Sunday, 29 January 2017
The Bible: A Very Grim Fairytale: Leviticus: Chapter 18 - Sex, Nakedness and Homosexuality
So now we get to the really controversial part of Leviticus, the parts everyone quotes about sex, nudity, lying with women, lying with men, lying with beasts and not seeing any of them naked.
Chapter 18 starts as so many of these chapters do by saying that God spoke to Moses. They have to start with that prelude just to reiterate that this is all supposedly coming from God. This one also tells the children of Israel however that they are a distinct and discrete group. That they are better than the Egyptians or other tribes. So not for them all of that pagan sex nonsense. They must be purer. He's no fun this God is he. 'I am the Lord,' he keeps saying. Do as I say. It saves actually giving reasons for all of these rules.
And God has a thing about nudity. You must not see other people naked. Not your mother, not your father, not your sister or your brother. Make sure you always pull on a dressing gown when you go to the bathroom for God says it would be an abomination for anyone to see your willy or your bajingo.
Its reckoned that this is actually all about prohibiting incest. You must not see your sister or your father's wife naked lest you jump into bed with one another seems to be the gist of what they were saying. There has been much argument about all of this though. In truth we don't know what the hell they were talking about. Still, it leaves room for interpretation doesn't it. Religion thrives on opaque language after all.
God worries about sex, although in general he is less worried about men having sex than he is about women having sex. Oh and its okay, strictly speaking, for a man and woman, neither of whom are married, to have sex. So that excuses my entire sex life then. Well, nearly all of it anyway.
Then, thrown in amongst all of this stuff about sex, nakedness and incest is this humdinger. Do not under any circumstances sacrifice your children to Molech. Who is Molech? Well, as so often with all of this neo Pagan claptrap, it's not really clear. It seems to be a god of some description worshipped by tribes in the area and indeed by the Israelites themselves. God is clearly jealous of this.
But then we come to the real meat of this chapter, the one that certain halfwits like to quote. Verse 22 says that an Israelite must not lie with a man as he would with a woman. Again it is in opaque language but, as becomes clear in future chapters, a man anally penetrating another man is forbidden and an abomination according to this chapter of this book. There is no mention here of women lying down with women. Perhaps they were like Queen Victoria and simply couldn't imagine such a thing.
What is also made clear is that lying down with an animal is also forbidden. And don't think it's okay if you do it standing up either.
Commit any of these sins and you will be cast out. Indeed, according to God, the land itself will vomit you out, which is an interesting metaphor, if indeed it is intended as a metaphor. God wants his land kept pure and so sex must be between a man and a woman and even then only really if they are married and she is not menstruating. God's land must be pure. And really really boring.