Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Fun With Christians II

OK, so awesome inauguration today. Great speech. Tears. The world is suddenly a better place. I'm... what is this feeling? Is it "happy"? I've heard that word. I know that there are people who think it means something...

Ah, to hell with them. I've got bigger fish to fry.

As anyone who knows me (which includes the three people who regularly follow this blog) can tell you, I love a good argument. The ebb and flow of intellectual discourse, or simply devastating a particularly unthinking opponent with simple logic - I can't help myself.

So when I find a blog calling itself Go Share Your Faith!, obviously, I had to check it out, and... well, you know, share my faith.

Specifically, let's look at this entry, amusingly entitled Uh…Being Gay is NOT a gift; it’s a sin…period. Which, right off, shows you that they're open to divergent viewpoints, right? But it starts like this.
Yes, you read that right. Being Gay Homosexual is an abomination…not a “Gift from God.”

I’m not sure which bible this “Pastor” is reading but he evidently doesn’t read very closely. How does one discount, or totally miss the following scriptures?

Leviticus 18:22 You shall not lie with a male as with a woman; it is an abomination.

Leviticus 20:13 If a man lies with a male as with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination; they shall surely be put to death; their blood is upon them.
He also quoted two other Bible verses (1 Corinthians 6:9, and 1 Timothy 1:8 - feel free to look those up on your own if you want to. They aren't really germane to this discussion.)
Now, lest you think that I’m picking unfairly on you…Mr. Homosexual, notice that others are condemned by God also; murderers, sexually immoral, liars, perjurers, etc.

None of these actions are acceptable to God.

So what to do?

Repent of your wicked ways.

Believe the Gospel you currently mock.
And then, only at the end of this entry, do we get the Youtube video that this guy objects to. Which is pretty much the definition of "putting the cart before the horse."
Basically (if you have video issues), it's a little less than 2 minutes long, and it's a bit from the Oprah show where a minister is telling a gay man that it's OK, and "being gay is a gift from God."

I'm not sure that would have been my message, but I'm no minister. But you know me (OK, statistically, you probably don't - let's just move on), I had to post a comment.
You know, if you're going to quote the Old Testament, you should live up to all of its requirements, like not eating shellfish, shaving or wearing clothing made from two different threads (you know, like a cotton-poly blend). And, incidentally, you should probably study it a little closer.

Both quotes from Leviticus, for example, in the ancient Hebrew, are mistranslations - they refer to homosexual rape, not homosexuality itself.
The author applied the Hebrew term shakab to the "thou shalt not lie with" sequence and mishkab to the "as with" woman sequence. Mishkab occurs 46 times in 44 verses, all in the books of Moses. Mishkab generally means "bed," as in Leviticus 15:4 when the scripture states if a man lies in a bed [mishkab] and a woman has bled on the sheets, he is unclean, or as in Numbers 31:17 where God commands that every woman who has been to "bed" [mishkab] with a man (and therefore might be carrying an "unborn baby") should be slain. Yada, yada, yada: all pretty self-explanatory.

Shakab occurs 213 times in 194 verses, so we have plenty of context from which to draw a closer definition of the term. I looked through each of these verses and found that in 101 instances shakab meant to go to bed, or to sleep, in the most innocuous sense. In 51 instances shakab means to "sleep with the fathers," not in any perverse Christian sex fantasy sense, but meaning that they died, as in the "Luca Brasi sleeps with the fishes" sense.

...In 52 instances (virtually all of the sexual instances) the term shakab is used to describe a sexual encounter typified by deceit or force, in other words, some type of rape. Consider the following examples:

"Come, let us make our father drink wine, and we will lie [shakab] with him, that we may preserve the seed of our father." (Genesis 19:32) Lot's daughters rape their father, at least that's his story, and he's sticking to it.

"And Abimelech said, What is this thou hast done unto us? one of the people might lightly have lien [shakab] with thy wife, and thou shouldest have brought guiltiness upon us." (Genesis 26:10) Here Isaac tries to pass his wife, Rebekah, off as his sister. Rightly assuming that Rebekah would not have willingly had sex with any Philistine who offered, we can assume that among the Philistines it was considered a boys-will-be-boys type of issue to rape unmarried Jewish women. Even so the king, Abimelech, delivers an edict forbidding anyone to "molest" Isaac (again with the male rape thing), or his wife.

Previously, in Genesis 20, Abraham had practiced the same deceit with his wife, Sarah. Abimilech, thinking Sarah was Abraham's sister, kidnapped her, with the intention of raping her. He was forced by God to return her to Abraham, to whom he paid a fine.

..."And when Shechem the son of Hamor the Hivite, prince of the country, saw her, he took her, and lay [shakab] with her, and defiled her." (Genesis 34:2)

"That she called unto the men of her house, and spake unto them, saying, See, he hath brought in an Hebrew unto us to mock us; he came in unto me to lie [shakab] with me, and I cried with a loud voice:" (Genesis 39:14) In this story Joseph, living as a trusted slave in the house of Potifer, is sexually harassed by Potifer's wife. She's after him to have sex with her and he'll have none of it. One day he ends up alone with her and when he realizes this he rushes to get out of the house only escaping by shedding his coat which she has hold of. When Potifer comes home she cries rape, claiming as evidence the coat he "left behind." Joseph is sent to prison.

"Whosoever lieth [shakab] with a beast shall surely be put to death." (Exodus 22:19) Assuming that no ewe is "asking for it" we can assume that "lie with" in this instance refers to nonconsensual sex, or rape, albeit of an animal.
And everything else you quote is the same. But it takes more room to prove that than it does for you to (mis)quote it.

Perhaps you should worship the Word of God, not the Mistranslation of God.
I thought it was a good point. It covered a basic flaw in the argument. I was happy with it.

And it almost didn't get posted at first. I got an email from the blogger, Robert Pavich, who said
do some research before you bring this old tired one out will you?
I kid you not. That was the sum total of his response. No capitalization, limited punctuation.

Out of curiosity, I went back to the post, where I found that my name was used, followed by
Next time do your homework…the shellfish argument is a dead end.
Now, that annoyed me even more, because, aside from the fact that shrimp were a throwaway argument within the first two lines (specifically, one argument in a set of three), do you mean to tell me that that's the only point that he picked to dismiss? The Shrimp!?!!?

And further, without my response in there, a casual reader might think that I was telling a previous poster (who also mentioned the shellfish argument) that he was wrong. And since it's a very valid point (Leviticus does ban a lot of things that are being ignored here), you might be able to see where I was a little bit annoyed.

So, I hit "reply" on the email, and told our boy Bobby:
I find it fascinating that you would dismiss my comment out of hand, without arguing. Do you have a point?

I used a scholarly analysis of the translation of Leviticus in as an argument. And your response is "Do your research"? Do you even listen to what you say? I gather that you're too hypocritical to allow an argument that you can't refute.

It's sad that you are allowing your personal prejudices to blind you to the word of God. "But in vain do they worship me, Teaching as their doctrines the precepts of men." (Matthew 15:9)
I really love throwing scripture quotes at them to refute their ignorant points. (Not, admittedly, that this guy had anything like a point...)

Apparently, throwing around words like “hypocrisy” makes Bobby cranky. Because, after a brief email exchange, I went back to his site, to find my post, preceded by:
Blog owner’s note: I didn’t approve this comment at first because it’s a rehash of an old argument but after some reflection, I thought that it would be useful to let it be posted. I say this for one reason. I’m going to assume that the commenter is trying to find the truth of what scripture actually says on the subject and is not just trying to “make his point.”

I think that it would be beneficial to play this out no matter how it goes.

So with that said, here is his comment:
And he then even responded.

I’m going to ask what I already asked in the email that I sent to you just to get us started on an even keel so everyone reading can follow along….ok? bear with me.

I’m going to try and understand your arguments so I’m going to restate them and you tell me if I have it ok?

1.) Shellfish. Because homosexuality is called an abomination in Leviticus then anything else that’s prohibited (like the eating of shellfish) should be outlawed also and I’m hypocritical to just pick on those that practice homosexuality.

2.) The word “lie” shakab in Leviticus is mistranslated and really should be “homosexual rape” due to it’s inclusion in passages where forced sex occurs.
It just means “to lie down” as in “go to sleep.”

Have I understood your arguments correctly?
And since I figured we were off to the races, I got right into it.
Well, because I’m just a backwards sort of guy, I’ll take your arguments in reverse order. Tonight, we’ll talk about your second point.
2.)The word… shakab in Leviticus is mistranslated and really should be “homosexual rape”
Well, technically, we don’t speak ancient Hebrew, and so the translation gets tricky. For example, when two different words are used, is it possible that they mean different things?

Or, let’s put it another way. Let’s take the phrase “compare apples and oranges.” Only, just to make things interesting, let’s take two different words from another language, and replace them. What that means is, Leviticus 18:22 now reads, “Thou shalt not eat apples, as thou do oranges: it is abomination.”

See, the ancient Hebrew word shakab doesn’t translate directly. And neither does mishkab, if you want to be totally honest about it. They are (let’s be real) two totally different words.

Now, there are three distinct versions of Hebrew in the Bible, usually called “Archaic Biblical Hebrew” (10th to 6th century - Exodus 15 through Judges 5), Biblical Hebrew (most of the Old Testament), and “Late Biblical Hebrew” (Ezra, Nehemiah - mostly the same as Biblical Hebrew, with a few adapted words from other cultures). There’s other forms - Dead Sea Scroll Hebrew (from about 300 BC through about 100 AD) and Mishnaic Hebrew (from about 100 AD through 300 or 400 AD) come to mind, but we’ll ignore them.

Each of these versions of ancient Hebrew only had a few thousand words. In comparison, the second edition of the Oxford English Dictionary (pub. 1989) contains full entries for 171,476 words in current use, and 47,156 obsolete words. This doesn’t count 10,000 sub-entries (derivative words), or medical and scientific terms, Latin words used in law and religion, French words used in cooking, German words used in academic writing, Japanese words used by martial artists and anime fans, or any slang or computer terms (like, say, iPod or email).

With that difference in the depth of the language, why would the Biblical writers use two different words for one thing? Why would you not eat apples, as you do oranges? Unless we were talking about two different acts.

If the Hebrew word shakab is used in the Old Testament to refer to the act of sex 53 times, and in 52 of those times, we’re talking a forcible act, what does that say? (And, to be honest, since the woman in ancient times was a piece of property, the one, single other instance could be a forcible sex act as well. Do you really want to get into the specifics of Old World sex in this forum?)

I listed a few specifics to show that shakab was the word for “forcible sex” in the Bible. Feel free to point out where I might have erred.

Tomorrow, we’ll talk about Old Testament abominations.
We'll see where this gets us.

Update: And, surprise! He didn't back down - he actually responded. Part 2

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