Throwback to all these Jesus comics I drew in 2012…
Good post OP
Good post, OP, and if you ever decide to do another may I please suggest “NOT IN HEBREW IT DOESN’T” as a punchline? So much of the Old Testament is HORRIFICALLY translated from the Tanakh, it drives me batty.
WAIT WAIT WHAT DOES IT SAY?????? I NEED TO LIKE,, DESTROY MI MUM FOR BEING REALLY HOMOPHOBIC
Okay, so, strictly speaking, the infamous Leviticus 18:22 does say “forbidden.” Here’s the thing:
1) The word translated as “forbidden” is “toevah.” While that translation isn’t … wrong, it’s sort of like saying “McMansion” means “really big house.” There are a lot of connotations in that word. The specific issue with toevah is that we … sort of … don’t know anymore exactly what it meant. Based on context, it seems likely that the word referred to something ritually forbidden. This part of Torah was written not only as a guide for future generations, but also to say “so, look around, see your neighbors? DON’T DO THAT.“ Thus, if we interpret “toevah” to mean something that’s forbidden to do as a ritual before G-d, then the verse says nothing whatsoever about Adam and Steve and their two kids and their dog–it’s saying you shouldn’t have sex with another man in the Temple as a sacrifice.
2) Following the same “this is ritually forbidden” logic of toevah, this verse may also be interpreted as “don’t do sex magic,” which was a thing in. Like. A lot of fucking cultures at the time.
3) Hebrew is a highly gendered language, and the grammatical gender in this verse is really really weird. One of the “men” in this verse is given female grammar. Why? Who fucking knows, man, this isn’t the only grammatical oddity in Torah. (There are also places where G-d is referred to as plural, and also as female.) One suggestion is that this is a way of creating a diminutive–that is, that the verse should be read as “a man should not lie with a boy.” Now, it’s worth noting that modern secular scholarship has concluded the written Torah was written down around the 6th century BCE, and most non-Orthodox Jewish scholars are like “yeah, all things considered, that sounds pretty legit.”
Do you know what else was happening around the 6th century BCE? What laypeople tend to mean when they say “ancient Greece” was happening.
Do you know what happened a lot in that time period in Greece? Dudes forming relationships with younger boys, like ages 10-15, and using them for sex in exchange for financial gifts, mentorship, etc. While we don’t know just how young some of these younger boys may have been, we do know some were prepubescent. In light of this, and also something I mentioned under the first point–”see your neighbors? DON’T DO THAT,” if this verse is interpreted to say “a man should not lie with a boy,” then it’s pretty clearly “my dudes, my fellows, my lads, don’t be fucking pedophiles.”
4) Because of the grammar I mentioned in #3, it’s also possible that “should not lie with a man as with a woman” is actually referring to a place, not an abstract personhood: a man shouldn’t have sex with another man in a woman’s bed. In the time period, a woman’s bed was sort of like–that was her place, her safe sanctuary. It was also a ritually holy place where babies were made. By having sex in her bed, you’re violating her safe space (and also introducing a man who may not be a male relative, thus forcing her into breaking the laws of modesty). If this verse is read this way, then it should be taken to mean “don’t sexually violate a woman’s safety and modesty.”
5) And as an offshoot of #4, this may be a second verse relating to infidelity. Which woman’s bed is any random dude in 600 BCE most likely to have access to? His wife’s. But laws were administered differently based on whether the person they pertained to was slave or free, male or female, and so on–thus, a man committing adultery with a woman would be treated differently than man committing adultery with a man (especially because the latter would carry no chance of an illegitimate pregnancy).
So you’ll note, there are a lot of ways to read this verse, and only a one-to-one translation with no cultural awareness produces “being gay is wrong, all of the time”.
(You’ll also notice the word “abomination” is nowhere to be found. That’s like … a straight-up fiction created for who only knows what reason.)