In the wake of recent terrorist attacks that seem to have been inspired by holy writ, certain helpful folks have suggested that the Koran may need editing. Well, a certain other book could use a bit of editing as well.
My primary objection to mainstream Christianity is that it does not follow Jesus. It follows instead a set of dogmas that were first advanced by the Apostle Paul as he tried to make sense of the unexpected and calamitous death of the Messiah. Paul did the only thing he could think to do, which was to wrap the words of Jesus in first-century Jewish beliefs and practices that are for the most part abhorrent now.
With the plain words of Jesus suggesting that his mission was to wean the Jews from what was already ancient scripture and teach them that they could approach God directly, this stubborn adherence two thousand years later to beliefs that are not supported by either the teachings of Jesus or the afterlife evidence is frustrating for me. So you can imagine my delight when a friend sent me the following email that shows much better than I ever could why Christians and Jews alike should be willing to give God the right to deliver new revelation.
My friend says:
In her radio show, Dr Laura Schlesinger 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
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.
* 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?
* 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?
* I know that I am allowed no contact with a woman while she is in her
period of Menstrual uncleanliness – Lev15: 19-24. The problem is how do I
tell? I have tried asking, but most women take offense.
* 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?
* 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?
* 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?
* 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?
* 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?
* 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?
* 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’m confident you can help.
Thank you again for reminding us that God’s word is eternal and unchanging.
Your adoring fan….
James M Kauffman, Ed.D. Professor Emeritus, Dept. Of Curriculum,
Instruction, and Special Education University of Virginia
Dr. Kauffman makes such a brilliant point. Anyone who insists upon using the Old Testament to condemn homosexuality – or indeed to condemn anything at all! – had better be prepared to start condoning many things that people of good will find abhorrent.
Fortunately, although most Christians haven’t noticed this detail, two thousand years ago Jesus himself abolished all but two Old Testament rules. He said, “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.” (Mt 22:37-40)
In first-century Samaria and Judea, what we call the Old Testament was commonly called “the Law and the Prophets.” Jesus is saying that the whole of the Old Testament comes down to the simple commands that we love God and we love one another. Period!
Let’s be clear about this. Anyone, whether Christian or Jew, who bludgeons others with Old Testament rules while he himself cuts his hair or wears blended fabrics or plays football or does a little work on the Sabbath is a hypocrite. If he is a professed Christian, he also is showing a sorry ignorance of the words of Jesus.
(My friend who sent the above email adds, “It would be a damn shame if we couldn’t own a Canadian.” Heh.)
photo credit: <a href=”https://www.flickr.com/photos/pelegrino/4610934992/”>Nick in exsilio</a> via <a href=”http://photopin.com”>photopin</a> <a href=”http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/2.0/”>cc</a>
photo credit: <a href=”https://www.flickr.com/photos/18909153@N08/5954223821/”>Cross Duck</a> via <a href=”http://photopin.com”>photopin</a> <a href=”http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/2.0/”>cc</a>