have a lot of money so they can be on a permanent vacation, which is why they hate the poor with no job and create these mythical lazy welfare queens. They resent not only working hard like they’re supposed to, for their own life, shelter, and food, but paying taxes to support people who “would rather” stay home. Men resent women “getting” pregnant and having to pay child support so she can stay home and take care of them, and even resent their own children if they are slackers who think money grows on trees.

        Getting married to a woman and settling down to your obligatory heterosexual 2-parent household can be difficult for even heterosexual men, right? I mean, who wouldn’t want to be a hound, avoiding the trap of marriage? But you have to. I don’t know why, but you have to. I don’t think they can actually figure what gay people would have to get married for. They have it made since they are merely fornicating like sinners, while marriage is reserved for dutiful procreators. They can’t make babies that way. Even if you were a gay Christian, you wouldn’t necessarily recognize it as a situation where love and partnership could emerge, or be a positive example for children. This is also why they conflate homosexuality with pedophilia, since a fornicator is a fornicator, a predator of children because they are easy targets. Notice also how the prescription is to men. Men, because they are lustful animals who find it hard to control themselves, and women who cause them to stumble with their immodesty and such. If you get a fornicating situation with a man and a woman, it’s the woman’s fault, but when there are no women ’cause they’re gay, men are supposed to control themselves around other men. Culturally, we don’t seem to have the same fears of pedophilia where men and girls are concerned. Men can be coaches and teachers to girls, because they’re presumed straight, but a gay man is suspicious around boys in similar situations, where a straight man (I mean a married man, or an otherwise closeted gay man) is fine, since they’re demonstrating they know where the line is. “Everyone has urges, but that doesn’t make them gay”, so to speak.

        People who understand homosexuality as a sexual preference and people who understand homosexuality as a sexual deviance are talking about the same thing but talking about two different things.

      • Ted Haggard has a law named after him for that reason.

  • wlad

    Homosexuality is not wrong just because God (or the Bible said so). Catholics and Christians do not believe that morality is arbitrarily dictated by God, as the Moslems do. God created the world, and man and woman and gave the operating manual (moral laws) to humanity.

    Ford created the car, and gave the operating manual to humanity. Not pouring sugar into the gas tank is not an arbitrary law dictated by Ford–“who is Ford to tell me not to put sugar into my car!” Pouring gas into a gas tank was not wrong because Ford said so. Ford’s operating manual was for the good of his creation. God’s operating manual was for the good of his creation.

    • John Evans

      Interesting, wlad. With a car, ‘forbiddens’ like putting sugar in the fuel supply can be shown to have real, detrimental effects to the function of the vehicle. However, current medical, sociological, and other scientific consensus is that homosexual attraction and activity do not have a statistically significant negative impact on the functioning of society.

      • Niemand

        Indeed, the reason that homosexuality was removed from the list of paraphilias (abnormal and potentially harmful sexual attractions) is not, as is occasionally claimed, because of lobbying or “political correctness” but rather because psychiatrists took a look at the data and concluded that homosexuality did not, in and of itself, cause any mental or physical health issues and therefore was a variant rather than a pathologic state.

    • Kind of a sad Iron Age justification to bring to a 21st-century discussion.

      Homosexuality is not wrong just because God (or the Bible said so).

      Why is it wrong then? Any claim that something is wrong sounds like it’s supporting an agenda when there is no harm in that thing.

      • smrnda

        The problem with intention (that god intends sex to be for procreation) doesn’t even address the issue of why god’s intentions matter. A person who invents something might have intentions, but in the end, who cares? If you can find a new or better or different use, more power to you.

    • RichardSRussell

      Funny that you should analogize Ford and God. Ford didn’t create the car any more than God created the Universe, but their fans are certainly eager to give them credit for it.

    • purr

      So slavery and genocide are part of that ‘ how to live life’ manual?

    • Pooface

      Huge difference. God is an imaginary character of Ancient Mythology and his manual was most likely written by men with a thirst for power and wealth, where as Henry Ford actually existed. Now if you pour sugar into a gas tank, the car will not work properly, but the world and the human race will work just fine if a small minority of them prefer the same sex. Next.

      • Jason Wexler

        *tongue planted firmly in cheek*

        Depending upon how advanced the science and technology in a society are or perhaps how a societies population compares to its ecological carrying point, a society may in fact work fine or even better if a majority or even a unanimity of the population engaged in same-sex relationships/behavior.

      • AdamK

        But having sex with a Model T can be harmful!

    • smrnda

      I develop software, and so I read lots of manuals. Many creators actually get things wrong and so sometimes, following the manual is a bad idea. Sometimes people only find out that their invention doesn’t quite work *according to plan* after they get lots of user feedback where, through trial and error users find out how to get the invention to actually work.

      Case in point – when Sony Playstation first came out, it would freeze up owing to overheating. A few creative people figured out that playing the system upside down avoided this problem. Nowhere in the manual did it say ‘to avoid having your system freeze, turn it upside down’ but it turned out that in that case, the end users figured something out the engineers had overlooked.

    • Kodie

      It’s probably the wrong way to make a baby, but that’s not all there is to life or sex or relationships.

    • Niemand

      I’d say that in your analogy, gay sex versus straight sex is not like sugar versus gas in the gas tank, but rather more like lime green versus black paint on the car. Sure, one’s more popular and there are some people who feel passionately about the superiority of their color, but that doesn’t mean that the other is wrong in any objective way.

      Also, have you read Brave New World?

    • alfaretta

      Just like God designed our bodies to be harmed by wearing poly-cotton blend clothes.

  • Jim Hoerst

    Bob, this is one of the reasons I became an atheist. If there is such a thing as a clear teaching in the Bible, then the Bible is clear about homosexuality and homosexuals in the sight of its god. The religious institutions did not give the Bible its homophobia centuries after the fact, the Bible gave it to them and the Bible’s teaching reflects the homophobia of the authors, whoever they were.

    To say that the Bible is soft on homosexuality is akin to saying the Bible did not allow slavery.

    Yes homophobic Christians understand their book. They are generally right about what is says when they quote it on this topic. Just as the confederate theologians were right when they argued that the Bible condoned slavery. The best liberals can do on the subject of homosexuality is to pretend that meanings and teachings that seem to be specific and clear are vague and unspecific at least relative to homosexuality as practiced in our culture. But the liberal sophistry proves only that one can look in the Bible, sound scholarly, then proceed to say anything they want as if they are accurately reporting on the text and context of the “Scripture” when they are only reading their own imaginations.

    Besides, believers won’t accept that non-believers, like us, know more about their book than they do.

    • Interesting. Thanks for the input.

      We’re obviously on the same page about some Christians’ insistence that God hates fags. But when you look at the verses they point to to justify their conclusions, do they hold up? I don’t see it. That is, I think (as I’ve shown here) that a straightforward argument is possible showing that the Bible doesn’t take a clear stand against homosexuality.

      You’re right that believers will happily ignore atheists’ arguments. But take a look at mine in these two posts and show me how “homosexuality is wrong today” is an unavoidable Christian conclusion.

      • RichardSRussell

        Geez, Bob, I think Jim had it right. Saying that a certain action is so awful that you deserve to die for it seems to me to be a pretty unequivocal condemnation of it — unless you can somehow find an interpretation of “put to death” as occurring in some non-binding ritualistic manner.

        • Yes, Leviticus does demand death for most everything, but those ritual “abominations” have since been thrown in the trash. No Christian is entitled to go rooting around to salvage “don’t eat shrimp.” Ditto for a man lying with a man.

          Of course, he could ignore the sacrifice of Jesus and just be a Jew, but that’s another story.

        • smrnda

          Keep in mind, there are contemporary Christians (Bryan Fischer of the “American Family Association springs to mind) who actually do think we should kill people for committing adultery, for ‘disobedient’ kids and any number of things that are absurd and ridiculous to anyone who has any concern for basic human rights.

          I sometimes think these people just like killing, and so they back any rule that can justify more of it to get their fill of institutionalized violence.

        • There are stoning or beheading videos on the internet, and I imagine they get a lot of hits.

          People are weird, and we’re stuck on the same planet with them.

        • Joe

          I’ve seen a crazy fundy televangelist say not to eat shrimp before. They’re entitled to do whatever they want. I wouldn’t exactly give them credit for having a rational mind about these things. The rationale itself is probably all baloney anyway. An excuse to not look like idiots going around stoning people all the time. They aren’t entitled to worry about the morrow or the lilies in the field or whatever either but they still do it anyway. Tell them to not worry about the morrow and to turn the other cheek and you might as well be talking to the wall.

      • Jim Hoerst

        Just because Christians don’t have the same disdain for shellfish eaters as they do homosexuals that doesn’t mean their ideas about homosexuality is not born of their holy book. In Acts 10 there is a revelation laying aside dietary laws for Christians, there is no such vision for sexual laws.

        • Doesn’t Hebrews have a couple of passages that make clear that the sacrifice of Jesus is what puts to rest all the ritual rules (mixed fabrics, food prohibitions, animal sacrifices, etc.)? That’s the blanket dismissal that I was thinking of.

        • I believe some of the Pauline Epistles also condemned homosexuality (though no civil penalty is mentioned-rather it’s said homosexuals will go to hell). Thus some modern Christians might use it to say at least that bit of the Old Testament would be still binding (just as Jesus condemns adultery earlier).

        • Romans 1 does. However, it’s easy to reject that verse as I do here.

  • katiehippie

    Didn’t god create all the animals? Why did he make unclean ones then? He/she seems to have a penchant for creating things just to say ‘naner naner you can’t have that’. i.e. the tree of knowledge in the garden of eden.

    • God knows that the Tree of Knowledge is dangerous, so he puts it right there in the Garden? Why not put it far away? Why not leave it out altogether? Why not put a fence around it? Why not make its fruit smell terrible?

      It’s almost like the story was invented to make a point rather than being actual history.

      • Defending Christianity

        Like we were created from rocks that were created in the big bang from “nothing” is a better story

        • Wow–that’s a terrible story. Who says that??

        • Jason Wexler

          That is a terrible story, but the interesting thing is that the truth need not be entertaining or follow good narrative structure. I am also assuming when I say that, that we correct your bizarre misinterpretations of the modern explanations from cosmology, biology and geology, yes they make for uninteresting story telling but they make for better explanations for the world around us.

        • Niemand

          You’ve left out a couple of steps. And you’re right that we don’t currently have a really satisfying explanation of where the stuff came from. But that’s ok. It’s ok to say “I don’t know” in science and not invoke a god to fill the gap.

        • katiehippie

          So, you are admitting that Christianity is just a story?

        • I was hoping you’d return to tell us just what the heck you think science’s story is about where things come from. No more interest in this discussion?

        • dorcheat

          Drive by Christian posters do not thrive in the Cross Examined forums.

      • purr

        I specifically searched for this video, and youtube decided to pull a bait and switch, and pull up the other one!

        • I actually had another DarkMatter video in mind when I wrote that–the one where Jeffrey tries to hide the Tree far away and God insists on having it close by and tasty.

        • purr

          Ack; I linked the wrong one!

          Stupid youtube. I will edit it.

        • I still see “God’s God.” But that one’s clever, too.

        • purr

          Weird. The one I linked to disappeared again! I will try to fix it tomorrow. Its the one about the crazy sex in the garden of eden + the tree. Has to be the same one you are thinking of.

        • purr
        • Bingo!

        • Kodie

          Really weird, but I got it the first time you thought you posted it, after you and Bob were talking like he saw the same video I saw, but thought you posted something else. I don’t know how it got mixed up. Great video!

        • purr

          I thought the bestiality was cool.

          Usually when you hear about inter-species sex it involves horses, donkeys and sheep.

          But why not dangerous rhinos? And pink flamingos?

        • Sophia Sadek

          Cool series. It reminds me of Mr. Deity.

        • purr

          It’s now linking both for some reason. Oh well.

      • Greg G.

        Why not make its fruit smell terrible?

        That strategy doesn’t work for durian. The creamy sweet flavor is worth the stench, especially with strong, black coffee to accompany it.

      • Niemand

        I’ve always been fond of the idea that eating the fruit represents not sin, but the evolution of conscious thought and the ability to decide whether something is good or evil. One loses the “protection” of ignorance, but gains more autonomy and ability to decide to act morally and make the world a better place. I don’t know if this is a viable interpretation in any version of Judaism or Christianity.

        • Castilliano

          Viable through text & tradition, no. (Might be wrong.)
          Have I heard it hypothesized in several Christian circles, yes.
          Essentially, Adam & Eve represent where we finally achieved humanity through evolution or where God finally decided to imbue prehuman apes with humanity.
          It’s interesting, and at least accepts the evidence of evolution, but I’ve never heard a reasoned argument for it.
          (Neither have I looked for one.)

      • Sophia Sadek

        I disagree with those who argue that the story of the Fall is older than the story that precedes it in Genesis. It has earmarks that resonate with the Pythagorean tradition. Knowledge of good and evil puts humans on an equal footing with the gods. All that they lack is knowledge of the eternal. The latter was a deliberate pursuit of the Pythagoreans and their Gnostic progeny. It was not Yahweh that setup the Garden, but his competition, Elohim.

        • The Garden of Eden story in Genesis is thought to be in the P tradition, which was written in roughly 500 BCE.

        • Sophia Sadek

          That pretty much concurs with my own unscholarly speculation. Martin Hengel proposed a connection between the Jewish wisdom literature and the Pythagoreans. It is an interesting theory.

          The Sadducees may have been the descendents of the “Priestly” authors given their rational rejection of the notion of resurrection.

  • Kodie

    As I said in the first part thread, it has to have a lot to do with hierarchy and gender roles. I take a lot of homophobia, and for that matter, purity culture and patriarchy, to be more about establishing clear roles for people they belong in and demanding they refrain from any activity outside of that. I presume they think we’re all lustful creatures, and if not for the sacred law of marriage and procreative sex, what’s to stop us from doing anyone at any time, all the time? Sex has a limited purpose and needs to be kept for that purpose alone, is what they believe. Marriage is an economic contract between a man to raise a family with his broodmare, who has to be a virgin as his basic guarantee his children will be his, and women have little choice. A wife is far too busy to have a career, because she is already the maid for the man’s house and his children. Why invest in them – they will soon enough be pregnant and thus absent. We still carry this attitude today in the workplace. To have a wife is very handy for a man, since he has a job and no time to cook and clean for himself.

    What I’m saying is, at least as far as the bible goes, or any Christian who opposes homosexuality, pleasure is the last thing going in. We can’t situate our lives on the pleasurable distractions, we have to get to work. We have to grow out of our father’s home and be chosen for a wife so we can have a place to live. To fail to be chosen is still stigmatized, and still in that framework. Men on dates with women in their 30s may think she is nice, but she is also running out of time, and they put on their running shoes to find someone who’s not in a hurry. Let’s generalize and say this is a concern for a lot of women, and by that generalization, it crosses most men’s minds as a factor in continuing to date someone, whether or not it is true for the woman they’re on a date with.

    How does this fit in with homosexuality? Of course it is about distractions and pleasure. You’re never going to marry – what for? We seem to forget or forgive, conveniently, that originally, this is a contract not of mutual love but to buy a wife from her father to be his maid and bear his inevitable offspring (a form of birth control, essentially – they will be born, but securely in a wage-earning household, not in the street with a mother nobody wants now). Two adults in a household seems to fill all the roles – a person can live single, but having to earn rent AND do all the chores is rough. To be homosexual, in this equation, is to forget that you’re supposed to make babies, and furthermore, divide up the household duties into housework and wage-earning. Women get a lot of shit for not wanting to submit and hold to the obligation of their gender, so it is, homosexuals – why would anyone want to be “the woman”? (We were also talking yesterday about who is the “recipient”). When you have the privilege of men, why throw that away just because you’re horny?

    What I’m saying, I think, is that the abomination is still culturally in place, even outside of Christianity or biblical adherence to ritual law. On these blogs, we talk a lot about Christians do this or that, as if the rest of us are not living in their world. Even liberal modern men, and apparently many of whom are atheists, are threatened by femininity. If you look at secular marketing and commercialism, the more power women get, the more men are threatened by being mistaken for one. They don’t take care of their health because that’s feminine to be on a diet. Men are policing each other, and women are policing them too. The biggest insult to a young boy or a man is to be compared to a girl or a woman, and if women get too seemingly “androgynous”, men have to push in the other direction. When too many women break into a field dominated by men, fewer men are attracted to those jobs. People have long conflated homosexuality with an effeminate demeanor.

    What I don’t get, then, sort of, is femininity and how it’s attractive to men. What is so masculine about noticing a beautiful flower of a woman that’s not masculine at all about noticing an actual flower? Flowers are yucky! The soft hairless nice-smelling woman you can’t wait to feel. That seems at odds with what it means to be masculine compared with everything else. Anyway, the only abomination other than distracting your life script by lustfully fucking anyone, even if it’s another man, has to be the butthole. Trying to have sex with someone who can’t make you a baby is like fucking a hole in the wall, essentially. It has plenty to do with getting your act together and finding a wife so you can get to the business of having fruitful sex, not dead end fornication. Religions like to say we’re all unique but nobody’s happy if someone is actually doing things differently. We have to marry and mate. Pleasure is not on the list of values.


    Generally when I read a bible passage, I try to figure out where it’s coming from, and whether or not it made sense at the time. Failing to stick to the script is an abomination. Wasting your time and your seed and failing your gender role is an abomination. And even in modern times, in secular or liberal Christian Western culture, even if we’re accepting of homosexuality and in favor of marriage equality, we’re less accepting, as a society, of the diminution of clear and arranged gender roles, or failing or delaying to make the checkpoint by getting married and having children, in order. Variations on this are accepted but novel, and not always quaint, but broken or sad. It still seems generally acceptable, for example, for a couple women friends to find out the handsome new co-worker is gay and say, “what a waste”.

    • Niemand

      Marriage is an economic contract between a man to raise a family with
      his broodmare, who has to be a virgin as his basic guarantee his
      children will be his

      I don’t understand this logic, especially in the context of a culture with a high maternal mortality. Wouldn’t it be better to marry a woman who already has a healthy child and thus proven ability to survive childbirth and higher probability of being able to give you several children rather than a virgin who you’ll invest a year or two in before finding out whether she’s even viable as a broodmare? Plus, free bonus babysitter for your kids in the oldest child. (Looking at it from the completely cold, male-dominant point of view.)

      • Plutosdad

        I suppose because it’s cheap to find a new woman after your earlier one dies. A woman with a proven track record of childbirth would not only be more expensive but then you couldn’t have sex with her for the first 9 months to be sure any children are your own, (either that or you’d have to kill her first child like we’re lions, which your neighbors might find distasteful.)
        It was easier and cheaper to treat woman as disposable.

        • purr

          I also remember reading somewhere that the ancients believed that a woman would forever have the babies of the man she lost her virginity to.

      • Unah

        No. Because it isn’t just about the male buying the broodmare, but also about the father selling her. The father needs to get rid of an unusable female, since he can’t breed with his daughter she has no value. Any children she produced would not be his, so he doesn’t want to be responsible for raising a child or risk the child inheriting anything. Also, another man doesn’t want to buy a broodmare with a child for the same reasons. The only option left is to purchase broodmares who look like they can survive birth, and then hope for a boy.

      • Kodie

        I just think it’s a buyer’s market. Even today, if a couple has fertility issues, it’s the woman who is assumed “defective” before they go get checked out. A man might buy a dud, and if a woman can’t give her husband children, she has lost her meal ticket. Men do marry widows, but otherwise, that child is its natural father’s responsibility. It’s economic, and people are animals. We live in a society where marriage is encouraged and subsidized by the government, ostensibly to pay people a little bit for doing the job of replenishing the population and caring for them in their minor years.

        Since women are blamed for a whole lot, marrying a woman with a child, if she is single, then she is a slut – the quality of a woman is that she can be trusted not to get with another man. If she couldn’t control herself* before, there is no guarantee after marriage that she can control herself and be loyal, and a husband cannot know his children are his, and doesn’t want to pay for them. If she has been scandalized by divorce, since she could not file herself, that’s a negative endorsement by her former husband that she is no bargain. Widows are acceptable.

        *This carries over into rape culture, where, no matter what happened, women get blamed a whole hell of a lot of the time, and they check her past. If she had sex before, consensually, even with her rapist, she is held responsible and judged for causing her own rape. So a single woman with a child is not seen any differently whether she had been raped or had a consensual love affair with a man.

        Men have a lot of insecurities surrounding the fact that they can’t know for sure, so women have had little choice or leverage in the matter.

        • MNb

          You are obviously talking about the USA.

          “the quality of a woman is that she can be trusted not to get with another man”
          Every single Surinamese woman would vehemently disagree here – overhere it’s more like “men cannot be trusted not to get with another woman.”
          Which emancipatory wave have the USA missed?

        • Kodie

          Men cannot be trusted but eh, what are you going to do. It’s my perception that most couples do not divorce over male infidelity, not only because men get a pass for behaving badly, but because women have to weigh their options. It’s not total out-and-out caveman here, but it is pretty latent caveman here, as far as I can tell. Ideally, no one cheats, and people still feel really bad and moralistic about either sex cheating, but in reality, it’s not as big a surprise or a betrayal for a man to cheat than a woman, unless it’s with a man. Women are blamed for that too! When Bob or I or anyone else talks about people talking openly about sex, it’s just the fun stuff or gossip, primarily that’s out in the open, it’s not how people really feel in their own relationships. People can’t even talk to each other. The whole myth of the rape culture being women really want to, and have to be persuaded, is “her fault” for sending mixed signals. We’re all still animals, awkwardly approaching people but not really coming out and saying what we like and want, so a pleasant conversation for one person might seem like a prelude to sex to another person. If you invite someone or accept an invitation into someone’s home after a date, maybe both want sex and it’s assumed, or one person receives the signal that sex will happen when the other person just wanted to talk a while longer.

          Anyway, it’s pretty much assumed perhaps too much that men will cheat, not if, but when, if not already. Some women can look the other way and some cannot and end a marriage, and lots of people get counseling to try to get over it. Not the same if a woman does it. I would say most people still carry the notion that women are not sexual anyway, women are loyal, women are put on a pedestal. That makes a betrayal by a woman that much more damaging as well. I am making sweeping generalizations, but I still perceive most of the culture as patriarchal and hanging onto myths and evo psych “truisms” about the differences between men and women, such that women just don’t need sex like a man does and find it easier to go without or be loyal, and then, such that women who are not like that can’t be trusted. Women who have had a child before marriage are definitely not virgins and found it difficult to keep from fornicating, spreading her legs, etc. What kind of loyalty can a man expect from someone who actively enjoys and seeks sex and doesn’t save herself for the stability of marriage? Who will choose her now if she’s demonstrated that she can’t control herself when a fella is around? Or worse, immodestly flirting and attracting men.

          A quality sought in the woman (I am not saying this is totally current) is that she had never had sex before, proving that she’s not looking for sex outside of marriage, and as far as anyone can tell, can be trusted and loyal to her husband not to sneak in any pregnancies from other men. It’s not foolproof. Most people today are pretty liberal about previous sex lives being previous, and not as bothered, but I … can’t pull up the study that I saw on TV, but in a study, women still lie about how many sexual partners they’ve had before, unless they’re hooked up to a lie detector, then the number goes up.

        • smrnda

          I just want to agree that, in spite of there being *some progress* sexual history still matters much more for women than men, even outside of conservative religious subcultures. The belief that men are just *hardwired to cheat and can’t help it* is also, regrettably, not confined to conservative religious subculture either.

        • Kodie

          I was thinking afterwards how many sweeping generalizations I had made, but I find the patriarchal attitudes of most people I meet a little sickening. There are plenty of people who don’t live like I described, but it is more of a cultural thing. I find that when I read about these oppressive Christian purity culture attitudes, that there are a lot of ex-Christians who talk about it like it’s just Christians, and even then, just that kind, and the rest of the world is so much more secular and liberal, but I didn’t grow up that way. I didn’t grow up in Christianity, or a conservative atmosphere. I don’t know hardly anyone who grew up in an uptight conservative Christian household, and yet, I also think the media presents and most people seem to hold attitudes that reflect a distinct patriarchal oppression of both women’s and men’s proper roles. To some homeschooled quiverfull ex-Christian, it probably seems like so much freedom and equality outside the border, but I don’t find that to be the case.

          For example, just watch Family Feud once.

        • MNb

          “The belief that men ….”
          Like I wrote above it’s a common idea in Suriname as well and we fortunately have only few religious bigots overhere. I think it has a lot to do with the colonial past. Ex-slaves (Afro-Surinamese) and contract-laborers (from India and what’s now Indonesia) basically had to build up Surinamese society from scratch. The political institutions only served the Dutch elite, which usually didn’t stay in Suriname very long.
          Though I don’t completely understand what happened – another important factor is that those contract-laborers came from the lowest social strata; basically riff-raff without the negative connotation – it’s a fact that lots of Surinamese women are used to taking care of themselves economically and financially. This is typical for the entire Caribbean. So the abrahamistic ideal of a male breadwinner and a housewife raising children never really sunk in.
          To round things off: abortion is illegal in Suriname and nobody has been prosecuted for decades. There is an abortion clinique in Paramaribo. Contraception is quite easily available, but sexual education is seriously lacking, despite several ad hoc attempts.
          So I only can conclude with the Surinamese saying that by God and in Suriname everything is possible.

        • smrnda

          There are lots of interesting deviations from what is considered ‘normal’ in say, the US. The Na of China basically thought the opposite of the ‘seed’ theory – the idea was the the mother produces the kid and the male just adds *water* to the soil. Families lived matrilineal households, with a woman and her descendents living there, and casual sex was pretty much seen as okay and the actual fathers simply stayed in their own matrilineal households.

          Of course, the PRC and the CCCP fought to wipe out such deviance, but it’s an interesting example of totally different social arrangements. It was, to some extent, based on faulty biology, but no worse than the whole sperm == little human theory.

        • MNb

          You’re definitely talking about the USA.

          “It’s my perception that most couples do not divorce over male infidelity”
          This is very normal in Suriname. Two of my female colleagues exactly did this only quite recently.

          “A quality sought in the woman is that she had never had sex before”
          I absolutely have no research to back up my impression, but I confidently say this does not apply to Surinamese men. As far as I know many Dutch men don’t care either, except for the more “serious” christian ones.
          Look, I totally recognize what you write. My point is not so much to contradict you. It is that I think it a cultural phenomenon, highly probably related to the abrahamistic religions.
          It’s not to say either that Suriname is better than the USA. Domestic violence, including sexual abuse, is a problem here as well.
          As for The Netherlands: according to this survey

          12% of all Dutch women has been victim of rape.
          So I’m just not sure if your analysis holds up. I still dislike patriarchy (if nothing for selfish reasons), understand zilch of rape culture (you don’t want to know what Dutch men write on internet as soon as a woman has an opinion) etc. Alas I’m quite pessimistic when it comes to the question what to do about misogyny.
          To end on a more cheerful note: in the EU there were on average 123 female students at universities against 100 males. Women dominate the University of Paramaribo as well. At my school (comparable with American junior high school; age 12-16) we have about two girls for every boy. Give it another 50 years (according to my female colleagues 20 years) and patriarchate is finished.

        • Kodie

          I had a conversation on some forum a long time ago about American culture re: sex. At the time, my observations were that, at least according to media, I thought we were rather liberal if not even overboard with all the sex. It’s in your face all the time, I think. But the other person said (and he came from the same liberal area of the country I did) that it was actually rather Puritanical. I think between us, you and me, America is not a very strict place in the obvious sense as I might have made it out to be. Christian morals that you might read about on, say, Libby Anne’s blog, are not prominent or prevalent, at least where I live and where I grew up. But we do seem to live in a culture that socializes patriarchy from infancy so nobody really recognizes it as a “problem”, especially with all the working women and pre-marital sex is the standard in normal folks.

          When I was young, I got a lot of positive messages from tv about women having careers, and might not have realized it at the time, but fine old sex lives without having to be married (yet). But it was always assumed that girls want to be brides eventually. My parents, my mother especially, is kind of old-fashioned, and we’d have a lot of fights like you might see between Archie Bunker and his meathead son-in-law (All in the Family). I was extremely liberal and feminist. I really have no idea how these ideas got through to me so extensively and thoroughly, but I do not live in a world where it’s as easy to be a woman in a man’s world as I had understood when I was a child or teen girl. I think a major piece of the puzzle would have to be that you can’t listen to naysayers. That’s the broken part of me, because my mom is a huge naysayer. I’m in therapy about that among other things. Another thing is, I didn’t have any examples or mentors. All the girls and women I knew bought into this pattern, and you’re weird if you don’t too.

          Women do have a lot more options now than they used to, but we’re also cautioned from taking too much. For as much as Christians like to blame the downfall of society on women working, women have a lot of jobs a man just wouldn’t do, and I think we often sell ourselves short in the ambition department because we assume eventually, we’ll have kids – just like a man doesn’t prefer to raise another man’s children, neither does an employer like to accommodate female parents by hiring them or paying them as much. If you have a two-income household with children, people still having the problem of whose job is more important when someone has to stay home. Women usually volunteer because they expected to in the first place, but if a practical situation needs the woman’s income and the man has to cut his hours or stay home, this will not just make the husband personally uncomfortable with “women’s work,” but embarrass him socially, and depress him since he is not the breadwinner – but it’s ok to depress a woman this way when she can’t advance her career or find personal fulfillment outside of child-rearing. This is a current and ongoing problem. Also see: “the mommy wars”. If you think it’s bad enough men are holding us back, it’s often women doing it to each other.

          I saw this interview from Maria Hinojosa with Neil deGrasse Tyson, from which I got this little wisdom (not likely the only place he’s expressed it):

          >> TYSON: Right.
          No one was with me with my
          It was a fight at every point.
          And I came to realize that I was
          trying to create a pathway for
          myself that was in violent
          opposition to people’s
          expectations for me.
          And whenever that happens, it
          sucks energy out of you.
          And I wonder how many people
          derailed simply because they
          didn’t have as much energy to
          keep fighting as I did.
          Because my fuel supply was…
          went deep, because it was…
          started… you know, the nozzle
          was filling it up from age nine.
          So I could reach down deep and
          pull fuel where others perhaps
          might not have, or could not
          And so yeah, it’s unfortunate.
          And I lose sleep at night… not
          so much anymore, because I think
          opportunities are much more
          available than they were back
          when I was a kid, and much more
          than they were even when my
          parents were kids.
          But I used to lose sleep
          wondering what brilliance could
          have been expressed among my
          contemporaries had they not been
          pushed away from what might have
          been their dreams.

          This is what America feels like to me. Many people do not express despair at patriarchy because they agree with it or it doesn’t oppress them as much as it could 50 or 100 years ago. But if you really want to go against the current, you have to be very strong and very determined, and it probably helps if you have examples and mentors and support. Women can do anything, but usually don’t, is what I’m saying, not because they wanted to and failed, but because they’re getting a little more than they used to could, and that’s satisfactory.

        • MNb

          “I think we often sell ourselves short in the ambition department”
          Yes, I see this at my school too. Boys having the confidence but lacking the ambition and girls having the ambition and lacking the confidence (to complicate things: I teach children from several entirely different ethnical groups) and therefore giving up the ambition at some point. Even after more than 13 years I have no idea to what extent the causes are biological and to what extent cultural.
          But I honestly can say I encourage the girls as much as the boys – the girls have some advantages regarding maths and physics too, especially on average a more structured approach. A few have gotten quite far, which is not bad for a Surinamese village school in the middle of the jungle.
          Nice you remember Archie Bunker and meatball.

        • “Meat-head”

          And how do you know about Archie Bunker? Was than an American export?

        • MNb

          All in the Family was on Dutch television from October 1972 on.

          Every Dutchman of my generation plus the previous one knows Edith, Archie and Gloria Bunker plus “gehaktbal”.

          More than 20 years later there was more or less a Dutch version:

          If you ever find that one with English subtitles don’t hesitate.

  • Michelle

    I am not afraid or ashamed or insulted by my feminine side. I embrace it and relish in it. I love it when someone calls me “Ma’am” I have been married to a woman twice have produced a child with a woman and when single I have enjoyed being with other men too. I have been a homemaker and I have had a career. I also eat shellfish and pork and I wear clothing made from two threads so I would be condemmed to burn anyway — if I was a rabbi

  • Ron

    “If a man has sexual intercourse with a male as one has sexual intercourse with a woman, the two of them have committed an abomination.”

    Ah… but it says absolutely nothing about having sexual intercourse with a male as one has sexual intercourse with a male (i.e. from behind). 🙂

    And who cares, anyways? I’m not Jewish, I don’t live in ancient Palestine and I don’t worship Yahweh. So the rules have about as much practical application for me as the British rules for driving on the left side of the road have for someone living in North America — that is to say, none.

    • Sophia Sadek

      That is, until the Westboro Baptists take over and burn you at the stake for heresy.

  • Sophia Sadek

    Another take on this bible verse is that women were not treated as equals with men in ancient Jewish culture. In fact women were pretty much slaves of the men folk. Sex between men and women was not an act of love but an act of planting a pure male seed in a dirty feminine body for the purposes of growing more male children. It was an act of domination and utility. For men to treat other men in such a disgusting and degrading fashion would not be seemly in the eyes of Yahweh (who had no knowledge of pollination). Nor would it be conducive to civil fraternity.

    The male-only seed paradigm was also a weakness within the Pythagorean tradition. At least the Pythagoreans were able to correct the model somewhat in later years with the notion of a feminine component to the seminal idea. The pollen/egg paradigm has yet to be comprehended within Vatican circles.

    • purr

      Robert M Price talked about this on his podcast “The Human Bible” and he said that yahweh simply didn’t want men acting like women – nothing to do with teh sex. Just..don’t act like chicks!

      • Sophia Sadek

        Yahweh had a variety of bizarre proclivities. I tend to side with the philosophers who argued that jealousy is not a divine attribute.

    • Yes, I’ve heard that the idea was that the man provided the seed (100% of what was needed to become the child) and the woman provided just the environment (and none of the child).

      • purr

        that was also a Greek idea

        that women were flowerpots, and sperm were tiny humans that simply needed the flowerpot to grow

  • asmondius

    Bob, you went through much trouble for nothing.

    In Genesis God creates a male and female – not three men and one woman or vice versa. His intent is clear, don’t you think?

    Right off the bat you say ‘Leviticus’ but then jump off to compare with Deuteronomy.

    Then you confuse a moral command with dietary laws.

    Then you declare that the stated death penalty for sodomy isn’t really there just because you find it offensive. Was it to be a ‘ritual’ death as well?

    Then you once again fail to understand that Leviticus can’t be read like the Boy Scout handbook and scramble around to pull random lines out of context that you must feel seem to support your case.

    Then you carp about some political figure – this is relevant to Leviticus, how?.
    The final cap is the statement ‘Apologists who pick and choose which commandments must be taken literally…’ Well, that’s exactly what you just did throughout your post. Frankly, I don’t see much difference between your approach and that of those you are criticizing.

    • MNb

      God’s intents never are clear. That’s why there are so many denominations.

      “I don’t see much difference between your approach and that of those you are criticizing.”
      You being braindead don’t understand that if you want to show an approach wrong that you have to adopt it first. Or you never will be able to point out contradicitons.

      • asmondius

        ‘if you want to show an approach wrong that you have to adopt it first’.
        So I should go ahead and smack my thumb with that hammer, even though I know intuitively that doing so is not a good idea.

        • MNb

          If you have to rely on intuition for this thumb-hammer conclusion you only show once again that you’re braindead.

        • asmondius

          Your advice was that one can only learn from actual experience.

        • MNb

          No, it wasn’t. Again you being braindead saves you from being exposed as a liar. But a lie it is.

    • In Genesis God creates a male and female – not three men and one woman or vice versa. His intent is clear, don’t you think?

      Sure—that there’s supposed to be exactly one man and one woman. He must be pretty pissed that there are now billions.

      Then you once again fail to understand that Leviticus can’t be read like the Boy Scout handbook

      I’m pretty sure it’s all there. If you have a specific complaint … ?

      Then you carp about some political figure – this is relevant to Leviticus, how?

      It’s a present-day example of misreading Leviticus. But surely this was already obvious to you.

      The final cap is the statement ‘Apologists who pick and choose which commandments must be taken literally…’ Well, that’s exactly what you just did throughout your post. Frankly, I don’t see much difference between your approach and that of those you are criticizing.

      Let me help you out then. I pick and choose my morality based on reason. Christians do indeed do the same thing … but aren’t they supposed to be tapping into some sort of higher power or something?

      • asmondius

        ‘Sure—that there’s supposed to be exactly one man and one woman. He must be pretty pissed that there are now billions.’

        Why? ‘Be fruitful and multiply’ – I don’t see homosexuality fitting into that scenario either.

        ‘I’m pretty sure it’s all there. If you have a specific complaint … ?’

        Yes – you pick and choose. I see absolutely no difference between you and those you seek to criticize.

        ‘It’s a present-day example of misreading Leviticus. But surely this was already obvious to you.’

        I have the same opinion of your interpretations. You are simply two sides of the same coin. Leviticus is a huge body of work that seeks to fulfill several goals. I would never have guessed that simply by relying upon your post.

        Bob, be honest with us. You pick and choose just like anyone else. You ‘reasoning’ is no more objective than that of the man you are criticizing. You pick and choose your morality based upon whatever works for you.

        • Bob, be honest with us. You pick and choose just like anyone else. You ‘reasoning’ is no more objective than that of the man you are criticizing.

          Objective? Where did that come from?

          My point is that a plausible interpretation of the OT shows no rejection of the issues of homosexuality that Christians today whine about.

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