I mentioned yesterday, in writing about students learning about Islam in a world history class, that the Bible contains the same requirements as Islam regarding non-believers and others found objectionable: that they be killed.
Pastor David Berzins of Word of Truth Baptist Church in Prescott Valley, Arizona, said a fellow pastor, a friend of his, is a traitor to his faith for not endorsing the stoning of gay people. “Look, God came up with the laws of the Old Testament! They’re breathed by the Lord,” he said.
Leviticus 20:13: “If a man lies with a male as with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination; they shall be put to death, their blood is upon them.”
This is the Revised Standard Version (RSV). Berzins uses the King James:
“If a man also lie with mankind, as he lieth with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination: they shall surely be put to death; their blood shall be upon them.”
Obvious objections based on the United States Constitution being the law of the land, and not the Bible, aside, it certainly seems clear-cut. But there has been some debate over exactly what this passage actually means, that it simply forbids, for whatever reason, two men lying down together on a woman’s bed, or that it is directed against real (or imagined) pagan cultic practices (Jews and Christians always put sex at the center of their objections to Paganism).
At any rate, if Berzins is right, then yes, gays should be stoned according to the precepts of his religion.
But here is the catch: Berzins himself also needs to be stoned, because he is also in violation of the Law of Moses. To start with, he is not a Jew, and as we have seen, if you’re not a Jew, you get stoned.
So haul his a** out of church and stone him, right?
This might be a good time to mention Jesus’ injunction against being the one to throw the first stone (John 8:7).
Given the moves in both Louisiana, Mississippi, and Tennessee to turn the Bible into the official “state book” in violation of the United States Constitution, this is certainly a good time to look at what the Bible actually says, so people like Berzins can have a chance to reconsider.
The Religious Right and the Republican Party have both turned the Law of Moses – which forbids a great many things members of both groups do today, openly and on a regular basis, into an anti-gay law. But scholars can’t even say with 100% certainty that the Old Testament forbids homosexuality.
These zealots obsess over the demand in Islam that people be stoned for various offenses, ignoring the calls for stoning in their own Bible – unless you’re gay. But the Old Testament does say you get stoned for many things – including as we saw yesterday, being a nonbeliever and being a disobedient child – and there is no argument over these:
- Touching Mt. Sinai (Exodus 19:13)
- Blasphemy (Leviticus 24:16)
- Adulterers and rape victims who don’t cry out (Deuteronomy 22:23-24)
- Violating the Sabbath (Numbers 15:32-56)
- Taking accursed things could get you and your entire family and even your livestock, stoned (Joshua 7:1-26):
“And Joshua, and all Israel with him, took Achan the son of Zerah, and the silver, and the garment, and the wedge of gold, and his sons, and his daughters, and his oxen, and his asses, and his sheep, and his tent, and all that he had: and they brought them unto the valley of Achor.
“And Joshua said, Why hast thou troubled us? the Lord shall trouble thee this day. And all Israel stoned him with stones, and burned them with fire, after they had stoned them with stones.”
Cripes, even your tent! C’mon, man!
Look, there are obvious problems with the Law of Moses and good reasons these bigots only want to follow the alleged requirement to stone gays. If they had to stone adulterers, a good many prominent Republican and Religious Right figures would no longer be among us, including George H.W. Bush, John McCain, Rush Limbaugh, Bill O’Reilly, and Rudy Giuliani.
And even if the Law of Moses did forbid homosexuality, homosexuality is a modern term. As I have shown here before, in many ancient cultures, it was permissible for a man to penetrate another man. The problem was not with the penetrator, but with the man who allowed himself to be penetrated, which to their eyes meant being sexually passive, in other words, a woman.
Today, it is a sin to be the man doing the penetrating as well, which is not at all how many ancients viewed it. And let’s just mention here that the Bible doesn’t even mention lesbianism, leaving anti-gay bigots no ground to stand on there.
And if Pastor Berzins is going to insist we follow the Law of Moses, then we can’t start picking and choosing which passages we follow, because as he himself said, “They’re breathed by the Lord.” They are inviolate. ALL of them.
So if they are going to continue to persist in pushing the Law of Moses, I saw let’s play along. Break out the stones, and let’s start stoning some religious fundamentalists into the Bronze Age.
After all, it’s what God wants, and as he intended, it will make the world a better place for the rest of us.
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.