Why Do Christians ‘Pick and Choose’ From the Bible? Homosexuality bad, shellfish good?
The news as of late about the United States granting legal marriage certificates to couples of the same sex got me thinking. The Jewish view is clear (it’s legalizing abomination) but then memes fly around the internet attacking Christians for their hypocrisy. They seemingly pick and choose which versus to apply out of the Bible. Take a look at “God Hates Shrimp” and some of my favorites to the right. The book of the Torah, Vayikra, known to English word as “Leviticus” calls homosexuality a “toeivah”, an abomination. So too does it say this about separating from your wife when she’s unclean and eating “sheretzim” or the insects that crawl on the ground and various other things. Up until about yesterday, I actually believed like the Christian scoffers . . . it doesn’t make sense to say you are supposed to keep some things from the Torah (like the Sabbath and heterosexual marriage commitments for intercourse) and not others (like circumcision and keeping kosher) no matter what you want to add in the “new” testament. I changed my opinion today and post this defense of Christianity’s beliefs (which is weird since I’m a Torah observant Jew, but read on). Here’s why, at least pre-Constantine Christianity is internally consistent.
As some brief background in what the written Torah says: Bereshis [Genesis] takes us from Adam (first man with an elevated soul) through Noach (father of all people today) through Avraham. Noach is given laws for all man kind. Avraham is “chosen” from among the people for a special purpose and he and his descendants, through trials and tests and found most worthy of a special task of taking on and doing more in this world. It’s a large world and things are funneled down and selected – each of the 70 nations has a purpose, and one of those nations is chosen for a specific purpose: following the Torah to live in the physical world while also infusing the spiritual realm within it. This is what Avraham stood for (after all, the mere existence of G_d was known in his time … Noach was still alive). An entire genealogy is here.
Fast forward to early Christianity and we have a turbulent political time with Rome controlling Israel, civil wars, and the destruction of the Temple. A sect of Jews believe, out of this, the messiah has come. It was the beginning of the time period in history (4000 years of Adam) when it was believed the messiah could come, and this is not the only occurrence of Jews believing in a messiah coming . . . Rabbi Akiva and others believed it was Bar Kochba. Many famous Romans converted to Judaism in this time period including Onkelos, daughters of Roman emperors, etc. As one historian, Ken Spiro once put it, Judaism was the “spiritual religion of the Far East” making a comparison to how Westerners and Israelis flock to Buddhist and Hindu things in the Far East. Problem for the Christian sect: they are a tiny minority. Problem for the majority Jewish people: Non-Jews want to join Judaism but don’t want to chop their . . . .
So what happens – it seems Paul (who was Saul, changed for astrological reasons) could have been on the Jewish side. He takes the Christian sect, divorces it from Judaism and states in Acts 15, among other things, ““Known to God from eternity are all His works.[c] 19 Therefore I judge that we should not trouble those from among the Gentiles who are turning to God, 20 but that we write to them to abstain from things polluted by idols, from sexual immorality,[d] from things strangled, and from blood. ”
In context, this makes a whole lot of sense. Paul, a (former?) Jew, is preaching as to what non-jews should do. They don’t need to keep the 613 categories of mitzvos of a Jew . . . they just need to be Noachides. That is, people who follow the 7 categories of commandments meant for all time! That’s it. Whether or not they believe the messiah has come or not doesn’t change their status as good Noachides who believe:
- Do not deny G_d.
- Do not blaspheme G_d.
- Do not murder.
- Do not engage in incest, adultery, pederasty or bestiality, as well as homosexual relations.
- Do not steal.
- Do not eat of a live animal.
- Establish courts/legal system to ensure law and obedience.
It could be ‘coincidence’ that there is such large overlap, but this is doubtful when we’re talking about Jews or former Jews who believe the Torah is the word of G_d and are proselytizing to non-Jews. This proselytization is not to convert to Judaism, for the say the exact opposite. The prosletyization is to a belief system separate from Judaism that follows the laws of Noach.
I’d like to suggest, therefore, that the reason Christianity is anti-homosexual relations has nothing to do with Vayikra [Leviticus] calling homosexuality an “abomination”. Rather, it has to do with a source in Bereshis [Genesis] which applies to all man-kind. Shellfish, tattoos, and whatnot in Vayikra applies only to Jews, but the laws given to Noach are those taken up by Christianity (with one omission of the most obscure one that people generally don’t do anyway). The sources for the Noachide laws are nicely written up over here. So is the source, in specific, for homosexuality – Sodom and Gemorrah. In fact, the English word “sodomize” comes from the name of this city, destroyed by G_d, for being evil towards their fellow man in a way in which was beyond repair. Specifically, Lot (Avraham’s nephew) lived in the city and had guests when men of the city came to “know” the men and he offers his virgin daughters to them instead. It’s a pretty clear reference to their intent to sodomize their guests by force.
It is not until the Roman Empire and their ruler, Constantine, gets ahold of Christianity making it the state religion almost 300 years later that we see the real introduction of influences from idolotrous religions. The myth of the “son of G_d” comes into play (Nero called himself this) as does the dualism between good and evil which do battle and original sin (this comes from myrthism, the dominate religion of Rome until that time.) Judaism, and for that matter, islam, obviously disagree with these beliefs of Christians . . . but the stuff they follow from Noach – right on.
That, in a nutshell, is my current hypothesis for why Christians eat shellfish, get tattoos, and don’t get circumcised . . . but believe that homosexuality is wrong. They are right about their beliefs in this and I support them for upholding it.