Wednesday, November 23, 2005

arguing with the evangelists

right. i've come to the conclusion that i'm a blogging vampire - i tend to hide behind posting other people's opinions/articles/daft shit and not contribute anything myself. an empty vessel making a lot of noise, if you like.

so why change now, eh? :)

thought i'd post this as a link in with jim bliss's weekend wittering post and the comments that followed it.

in the spirit of re-use, re-cycle and re-inform, i've found the following resources mighty handy when discussing religion and my apparent immorality:

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Laura Schlessinger is a US radio personality, who dispenses advice to people who call in to her Radio show. On her radio show recently, she said that, as an observant Orthodox Jew, homosexuality is an abomination, according to Leviticus 18:22 and cannot be condoned under any circumstance.

The following response is an open letter to Dr. Laura, penned by a US resident, which was posted on the Internet.
It's funny, as well as thought-provoking.

Dear Dr. Laura:

Thank you for doing so much to educate people regarding God's Law. I have learned a great deal from your show, and try to share that knowledge with as many people as I can. When someone tries to defend the homosexual lifestyle, for example, I simply remind them that Leviticus 18:22 clearly states it to be an abomination. End of debate.

I do need some advice from you, however, regarding some other elements of God's Laws and how to follow them.

1. Leviticus 25:44 states that I may possess slaves, both male and female, provided they are purchased from neighbouring nations. A friend of mine claims that this applies to Mexicans, but not Canadians. Can you clarify? Why can't I own Canadians?

2. I would like to sell my daughter into slavery, as sanctioned in Exodus 21:7. In this day and age, what do you think would be a fair price for her?

3. I know that I am allowed no contact with a woman while she is in her period of menstrual uncleanliness - Lev.15: 19-24. The problem is how do I tell? I have tried asking, but most women take offence.

4. When I burn a bull on the altar as a sacrifice, I know it creates a pleasing odour for the Lord - Lev.1:9. The problem is, my neighbours. They claim the odour is not pleasing to them. Should I smite them?

5. I have a neighbour who insists on working on the Sabbath. Exodus 35:2 clearly states he should be put to death. Am I morally obligated to kill him myself, or should I ask the police to do it?

6. A friend of mine feels that even though eating shellfish is an abomination - Lev. 11:10, it is a lesser abomination than homosexuality. I don't agree. Can you settle this? Are there 'degrees' of abomination?

7. Lev. 21:20 states that I may not approach the altar of God if I have a defect in my sight. I have to admit that I wear reading glasses. Does my vision have to be 20/20, or is there some wiggle-room here?

8. Most of my male friends get their hair trimmed, including the hair around their temples, even though this is expressly forbidden by Lev 19:27. How should they die?

9. I know from Lev. 11:6-8 that touching the skin of a dead pig makes me unclean, but may I still play football if I wear gloves?

10. My uncle has a farm. He violates Lev.19:19 by planting two different crops in the same field, as does his wife by wearing garments made of two different kinds of thread (cotton/polyester blend). He also tends to curse and blaspheme a lot. Is it really necessary that we go to all the trouble of getting the whole town together to stone them? (Lev.24:10-16). Couldn't we just burn them to death at a private family affair, like we do with people who sleep with their in-laws? (Lev.20:14)

I know you have studied these things extensively and thus enjoy considerable expertise in such matters, so I am confident you can help.

Thank you again for reminding us that God's word is eternal and unchanging.
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Sodom and Gomorrah, which is a classically held Scripture used most frequently to "prove" how God hates homosexuality. It is a passage that I contend is most often misunderstood. But I will let the Bible interpret itself. It is written in Ezekiel 16:49,50:

"Behold, this was the iniquity of thy sister Sodom, pride, fullness of bread, and abundance of idleness was in her and in her daughters, neither did she strengthen the hand of the poor and needy. And they were haughty, and committed abomination before me: therefore I took them away as I saw good."

The question I know you will ask is, "What is this about abomination?" Indeed, what is it? Let's look at the account of Sodom again:

The word rendered here as "abomination" comes from "tow'ebah" (in Strong's, it's # 8441), and is said in Strong's to mean "idolatry" or "idolaters". In the Hebrew it is very clear that it does not mean "homosexuality".

In Luke 10:3-12, Jesus talks to his disciples about what to do if they are not greeted with hospitality, and tells what the consequence will be for such towns. In verse 12, Christ says, "But I say unto you, that it shall be more tolerable [merciful] in that day for Sodom, than for that city." He said this after a full missive on inhospitality, so we must take verse 12 in that context.

You may also look particularly at Genesis 19:4-5, which reads:

"But before they [the men in the house and the angels] lay down [to sleep], the men [Strong's #582, Hebrew word 'enowsh] of the city, even the men of Sodom, compassed the house round, both young and old, all the people from every quarter:

And they called unto Lot, and said unto him, Where are the men which came in to thee this night? Bring them out unto us, that we may know [Strong's # 3045, Hebrew yada] them."

The Hebrew word "'enowsh" is most accurately translated as mortals, and includes all genders and all ages. Even in the context provided in the story, it is clear in the Hebrew that it is the majority of the town population, male and female, that is represented here.

The Hebrew word "yada" has no sexual context, and means to become acquainted with socially. By no means is yada translated elsewhere with a sexual context, either. If sexual interaction were intended, the word "shakab" (Strong's # 7901) would be used instead, which means to know sexually. It is fascinating to note on the side that the NIV mistranslates yada here as "we want to have sex with them".

That said, the notion that Sodom and Gomorrah were destroyed for homosexuality does not hold up. The Hebrew is clear, and nowhere is homosexuality made an issue.

Of very interesting note is that historically it is the Roman Catholic Church that is guilty of the sin of Sodom and Gomorrah. In the Middle Ages, and even after, the Church was always full of riches, with gold and rich foods, and yet allowed thousands upon thousands of its own subjects to starve and be subjected to slavery as paupers in the papal reign. To escape being exposed for the hypocrite it was, the Roman Catholic Church very likely chose to mistranslate and misconstrue the truth of the story of Sodom and Gomorrah to escape the wrath of the people. What better scapegoats than its own abundance of homosexual priests? By pinning Sodom and Gomorrah on this population, the Roman Catholic Church blackmailed its own priesthood into silence, threatening excommunication if anyone spoke against her.
(John S. Dixon)
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oh, and jim, one of the bands i like has a track called 'my mr neverending bliss'.. it now always makes me smile and think of you. chin up dude x

1 Comments:

Blogger Brandon said...

I agree with you that the sins for which Sodom and Gomorrah were destroyed according to the Bible were not taking care of people and showing hospitality. But your statement that the word yada' is never used in the Hebrew Bible for sexual intercourse is incorrect. There is little else we can assume than that when the word is used to describe adam and eve's relationship that caused them to have a baby in chapter 4 or Genesis verses 1 and 25 that the relationship is sexual since that is what comes before babies. This also occurs in other places. We can assume that when the men want the visitors to Sodom and Gomorrah to come out that they want sex because the man in turn offers his virgin daughters. Why would he offer better sex for the men of the town if they weren't looking for sex.

5:23 am  

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