This blog is a continuation of our series on the Clobber Passages. If you haven't read the post on Genesis yet I'd recommend you do so to catch up on some of the terminology/context used. Click here to read now!
The King James Version of Leviticus 18:22 reads, "Thou shalt not lie with mankind, as with womankind: it is abomination." This verse is one of the primary texts used to condemn the LGBTQ+ community but specifically same-gender relationships. As we stated in our last blog post, the term "homosexual or homosexuality" wasn't used in the bible until the 1900's. The main issue that the ancient Hebrews had to contend with were those who practiced pederasty which was intercourse between an older man and a boy (prepubescent). As we move forward in our research we must remember that no matter how we read the scriptures it is NOT in the original Hebrew language, it is simply translated from them which causes the texts/meanings to fluctuate and vary.
K Renato Ling is a scholar whose research is documented in The Expositor's Bible Commentary and indicated that Leviticus 18:22 is more complicated than the English versions make it seem. Ling surmises that the text should be translated based on Hebrew linguistics, of which he believes to be "male on male incest." Blog.smu.edu states, "First, Lings notes that the word used for 'man' is not the typical noun used for 'man.' Instead, a word which translates to male occurs here. This noun for 'male' includes both young and adult males. Therefore, Lings translates the text of Lev. 18:22 as 'And with a male you shall not lie.'" The article goes on to say, "Furthermore, Lings considers the context in which Lev. 18:22 is written. He explains that the passage 'deals with various illicit relationships in the sexual realm: one marrying two sisters (18:18), intercourse with a menstruating woman (18:19), infidelity (18:20), and bestiality (18:23).' Most of Leviticus 18 deals directly with incest. Notably, the list of laws from Leviticus 18 is reordered in Leviticus 20. In Leviticus 18 the order of the topics is ambiguous, but in chapter 20 the so-called homosexual law appears within a list referring to incest. Lings’ linguistic study leads him to conclude that Leviticus 18:22 and 20:13 continue the theme of incestuous relationships. Thus, the passage should be paraphrased: 'Sexual intercourse with a close male relative should be just as abominable to you as incestuous relationships with female relatives.' Lev. 18:22 and 20:13 forbids male incestuous relations."
I'll be honest, this was the first time I read this verse to mean incest. I had to dive deeper into this. Evangelicals Concerned Inc. states that "abomination" or "to'ebah" in Hebrew is, "a technical cultist term for what is ritually unclean, such as mixed cloth, pork, and intercourse with menstruating women. It’s not about a moral or ethical issues. This Holiness Code (chapters 17-26) proscribes men 'lying the lyings of women.' Such mixing of sex roles was thought to be polluting. But both Jesus and Paul rejected all such ritual distinctions (cf. Mark 7:17-23; Romans 14:14,20). The Fundamentalist Journal admits that this Code condemns 'idolatrous practices' and 'ceremonial uncleanness' and concludes: 'We are not bound by these commands today.'"
Bible Thumping Liberal follows the above by pointing to Galatians 3:10 and 3:13 which state that we are no longer under the law but if we choose to follow it (the Torah or first five books of the Bible) then we are under a curse, Deuteronomy 27:26. I've heard non-affirming pastors say that there is a difference between ceremonial law and moral law but Bible Thumping Liberal has a counter to that argument as well, "Paul never makes a distinction between a so-called ceremonial law and a so-called moral law. The Bible makes no such distinction. The Law is the Law, according to James the brother of Jesus. 'For whoever keeps the whole Law and yet stumbles at just one point is guilty of breaking all of it.' (James 2:10)"
What are your thoughts on this verse? Have you ever had it used against you? How did you respond? Have you encountered a different interpretation of this passage? Let us know all about it in the blog comments below!
Written by Alexander M. Burchnell, QCFV President
Evangelical Concerned Inc. https://ecinc.org/clobber-passages/leviticus-1822-2013/
Bible Thumping Liberal https://biblethumpingliberal.com/2011/05/19/you-can%E2%80%99t-quote-leviticus-to-prove-god-hates-homosexuality/
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