Over the last two weeks there has been an outbreak of violence against gays in New York City. Four separate incidents of violence against gays occurred, with the most severe being the fatal Friday night shooting of 32-year old Marc Carson. Many are seeking answers in the aftermath of these crimes, wondering how these unprovoked acts of violence can occur as gay rights continue to improve in the Big Apple. The answer could lie within the Bible.
Leviticus chapter 20, verse 13, is the oft-cited Bible verse used to condemn homosexuality by many Christians. It states “If a man lies with a man as with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination; they shall be put to death; their blood shall be upon them.” This verse explicitly sanctions the killing of homosexuals without blame coming against those committing the crime itself. Thankfully, our justice system diverges from Biblical law in this instance; however this verse has served as motivation and justification for those looking to commit acts of violence against gays for thousands of years. Has the time come to recognize that certain Old Testament verses, namely Leviticus, are not deserving of recognition in the modern age?
The 27 chapters of the book of Leviticus describe at length many religious practices that are no longer exercised within American society. These chapters include descriptions of animal sacrifices, a code of purity, and the process for which atonement for past sins may be achieved through sacrifice. Much of what is written within this book is disregarded due to the belief that New Covenant described in the New Testament supersedes the Law of Moses. For this reason, the dietary and clothing restrictions have been eschewed by most modern Christians, but for some reason the condemnation of homosexuality remains. What prevents the verses condemning homosexuality from being regarded with the same indifference as the condemnation of blended fabrics, eating lobster, or getting tattoos?
Moral guidance is routinely sought within the Bible in our time, despite many verses and beliefs no longer holding validity in our society. Advances in technology and the evolution of our societal belief systems have found moral codes of thousands of years ago lacking and outdated. The Ten Commandments explicitly forbids killing in all circumstances, as the sixth commandment states “Thou shalt not kill.” The Leviticus verse condemning homosexuality is in direct contradiction with one of the most important commandments, which according to belief, were passed down to Moses from the voice of God himself. Nowhere in the Ten Commandments does it mention an exception for punishing homosexuals with death.
This self-conflicting ignorance is just one example of how Biblical law cannot always be applied within our society. The disconnect that exists within this example, harms the validity of the entire work. While many seeking answers to moral conflicts continue to look within their Bibles, the message that the Bible conveys is not always applicable to situations presented within our society. Murder is universally condemned among religions, yet this caveat opens a Pandora’s Box of exceptions that religiously motivated murderers have utilized to justify atrocities they have committed.
Living in America, you can likely find a tattoo parlor, along with restaurants serving shellfish, and barbers giving round haircuts in every town you come across. Football has surpassed baseball as the national pastime, while you would be hard-pressed to find a clothier that does not sell at least one garment containing blended fabrics like polyester. These are all commonplace examples of how our society diverges from the ancient moral code put forth in Leviticus. So unless you are willing to give up crabcakes and football (“that’s what Maryland does”), and start making animal sacrifices, you might want to shy away from using the Bible as justification for homophobia.