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Home » Entertainment » Humor » Homosexuality, the Old Testament and Today (Part 1)

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Homosexuality, the Old Testament and Today (Part 1)

Submitted by davidsmith197
Tue, 8 Jan 2013

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I would like, in this and next week's sermon, to speak about the highly fraught subject of homosexuality. Necessarily, I will need to be selective and brief, because of the obvious time constraints, although I am somewhat helped by the fact that the Bible doesn't say that much about homosexuality, hardly anything at all, in fact.[1]
That makes my task a little easier, though the topic is huge. In this sermon, I want to look at the Jewish Scriptures (known to Christians as the Old Testament); and next week I will consider some verses from the New Testament.
I will concentrate today, almost exclusively, on two verses from the OT book of Leviticus, not a book that we read in church that often,[2] but an important book for our purposes because it contains two seemingly unambiguous verses prohibiting sex between a man and another man.
The first is Leviticus 18:22:
‘You shall not lie with a male as with a woman; it is an abomination', (NRSV)
The second is Leviticus 20:13:
‘If a man lies with a male as with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination; they shall be put to death; their blood is upon them.'
Those are two pretty straightforward verses - as clear a prohibition of homosexual practice as anywhere in all the Scriptures, and, arguably, the basis for later prohibitions.
And just in case we haven't quite got the seriousness of this prohibition, Leviticus 20 treats this as a capital offence requiring the death penalty. Both verses describe this activity as ‘an abomination,' which is a strong word of disapproval, the root meaning of which is ‘to abhor' or ‘to detest.'
What do we make of these verses? What should do with them in a world that is fast coming to accept homosexual practice as acceptable - to the point that Barack Obama can winningly come out in favour of same-sex marriage - a seemingly risky thing to do in a place like the US, but most pundits agree it contributed significantly to his re-election.
What do we do with these verses?
One approach is to say, ‘Well too bad that society has gone a different way on this. It has always been the way. In fact, these prohibitions were articulated in a context where homosexual practice was widely accepted - and God said NO.'
We have no room to move on this.
It may be that at the end of these two sermons we come to that same conclusion. There is a lot going for this approach - and a lot at stake in going a different way.
These words purport to be the very words of God - spoken in the immediate aftermath of God's rescue of the people of Israel from Egypt. They are still within sight of Sinai - being given instructions about what sort of nation they will be - with God himself the sole legislator of what they will do & who they will be.
There is to be no sex between males. It is an abomination.
There doesn't seem to be much room to move on this one - which goes a long way to explaining the vehemence of opposition to any watering down of these verses, any attempt to side-step their implications.
And this is not just a matter of sex for many Christians, including Archbishop Peter, who sees this as primarily an issue of authority; an important test-case for whether we believe and submit to the Bible as the supreme authority in matters of faith and life.
Do we have any room to move on this as Christians? Maybe!
Some have argued that these verses from Leviticus - although they seem so absolute on first reading - are set in a context of all sorts of laws we no longer adhere to as Christians.


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