Reflection for Today ▶️ ⏹️

Oscar Wilde in 1895 with his lover, Bosie (Lord Alfred Douglas) shortly before his arrest and imprisonment for homosexuality, illegal in England until 1967.

Thou shalt not lie with mankind, as with womankind: it is abomination / If a man also lie with mankind, as he lieth with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination: they shall surely be put to death; their blood shall be upon them.
Leviticus 18:22 / 20:13

These two short verses have been the cause of great persecution and suffering for centuries. Many apologists have strived to reframe this law, to reduce its impact as a weapon of hate. K. Renato Lings and others in the LGBTQIA community claim the law, following (as it does in both chapters) a long list of forbidden male-on-female incest laws, applies only to male-on-male incest.1 The late Rev. Peter Gomes calls attention to the particular way men lay with women, which was often dominating and violent, treating women as possessions. It is this he says that is the focus: don't lie with a man in the particular way you lie with a woman.2 From this we might suggest that a modern-day interpretation of this law should read "Thou shalt not even lie with a woman as you lie with a woman".

Many Christians dismiss the entire Levitical law, citing Hebrews 8:13: In that he saith, A new covenant, he hath made the first old. Now that which decayeth and waxeth old is ready to vanish away. Leviticus includes rules about sacrificial offerings, clean and unclean foods, bodily discharges, priestly behaviour and the wearing of mixed fabrics (to name a few) none of which are followed by Christians, so any law about same-sex relationships should equally be ignored—for the sake of consistency, if for no other reason!

Most interesting to me is the idea that this law, like almost all Levitical law, is an anti-women law, not an anti-homosexuality law. A woman was a second class citizen, weak, submissive, a possession of her husband and the male community in general. The 'abomination' of which these verses speak is the abomination of becoming like a woman. A man should neither subject himself nor be subjected to such humiliation. That's the law. In today's more gender-egalitarian world this alone is reason enough to dismiss this law out of hand. No apologetics needed.

1 See for example Leviticus 18:22 — A Queer Hermeneutical Analysis, published by Southern Methodist University, Dallas, Texas, 2019
2 The Good Book: Reading the Bible with Mind and Heart by Peter Gomes, HarperOne, 2002
music Glad to be Gay written and performed by Tom Robinson, 1978