One of the issues that conservatives want to discuss is homosexual behavior. We have five very strong quotes against this, all of which need to be understood in the Sitz in Leben, or the sitting in life, the context of the passages. The first of these is Leviticus 18: 22. The Hebrew for “Abomination,” “תּוֹעֵבָה” means, “Nauseating.” The original Hebrew says, “וְאֶת-זָכָר–לֹא תִשְׁכַּב מִשְׁכְּבֵי אִשָּׁה” This literally translates, “With males you will not lay, as with women.”
Torah is not a law book. “Torah,” “תורה” comes from a Hebrew root word, “הוראה” which means “Teaching.” It is the history of Israel’s struggle to understand God. As a result, there are contradictions in the text. This is because Torah is a living teaching and reflects this struggle to understand God. One of these disputes relates to who Moses is as a person. Exodus 6:20 tells us, “”Amram, married his aunt Jochebed, who bore him Aaron, Moses, and Miriam.”
Leviticus 18: 22 tells us about how homosexual behavior is nauseating. Leviticus 18:12-13 tells us that marrying your aunt is also nauseating. Moses’ mother was also his great aunt. The writer of the Genealogy in Exodus was probably from the northern tribes, which scholars today describe by the name the used for God/אֱלהים. Leviticus 20:19 relates the same.
The writer of Leviticus, like Moses and Aaron used the name, “השם.” There were real disagreements between the writers in the northern tribes and these priests from Jerusalem. If the genealogy is correct, when Moses relates the commandment against the incest of marrying an aunt, he condemns his own mother and father. We all know the commandment about honoring parents. Leviticus 18 and Leviticus 20 must be understood in context of the debate between the four groups writing Torah.
Ladies, as Leviticus 18:22 reads, if you lie with a male, as with a female, you violate this Mitzvah If you do not, our species cannot procreate. Leviticus 20:13 is clearer, “וְאִישׁ, אֲשֶׁר יִשְׁכַּב אֶת-זָכָר מִשְׁכְּבֵי אִשָּׁה–תּוֹעֵבָה עָשׂוּ” The Mitzvah relates only to men, not women. Lesbian behavior is OK. We go back to Leviticus 18 and look for context to the passage, in particular verse 18:
וְאִשָּׁה אֶלאֲחֹתָהּלֹא תִקָּחלִצְרֹרלְגַלּוֹת עֶרְוָתָהּ עָלֶיהָבְּחַיֶּיהָ
“You will not take a woman to her sister, to be a rival to her, beside the other in her lifetime.” This passage does not seem to apply. We look for context in the passage, Genesis 29, the story of Leah and Rachael. Jacob violates this passage by marrying Leah, and then her sister, Rachael, his beloved wife. Levi and Judah are the second and third sons of Leah. The writer of Leviticus was a Levite. “A Jewish, is a descendent of Judah.
The story relates all the animosity and rivalry between the two wives their children. We can tell the same writer wrote both Leviticus 18 and the stories of Leah and Rachael because they use the same word for God, “The Personal Name.” The eldest son of Rachael, Joseph, is the child who leads the family into Egypt, and slavery. This is the consequence of violating Leviticus 18: 18.
We find stories in Genesis and Judges which relate violations of Leviticus 18: 22. They are at Genesis 19:1-15, in particular Genesis 19:5, and Judges 19:15-30. These passages make the context clear. The people in the wicked towns are not hospitable to strangers. Then they desire to violate Leviticus 18: 22 and Leviticus 20:13. In both stories the charitable man offers to give his daughter to the wicked men and they are inclined to take the offer.
Angels prevent Lot. In the Judges story the men complete their act. Sodom and the tribe of Benjamin are wiped out for their failures. In Jewish tradition, the great crime is not the homosexual behavior, but the lack of hospitality in both Genesis 19:1-15, and Judges 19:15-30. In Jewish tradition, a Sodomite is a legalist.
The last text relating to homosexuality in our Bible is Romans 1:5–Romans 2:29, in particular Romans 1:18–Romans 2:29. Romans 1:18 until the end of the chapter shows St. Paul as the articulate revivalist minister. He whips up the crowd; they do this; they do that; they do the other thing. Among the bad things listed includes, “God handed them over to impurity through the lusts of their hearts for the mutual degradation of their bodies.” “God handed them over to degrading passions. Their females exchanged physical relations for the metaphysical; the males likewise gave up natural relations with females and burned with lust for one another. Males did shameful things with males and thus received in their own persons the due penalty for their perversity.”
Jewish tradition, which St. Paul is taking for granted the crowd identifies with, Leviticus 18: 22 and Leviticus 20:13 applies to women first, and because of their perversion, it applies to men. As liberal Catholics we must understand this passage is in Romans, and we must acknowledge the existence of the passages in Leviticus, Genesis, and Judges.
Conservative Christians, including Catholics must look at the grander context of the passages. “They knew The Almighty Judge, but did not accord him importance as the Almighty Judge or give him thanks. They became vain in their reasoning. Their senseless possessed darkened minds. Claiming to be wise, they became fools. They exchanged the weight of the immortal God for the likeness of mortal man or of birds or of four-legged animals or of snakes.” Part 2 of this article will discuss exactly what this means.