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Brandeis University's Community Newspaper — Waltham, Mass.

Religious zealots should think twice

Published: March 8, 2013
Section: Opinions

When religious extremists who are critical of homosexuality are subject to criticism themselves, the response tends to place emphasis on the religion itself. Often times many people, myself included, may find great difficulty reconciling their personal religious beliefs when religion can appear to be unaccepting. However, all of the controversy surrounding how religion views homosexuality can be turned on its head by examining the actual text of Old Testament.

Among all of the religious critiques of society, the loudest seem to be those against homosexuality. This would lead many to believe that the Old Testament spends an enormous amount of time discussing homosexuality, but it simply doesn’t. Homosexuality itself is discussed disproportionately more in public discourse compared to how much it is actually mentioned in the bible. There are really only a couple direct mentions of it in the Old Testament. One of which is Leviticus 20:13. “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.”

One would think that this phrasing is unequivocally serious; however, upon studying the context of this passage, this is not the case.

To start, the Hebrew word “toevah” used in this passage is generally translated as “abomination.” This translation, however, is incorrect. Translating toevah as an abomination does not do the context of the chosen wording any justice. It allows the passage to be taken out of context very easily. The Bible uses the same Hebrew word “toevah” more than 100 times. One of the most memorable uses is when the Bible discusses a prohibition against non-Kosher food. But clearly homosexuality is a far more controversial topic despite the fact that the Bible addresses non-Kosher food with the same level of seriousness. The “toevah,” in fact translates better to ‘taboo’ something with far less negative associations that the word abomination.

Although it is easy to excuse the translation of a single word, the fact that there is a penalty of death associated with homosexuality should make it absolutely inexcusable. However, if we look just four verses earlier to Leviticus 20:9 it says, “For whatsoever man there be that curseth his father or his mother shall surely be put to death; he hath cursed his father or his mother; his blood shall be upon him.” This is quite strange, because I’ve never heard a religious extremist preach about teenagers who are disrespectful towards their parents, although according to the Bible, they certainly should be. A rational reading of the Bible places disrespecting one’s parents on the same level as homosexuality.

The fact that religious zealots quote the bible to support their anti-homosexual views is ridiculous. It is true; the bible has a prohibition against homosexual acts, however this is only one piece of the metaphorical jigsaw puzzle. We would never hear of a religious extremist protesting people for being rude to their parents or treating their neighbor with malice, although those two prohibitions are addressed with the same level of seriousness, if not more so than the quoted prohibition against homosexual acts.

So why do religious extremists seem to criticize modern society primarily for its unprecedented acceptance of homosexuality when there are so many more important laws that have been broken? It is because sexuality is something that we as people are very insecure about. When anyone talks about homosexuality, it attracts far more attention than if that same person were to mention the concept of treating your neighbor with respect, because it is something that we are uncomfortable with. Therefore it is not God who truly has the problem with homosexuality, it’s people.

No one who uses religion to criticize homosexuality ever uses it to criticize someone who has been rude to his or her fellow, but they should. ociety could be better off if they did.