Leviticus 20:13, Homosexuality and the Bible, Part I of VIII
If a man lies with a man as one lies with a woman, both of them have done what is detestable. They must be put to death; their blood will be on their own heads.
//The greatest challenge today for the Church may be our struggle to overcome a bias against homosexuality, yet I don’t think I’ve ever put my research down in words here. Well, I’m on a week-long vacation, so I’ve queued up this series to cover me while I’m relaxing. So, here we go, on an eight-day investigation.
In the Old Testament, buried within the Law, in a section called the Holiness Code, lies today’s verse … a warning against homosexuality. Here is where it all starts, and to me, the wording is pretty clear. Readers sometimes argue that it refers only to sex between a man and boy (see tomorrow’s post about pederasty), not between two consenting adults, but I’m not convinced. The Bible says what it says: lie with another man and you should die. See also Leviticus 18:22.
Yet, notwithstanding this one law, plus a warning given by Paul to the Romans, I argue that Christians are called to overcome this old law with a doctrine of acceptance and compassion. I’d like to run an eight-part series on this topic, not with the intent of rewriting the Bible, but instead focusing on what we should be doing with what the Bible says. Let’s start with a reminder of why this is such an important issue today:
“More than 34,000 people die by suicide each year,” making it “the third leading cause of death among 15 to 24 year olds with lesbian, gay, and bisexual youth attempting suicide up to four times more than their heterosexual peers.” –thetrevorproject.org
Here is what these numbers mean, as I read it: If, as other studies show, roughly 10% of us prefer same-sex partners, then 10,464 lesbian, gay, and bisexual youth commit suicide every year. This is 7,848 more than would commit suicide if they were straight. This means that 7,848 young people are committing suicide because their sexual preference is causing them distress.
The primary reason for this is our religious teaching. In America, the blame falls squarely on Christianity. Suicides happen because we teach our kids that it is evil or, worse, despicable, to love a person of the same sex. A friend of mine tells how his gay brother committed suicide on the steps of the Mormon church. You may believe that God considers homosexuality a sin, but do not let your religious beliefs hide the truth: If you promote this doctrine, you are contributing to about 7,848 suicides per year among our youth, because of the confusion their sexuality is causing them.
There is no question anymore that homosexuality is not a choice. If you don’t believe the studies, then merely ask any gay person. Moreover, the thousands of suicides each year by gay and lesbian teens is telling; these suicides would not happen if a person could simply choose their sexual preference. The horrible truth is that our beliefs are killing our kids, and this is causing more compassionate Christians to wonder if there is something wrong with our interpretation of scripture.
On this note, let me remind you that the masses are not always right. While it’s true that traditional (conservative) Christianity still believes homosexuality is a sin, we human beings are not infallible. We have misinterpreted the Bible before, using it to condone witch hunts, crusades, and inquisitions. In just the last two centuries in America, the Bible was successfully being used to argue for slavery. So we’ve been wrong before on moral issues.
Yet the Bible seems pretty clear, doesn’t it? Abstain or die. I’d like to examine what the Bible really says over this series, and then compare it to the teachings of Jesus.