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What Leviticus Bans

Christian bigots love to quote Leviticus 20:13, which says that gay men should be put to death (but not gay women, of course), but rarely do they cite the enormous list of other things that Leviticus makes illegal and sometimes punishable by death. Here’s a list of 76 things banned in that book of the Bible. If you have any poly-cotton shirts, you might want to take notice.

Comments

  1. marcus says

    Breaking News: DOMA found unconstitutional by Boston Federal Appeals court! Suck it bigots!

  2. revjimbob says

    I notice that, among the many sexual partners prohibited, daughters are not mentioned.
    Just as well for Lot.

  3. doodlespook says

    @revjimbob – and by that I mean fathers are not mentioned either, in case I wasn’t clear :)

  4. jba55 says

    “41. Making idols or “metal gods” (19:4)”

    Well shit, there goes my altar to Motorhead.

  5. petermountain says

    Yes, but those are ceremonial laws!
    At least that’s the excuse I hear when I bring up Leviticus or Deuteronomy. Anyone else run into this?

  6. raven says

    Yes, but those are ceremonial laws!”

    Not yet.

    Most xians have never read the bible, have no idea what is in it and just look blank when you mention stoning nonvirgin brides to death or selling the kids as sex slaves. The churches deliberately hide most of the guesome and cuckoo parts of the bible.

    The 20 or so death penalty offenses in the bible aren’t ceremonial at all. The bible explicitly says to stone them to death.

    If stoning a false prophet like Pat Robertson or Harold Camping to death is a ceremonial law, then so is stoning gay people to death.

    It all comes down to the fact that all xians are cafeteria xians, picking and choosing from a giant Rorschach blot called the bible.

  7. says

    …(but not gay women, of course)…

    What hot-blood heterosexual Bible-believer doesn’t love a bit of hot girl-on-girl action?

  8. raven says

    Yes, but those are ceremonial laws!”

    How do you tell ceremonial laws from real laws?

    There is no way. It all comes down to making it up as they go along and claiming the voices in someone’s head told them which is which.

  9. D. C. Sessions says

    Katherine Lorraine@2:

    No, that’s one of the ones that Jesus repealed.

  10. matty1 says

    @10,

    I don’t know how common it is but both the Methodist Church my mother used to attend and the C of E church she now goes to have a calendar of Bible readings intended to cover the whole thing, I think it takes about two or three years but with some bits like the Easter narratives being read annually.

    Do most churches not do something similar or do they just rely on people not paying enough attention to notice the worst bits?

  11. says

    38. Giving your children to be sacrificed to Molek (18:21)

    Now we’re just being foolish. If I can’t sacrifice my children to Molek, who can I sacrifice them to?

  12. steve oberski says

    jba55 says:

    Well shit, there goes my altar to Motorhead.

    Check out “Tromeo and Juliet”, a punk adaptation of Shakespeare’s classic.

    Lemmy Kilmister from Motorhead is the narrator.

  13. jba55 says

    @17 Already done, heh. IMO Lemmy should narrate everything. Documentaries, movies, commercials, children’s programming, the works. Course I’m a bit biased…

  14. CJO says

    Yes, but those are ceremonial laws!

    No, they’re not. The laws in Leviticus 1-16 are, but the rest of the book is quite explicitly setting out a set of strictures by which the chosen people must abide in their everyday life in order to remain holy before God. However, Christian corruption of the very terms “chosen” and “holy” obscure for most moderns what is meant. These laws are markers of chosenness; they separate the people of Judah from their neighbors. So even if they’re not strictly “ceremonial” they make no sense outside the context of Judaism early in the Second Temple period, i.e. at right around the time of its wholesale invention by a bunch of self-appointed priests given carte blanche by their Persian overlords to set up whatever kind of cockamamie temple-state they liked, as long as they could get the rubes to go along with it.

  15. says

    I don’t know how common it is but both the Methodist Church my mother used to attend and the C of E church she now goes to have a calendar of Bible readings intended to cover the whole thing, I think it takes about two or three years but with some bits like the Easter narratives being read annually.

    My parent’s Methodist church in the UK did this a few years back, as a series of ongoing Bible studies. My folks were never hard line believers, but after working their way through the Old Testament, they admitted to me that if they were younger, they would have considered leaving the church altogether, such was their new-found skepticism of all things Christian. Quite a thing for people in their early eighties to admit. I’m proud them! :-)

  16. left0ver1under says

    Yes, the religious ignore most of their own rules except for the ones they like, but there’s an important point being missed.

    The religious rules in the buybull are their own rules and do no apply to those who don’t belong. More often than not, the religious want non-believers to obey their rules while the religious ignore them.

    The only people they expect to obey their religion are those who don’t belong to the religion.

  17. Jeremy Shaffer says

    petermountain at 9:

    “Yes, but those are ceremonial laws!”
    At least that’s the excuse I hear when I bring up Leviticus or Deuteronomy. Anyone else run into this?

    I’ve never gotten that one but I do get a similar response: “Jesus fulfilled those when he died on the cross so we don’t have to worry about those anymore.”

  18. raven says

    I’ve never gotten that one but I do get a similar response: “Jesus fulfilled those when he died on the cross so we don’t have to worry about those anymore.”

    I have heard that one. I think it is called Dispensialationism or something.

    Well OK, then why in the hell are they quoting Leviticus?

    When those people aren’t being walking bundles of hypocrisy and idiocy, they are walking bundles of contradictions.

    All faith claims come down to reading a giant Rorschach ink blot with the aid of voices in people’s heads.

  19. raven says

    wikipedia Supersessionism:

    The approach among many early Protestants that predominates today in Lutheran churches and some Reformed churches emphasizes the discontinuity between the old covenant and the new and sees the Mosaic Law primarily as negative. Most of the early advocates of this approach, such as Martin Luther (1483–1546), rejected the Jews as having a continuing positive relationship with God.[33]

    and

    Supersessionism is not the name of any official Roman Catholic doctrine and the word appears in no Church documents; however, the Catholic Church does officially teach that the Mosaic covenant was fulfilled and replaced by the New Covenant in Christ.

    The doctrine that the old testament laws are dead is most similar to Supersessionism, Catholics and most mainline Protestants. The fundies have never adopted it though.

  20. Tony says

    4. Eating blood (3:17)

    I wonder how this squares with consuming the body and blood of Christ…

  21. baal says

    @#15 I was raised Catholic and they used to strongly hint that the entire bible was covered in the Sunday readings. Easter and certain other specials got annual readings. They skipped stuff.

    I was really surprised when I bothered to pick it up and start reading. Part of the sins of Sodom and Gomorrah include making idols in the image of manhood and practicing whoredom upon them (Ezekiel 16:17). I’m sure I would have noticed if they read that aloud (I did pay attention, there wasn’t much to do in the pew and playing with the kneeler upset folks).

  22. Yoritomo says

    If you have any poly-cotton shirts, you might want to take notice.

    The KJV only bans clothing “mingled of linen and woollen”. The NIV bans all clothing “woven of two kinds of material”. I wonder which translator botched it.

  23. Captain Mike says

    The prohibition against mixed fibres has always been a bit of a head scratcher. The dietary laws make a sort of crude sense in the context of the times, and most of the other ones seem designed to keep people under the thumb of the ruling class. I don’t agree with them, obviously, but I can sort of understand where they were going.

    I have no idea what the intended purpose of banning mixed linens might have been. Maybe it was just to show that people would do any damn fool thing the priests ordered.

  24. isilzhaveni says

    Don’t eat fruit from a tree within four years of planting it?

    What, is it poisonous??

  25. cottonnero says

    #29: Perhaps Big Linen hired the Iron Age equivalent of ALEC to protect their industry. Although planting two different kinds of things in one furrow is also prohibited, so maybe it’s just a manifestation of some priest’s OCD.

  26. TX_secular says

    #19-don’t eat insects with four legs…

    This is an easy one to keep. ;)

  27. says

    raven “How do you tell ceremonial laws from real laws?”
    It’s simple: if it would effect you it’s ceremonial (or dietary) and no longer valid. If it effects groups you don’t like, it’s moral law and is still valid.

  28. CJO says

    The KJV only bans clothing “mingled of linen and woollen”. The NIV bans all clothing “woven of two kinds of material”. I wonder which translator botched it.

    In any pairing of the NIV and another translation, bet on the NIV for botching it. It’s a uniformly terrible translation for the purpose of understanding anything about the Bible beyond the general sense. In this case, however (and in many others), neither the KJV or the NIV really has the literal sense quite right (though the KJV is closer in that the only kind of mixed fiber clothing the priests were worried about would have been a mix of wool and either linen or cotton). The mixed fiber prohibition follows two other prohibitions in the same verse (about livestock and seed) that prohibit “mingling” of two distinct things, and a parallel construction (using kil’ayim) is used for all three. Except, there was actually a word in Biblical Hebrew for fabric made out of wool and linen, shaatnez, distinct from the general term for such unholy mixing, kil’ayim. So the fabric prohibition uses both terms, literally banning any such blends generically and the specific blend denoted by shaatnez.

    This (to us) bizarre fascination, by the way, makes much more sense in the light of what I was talking about before regarding the historical context. “Mixing” in the sense of populations, peoples, was exactly what the whole ideology of chosenness was meant to forbid. And linen, in particular, would have been associated with river valley civilizations in Egypt and Mesopotamia, powerful politically and culturally, of great antiquity, and so deep pools in which the blood of the recently autonomous and self-invented Yehud would become hopelessly diluted were such prohibitions not effective. This allusion is probably why the greater emphasis on fabric specifically.

  29. brad says

    ]63. Making your daughter prostitute herself (19:29)

    But selling her into sex slavery is OK, as is making her marry her rapist. MMMkay….nothing misogynist or inconsistent here, lets move along folks…

    I’m doomed I guess, but more for raising crossbred cattle, harvesting to the edge of the field, picking up windfall apples in the garden, planting mixed grains, and eating bacon. Can’t forget the bacon.

  30. says

    Although I am an atheist today, I was given an orthodox Jewish education and was made to study this stuff in Hebrew. So I couldn’t help but notice that some of the list is inaccurate.

    Aside from the aforementioned mixed-fabric stuff mentioned in #35, there are two mistakes that really leapt out at me. There were a bunch of rules regarding how the tabernacle (Beit Mishkan) was to be treated – things like preventing post-natal woman from visiting – that were referred to in the list as applying to churches. I think the confusion comes because in English, the Beit Mishkan (tabernacle) and Beit Hamikdash (the Temple in Jerusalem) are often referred to as ‘temples’ – the very same English word used to refer to churches or synagogues among certain sects. But the two are not the same thing. One is for sacrifices and the other is for praying. The former is now out of fashion, but there was a time when the two existed side by side.

    The other one that stuck out for me was the rules about who a priest may marry. The same translation issue seems to have happened here. A ‘priest’ in the bible is an English translation of the Hebrew word ‘Kohen’ – a priestly caste with a specific hereditary job. That job is far less important in Judaism today, but still exists right alongside the job of rabbis. Catholic ‘priests’ are the equivalent of rabbis, not kohens.

    I guess it’s true that the more you about a subject, the less funny jokes about it become.

  31. D. C. Sessions says

    I have no idea what the intended purpose of banning mixed linens might have been.

    Fabrics of mixed linen and wool were fashionable for the priests all over the region at the time, and in fact the officially-described priestly vestments were … mixed linen and wool. With shiny stones, too.

    On the other hand, your basic schmuck in the street was not allowed to wear them. Whether out of objection to Moabite priests or to give the Sons of Aaron some unique threads is not explicitly spelled out.

  32. thebookofdave says

    Hmmm…multiple violations of 25 separate laws. I’m ripe for teh smiting. Worse yet, my tattoo says ‘LEV 19:28′, so it’s not as if I can plead ignorance.

    On the plus side, I have a special agreement with my parents that spares them from my curses in return for their restraint from stoning me for the other infractions.

  33. Amphiox says

    35. Marrying your wife’s sister while your wife still lives (18:18)

    Wait. Jacob. Rachel. Leah. What?

    19. Eating – or touching the carcass of – flying insects with four legs, unless those legs are jointed (11:20-22)

    Well, at least I can live with the reassurance that I will never, ever, even by accident, ever, come close to breaking this one.

    66. Mistreating foreigners – “the foreigner residing among you must be treated as your native-born” (19:33-34)

    Arizona is going to hell, it would appear.

  34. Ichthyic says

    This (to us) bizarre fascination, by the way, makes much more sense in the light of what I was talking about before regarding the historical context. “Mixing” in the sense of populations, peoples, was exactly what the whole ideology of chosenness was meant to forbid. And linen, in particular, would have been associated with river valley civilizations in Egypt and Mesopotamia, powerful politically and culturally, of great antiquity, and so deep pools in which the blood of the recently autonomous and self-invented Yehud would become hopelessly diluted were such prohibitions not effective. This allusion is probably why the greater emphasis on fabric specifically.

    great.

    now explain the ban on 4 legged insects.

  35. says

    #41. Man I love knowing Hebrew! I just looked up the verse in its original language and confirmed that is say right there in black and white ’4 legs’.

    I guess nobody bothered counting the legs since they weren’t allowed to touch them. :)

  36. says

    Ichthyic “now explain the ban on 4 legged insects.”
    All the cool Israelites used to hang around the back of the Temple, eating eight legged insects to show how tough they were. Then the Moabites came along and they said that eating grasshoppers showed that you were hard.
    So they rumbled. And the Israelites won.

  37. lrlecras says

    This list reminded me of a discussion/argument I once had with a leader on a Christian youth camp, shortly before I became an atheist. He was arguing that the Bible forbade alcohol and I noted that Leviticus also contained a number of other ridiculous rules (ala no.54). His response was something to the effect of “Jesus overruled Levitican law.”

    Putting aside the many contradictions in scripture, does anyone know where in the Bible Jesus officially tossed out Leviticus?

  38. burpy says

    If only there were a proscription against mixing types of music. We might have been spared the abomination that is Country & Western. Also I had no idea that Lemmy had a surname.

  39. brianthomas says

    Putting aside the many contradictions in scripture, does anyone know where in the Bible Jesus officially tossed out Leviticus?

    I was hoping someone would ask that, as I’ve heard the same thing from Christians whom I have challenged on this whole law stuff. I don’t recall anywhere where Jesus himself overturned the laws of the OT. In fact, I recall Jesus saying something to the effect that not one iota of the Torah will disappear until the heavens and earth shall pass (Matthew 5:18 – last I checked that hasn’t happened yet, though I’m sure the Christians will do their usual contortions to somehow equate that with the Cruci-fiction). Jesus is also on record saying that those who break even the least of these commandments will be least in the kingdom of heaven, blah, blah, blah (Matthew 5:19).

    When Christians fire back their “Jesus overturned the law” stuff, I just ask what the whole point was laying down all those 600+ laws in the first place. Plus there’s the whole problem that God says in multiple places in the OT that all these laws will be in effect FOREVER (an eternal covenant). Furthermore, if JC overturned “the laws”, doesn’t that mean that the 10 Commandments go too? How do Christians turn the 10 Commandments into a fetish object if JC overturned the laws? How do Christians get away with saying the 10 Commandments are still double-plus good but all those other laws are not? Where does that separation come from? [Which reminds me too….I was taught that the 10 Commandments are to be understood more as general statements and that the 600+ other laws are specific details on how to fulfill them. Thus “honor the Sabbath” is quite vague and general, which is why you then have all the corresponding detailed laws on how this is to be achieved, such as don’t work on the Sabbath, don’t lift heavy objects on the Sabbath, blah, blah, blah. Thus you really cannot separate the 10 Commandments from the rest of the laws laid down in the OT. If Levitican Law goes, it all goes it would seem….]

  40. raven says

    Putting aside the many contradictions in scripture, does anyone know where in the Bible Jesus officially tossed out Leviticus?

    Jesus never said that. Brianthomas has a good answer.

    IIRC, Paul of Tarsus later in the bible, said the Jewish law only applied to Jewish xians and not to gentile xians. The Jewish law and circumcision in particular were hot topics in the very early xian church. Most of the converts ended up being gentiles and they didn’t see why they should follow the baroque Jewish laws and especially get circumcised.

    Paul is not equal to jesus and not jesus. Some claim that Jesus taught a philosophy, Paul invented a religion.

    Much of what xians believe isn’t found in the bible. They just make it up as they go along.

    The trinity was invented in the first centuries and voted on in committees and enforced by more than a little bloodshed. The Germanic tribes who invaded the Western Roman empire were xians but not Trinitarians, but Arian xians. To this day some sects, the JW’s and Mormons among them are nontrinitarian.

    Revelation refers to future events, none of which ever happened. To get the yearly predictions of the Apocalypse Now requires making up more stuff.

    If you actually look at what is in that kludgy mess of the bible and the history of xianity, it all looks like something made up by humans.

  41. raven says

    brianthomas:

    How do Christians get away with saying the 10 Commandments are still double-plus good but all those other laws are not?

    1. They just make it up as they go along.

    2. Most xians couldn’t tell you what all of the 10 commandments are anyway. They really have no idea what is in the bible. They’ve just been told that the 10 commandments are some sort of magic and important.

    3. They don’t pay any attention to the 10 commandments anyway. Hypocrisy is one of the three main sacraments of the fundies. Who only have 8 commandments, having tossed the ones about killing and lying.

  42. reddiaperbaby1942 says

    I especially like numbers 23 and 24:

    23. Going to church within 33 days after giving birth to a boy (12:4)
    24. Going to church within 66 days after giving birth to a girl (12:5)

    Guess what relative value this tribe placed on male and female children: boys were twice as valuable as girls. Alternatively, a woman was “polluted” doubly by the birth of a girl compared to that of a boy. And this is the culture the present-day religious fanatics want us to emulate!

  43. says

    There is so mush smug bullshit on here (especially from raven, who projectile vomits a near constant stream of know-nothingingness) that it makes my head spin.

    There is, however, a self-consistent comprehensive view of theology, supportable by the bible and held to by many (but not all) Christians that all the OT laws, including the 10 commandments, are nullified.

    Of course none of you want to hear that; because you want the OT laws to be in effect–that works to your advantage. That way you can parrot, for the umpteen gazillionth time, “Oh, I asked the bumpkin Christian about mixed fibers! He didn’t know it! Shoulda seen his jaw drop when I showed him the passage! Haha!”

    So you’ll have none of that, of course–your only response will be the moronic, ravenesque “cafeteria Christian” charge, used as a blunt instrument to indicate that any explanation for a result that you do not want is sumarrily and idiotically rejected.

    I’m willing to debate any of you, where I take the position that the bible supports that the OT laws are gone. My interpretation may be wrong, but I believe can make it strong enough to win a debate.

  44. says

    heddle @ 52:
    “There is, however, a self-consistent comprehensive view of theology, supportable by the bible and held to by many (but not all) Christians that all the OT laws, including the 10 commandments, are nullified.”

    Whether that’s true or not I can’t say, but I do know that it is CHRISTIAN PREACHERS who continue to dredge up OT laws in order to support fundamentalist and wingnut positions.

  45. dingojack says

    Heddle – Couldn’t resist could you?

    “I’m willing to debate any of you, where I take the position that the bible supports that the OT laws are gone. My interpretation may be wrong, but I believe can make it strong enough to win a debate”.

    Replaying losing hands and doubling down on the losing bets?
    Isn’t the definintion of madness? :)
    Dingo

  46. slc1 says

    Re Heddle @ #52

    There is, however, a self-consistent comprehensive view of theology, supportable by the bible and held to by many (but not all) Christians that all the OT laws, including the 10 commandments, are nullified.

    Gee, I guess that means we can now go out and murder people and covet our neighbor’s wife.

  47. says

    “If you actually look at what is in that kludgy mess of the bible and the history of xianity, it all looks like something made up by humans.”

    Something made up by humans before fact checking AND before modern psychiatry with its DSM and GargantuPharma with its nostrums and potions made it easier to identify and treat mental illness.

    heddle:

    The real problem lies not in OUR lack of understanding of an ancient, cobbled, revised and, often enough, flat out wrong text*; it lies in the duplicity, hypocrisy and indignorance manifested by those who claim to have a comprehensive understanding of that text–which does include the majority of christian ministers and priests (rabbis, too) and a shitton of their sheeple.

    This:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Lutheran_denominations

    is from Wiki. It purports to be a list of Lutheran denominations. IIRC, you’re a Lutheran, yes? Also, I think that you have said in the past that you are a Calvinist and believe in the notion of pre-destination and the “Elect” being the true “Chosen” people of GOD? Are all of the other self-professed christians therefore “wrong”? Are they apostates, heretics, merely misinformed (but doomed nonetheless)?

    I have no doubt that you could win a debate with a number of commenters here, and I also have no doubt that a number of really bright and educated folks would simply refuse to engage due to your past history in this regard. Then, of course, there are folks like me, bright like Sirius and woefully undereducated who have no desire to debate anyone over a matter that we hold to be the result of serially fictive authorship.
    To paraphrase Warren Zevon, I’ll BELIEVE when I’m dead–or I’ll simply be disassembled by the same rules of physics and chemistry that allow my existence.

    OT: Is there something about NASCAR and wrecks that needs investigating? I mean, WOW, they be goin’ through some rides!

    * This is not to say that there are NOT portions of the Bible, both OT and NT, that are morally correct.

  48. says

    demmocommie,

    I am not a Lutheran, but a Baptist. I am not saying that my interpretation is correct, I am saying that I (and others who hold to the end of the OT law–generally a minority position among Calvinists) can make a strong case. Most of the comments here seem to suggest that the bible trivially indicates that the OT laws are in effect, and anyone who says otherwise is doing the cafeteria Christian thing.

    So–even if you take the bible as complete fiction, my claim that I can take its text and make a strong case that it teaches that the OT laws are gone–with no cafeteria Christianity. I have an answer (which of course could be wrong) for any verse brought up against this position.

    To answer one of your questions–of course I feel that I am right and any Christian who disagrees is wrong–otherwise I would shift to his/her position.

  49. lrlecras says

    Thank you to all those who addressed my question thus far. The relationship between old and new testament laws is kind of fascinating to me from a historical point of view- if I had the time and language skills I would probably try to do some research into it.

  50. says

    Interesting thread. Best part of it, to my thinking, is this, from left0ver1under @ #22:

    The religious rules in the buybull are their own rules and do not apply to those who don’t belong.

    Those who accept the “buybull” (LOL) as “law” are welcome to live by its absurdities, but they have no right to impose those archaic absurdities on the rest of us, and particularly they do not have the right to bring that nonsense into the laws by which we all must live.

  51. katkinkate says

    My understanding:

    “prohibition against mixed fibers” – symbolizes purity of Israel

    “Don’t eat fruit from a tree within four years of planting it?” – the first fruits belongs to God.

    “where in the Bible Jesus officially tossed out Leviticus?” as mentioned above, Jesus said the law stands forever. But, I think Paul, or at least one of the non-gospel books said that the law was fulfilled in Christ. Which is sometimes taken to mean Christ fulfilled the law so christians don’t have to. Also there is a vision of Peter recorded (in Acts, I think) that is used to justify christians being able to eat formerly unclean meats (but also that they should accept converts from other peoples beside Jews).

  52. Doug Little says

    heddle,

    Most of the comments here seem to suggest that the bible trivially indicates that the OT laws are in effect, and anyone who says otherwise is doing the cafeteria Christian thing.

    No I think that most people here commenting don’t give a flying fuck whether the laws are in effect or not but are pointing out the hypocrisy of using some of the laws to justify bigotry.

  53. Ichthyic says

    if I had the time and language skills I would probably try to do some research into it.

    if you do, make sure you examine the local and regional politics of the time.

    it explains pretty how xianity, the organized religion, came to be.

  54. Ichthyic says

    I have an answer (which of course could be wrong) for any verse brought up against this position.

    so does everyone else.

    hence, 30 thousand plus sects of xianity and growing.

  55. says

    Whether or not all these laws are supposed to still be in effect is rather beside the point. Assuming the Bible is accurate, one would think that an omnipotent God could come up with a set of laws (for any type of society, yes, even a primitive nomadic one) that was far less brutal, bigoted and misogynistic.

    Thus, they could have avoided hundreds of years and dozens of generations of superstition and suffering, particularly on behalf of gays, lesbians, and women in general.

  56. Ichthyic says

    it makes my head spin.

    quick! someone call an exorcist for Heddle!

    he’s obviously possessed by demons.

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