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  #1  
Unread 22nd February 2012, 04:07 PM
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How does Leviticus apply to us today?

So i've recently got into a discussion with a fellow brother regarding how Leviticus applies to us as Christians. He sent me this.

Here are some thoughts regarding the "Leviticus does not apply to Christians" argument.
The fallacious argument that - since shellfish are an abomination in Leviticus, Christians should therefore not eat and should speak out against those that eat shellfish - builds upon a faulty interpretation and application of the Levitical laws to the Christian.
Those that suggest none of Leviticus applies to Christians and even if it did, homosexuality is covered by ceremonial rather than moral laws, fail the following test of logic. There are two kinds of abominations in Leviticus. There are things that are eternally abominable to God, and there are things that are temporarily abominable to the Israelites. Scripture always perfectly indicates which things are temporarily abominable, and which things are eternally abominable to God. When Scripture says something "is abominable," then it is referring to something abominable to God. When Scripture says something "shall be abominable" or "abominable to you," it is indicating something abominable only to the Israelites.
The things that are eternally abominable to God apply to people whether or not they are under the Mosaic Law. 1 Kings 14:24 says, "They did according to all the abominations of the nations which the LORD dispossessed before the sons of Israel." The reason God dispossessed those nations was because they did the abominations that defiled the land. Leviticus 18:24 warns, "Do not defile yourselves by any of these things; for by all these the nations which I am casting out before you have become defiled." Those nations were not under the Law, but were cast out because of their abominations; therefore, the punishment for acts which are abominable to God apply to people whether or not the Mosaic Law applies to them.
The list of things that God made temporarily abominable to the Israelites included only food restrictions. Israelites were not permitted to eat anything in the water that does not have fins and scales, eagle, vulture, buzzard, kite, falcon, raven, ostrich, owl, sea gull, haw, owl, cormorant, great owl, white owl, pelican, carrion vulture, stork, heron, hoopoe, bat, all winged insects that walk on all fours (except for those with legs built for jumping like the locust, cricket, and grasshopper), the camel, rabbit, shaphan, pig, and swarming things and things that crawl on their bellies.
All of those restrictions were lifted with a vision to Peter in Acts 10 Acts 10 Commentary - Peter's Vision - BibleGateway.com
But the things that are eternally abominable to God have never been cleansed. According to Scripture, this list is:
1) Eating the flesh of a votive or freewill offering on the third day after the sacrifice is made
2) Lying with mankind as with womankind
3) Idols
4) Serving other gods
5) Sacrificing blemished animals to God
6) Passing one's son or daughter through the fire
7) One who uses divination
8) One who practices witchcraft
9) One who interprets omens
10) One who is a sorcerer
11) One who casts spells
12) One who is a medium
13) One who is a spiritist
14) One who calls up the dead
15) Cross-dressing
16) Remarrying your ex-wife, if she married another man after your divorce
17) Having differing weights and measures (in business, to bilk your customers)
18) Devious people
19) A proud look
20) A lying tongue
21) Hands that shed innocent blood
22) A heart that devises wicked imaginations
23) Feet that are swift in running to mischief
24) A false witness that speaks lies
25) A person that sows discord among brethren
26) The sacrifice, way, and thoughts of the wicked
27) One that justifies the wicked, and one that condemns the just
28) The prayers of one that turns away his ear from hearing the law
The first and fifth items are linked to sacrifice, which is no longer required for Christians. Because we donít make sacrifices today, weíre in no danger of the associated abominations. Those that suggest you are a hypocrite if you oppose homosexuality and yet eat seafood or wear blended fabrics, are knowingly or unknowingly mixing apples and oranges. They are comparing ceremonial laws to abominations. Itís hard to imagine any Christian being in favor of the other things that Scripture notes are abominations to God Himself.
I replied in this fashion.

The English translation abomination or detestable comes from the Hebrew word "Toevah". Which is always used to indicate something that is ritually unclean and culturally wrong for the Hebrews specifically it denotes a connection with idolatry. For example in 1 Kings 14:24 the word is used directly in connection with the male shrine prostitutes of the various nations. However, a different word is used to refer to prostitutes in general in Leviticus 19:29 "Zimah". There is nothing present to indicate that Toevah denotes something which is a eternal mortal sin, but everything to do with the pagan cult practices of the land. Given the implications of Toevah, and the shrine prostitutes of the area, perhaps God wished to distinguish the isrealites from the gentiles in that regard. It certainly is consistent with the usage of the word Toevah, which carries the connotation of idol worship. This also is consistent with the intro to Leviticus 18 where God declares His wishes to separate the Israelites practices from the gentiles. It could very well be possible that men laying with men could only be an abomination if done in the context of pagan ritual, or because it was so prevalent as a religious ritual among pagans, God wish to distinguish His people in that regard.

There is a problem with your assertion that every time "abomination...to you" appears it is denoting only that which is just culturally abhorrent according to the Israelites.

Leviticus 11:41, Leviticus 11:42, wording is the same as Leviticus 18:23. There is no "too you" added to it. Back to the dietary laws.

Another issue is, if toevah can in fact refer to an act which is eternally wrong in God's eyes. Why was it not written and specified as such? We are just left with the word Toevah implying the ritual uncleanliness in relation to pagan practices in that land which regularly used male-male sex in their rituals. It is labeled an abomination, toevah; ritually unclean, and nothing more. God does at times specify what is an abomination to Him, specifically and in person. Deut 7:25, 17:1, 18:10-12.

I submit again, that Leviticus has no bearing on loving homosexual relationships done outside of the context of pagan ritual. Nor does it hold any authority over the Christian, Matthew 22:37-39 sums up the entire law. Love God, and love your neighbor. In absence of direct legislation on a matter we defer to these two commands. If it violates one, then it is a sin.


Sorry for the wall of text, but this is the first time i've seen someone refer to Leviticus in such a selective manner, that the word Toevah can just magically refer to an eternal mortal sin in the absence of God saying "it is an abomination to you" perplexes me. Thoughts?
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Unread 22nd February 2012, 05:23 PM
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I'm asking the question in the topic title. I am not responding to the issue of homosexuality, since the CF rules do not permit such discussions, and do not permit the presentation of my views on that subject.

While most of the things on the 28 point list are bad, I don't think it makes sense to use Leviticus as a basis for that. Leviticus was part of a covenant with the Jews, which even Jews don't consider to be binding on the rest of humanity. The conventional Jewish view was that a few principles were incorporated into God's covenant with Noah, and those apply to us. The agreement of Acts 15 is often tied to that. I would say that Christian ethics should be based on Jesus' teachings. You can find all of the 10 commandments there, although in a non-legalistic fashion.

As you point out, the holiness code was tied to ritual cleanness, a concept that does not apply to us. On the other hand, the OT and NT God is the same, so presumably basic moral principles are the same. But as a Christian I'd like to see ethics based on things that appear in the NT. I think there's enough ethical content in the NT for this to work.
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Unread 22nd February 2012, 08:43 PM
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As was already stated, To'evah only refers to something that's ritually unclean or taboo for the Israelites. It was used to set them apart from their pagan surrounding cultures. To'evah does not denote a moral sin. Abomination is a horrible corrupted translation of that word, that unfortunately due to the influence of the KJV has become the mainstream connotation among Conservative Christians.

Most Jews consider the Torah laws archaic and irrelevant to the modern era. Why on earth would Christians still consider them applicable?
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Unread 22nd February 2012, 09:54 PM
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Leviticus applies only to the Jews, and much of it is specifically for the Tribe of Levi, the Jewish priestly caste. As is made clear in Acts and several of the Epistles, the Apostles did not expect non-Jewish converts to follow Mosaic laws... and the Apostles themselves mostly gave up following them too, and they were all Jews. Paul explains why they don't apply to Christians in Galatians.
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Unread 23rd February 2012, 01:37 AM
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Thank you for the responses, the idea that God singled out specific ritual sins as "abominations" for all eternity was a new one and caught me off guard, had to double check I wasn't missing something.

george, i'm not trying to justify any sin here. Just promoting critical reading of scriptural texts.
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Unread 23rd February 2012, 08:11 AM
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OK, Lev 18:24 pretty clearly sees some practices as unacceptable for anyone. My concern is that trying to distinguish specific rules in Lev based on their wording seems artificial. Plenty of practices that are not called abominations are just as serious as those that are called abominations, and may incur the death penalty, and some abominations are ritual uncleanness that later Jews didn't think applied to everyone. I don't think Lev was designed with the goal of separating laws intended for Israel from principles intended for all nations, and using it that way is bound to produce misleading results. It's the ultimate in "picking and choosing."
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Unread 23rd February 2012, 04:15 PM
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However, just to play the devil's advocate. As his argument seems to be revolving around this.

The Hebrew word toevah can and does indicate acts that are immoral and detestable in God's sight, e.g. idols and idol worship (Deuteronomy 7:25 - 26; Jeremiah 16:18), serving other gods and human sacrifice (Deuteronomy 12:31; 20:18; II Kings 16:3 - 4), human sacrifice, witchcraft, and sorcery (Deuteronomy 18:9 - 12), having false scales (Deuteronomy 25:16; Proverbs 11:1; 20:10), lying lips (Proverbs 12:22), the ways of the wicked (Proverbs 15:9), and the proud in heart (Proverbs 16:5).
Everything on this list is immoral, not just culturally "taboo." II Kings 21:1 - 12 gives a list of sins including idol worship, the worship of other gods, building altars to other gods in the Lord's house, human sacrifice, and witchcraft, e.g.:
... he [Manasseh] did evil in the sight of the Lord, according to the abominations [toevah] of the nations whom the Lord had cast out ... . And the Lord spoke by His servants the prophets, saying, "Because Manasseh king of Judah has done these abominations [toevah] (he has acted more wickedly than all the Amorites who were before him, and has also made Judah sin with his idols), therefore thus says the Lord God of Israel: 'Behold, I am bringing such calamity upon Jerusalem and Judah, that whoever hears of it, both his ears will tingle'" (2 Kings 21:2, 10 - 12).
The toevah mentioned were "evil" and "wicked," This is about as far away from "taboo" as one could get.
Proverbs contains a list of such things: "These six things the LORD hates, yes, seven are an abomination [toevah] to Him: A proud look, a lying tongue, hands that shed innocent blood, a heart that devises wicked plans, feet that are swift in running to evil, a false witness who speaks lies, and one who sows discord among brethren" (Proverbs 6:16 - 19). The structure of the passage makes it clear that what God hates and that which is abominable to Him are synonymous. One should take note here that lying, wicked plans, murder, and sowing discord cannot be relegated to mere cultural taboos.
The word toevah is used four times in Leviticus 18:26 - 30 to denote incest, adultery, human sacrifice, homosexuality, and bestiality. Verses 26 - 28 tell us that "You [Israel] ... shall not commit any of these abominations ... lest the land vomit you out also when you defile it, as it vomited out the nations that were before you." Again, we see that "taboo" does not come close to fitting the context. Israel was to avoid the actions that brought serious punishment to the Gentiles, lest they be punished also.
The word toevah is not only used to describe evil actions, it is used to describe evil actions with respect to homosexual acts in the passage under consideration.

Now, I am beginning to see the root of his argument. It is that because Toe'vah also denotes things which we would find morally unacceptable today and what was mentioned as abominable to God, like human sacrifice, and incest; so though we are out from under the old law. Things like murder, incest, and in the argument of my friend-homosexuality are still in that list of things that are morally, not ritually acceptable.

Though at this point, i'm thinking that such an assertion would be false. Yes child sacrifice, and incest are morally wrong. But, this provision from Leviticus occurs within the context of the surrounding verses. That is, verses 6-18 are forms of incest. 19-20 continue the theme of forbidden sexual activity. After that, the pattern changes to condemnations of pagan practices.

So though it would be hard to argue against certain moral principles of the torah, one could take issue with the placement of verse 22. That because of the usage of the word Toe'vah, and its placement within pagan ritual practice. Leviticus 18:22 is referring exclusively to male-male sexual intercourse within a pagan cultic setting.
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Unread 23rd February 2012, 05:19 PM
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Originally Posted by sniperelite7 View Post

So though it would be hard to argue against certain moral principles of the torah, one could take issue with the placement of verse 22. That because of the usage of the word Toe'vah, and its placement within pagan ritual practice. Leviticus 18:22 is referring exclusively to male-male sexual intercourse within a pagan cultic setting.
Correct. It's obvious based on the odd placement of verse 18:22 that it's referring to Caananite temple worship. It completely changes subject matter and shifts to discussing child sacrifice to Molech, and then immediately following that is the man lying verse. I will also point out those men are without a doubt primarily heterosexuals, not gays. It was heterosexual men that engaged in pagan sex rituals in order to gain favor with the gods. Gays are too small of a minority to be the target of the verse (ignoring the fact that gays were unknown concept back then).

Most Jews now view it as pagan prostitution and worship rituals, not a condemnation on gays.

Fundies, however, always ignore the preceding Molech and child sacrifice context, and attack people with the stand alone verse.

They will resort to any level to demonize gays.
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Unread 24th February 2012, 12:46 PM
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The bible has "plainly written" so many obvious mistakes that it cannot be taken as concrete fact. Judas' death is written two different ways. One of them has to be wrong. Rainbows existed before Noah saw his. Bats are not birds. Pi is not 3. I could go on and on.

What matters is that we have intelligence. We can sort through chaff. We are left with an amazing story of God's love and a message of mercy and equality for all of God's children.

The rules also limit our ability to actually post anything regarding the "facts" as we see the them in regard to God's love and acceptance of certain people who this site has deemed unworthy of God's love.

So, don't feel shocked that we don't have to accept a literalist style of belief. It's actually not that much of a protection for us at all, given that we are gagged by rules that do not allow us to speak of a truly loving and merciful God. This site won't allow that kind of discussion.

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FreeinChrist has a reputation beyond reputeFreeinChrist has a reputation beyond reputeFreeinChrist has a reputation beyond reputeFreeinChrist has a reputation beyond reputeFreeinChrist has a reputation beyond reputeFreeinChrist has a reputation beyond reputeFreeinChrist has a reputation beyond reputeFreeinChrist has a reputation beyond reputeFreeinChrist has a reputation beyond reputeFreeinChrist has a reputation beyond reputeFreeinChrist has a reputation beyond reputeFreeinChrist has a reputation beyond reputeFreeinChrist has a reputation beyond reputeFreeinChrist has a reputation beyond reputeFreeinChrist has a reputation beyond repute
MOD HAT


This thread has undergone a small clean up. As a reminder, the Statement of Faith for this forum is this:

Whosoever Will, May Come Ė a forum for all liberal Christians to discuss and fellowship.


A few things to know about WWMC members:
1) They believe that Jesus never shut out anyone based on age, race, gender identity, religious affiliation (or lack thereof), sexuality, or political views. If you are reading this you are welcome here.

2) They affirm that all people everywhere share the worth that comes from being unique children created in the Image of God. These members do not make moral judgments on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity. - do not view homosexuality or sexual reassignment as sin or unnatural.

3) WWMC members believe that God has shown that we all "see through the glass darkly" (I Cor. 13). It is therefore impossible for any human to fully know God's will, and therefore have a monopoly on the truth. They believe the Bible to be a valuable resource, but not free from error.

4) The members here believe God is merciful and loving: When we judge God's children (whom we all are) we transgress against God's express command. When we who are finite judge others, we presume on an infinite God's throne, His mercy and justice. Such judgments go against our beliefs. Further, we believe it is contrary to the teachings of Christ to judge, or have an opinion, on the final destination of any soul or group of souls. Such decisions are solely up to the Lord, our God.

House Rules-
All posts within this faith community must adhere to the site wide rules found here (Community Rules). In addition, if you are not a member of this faith group, you may not debate issues or teach against it's theology. You may post in fellowship. Active promotion of views contrary to the established teachings of this group will be considered off topic.
Please stay on topic
__________________
2010 - Miles walked/jogged- 557.5, biked - 289.5
2011 - Miles jogged/run - 550.2
2012 - Miles jogged/run - 500.45
2013
- Miles jogged - 190.4, Biked - 648



Don't stop Belizin'


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