“Disturbances in society are never more fearful than when those who are stirring up the trouble can use the pretext of religion to mask their true designs.”
– Denis Diderot, Observations on the Drawing Up of Laws (1774)
Atheists and others (including me) like to ask why fundamentalist Christians believe they can violate God’s laws as laid out in Leviticus, but focus only on homosexuality as an abomination. According to Leviticus, eating shellfish or shaving is every bit as much an abomination as a man laying with another man. Well, look no further. According to Oklahoma Pastor James Taylor, who sat down for an interview with Peter LaBarbera of Americans for Truth About Homosexuality (AFTAH) the key is refrigeration [click HERE to listen if your stomach is strong enough]:
LaBarbera: The first thing on the pink sheet says, it takes Leviticus 18:22, ‘You shall not lie with a male as with a woman, it is an abomination,’ Leviticus 20:13, ‘If a man lies with a man as with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination and they should be put to death.’ The analysis put forth by this Kathy McCallie of the Church of the Open Arms said that ‘these verses are part of a law code listing this that are forbidden, however, according to Leviticus it is also sinful to eat pork, shrimp, clams or oysters, these texts cannot be used to condemn homosexual behavior unless one is prepared to condemn all these behaviors.’ So they are trying to mix that in, comment on that James.
Taylor: There’s a couple problems with that. Some things are cultural and there are also some things that have happened now in terms of refrigeration and health concerns and those are some of those things that are there. But the reality is it doesn’t change the fact that God has said a man shall not lie with a male like a woman and vice versa and he uses the word abomination, which is the strongest word in the Bible for hate that you can come across. So that’s the problem, they want to pick and choose what they want to have and then to dismiss it as this isn’t what the Bible says, it’s foolishness.
What is hilarious is Taylor’s claim that OTHERS want to “pick and choose what they want to have.” Seems to me if anybody is picking the choosing which laws to obey and which to ignore, it is people like Taylor. Similarly, they will put words in God’s mouth, as Bryan Fischer did the other day, saying women in combat defies God’s will. Where, exactly, does God forbid women in combat?
God didn’t say anything about refrigeration. Being a perfect being, Taylor can’t claim God couldn’t anticipate refrigeration. Of course he could, and did; perfection is perfection after all. This prompts the question: why didn’t God say these foods were verboten UNLESS…? Taylor doesn’t know what God had against pork and shellfish. Taylor can’t read God’s mind (and if God can read Taylor’s he has my sympathy). How much better for the soul than the alleged Christian Taylor is the atheist Denis Diderot!
Taylor has made a choice that is God’s alone to make, that is, to say I can ignore this law IF circumstance X. But the Bible doesn’t allow for exemptions. Leviticus 11:10 does not say,
But everything in the seas and the streams that does not have fins and scales, of the swarming creatures in the waters and among all the other living creatures that are in the waters – they are detestable to you, unless you refrigerate them.
It says “and detestable they shall remain.”
Like, as in forevermore. I think Leviticus 11:10 is a pretty unequivocal rejection of shellfish under any circumstances. Taylor, on the other hand, is guilty of bad theology. Refrigeration protects against food-borne illness. It does not protect against sin.
According to the Bible he says he follows, Taylor has broken God’s law and is guilty of behavior as abominable as any man to have laid with another man. Every Christian has, if the laws in Leviticus are indeed held to be God’s law.
I have written many times of fundamentalist Christian moral relativism. These people claim to believe in a rock-hard, inflexible Capital-T Truth, but as the Catholic Church has recently shown, a fetus is only a person if it is convenient to them. There is no inflexible, unchanging truth at all for the Catholic Church, nor is there for Taylor. Their religion is a bait and switch, a huge scam, and Taylor is a confidence man, someone who, as Wikipedia defines it, “exploits characteristics of the human psyche such as dishonesty, honesty, vanity, compassion, credulity, irresponsibility, naïveté, or greed.”
Sadly, there are all too many angry old (and young) white men who nod their heads sagely when they hear Taylor. They don’t want to be inconvenienced by having to throw out their razors or foregoing their Christmas hams or their weekly trip to Red Lobster. As usual with regard to fundamentalist doctrine, they get to hear what they want to hear. They can have their Evangelical Thomas Jefferson and eat ham and oysters while doing it.
Taylor failed to see the irony in his own words when, reflecting on a summit about health care and the LGBT community, he said,
LaBarbera: How ironic that a conference that’s supposed to be about substance abuse actually promoted a behavior which leads to disease.
Taylor: It promoted criminal behavior and they were given false information about the reliability of condoms.
LaBarbera, of course, agreed:
LaBarbera: I was walking around at that conference and I remember a table, I took a picture of it, with a bunch of pamphlets about smoking. It’s just bizarre to see them all concerned about preventing smoking because that’s dangerous and yet they are promoting homosexuality and even gender confusion, promoting these awful sex changes where the body is mutilated to become something you cannot be, the other sex.
These men don’t see that they are lamenting a Biblically abominable behavior while promoting another Biblically abominable behavior.
It is sad that so many so-called Christians are willing to misrepresent what they claim is the will of the God they worship. There are Christians who recognize the anachronisms in the Bible, who take a more progressive approach to their belief. Taylor and LaBarbera want it both ways, to ignore laws they see as inconvenient and embrace those that excuse their bigotry. It is bad enough that they insist on being dishonest hypocrites themselves, but to try to force their sins on the world in the name of some capital-T Truth is beyond the pale, and not just because it is a violation of the United States Constitution.
Hrafnkell Haraldsson, a social liberal with leanings toward centrist politics has degrees in history and philosophy. His interests include, besides history and philosophy, human rights issues, freedom of choice, religion, and the precarious dichotomy of freedom of speech and intolerance. He brings a slightly different perspective to his writing, being that he is neither a follower of an Abrahamic faith nor an atheist but a polytheist, a modern-day Heathen who follows the customs and traditions of his Norse ancestors. He maintains his own blog, A Heathen’s Day, which deals with Heathen and Pagan matters, and Mos Maiorum Foundation www.mosmaiorum.org, dedicated to ethnic religion. He has also contributed to NewsJunkiePost, GodsOwnParty and Pagan+Politics.