27 June 2007

The Bible Tells Me So (Part Two)

Jesus Christ

Judith Of Bethulia Is A Lesbian Icon!
The Apocryphal book of Judith is the story of a powerful woman of unshakable faith who, for most of her life, eschewed contact with men. It’s very Lesbian-affirming! The narrative tells how Judith used her wiles to singlehandedly save the town of Bethulia from Assyrian conquest. Subsequently, she was celebrated as a heroine, a lioness of Judah, if you will:

JUDITH 15:12, 13
All the women of Israel gathered to see her and blessed her, and some of them performed a dance in her honor. She took ivy-wreathed wands in her hands and distributed them to the women who were with her, and she and those who were with her crowned themselves with olive wreaths. She went before all the people in the dance, leading all the women, while all the men of Israel followed, bearing their arms and wearing garlands and singing hymns . . .

JUDITH 16:21, 22
Judith went to Bethulia, and remained on her estate. For the rest of her life, she was honored throughout the whole country. Many desired to marry her, but she gave herself to no man . . .

A Hell of a lady, Judith of Bethulia, and what a great Bible story! Director D.W. Griffith actually filmed it during the silent movie era (1914). No doubt, the part where she beheads the captain of the Assyrian army wasn't anywhere near as graphic on film as it is in Scripture!

If You Commit Idolatry, You're Toast!
Reading the Bible makes it clear that worshiping other gods will get you in heap big trouble! The entire set of Prophetic books (Isaiah through Malachi) is pretty much devoted to railing against idol worship and condemning those who practice it. Idolatry is by far the sin most offensive to God. The very first Commandment states:

EXODUS 20:4,5
You shall not make for yourself an idol, whether in the form of anything that is in Heaven above or that is on the Earth beneath, or that is in the water under the Earth. You shall not bow down to them or worship them, for I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God, punishing children for the iniquity of parents, to the third and the fourth generation of those who reject me . . .

Did He ever! The Old Testament describes how generations of Hebrews were punished for the sin of idolatry: Impoverished, made war against, subjected to plagues, and cast into bondage over and over. The torture of the priest Eleazar and seven brothers, an exceedingly grim narrative found in both 2 and 4 Maccabees, shows to what horrible lengths some Israelites would go to avoid idol worship. They knew that nothing would send them to Hell faster!

I've never understood how Fundamentalists can so brazenly ignore God's prohibition against deifying things of earthly origin. Clearly, that prohibition includes the Bible, a man-made document that didn't exist when the Ten Commandments were given to Moses. Yet they dare describe themselves as “Bible-believers”, and urge others to do the same! For sure, Satan must be stocking up on barbecue spices; dude’s gonna have an overflow of guests falling up in his basement bachelor pad!

Levitican Law Was Imposed As Punishment.
Levitican Law (known in religious circles as the Holiness Code) was imposed on the ancient Hebrews as a direct result of their idolatry! The triggering incident was a brazen act of idol worship performed in Moses's absence:

EXODUS 32:1
When the people saw that Moses delayed to come down from the mountain, the people gathered around Aaron and said to him: "Come, make gods for us . . . as for this Moses, the man who brought us up out of the land of Egypt, we do not know what has become of him." Aaron said to them: "Take off the gold rings that are on the ears of your wives, your sons and your daughters, and bring them to me" . . . he took the gold from them, formed it in a mold and cast an image of a calf, and they said: "These are your gods, O Israel, who brought you up out of the land of Egypt" . . . they rose early the next day and offered burnt offerings and brought sacrifices . . . the people sat down to eat and drink, and rose up to revel.

God was ready to nuke the Hebrews for this offense, until Moses pleaded on their behalf! So God stayed his wrath, but warned Moses: When the day comes for punishment, I will punish them for their sin (Exodus 32:34). Moses begged the Lord for a means by which the Hebrews might atone for their idolatry. Imposition of the Holiness Code formed the basis of that atonement.

Centuries later, the Apostle Paul affirmed this fact when he wrote: Why, then, the Law? It was added because of transgressions . . . before Faith came, we were imprisoned and guarded under the Law, until Faith would be revealed. Therefore, the Law was our disciplinarian until Christ came . . . (Galatians 3:19, 23, 24). This passage from Galatians also affirms my next conclusion:

Levitican Law Has Never Applied To Christians!
After Jesus Christ invalidated Holiness Code dietary laws in his teachings, there was confusion about which laws Hebrews should still follow. A wealthy man ventured to ask the Savior for clarification, and He answered by specifically listing which prohibitions applied to Christians. The list appears in Matthew 19, the 18th chapter of Luke, and in Mark 10:19: You shall not murder. You shall not commit adultery. You shall not steal. You shall not bear false witness. You shall not defraud. Honor your father and your mother.

The list varies slightly between the Gospels, but anyone familiar with the Old Testament book of Exodus can see it’s a reiteration of God's Ten Commandments! The Commandments predate the Holiness Code, and they contain absolutely no restrictions on male intimacy. These lists, along with the Apostle Paul's letter to the Galatians (discussed at length in my essay "Why The Children Are Free", Parts One and Two) confirm that the Savior's sacrifice on the Cross freed all Christians from Holiness Code tyranny! Paul said it as clearly as it can be said: Christ redeemed us from the curse of the Law . . . (Galatians 3:13).

Leviticus 18 Has Been Misinterpreted!
Levitican law never instructed that "males shall not lie with males"! Conservative firebrands have long claimed this is so, but they're lying! The verse actually says: You shall not lie with a male as with a woman (Leviticus 18:22). A related verse, Leviticus 20:13, is phrased in the same way: If a man lies with a male as with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination.

If the intent was to forbid all homosexual contact, the wording would be different. These directives only forbad those who slept with women from also sleeping with men. Essentially, it banned bisexual practices; that’s always been my interpretation!  I think of it as a kind of kosher rule. 

Orthodox Jews should take note: If you were a eunuch who never slept with women (and remember, Old Testament Scripture both affirms and blesses the existence of eunuchs), then how could you violate this prohibition? How could you ever be with a male "as with a woman"? It's impossible! A heterosexist worldview fuels the belief that male-with-female sexual intercourse is God's plan for everyone. Fortunately, being a Transgender entity (again, see Genesis 1: 27), God has never suffered from a heterosexist worldview!

“The Bible Tells Me So” continues with Part Three.