I just finished watching this DVD (thanks Netflix) and gotta say: the more I investigate how Christianity works the more I believe what Ghandi said. One of the things that seems evident of some here in the world is that if it is written then we are to interpret it as it is written and consider nothing else. The assumption is that the world never changes and should never change. That it, like God, are constants. But I wonder if some got the message a little screwy, like the Telephone game that kids play. You know, the one where a secret message is told in a large group and by the time you get to the last person the “peanut butter and jelly sandwich” has become the “green elephant on the marshmallow roof”.
The world changes although the actual text, often left to interpretation by us little mere mortals, doesn’t change that much. And from that text are pulled some common quotes:
Leviticus 18:22 (King James Version)
22Thou shalt not lie with mankind, as with womankind: it is abomination. (Source)
The Leviticus quote is the most common one done by various groups who pontificate on the evils of homosexuality. It is interesting that this is often choosen as the main text by, as per the DVD, “literals” — those that take the Bible and read it literally. The challenge to this is that we forget to main points: 1) the Bible were written by men (there are no passages, AFAIK, written by women) and their take on God 2) those letters were written 2,000 in a different time and place than today and 3) were written a few hundred times until we reached where we are today. The Bible is one of the longest ongoing telephone games around. What is often forgotten was that this was, as theologians put it, a form of “holiness” code. A holiness code was a code of behaviours put forth in contrast to the “non-Jews” at the time period. It was a challenge to the excesses and desire to live by right. Many religions and philosophies have that built in. Even in Buddhism we have the 5 Percepts which includes a precept to “abstain from sexual misconduct and sensual overindulgence2“. Does that mean homosexuality? No. It means to ensure that sex is treated as the intimate and relationship building behaviour that it should be; and that it be done with consent between people. In the context of Leviticus, it was a commentary of what was going on at the time by the “pagans” — particularly the wealthy to-do ones who used sex as an activity for the sake of demeaning one’s enemies rather than the union of people.
“I like your Christ, I do not like your Christians. Your Christians are so unlike your Christ.”
Mahatma Gandhi quotes (Indian Philosopher, 1869-1948)
Genesis 19 talks about the infamous Sodom and Gomorrah, the so-called wicked twin cities. Now this one might have more relevance today but not for the reasons that I think many of us have been taught. The whole story, when you read it, isn’t about the so-called “wicked sexual behaviour” but rather the denying someone into your home with open arms and feasting in the presence of another. Basically something that is sorely lacking in today’s society. We too often sit behind closed doors and refuse others to come in, offering shelter, help, love, laughter and a meal. God, as per this passage, smote the cities because people were — basically — refusing to be human to each other. The site I used for the Leviticus passage allows you to see how each various Bible interpretation lists the passage for Genesis 19:5. The original King James version reads: “And they called unto Lot, and said unto him, Where are the men which came in to thee this night? bring them out unto us, that we may know them.” (emphasis on the last words mine). As I flipped to other versions, this got changed to “that we may have sex with them”. At a time when the privileged individuals of cities were turning away “strangers”, it was important to know who existed within the gates and if they were deemed unworthy, they were shunned or worse.
This isn’t about homosexuality or anything else. It’s about how we treat each other and that we should treat each other, even when we are complete strangers, with respect and with the most important message of the Bible that is often forgotten: love. That is what it is ultimately about, isn’t it? Perhaps we need to be more like Christ again and open our doors to each other. If our concern is about where our society is going, then I think we need to start by asking ourselves a simple question: how do I treat the strangers that walk into my life, asking for the simplest of help?
Anyways, the DVD does definitely give thought to both sides of the fence and I would recommend it to anyone who wants to understand the Bible a bit more.