Friday, October 8, 2010

Sabbath Driving: the Messianic Slippery Slope to Gay Butt Sex

Six days shall work be done, but on the seventh day there shall be to you a holy day, a sabbath of solemn rest to the LORD; whosoever doeth any work therein shall be put to death. Ye shall kindle no fire throughout your habitations upon the sabbath day (Exodus 25:2-3).

And if a man lie with mankind, as with womankind, both of them have committed abomination: they shall surely be put to death; their blood shall be upon them (Leviticus 20:13).

What do the two above verses have in common? How does the prohibition against fire on the Sabbath day relate to homo erotic behavior? Let me explain.

As a former Messianic Christian I identified with the "one-law" Messianics and sabbatarian Christians who believe that the Law of Moses is incumbent on Christians in whole or in part. I used to keep the Sabbath from Friday sundown until Saturday sundown, but unlike most of my former co-religionists yet in agreement with observant Jewry I understood the verses quoted above to be a prohibition against fire for cooking, for heating, for enjoyment, and for starting and running an internal combustion engine in a vehicle. This resulted in many obstacles for me as it precluded worship with others unless I was willing to compromise and drive my car or travel by other means (e.g., by foot or bike).

Oh, and I was criticized. I was called "too Jewish" and a "legalist" who missed the "spirit of the law." I was told that the Law of Moses wasn't referring to cars because they were not invented yet. I was given a long stream of rationalizations that exonerated the majority who drive on the Sabbath while relativizing the prohibition against fire into a command against chopping down trees, gathering heavy logs, and other such burdensome labor related to making a fire. Yet, I stood by the text and with the observant Jewish community—legalist or not.

Now, exegetically sound, or not, a series of arguments have been raised regarding the prohibition against male-male sex in Leviticus 20:13 from gay Jews and Christians and their sympathizers. These arguments often point out that the concepts of sexual orientation and gay marriage were not available at the time Leviticus 20:13 was penned and that the only male-male forms of sex known placed patriarchal priorities at risk. It is argued that we no longer look to the Law of Moses for how to sell or daughters into concubinage (Exodus 21) or for patriarchal family structures, so we likewise should not apply Leviticus 20:13 (and Leviticus 18:22) to non-heterosexual orientation or marriage.

How do sabbatarian Christians and Messianics reply to the above rationale? Well, they shoot it down. They argue that it is makes the Torah too relative and that it does not matter if the concept of sexual orientation was not yet invented because the text prohibits a specific behavior. Ultimately, they show no tolerance for the same rationalizations and exonerations that they use on themselves regarding driving on Sabbath though both behaviors (male-male sex and fire on Sabbath) carry the same punitive weight in the Torah: the death penalty. They tolerate their trivialization of the Torah regarding Shabbat but then use the Torah as a blunt weapon to criticize LGBT peoples.

Is it just me or is this not utterly hypocritical?

People often speak of gateway behaviors. Pot is a gateway to stronger and more dangerous drugs. Social drinking is a gateway behavior to alcoholism. Conservatives often speak of the slippery slope. They reason, if you compromise on one behavior what is to stop you from compromising further down the road? If you compromise with respect to one doctrine, what is to keep you from eventual atheism or heresy? Using this same concept of gateway behaviors I am satirically calling Sabbath driving a gateway sin. If one accepts the arbitrary voice of authority that is the Torah as a source for morality, one is obliged to accept the conclusion that fire on the Sabbath is a sin. If you compromise on this item, they why do you not accept other peoples' compromises and sins?

And, as a disclaimer, homosexuality is not a sin it is an orientation.


Fizlowski said...

Well, you kill the satire a little bit when you call it satire; it's as if you don't give your reader credit for figuring that out for themselves. But, then again, some of your readers (and I won't name any names) have shown themselves to be quite obtuse.

Regardless, the point is well stated; those who claim to use the torah (and the bible in general) as a moral guide are clearly picking and choosing what they have already decided to themselves is immoral behavior, and they likewise pick and choose what passages they want to be taken literally and which are to be interpreted only in their original Sitz-im-Leben. But don't say they're inconsistent!

Peter said...

I know I know....I had though of making this thoroughly satirical, but I am almost certain that there would be some who would take it seriously.

I like your summary. In case after case those who herald the Bible as a source of morality have already made up their minds about morality and hence pick and choose from "God's perfect law book." In so doing, they make morality into an arbitrary and tribalistic construct (e.g., what I choose vs. what you choose).

Fizlowski said...


Fizlowski said...

oops, I forgot to select the "email follow-up" box when I said "j"

Fizlowski said...

I'm still getting the adult content warning. Were you planning to post some adult content?