Beyond Biblical Cleanliness

Warmth and brandy can save lives!

Obviously the issue of gay marriage has been on in the news and on my mind a lot lately.  For my last post where I had read some of Leviticus to get more material, which I already knew was there, but I didn’t know specific location of anything in the book.  Upon reflection of the holistic biblical context I feel like an idiot for not seeing this correlation sooner.  The Old Testament concern about male on male action is no less about hygiene than chapter 15 that describes human discharges. Female homosexuality seems to get a pass.  Leviticus covers every other coupling under the sun from three generations worth of instructions on incest to bestiality but no there’s no mention of inter-female relations in the whole Old Testament.  I found this interesting and relevant to helping my point on the biblical concerns really being about hygiene.

Back to my thoughts on hygiene and medicine, in those days they didn’t have running water or any awareness of viruses, bacteria, or other immunity considerations.  Every disease, sexually transmitted or not, was interpreted and treated as a spiritual affliction cleansed by water and whatever other mumbo-jumbo they perceived to have helped at some point prior.  I’m not saying these people were void of medicinal ability.  I’ve read about olive oil being used as an antiseptic, soap being made from animal fat, and they instruct people to wait after bathing before considering themselves clean.  The point is that they clearly didn’t have much to work with in the way of knowledge or resources and it was found easier to leave camp or kill their own people than keep them around to inflict their uncleanliness on the rest of the group.

This explains why the severity of sexual uncleanliness decreased by Paul’s time when he just put homosexuality alongside promiscuity.  Society didn’t need to kill for it anymore, but as the end of Romans 1 indicates God was perceived to be perfectly capable of taking you out if he wanted to.  But disease was less of a risk to society because specialized practices like plumbing and medicine are just a couple perks which come from settling in a populous city.  Doctors still didn’t know what an immune system was but with the added knowledge and resources which comes from being a hub of trade a bunch of different mumbo-jumbo possibilities sifts out to expose consistent medicinal commonalities and the latest stock of supplies for carrying them out.  The goal of the doctor was still a matter of helping the patient’s spiritual fortitude along to the point of sustaining itself but the quality of care was far better than what could be provided by nomads in tents.

So this consideration begs the question of why human sodomy would still be considered morally unclean if there is now zero possible social ramifications for it.  We’ve bottled virtually every disease known to us, grasped it’s method of transmission, and are well on the way to finding cures or at least methods of neutralization.  Even the homeless have the ability to access plumbing, soap, anti-bacterial lotions, bath tissue, washing machines, and hospital care.  The biblical concerns about human sodomy are as obsolete as eating pork, shell fish, or going outside the camp to bury excrement with a trowel.

I’m not sure if this is what actually lies behind the Christian aversion to LGBTI marriage outside their schematic for love and devotion.  Jesus talks about the man and woman becoming one flesh thing in Matthew 19 and Paul about one husband one wife in 1 Corinthians 7.  But these are as much statements against divorce as they are definitions of union and since evangelical Christians have a divorce rate of roughly a third it hardly makes sense for them to declare their Christianity to be the morally superior one.

Of course all of this is a non-issue for the LGBTI community; they just want the right to stand by their partner legally as well as personally.  We don’t police the bed room so how consenting adults express their love isn’t even a matter on the table.  And the establishment clause of the first amendment prevents the government from making laws solely for the reason of enforcing the views of a religious establishment.

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