Published in almost 500 languages, it’s arguably the most famous book in history. With more copies in publication than the Harry Potter series, the widespread dissemination of the fundamental doctrine of two billion Christians across the world is an impressive feat. But how well do we really understand the Bible’s teachings?
According to the book of Leviticus, one of the five books of Moses, collectively known as the Pentateuch, which sets out the fundamental rules for a good life as a Christian, every Friday should be Good Friday. In other words, eating pork is a no-no. “Of their flesh shall ye not eat, and their carcase shall ye not touch; they are unclean to you”. (Leviticus 11:8).
However, it is not only foodies whose tastes are restricted. Leviticus 19:27 demands that you don’t “mar the corners of thy beard” – I hope your all ready for Movember lads!
Futhermore, those students who spend their weekends earning much needed cash should be aware that 23:3 bans working on a Sunday. Tattoos are also viewed as being unacceptable – 19:28 “Ye shall not make any cuttings in your flesh for the dead, nor print any marks upon you.”
However, now to the big one. You might have an idea where this is going. It’s one of the most controversial statements in contemporary society, gaining something of an eleventh commandment status amongst the anti – LGBT community. Leviticus 18:22 – “Thou shalt not lie with mankind, as with womankind: it is an abomination.”
From what I remember of religion at school and in church, Jesus’ main message was one of love, tolerance, compassion and acceptance. So why are the Church to this day, continuing to reject proposals advocating the acceptance of gay people?
The point of this article is not to ridicule or undermine the Bible, but to show that Leviticus was a bit over the top, and also, that nowhere does he mention that one rule is more important than the other. Many church – goers disregard the majority of the Bible’s teachings, so who decides which laws we chuck out and which sections we enforce upon those who wish to be members of the Catholic Church?
I think Russell Brand put it quite well when he interviewed the demonic homophobic group who call themselves the West Baptist Church. He points out that “the Bible wasn’t literally written by a cosmic entity. The Holy Spirit ain’t got a pen”, and I think that’s an important point.
The Bible was written by humans, at a particular point in time, in adherence with the cultural and societal values of that particular time. Most homosexual acts between two men at the time was pederasty, a form of paedophilia, which explains why it might have been condemned by dear old Levy.
If you need further proof that the Bible is a product of a certain set of societal values, look at 18:22 again. “Thou shall not lie with man” – thou evidently refers to a man – women at the time weren’t considered important enough to be given a mention. Actually, doesn’t that suggest that God had no problems with lesbian couples? Technically, he never really forbade it.
Spirituality, for me, is not something that can be assigned names, leaders and categories. I believe that the continued attempts of the Church to guilt-trip those of us who don’t abide by every aspect from the Bible is the cause of such growing apathy towards religion in our generation. I also believe that those who argue for the rejection of gay people from the Church due to the fact that their ‘lifestyle’ is incompatible with the Churches teachings need to look at the hypocrisy of their words, when they in fact in all likelihood do not follow the Bible word for word.
Macklemore once said in an interview about his hit song “Same Love” that “you can only watch injustice going on in the world around you for so long before you decide to do something about it”. I agree with him. The time is ripe for social, not just legal-political, reform. Nobody should have to live in fear of persecution or ridicule. It’s time for us to stand up for our fellow humans and demand they be given the respect they deserve.
A referendum will be held in the spring of next year to legalise same – sex marriage, and I suggest that when we vote, we look not to the doctrines written by societies thousands of years ago, but rather, within ourselves, and move towards a society based around love, compassion, and respect. After all, I think that’s what Jesus was after in the first place.
Image Credit: biblesociety.org