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February 23, 2004

Speaking of the Pentateuch

While we're on the subject, I may as well post this letter to Dr. Laura that Clover forwarded to me, she apparently not having an inclination to do it herself. (Yes, there are others here aside from myself, Woundwort and Kehaar--they just never post.)

Near as I can tell, it's from May of 2000

Dr. Laura Schlessinger is a US radio personality. Recently, she said that as an observant Orthodox Jew, homosexuality is an abomination according to Leviticus 18:22 & cannot be condoned under any circumstances. The following is an open letter to Dr. Laura penned by a US resident, J. Kent Ashcraft, which was posted on the Internet:

May 2000

Dear Dr. Laura,

Thank you for doing so much to educate people regarding Godís Law. I have learned a great deal from your show, and I try to share that knowledge with as many people as I can. When someone tries to defend the homosexual lifestyle, for example, I simply remind him that Leviticus 18:22 clearly states it to be an abomination. End of debate.

I do need some advice from you, however, regarding some of the specific laws and how to best follow them.

a) When I burn a bull on the altar as a sacrifice, I know it creates a pleasing odor for the Lord (Lev 1:9). The problem is my neighbors. They claim the odor is not pleasing to them. Should I smite them?

b) I would like to sell my daughter into slavery, as sanctioned in Exodus 21:7. In this day and age, what do you think would be a fair price for her?

c) I know that I am allowed no contact with a woman while she is in her period of menstrual uncleanliness (Lev 15:19-24). The problem is, how do I tell? I have tried asking, but most women take offense.

d) Lev. 25:44 states that I may indeed possess slaves, both male and female, provided they are purchased from neighboring nations. A friend of mine claims that this applies to Mexicans, but not Canadians. Can you clarify? Why canít I own Canadians?

e) I have a neighbor who insists on working on the Sabbath. Exodus 35:2 clearly states he should be put to death. Am I morally obligated to kill him myself?

f) A friend of mine feels that even though eating shellfish is an Abomination (Lev 11:10), it is a lesser abomination than homosexuality. I donít agree. Can you settle this?

g) Lev 21:20 states that I may not approach the altar of God if I have a defect in my sight. I have to admit that I wear reading glasses. Does my vision have to be 20/20, or is there some wiggle room here?

h) Most of my male friends get their hair trimmed, including the hair around their temples, even though this is expressly forbidden by Lev 19:27. How should they die?

i) I know from Lev 11:6-8 that touching the skin of a dead pig makes me unclean, but may I still play football if I wear gloves?

j) My uncle has a farm. He violates Lev 19:19 by planting two different crops in the same field, as does his wife by wearing garments made of two different kinds of thread (cotton/polyester blend). He also tends to curse and blaspheme a lot. Is it really necessary that we go to all the trouble of getting the whole town together to stone them? (Lev 24:10-16) Couldnít we just burn them to death at a private family affair like we do with people who sleep with their in-laws? (Lev. 20:14)

I know you have studied these things extensively, so I am confident you can help.

Thank you again for reminding us that Godís word is eternal and unchanging.

Your devoted disciple and adoring fan.

Posted by Bigwig at February 23, 2004 02:13 PM | TrackBack
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So according to Lev. 25:44, I could legitimately buy my very own Salma Hayek lookalike, provided I get her from Mexico (low prices!) and not LA??? Praise the Lord!

Posted by: RANT at February 23, 2004 03:14 PM

Yea, verily, go forth and "smite" them.

Posted by: The Commissar at February 23, 2004 04:09 PM

Dr. Laura said I can't be a good person because I don't believe in God. Hey, I figure she must be right if she has a doctor in it or whatever.

Posted by: Jim at February 24, 2004 12:04 AM

I'm looking forward to disregarding that thing about my neighbor's wife... now there's one that's definitely outlived its usefulness.

And the one about killing. God, I'm so sick of the guy in the cubicle next to me. Yep. I think I'll off him. That stupid old bullshit about not doing this or that, is nothing but a complete inconvenience.

Nothin' but tired old outmoded morality. Time we chuck it out.

Posted by: Blackavar at February 24, 2004 08:32 AM

I'm with Blackavar. Clearly, the Bible is just an outdated collection of myths. Since nobody follows the Levitical codes regarding menstruation anymore, let's chuck all that morality stuff, too.

Posted by: Captain Holly at February 24, 2004 10:10 AM

As I recall, Dr. Laura responded to this about 4 years ago. The jist of the response was, "Does your mommy know you're on the computer again?"

Seriously, the response was "Um, all these have been debated by Jewish scholars and answered several hundred years ago."

Posted by: Samwise at February 24, 2004 10:13 AM

Dude, do you really think I wasn't prepared for the 10 commandments response? :)

Then one of them, which was a lawyer, asked him a question, tempting him, and saying, Master, which is the great commandment in the law? Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.

Posted by: Bigwig at February 24, 2004 11:49 AM

I read, and read, and read that passage over and over, and I still don't see anything in there to support gay marriage.

Unless it's in that "love your neighbor" part. ;-)

Posted by: Captain Holly at February 24, 2004 01:57 PM

I don't think it was originally meant to support gay marriage so much as it was an acceptance of homosexuality in general.

The whole marriage issue wasn't quite as big in 2000 as it is now.

Makes me wonder--what the hell are we going to be arguing about in 2008?

Posted by: Bigwig at February 24, 2004 03:15 PM

Plenty, if Hillary Clinton is in the race.

Posted by: Captain Holly at February 24, 2004 06:05 PM

Weed. It'll be legal in Canada then.

Posted by: Jim at February 24, 2004 06:32 PM

Okay, easy non-lawyer question.

What makes you so sure that the gay lobby is right, that there's no moral or public policy issues here?

Seriously - if I'm expected to chuck the accumulated wisdom of the ages, the knowledge that I draw on in part to formulate my traditionalist opinion - well, then what makes you so sure that the the wisdom of Lambda is the right way to go?

As for the loving the neighbor thing - I would expect that it's not the only commandment that is still valid. Yes, quite good, said to a lawyer... I suspect that's because he probably perceived that we were screwing our neighbors instead of loving them. But I digress.

I seem to recall Christ getting pretty wiggy about money changers in the temple, hypocritical priests, child molesters, and so forth. Correct me if I'm wrong, you are the expert at exegesis here - but that seems to confirm the interpretation that Christ didn't supercede the Old Testament, he completed its prophesies, at least to the mind of most in Christianity.

Faith based morality, in and of itself, isn't my primary argument against gay marriage, esp. the way it's being done right now. My primary problems are

1) I'm not sure we're ready for top-down imposed radical change to the central social institution in western society;

2) the people aren't being given a say in this. No say at all. I saw polls today ranging from 60% to 68% strongly against gay marriage. Last time I checked, this used to be something like a democracy. As an asshole lawyer, I should be glad to be a member of a class eligible to become one of our robed masters. But I'm not. I'm embarassed and disgusted by this, the language of law and its noble purposes is being used to cloak flat out usurpation. I feel dirty.

3) And just because people who wear black robes, or have a mayor's office, are doing it, doesn't make it legal. What other laws ought we disregard because we feel that we, individually, have cornered the market on morality? Personally, I think a tax rate of over 10% is robbery. For Chrissakes, Christ only takes 10% tops, and he's God Almighty. Yet the IRS is taking nearly three times that from me... so can I ignore the law because I think it's wrong? The Mass Supreme Judicial Court is doing the same thing, in directing the legislature to implement gay marriage, in a time frame that brooks no alternative result. Oh well, at least I should see the bright side - the Mass. Court isn't even bothering to cloak its actions in noble language, the way Mayor Newsom is...

Posted by: Blackavar at February 24, 2004 09:14 PM

I am not "coming out" in support of gay marriages, although I do believe gay couples should be afforded the same rights as married couples, but the idea of adding an amendment certainly does not seem the right way to go with this. Seeing the president stand at his podium talking about this amendment made me irritated. I just picture George in the Oval Office with his magic 8-ball and ouigi board and coming up with his ideas of how to run the country. "Should I invade Iraq? Signs point to 'Yes.' Should I come up with my own amendment, but have someone else check my spelling and come up with the big words? Ask again later."

Posted by: Woundwort at February 25, 2004 06:37 AM

Well, I guess it depends on what I think the gay lobby is right about.

As far as my marriage goes, and think most others, it's between the Sainted and Wife and myself. What any other two people do doesn't affect it. That's essentially why the idea of gay marriage doesn't bother me.

How it comes about is a different issue. For me, ideally the state would get out of the marriage business altogether, so the entire question would be removed from that arena. As far as top-down change goes, certainly I prefer that states decide on their own rather than having the change forced upon them as it was in Roe v. Wade. That's my default position on most everything, so for the most part I've confined my observations on gay marriage to what are technicalities in my mind.

But what's happened in Mass. at least, and possibly may happen in Cali, is that the gay marriage proponents have adopted a clever argument that exploits loopholes in existing law to force a decision in thier favor. They're not forcing top-down change so much as they are exploiting a previously existing top-down rule for their own advantage. What is Brown v. Board of Education if not a earlier example of the same thing? They're playing on the court given to them.

Posted by: Bigwig at February 25, 2004 11:12 AM

Many Orthodox Jews are against homosexuality, too. I've read (and heard) that much of the rulings against homosexuality came while the Jews were in Greece. Young Jewish men were assimilating into Greek society, and all stereotypes aside, homosexuality was a big thing back then. It was a way to keep the Jews from assimilating into a culture that they figured they'd eventually be able to leave. (Going back to Israel is a very, very old thing for us.)

Of course, if you believe the Bible is the literal truth, no explanation other than "Because God says so" is necessary.

Posted by: Meryl Yourish at February 26, 2004 12:29 AM
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