The Daily Banter

The Real Meaning and Context of Homosexuality in the Bible and the Ancient World

Bob Cesca
Written by Bob Cesca

(Image: The Apostle Paul)

For the better part of a week now, it's been frustratingly accepted that anti-gay Christian business-owners can legitimately cite one or more solid religion-based justifications for refusing equal service to LGBT customers and same-sex weddings. The reality is this: they really, really don't have any solid justification for discriminating against those customers. And without a solid biblical basis for their objections to offering goods and services to gay people, it'd be nearly impossible to defend any discriminatory practices under Indiana's twisted "Religious Freedom Restoration Act."

Not only does the Bible barely mention same-sex intercourse, but when it does, it mentions it in a much broader context of an endless series of other then-problematic behaviors -- behaviors that anti-gay Christians rarely if ever object to, at least in terms of who gets to buy a cake and who doesn't. Yet it's singled out almost exclusively as something that self-proclaimed devout or evangelical Christians believe is a hell-worthy trespass. Put another way: no one's refusing wedding or catering services to hetero couples who happen to be living together; just the gay couples, even though the Bible contains considerably more harsh words against premarital hetero sex than against same-sex intercourse.

That brings us to the two primary biblical sources for anti-gay language: Paul's letters in the New Testament and Leviticus from the Old Testament. Leviticus forbids men sleeping with men, going so far as to sanction the death penalty for it. We've covered this one so often, but it's worth repeating, especially given what Jesus had to say about it.

This whole Leviticus affair could be the most egregious example of political/biblical cherrypicking in the history of the biblical debates given how it's so often cited by anti-gay Christians who brazenly ignore or waive all of the other Levitical laws including bans on getting haircuts; trimming your beard; marrying a divorcee; eating shellfish; masturbating; attending religious services while suffering from acne, blindness, a broken bone, scars, deformities, "crushed testicles," and so on. Worse, Leviticus also calls for both the perpetrator and victim of incest to be executed. So far, there aren't any Christians resurrecting that one, but there it is anyway -- noted with the same importance in the same book of the Old Testament.

If this is truly and honestly about obeying the word of God and not being condemned to Hell -- if this is about justifying your freedom to practice your religion -- then why are all of these other rules totally ignored while the one about sleeping with another man is observed exclusively, while also repeatedly codified in secular law? The answer is obvious. Homophobia and bigotry. It's also important to reiterate that even if someone is so devout as to follow the letter of Levitical law, it doesn't forbid the selling of goods to customers who engage in same-sex intercourse; it strictly forbids the act itself.

Ultimately, though -- and this is a big deal -- Leviticus should be completely irrelevant to Christians. Any Christians who've... CONTINUE READING