To Christians: Don’t Ask. Don’t Tell. Don’t Be Faithful Either.
At the end of the last year, congress and the president ended the policy for the military known as “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” and provided for the first time in US history that gays will be allowed to serve openly in the military. As was to be expected, this reignited a number of discussions, not only on gays in the military but on the subject of gay lifestyle in general. I recently engaged in a “spirited discussion” with a friend who happens to disagree with my view on the subject. Part of his reference for his point was some material that he copied below from a military website.
I do not mind disagreement. The ability to view our opinions is one of the greatest and most unique benefits of a free society. Substituting rhetoric for debate and use of fallacy in place of fact, however, are another story. If any debate is to be meaningful, it should be conducted using facts that relate to the issues at hand without throwing in inflammatory tripe. In that spirit, I now answer my friend and any other who have come upon the site which includes the following:
I do need some advice from you, however, regarding some other elements of God’s Laws and how to follow them.
1. Leviticus 25:44 states that I may 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 can’t I own Canadians?
2. Greg would like to sell his daughters into slavery, as sanctioned in Exodus 21:7. In this day and age, what do you think would be a fair price for them?
3. 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.
4. 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?
5. 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, or should I ask the police to do it?
6. A friend of mine feels that even though eating shellfish is an abomination, Lev. 11:10, it is a lesser abomination than homosexuality. I don’t agree. Can you settle this? Are there ‘degrees’ of abomination?
7. Lev. 21:20 states that I may not approach the altar of God if I have a blemish 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? Maybe because my eyes are different colors I am unable to worship.
8. 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?
9. I know from Exodus 21.17 if my boys curse me they should be put to death, can we bend on that a little?
10. 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. Couldn’t 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 and thus enjoy considerable expertise in such matters, so I’m confident you can help.
Thank you again for reminding us that God’s word is eternal and unchanging.
No rational debate of the subject would include any of this type of listing. To begin with, the “laws” mentioned here were given specifically to Jewish people living in the Israel. While it might be debated that they should still be binding on modern Jews in Israel, Christ never assigned a governmental system for non-Jewish people. And, to the best of my knowledge, no one is making a serious request that the United States or any other country set up such a system. To that end, the entire list is simply an attempt to demean people of faith who happen to oppose whatever tenets of the discussion are applicable to any of the numbered items. Or more succinctly, they have no reasonable arguments, so their best hope is to make the other side of the question appear unreasonable, oppressive, or foolish.
So, if the Jewish system of law is not binding on gentile believers, then why is Leviticus 21 so often cited by people opposing homosexual conduct you might ask?
There are two reasons, or perhaps the same reason addressed in at least two different areas of the Bible. When the time came to decide which portions of the law a new believer, non-Jewish, had to observe, the apostles met and prayerfully discussed the matter. The decisions reached are listed in Acts 21:25
As for the Gentile believers, we have written to them our decision that they should abstain from food sacrificed to idols, from blood, from the meat of strangled animals and from sexual immorality.
The actions defined as “sexual immorality” are listed in the twentieth chapter of Leviticus, first defined well over 2000 years ago. It was a very different world, no doubt about it. In fact, it was so long ago, some people are tempted to question that there was anything of wisdom that they could teach us today. A reasoned look, however, shows that God knew and told quite a lot.
Another action forbidden in that chapter was adultery. To the best of my knowledge, the United States never carried a death penalty for that offense. Some countries did and do, though my understanding is that it is not applied evenly between the sexes. I have heard that there is at least one website out today that caters particularly to people looking to be unfaithful to their spouses. Try as I might, I can’t find much good in this activity which has destroyed so many families and caused such pain.
Bestiality is another item listed there. Most people I have been around who have ever discussed the topic seem to do it with a mixture of shock and embarrassment. It’s still out there. And so are the results. Aside from the occasional bizarre news story, anyone who has ever contracted gonorrhea can thank someone in the distant past who was convinced they knew more than the Mosaic writings. The disease comes from a bacteria native to sheep. Think of how much suffering could have been avoided with a little self control.
The list goes on. Incest. Child sacrifice. Respect for parents. The listing is unique in that it comes with a note of sadness. As God commanded that the Israelites refrain from these actions, he included a warning: It was because the people of the land were doing these things that they were to be destroyed. The people inhabiting the land before the Jews did not know God. They certainly were not Jews, and he never tried to bind them to his laws. But because of these things, they were beyond redemption. It’s a powerful message.
Again, I don’t know of anyone who wants to revive most of these things as criminal offenses, but to say that they are arbitrary or without purpose is simply wrong. And to declare them morally correct flies in the face of all the harm that they cause.
For whatever reason, people of faith are being painted as a hate-filled mob simply for standing up and holding to wisdom that was old long before our current nation was young. We do not wish to punish or insult. We simply want the rights that were granted by our Constitution, rights that the authors credited not to government but to God. Among the greatest of these is freedom of speech, no matter how offensive it may be. And there is freedom of religion, which as a minimum must include the freedom to hold your conscience clear, to not be compelled to give up our principles based on the whims of others.
The nation has already embraced easy divorce, with the result that an intact family is rapidly becoming the minority. In the seventies, we removed the stigma from pre-marital sex, and became a nation of single parents and insecure children. Now the government tells us is the time to embrace homosexuality, and though they have failed to convince a majority of the public, they are dictating the matter to the military. I wonder what new social problems we shall trace to this day two generations hence.