Foreskin Hunting

Sometimes, as we fight the culture war battles, it seems as if we are wasting our time, at least those of us who are fighting Iron Age thinking developed from biblical precepts. Here is just one of those precepts:

If a man has sexual relations with a man as one does with a woman, both of them have done what is detestable. They are to be put to death; their blood will be on their own heads. — Leviticus 20:13

Lest ye say that is just the Old Testament and we are living under the New, Paul the Apostle called homosexuality “shameful” and said such folks who practice it were due a “penalty for their error,” which, of course, means “death.”

Today, twenty centuries later, things are finally—finally—starting to change:

As you can see from the graphic, things are changing rapidly among Democrats, whose party may include in its platform a marriage equality plank. But things are not so rapidly changing among Republicans, whose ranks include a horde of Iron Age thinkers called evangelicals, folks who enthusiastically endorse the Bible’s view of homosexuality expressed in Leviticus and by Paul, if not the penalty associated with it. These days even the zealots don’t believe gay bashing includes the electric chair.

My point, though, is that it matters greatly what message gets transmitted by culture-war infantrymen, whose job it is to engage bigotry and senseless discrimination, especially that brand brought to us by ancient texts, the kind that approved of murderous deeds like David perpetrated in the Old Testament, especially when he had a hankering to become part of the king’s family:

David took his men with him and went out and killed two hundred Philistines and brought back their foreskins. They counted out the full number to the king so that David might become the king’s son-in-law. Then Saul gave him his daughter Michal in marriage.

You see, when conservatives in either party tell us the Bible has the last word on the propriety of homosexuality, we have to object and object loudly, we have to engage in that battle. We have to win that fight. Because the same ancient culture that produced a book that pronounced God’s wrath on gay people also had no problem condoning ritual slaughter like the kind David committed, or any number of slaughterous episodes one can find in the Bible.

It goes without saying that today even the most committed, Bible-laden Christian would not endorse foreskin hunting, and the message has to be continually sent out to all that it is simply past time to put away all antiquated thinking derived from the Bible, and those who refuse to do so should be aggressively challenged in the public square until such time as hating on homosexuals is as unacceptable as cutting off the foreskins of Philistines.

Thankfully, recent polling shows that at least on the gay marriage issue the cultural tide is turning.

16 Comments

  1. Duane,

    Back in 2010, Dr. Laura (remember her?) gave one her listeners an earful about the sin of homosexuality as a gross violation of God’s law. A few days later someone wrote a letter to Dr. Laura thanking her for the insight into God’s thinking. The letter reads:

    “Dr. Laura

    Thank you for doing so much to educate people like me regarding God’s law. I have learned a great deal from you 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 Law and how to follow them. Could you please answer the following:

    1. When I burn a bull on the altar as a sacrifice, I know it creates a pleasing odor for the Lord (Leviticus 1:9.) The problem is my neighbors. They claim the odor is not pleasing to them. Should I smite them?

    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 I am allowed no contact with a woman while she is in her period of menstrual uncleanliness (Leviticus 15:19-24.) The problem is how to find out? I have tried asking, but most women take offense.

    4. Leviticus 25:44, states that I may indeed possess slaves, provided they are purchased from neighboring nations. A friend of mine claims that this applies to Mexicans, but not Canadians. Can you clarify? Why can’t I own Canadians?

    5. I have a neighbor who insists on working on the Sabbath. But, Exodus 35:2 clearly states that he should be put to death. Am I morally obligated to kill him myself?

    6. A friend of mine feels that even though eating shellfish is an abomination (Leviticus11:10,) it is a lesser abomination that homosexuality. I don’t agree. Can you settle this? Are there “degrees” of abomination?

    7. Leviticus 21:20 states that I may not approach the altar of God if I have a defect in my sight. 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 Leviticus19:27. How should they die?

    9. I know from Leviticus 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 Leviticus19:19 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 as required by Leviticus 24:10-16? Couldn’t we just burn them to death at a private family affair?

    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.”

    I thnk that about sums it up.

    Herb

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    • Herb,

      Very good.

      I think my favorite is number 4, although I would have to quibble with the concept of “neighboring nations.” Actually the verse reads:

      Both thy bondmen, and thy bondmaids, which thou shalt have, shall be of the heathen that are round about you; of them shall ye buy bondmen and bondmaids.

      My interpretation of “the heathen that are round about you” would include all non-Jews since this was written by the Hebrews for the Hebrews, not for comfortable Christians in America.

      So, a literal rendering of this passage subjects all of us heathens here in the United States to the whims of rich Jews looking for slaves.  Thank God most American Jews are slave-hating liberal Democrats or else we’d be in trouble!

      Duane

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  2. Superb letter! Three cheers for all Leviticusians; where ever they’re from.

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  3. “Leviticusians” is also superb!

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  4. ansonburlingame

     /  August 1, 2012

    Whoppie Goldberg once did a superb monologue on Leviticus. It was hillarious. One directive therein is if a man has a “relationship” with a sheep, the sheep must be killed. Whoppie wondered what the sheep could have done to avoid the death penalty??

    As a (non-evangelical) conservative, I also oppose “foreskin hunting”. If such practices make it into the GOP platform I will object to such a “plank” as well, just as I am sure some religious black folks will oppose the “gay marriage plank” in the Dem platform soom to appear.

    But regardless of such planks, my guess is most of those black Christians will vote for President Obama as well.

    Anson

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  5. ansonburlingame

     /  August 1, 2012

    More on “sex” for all you progressives, a “true story”.

    In late 1980 about 10 submarine officers were nearing the end of a rather strenuous 9 months of training before becoming Commanding Officers of submarines. We had a great evening eating lobster (something Leviticus tells us not to do) in New England and were reminising over our travils during the last 9 months of training. Several bottles of wine had been consumned before the ensuing discussion occurred. The subject was “What is natural sex?”

    The answer from our class joker was, “Any orfice, any appendage, as long as you don’t do it with snakes, rabid dogs or water buffalos”.

    Someone asked “what’s wrong with having sex with a non-rabid water buffalo” and the debate raged on for another hour.

    An interesting story I suppose but it has little to do with who we might elect for President in Nov I suppose.

    Now given this story, I can’t wait for Janes Reaction to call me a “snakeist”.

    Anson

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  6. good grief

     /  August 1, 2012

    Oh, Anson, you’re such a tease. 10 officers, after 9 months on a submarine, drinking several bottles of wine… I SO thought this story was going a different direction. Bummer!

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    • Oh, me too. But you have to admit that it is comforting to know that such sexually inquisitive “commanding officers” were out there protecting us from the evil Russians.

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    • ansonburlingame

       /  August 2, 2012

      Same “direction” good grief, just with different appendages!!

      AB.

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  7. ansonburlingame

     /  August 2, 2012

    Oh my,

    Last time I checked, Christ drank wine. Whether he ate lobster is unknown to me however. So for “Leviticus whielding” evangelicals, the critique of 10 men debating should focus on, I suppose the biblical transgressions of those men, eating lobster, and not on how much they had to drink that evening!!

    But at least for a moment we changed the subject on a ridiculous blog suggesting that if the GOP runs the show Leviticus might reign supreme over the next four years!!!!

    Anson

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  8. Kudos to Herb for that supremely interesting put-down of Dr. Laura. Hilarious!

    Pretty much lost in the commentary here, however, is the axis of the post, gay marriage. I have found my own opinion wavering back and forth on that subject over the past two years of blogging and I have to question whether support or opposition to it is a proper measure of the underlying issue, i.e., that gays are entitled to full rights in society. I say it isn’t.

    Like most other issues addressed by the U.S. tax code, the benefit given to married couples is arbitrary. That is to say, its purpose is obscure. Is it to promote having children? Then why is not the existence of children part of the requirement? What about married couples who are unable to have kids? Is it to promote stability of a certain responsible social lifestyle? That would seem to apply to gays as well, but nobody knows. The tax benefit makes no more sense than does the mortgage deduction, something that likely benefits the real estate business more than anything else. It certainly leaves renters out in the cold.

    I believe gays are people who should have the same rights as anyone else, but the damn tax code makes whole groups unequal. Allow me if you will to share an email I sent to a conservative classmate in response to a bigoted anti-gay screed he sent me recently:

    There was a time when I would have agreed with (your bias), simply because I never had occasion to think deeply about it when I was younger. So far as I know, I never knew a homosexual person while growing up. (There was one male high school classmate who might have been, but if so, he never came out of the closet.) But the central notion here is that homosexuality is a choice, and if you buy into a literal interpretation of the Old Testament, a sinful choice. Also, one of the points in the clip is that homosexuals can’t have progeny, something that would seem to be counter to the precepts of evolution. I suppose that might fit with the choice concept as well.

    So, if you are comfortable with the Old Testament thing, then you probably believe that the Earth is only about 6,000 years old, that Methusela lived almost a thousand years, that slavery and religious human sacrifices are OK, and all the rest of it. I for one can’t buy a lot of that stuff. If you believe that homosexuality is a choice, something I simply can’t imagine from surveying my own feelings, you are rejecting the scientific evidence. Consider these three paragraphs from the Wikipedia page on homosexuality:

    The American Psychological Association, American Psychiatric Association, and National Association of Social Workers stated in 2006:
    “ Currently, there is no scientific consensus about the specific factors that cause an individual to become heterosexual, homosexual, or bisexual—including possible biological, psychological, or social effects of the parents’ sexual orientation. However, the available evidence indicates that the vast majority of lesbian and gay adults were raised by heterosexual parents and the vast majority of children raised by lesbian and gay parents eventually grow up to be heterosexual.”

    The Royal College of Psychiatrists stated in 2007:
    “ Despite almost a century of psychoanalytic and psychological speculation, there is no substantive evidence to support the suggestion that the nature of parenting or early childhood experiences play any role in the formation of a person’s fundamental heterosexual or homosexual orientation. It would appear that sexual orientation is biological in nature, determined by a complex interplay of genetic factors and the early uterine environment. Sexual orientation is therefore not a choice.[99] ”

    The American Academy of Pediatrics stated in Pediatrics in 2004:
    “ Sexual orientation probably is not determined by any one factor but by a combination of genetic, hormonal, and environmental influences. In recent decades, biologically based theories have been favored by experts. Although there continues to be controversy and uncertainty as to the genesis of the variety of human sexual orientations, there is no scientific evidence that abnormal parenting, sexual abuse, or other adverse life events influence sexual orientation. Current knowledge suggests that sexual orientation is usually established during early childhood.[99][108][109]

    I would note also that famed author and Pulitizer-winning science writer Edward O. Wilson, in his latest book, “The Social Conquest of Earth”, offers a scientific explanation for why homosexuality has continued to be a behavioral component down through the ages in both human and animal species.

    My conclusion about the matter is, therefore, that in forwarding this kind of material to people you know, you are in effect unjustly promoting the scorn and ridicule of roughly 10% of the human population, something akin to bullying and certainly counter to Jesus’ exhortations in the context of the Golden Rule. If you believe homosexuals are people, that is.

    Jim

    PS – Just out of curiosity I searched for a list of historical gay celebrities and found one at [ http://www.ranker.com/list/famous-gay-men-list-of-gay-men-throughout-history/famous-gay-and-lesbian?page=1 ]. I started selecting names I thought notable, but ran out of patience on page 14 of 74. Anyway, below is the list I did write down:

    Alexander the Great
    Leonardo da Vinci
    Michelangelo
    Richard Cromwell
    Walt Whitman
    Ralph Waldo Emerson
    Tchaikovsky
    Oscar Wilde
    Marcel Proust
    E. M. Forster
    John Maynard Keynes
    Clifton Webb
    Thornton Wilder
    Charles Laughton
    Noel Coward
    Will Geer (the actor)
    Cesar Romero
    Lawrence Olivier
    W. H. Auden
    William Inge
    Alec Guiness
    Leonard Bernstein
    Liberace
    Malcolm Forbes
    Marlon Brando
    Truman Capote
    Rock Hudson
    Farley Granger
    Roy Cohn

    Since I sent this I am now motivated to add one more name:

    Sally Ride

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    • Anonymous

       /  August 6, 2012

      Jim,

      My only other comment here, and lordie, lordie, there have been enough of them, is to ask whether there is a compelling government interest in re marriage, including gay marriage. I think there is none except at the time of divorce when property has been acquired and the protection of any children is at stake. That is, marriage per se is none of the government’s business and married couples, straight or gay, should not be singled out for special privileges such as tax breaks and spousal inheritances until the “implied contract” terminates. And that includes “common law” marriages and “palimony.”

      It is my lay opinion that the 14th Amendment applies here: “No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.”

      This language would suggest that referenda to amend state constitutions to say that marriage is only between a man and a woman are patently unconstitutional. Why does the government care if somebody wants to marry his or her goat? And how does that impact me? Well, OK, I suppose I might be upset if the goat started eating my lawn and my garbage.

      No, the conditions that apply to marriage are essentially a function of religion. After all, that’s where the idea of living in sin came from. Let the churches sort it out. If they won’t allow gay marriages, then gay couples can always go down to the courthouse or get married on a ship.

      In any case, I don’t give a rat’s ass about gay marriage. And neither, IMHO, should the government.

      Herb

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  9. ansonburlingame

     /  August 6, 2012

    Jim,

    Not a bad retort at all in my view. I particularly liked the implication that if you accept Old Testament dictates related to homosexuality then why not the dictates of Leviticus as well, all of them. Lobster anyone???

    I am only marginally, very marginally, familiar with the “science” behind homosexuality. But I would suggest this question to scientists believing, but yet proving, in my view, that homosexuality is genetic only and not environmentally caused. Nature vs nuture, again, I suppose.

    the question is “Is SEX itself” a matter of choice. Sex of course is an instinct need for progagation of the species. But the question is can or even should Sex be controlled by the dictates of man?

    Every religion that I am aware of has some dictates on sex, when to do it and when not the do it, instincts be damned. Even almost every society known to man has established such dictates as well. In other words “man” tries to control sex societally or relgiously, in some form or another. Is that wrong to do so by any society or religion becomes the question, at least to me.

    Now for equaltiy in such control or attempts to control sex. What applies to the goose should apply to the gander in terms of sexual control. I am all for that sort of equality. If it is OK for consenting adults to have sex in their bedroom then it should be OK whatever the “orientation” might be for such people. Grab ass in a shower is off limits however, for me at least.

    If you don’t like homosexuality, don’t engage in such. And if someone tries to chastize you for such beliefs you have every right to tell them to stuff it in my view, politely. I even go so far to suggest that if you REALLY don’t like homosexuality you have the right to express that view in the privacy of the voting booth as well, very privately.

    Which thus leads to the current debate over Chic fil a I suppose.

    My wife now refuses to go to that chain restaruent. My granddaughter thinks it provides the best chicken in town. For me, each to their own and I refuse to so engage in that man’s personal beliefs.

    Anson

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