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Problems with literal Bible interpretation

Inspired by silverowlwings...

A bit of humor that was forwarded around on email a long while back. You might have already seen it. As a prelude, I feel I should state my position:

While I am a great believer in freedom of religion (provided it doesn't involve seizing and sacrificing your neighbors or their pets, etc.), and have respect for most religious stripes, and am something of a Catholic-by-default myself, I do not think anyone should do anything or believe anything for the sole reason that "the Bible says so." (Exception: you could do an archaeological dig based on clues from the Bible as to location of ancient cities. This has actually worked a few times.) The Bible has a lot of good advice, but, like all ancient religious texts, it has been through too many translations, and is too far removed now from its original cultural context, to be taken literally in all passages. So, that is why this forward amused me, as it demonstrates this point quite well.

(author unknown - written as a letter to an advice columnist)

When someone tries to defend the homosexual lifestyle, I simply remind them that Leviticus 18:22 clearly states it to be an abomination. End of debate.

I do need some advice, however, regarding some of the specific laws & how to follow them.

1. When I burn a bull on the altar as a sacrifice, I know it creates a pleasing odor for the Lord (Lev. 1:9). The problem is my neighbors. They claim the odor is not pleasing to them. Should I smite them?

2. I would like to sell my daughter into slavery, as sanctioned in Exodus 21:7. In this day & age, what do you think would be a fair price for her?

3. I know that I am allowed no contact with a woman while she is in her period of menstrual uncleanness (Lev. 15:19-24). The problem is, how do I tell? I have tried asking, but most women take offense.

4. Lev. 25:44 states that I may indeed possess slaves, both male & female, provided they are purchased from neighboring nations. A friend of mine claims that this applies to Mexicans, but not Canadians. Can you clarify? Why can't I own Canadians?

5. I have a neighbor who insists on working on the Sabbath. Exodus 35:2 clearly states he should be put to death. Am I morally obligated to kill him myself?

6. A friend of mine feels that even though eating shellfish is an abomination (Lev. 11:10), it's a lesser abomination than homosexuality. I don't agree. Can you settle this?

7. Lev. 21:20 states that I may not approach the altar of God if I have a defect in my sight. I have to admit that I wear reading glasses. Does my vision have to be 20/20, or is there some room for negotiation here?

8. Most of my male friends get their hair trimmed, including the hair around their temples, even though this is expressly forbidden by Lev.19:27. How should they die?

9. I know from Lev. 11:6-8 that touching the skin of a dead pig makes me unclean, but may I still play football if I wear gloves?

10. My uncle has a farm. He violates Lev. 19:19 by planting two different crops in the same field, as does his wife by wearing garments made of two different kinds of thread (cotton/polyester blend). He also tends to curse & blaspheme a lot. Is it really necessary that we go to all the trouble of getting the whole town together to stone them (Lev.24:10-16)? Couldn't we just burn them to death at a private family affair like we do with people who sleep with their in-laws (Lev. 20:14)?

Hee hee.



( 17 comments — Leave a comment )
Apr. 27th, 2003 01:36 pm (UTC)
Hehehe. that brightened my day.
Apr. 27th, 2003 01:45 pm (UTC)
That is so profound it hurts. Do you realize that that list could go on and on and on? I fall into the same category as you as described above except I am not catholic.. but I must say that what you have here is an excellent slap in the face to any and all people who wish to take the judaeo-christian religions as exact law as mandated in the Bible.. (and unfortunately there are millions and millions of them)

very humorous, thanks for posting it :)
Apr. 27th, 2003 02:01 pm (UTC)
Good day to be irreverent
Enjoyed the moral struggle :) Received a flood of seriously funny emails this weekend and posted some at my journal. Feel free to investigate, if you dare....

For something really weird and funny, click on this...

Wait for the entire screen to load up with all 4 horses & a fence in front
of them. Then click on each horse. Click on any horse to it turn on or off.
Apr. 27th, 2003 02:28 pm (UTC)
That is...funny. And unique. And totally pointless. I loved it!
Apr. 27th, 2003 02:01 pm (UTC)
Hahahaha! That was marvelous. Thank you for sharing.

And while extremely funny, it DOES make a good point. The Bible was written in a very different time period, and can no longer be used for literal translation. I agree with you: too far removed from its original cultural context. And I am extremely irritated when people say they are against homosexuality because the Bible says so, while they simultaneously don't follow every single little rule in the Bible, like avoiding contact with women who are having their menstrual periods. Argh!
Apr. 27th, 2003 02:27 pm (UTC)
I have seen this before and it is worth reading again. I am going to forward it to my minister, a great young guy with a wicked sense of humor.

My father (rest his soul!) who a great reader of the Bible and a fairly religious man, used to comment that "They may as well just throw the entire book of Leviticus out!" Not a bad idea...most people don't want to hear the "in context reasoning" that led to many of the law in that particular book.
Apr. 27th, 2003 04:37 pm (UTC)
awesome. I am totally adding this to my memories.
Apr. 27th, 2003 05:04 pm (UTC)
I don't think anyone should believe something solely because the Bible says so or because that's what your parents taught you. I came to a point where I couldn't rely on any of that to back me up. I had to sit down and really think out what I believed and why and how I could relay that to other people. It really forces you to not use what you have been taught as a crutch. I could go really in-depth with this but I won't haha.

Anyway..thank you for a nice Sunday afternoon read.
Apr. 27th, 2003 06:06 pm (UTC)
They missed my favorite Leviticus law... the one that tells you the one correct way to clean mold. I showed it to my mother once just to let her know, but she got all mad at me...
Apr. 27th, 2003 06:49 pm (UTC)
...so, God, how've you been? Tell me, have you leafed through the Bible lately...?
Apr. 27th, 2003 07:11 pm (UTC)
That's quite amusing, and it does get the point across very well! Thank you for sharing it. :)
Apr. 27th, 2003 07:56 pm (UTC)
Old Testament
I was discussing this with a friend of mine, and she mentioned how, in the Old Testament, it says you can't drink alcohol in the temple... so fulfilling the sacrament of eucharist would actually be sacrilege, were Christians to follow the Old Testament.
Apr. 27th, 2003 10:46 pm (UTC)
Its originaly an open letter to Dr. Laura. The ENTIRE joke can be found here: http://www-users.cs.york.ac.uk/~susan/joke/laura.htm

I miss the real punchline, "Thank you again for reminding us that God's word is eternal and unchanging. "

Apr. 28th, 2003 09:21 pm (UTC)
Yeah...the original email said so as well. I just decided to leave that off, since that whole Dr. Laura scandal is so two years ago. ;)
Apr. 28th, 2003 03:21 am (UTC)
Very funny. Luckily, Catholics don't really use the Old Testament (us wily folk, eh?). I worry about evangelical Christians who see it all as the word of God without considering that most of the book is basically a law code to cope with life a very long time ago in a harsh and hostile environment.
Jul. 23rd, 2013 07:08 am (UTC)
continuity and discontinuity in biblical revelation
'Luckily, Catholics don't really use the Old Testament (us wily folk, eh?).' Perhaps better to say that Catholics don't follow every aspect of the OT because Jesus the Messiah hadn't yet come, died and rose again. However, the Common Lectionary still lays down OT readings for Mass just as it does for Anglican and other liturgical churches. The issue re the apparent contradiction between following the rejection of homosexuality in Leviticus but not adhering to all the practices listed above is not difficult to understand. Some religious-moral law is restricted to a particular time, place and people. Other law has continuous application over the two Testaments (e.g., 'Thou shalt not murder'). In the beginning we had male-female marriage which has continued over two Testaments too and right up to recent times. One fails to see why this maladept attempt to ridicule the Bible shows anything other than the biblical illiteracy of the author.
Apr. 28th, 2003 08:33 am (UTC)
Ah, it doesn't matter how many times I see this, it cracks me up every time.
( 17 comments — Leave a comment )

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