Leviticus and the rest: Second edition

Zeng and I at Fort St. John, 2012.

"If a man lies with a man, as one lies with a woman, both of them have done what is detestable. They must be put to death." Leviticus20:13

Who was the author? When was Leviticus written? Scholars agree that it was completed between 500 and 300 years BC. The book was compiled over a long period of time, going back into antiquity.

What is the other content of Leviticus? I am no Biblical scholar, but, along with the rest of the Christian Bible, I read this Chapter. Carefully. There are many verses devoted to "burnt offerings", sacrifices of domestic animals to the Lord. This is described in minute detail. This ceremony must be very ancient. The sacrifice was often for the atonement of sin.

 There are detailed instructions on what you can eat and what you cannot eat. It is not altogether clear why certain meat is a no-no. eg. shellfish, shrimp, calamari. Some birds are OK but many are not. Each species is identified. This is where the prohibition on drinking blood is found. This has been excerpted by the Jehovah's Witness who have managed to place another meaning on the phrase; that is, no blood or blood product transfusion. I am sure the author had no idea what significance would be put on his words thousands of years later.

Then, there are many verses devoted to the topic of sex. Sexual activities, acceptable and not acceptable, are addressed in great detail. Sex with animals does not get a pass [surprise]. Adultery, which Zeng and I have done lots of, is punished by death. Sex with close relatives, sex with your in-laws, sex with the neighbor's wife, of course, all forbidden.

And, finally, the regulation on homosexuality as quoted in the first line of this essay. The issue of Lesbian relationship is not mentioned , for whatever reason.

Most of the Christian population today ignores these rules or are not even aware of them. We have no problem with shellfish in the diet, women are not considered "unclean" for weeks after childbirth or their period, adultery is not a crime in the western world. Most of us have no concern about the blood we inevitably eat when we consume meat. We have completely stopped the "burnt offering" to the Lord.

And we do not kill homosexual people. Or, at least this is what I thought.

September 22, 2000 – Ronald Gay entered a gay bar in Roanoke, Virginia and opened fire on the patrons, killing Danny Overstreet, 43 years old, and severely injuring six others. Ronald said he was angry over what his name now meant, and deeply upset that three of his sons had changed their surname. He claimed that he had been told by God to find and kill lesbians and gay men, describing himself as a "Christian Soldier working for my Lord;" Gay testified in court that "he wished he could have killed more fags," before several of the shooting victims as well as Danny Overstreet's family and friends.

Without much searching, I find long lists of assaults, stabbings, beatings, shootings of homosexual people in countries around the world. We are talking hundreds. Many of the victims died.

Then we had the recent event in Orlando, Florida.

On June 12, 2016, Omar Mateen, a 29-year-old security guard, killed 49 people and wounded 53 others inside Pulse, a gay nightclub. He was shot and killed by officers after a three-hour standoff. Pulse was hosting a "Latin Night" and thus most of the victims were Latinos. It was both the deadliest mass shooting by a single shooter and the deadliest incident of violence against LGBT people in United States history.

I remember talking about this at work. There was discussion about what could have been the motive. I contributed that there was clear direction from God, in Leviticus, that homosexual men should be put to death. A lady present, a nurse, had this to say: "Well, they ought to revise that.“

The Christian Bible is not a book that has undergone many revisions. Like none. We are looking at the first edition.  I have excerpted a few sentences that I thought were worth following before, but I now think I should do a more comprehensive editing.

I would start by completely separating the Old Testament and renaming it. My name for this book would be, "Fables and Myths of Ancient Times". I would hardly change any of the text which is not more harmful  than Grimm's Fairy tales. This I say in spite of the descriptions of massacres, genocide, sacrifice of children and killing without motivation or purpose. These events can be brushed over as pure fiction, filled as they are with fanciful mythology.

The rule about killing homosexuals could be left as it is, in this context, as no one would take it seriously. After all, consider the tale of Hansel and Gretel, where the parents try repeatedly to abandon their children in the forest, hoping they will be killed by wild animals or die of starvation and exposure. Nobody seems to be concerned  that children read about this premeditated infanticide. It is just a Fairy Tale.

The parts about not eating shrimp or blood can be left as "interesting" and amusing.

So, what should Christians save from the New Testament? There are some lines.

From the sermon on the mount:

“Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.

“Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.

“Blessed are the merciful

“Blessed are the peacemakers

 “Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness' sake

Added by this author:

"Blessed are those who are amazed at the small planet on which we dwell."

"Blessed are those who care for every living thing."

"Blessed are those who are able to understand the origin of all living things [including us] from a common ancestor, billions of years ago."

"Blessed are the educators and those who strive to learn. Blessed are those who diligently seek truth."

"Blessed are those who create music and those who can play it. Blessed are those that sing and dance."

"Blessed are the generous"

Some more from the Sermon on the mount:

everyone who is angry with his brother will be liable to judgment; whoever insults his brother will be liable to the council; and whoever says, ‘You fool!’ should look in a mirror.[these words by this author]

From the Lord's Prayer:

 Give us this day our daily bread,

forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us.

lead us not into temptation.

More from sermon on the mount:

Judge not, that you be not judged.  For with the judgment you pronounce you will be judged, and with the measure you use it will be measured to you.  Why do you see the speck that is in your brother's eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye?  Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when there is the log in your own eye?

So whatever you wish that others would do to you, do also to them, for this is the Law.

From John:

"Let him who is without sin among you be the first to throw a stone at her.”

 

From the American Declaration of Independence, I would add:

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.

 

From Timothy 3:16, I found this:

“All Bible Scripture is inspired by God and is useful to teach us what is true"

Sorry, Timothy, but with all due respect: Not even close.

 

Last words from Brian Cox in his small book, Human Universe:

"value life with all your heart, use it wisely and enjoy it while you can."