Friday, 11 November 2011


Many seek my advice on spiritual matters. It could be my charisma, or the rumor that I've committed most of the sins in the Good Book and therefore must be something of an authority. Indeed, I have read the Bible. Some years ago, weary of having it selectively quoted at me, I purchased The One Year Bible, neatly divided into 365 daily readings. I began reading and one year later said, "Whoa." Jeremiah, in particular, made for a very long October. But now I know everything and am happy to respond whenever an inquiry is made.

The most recent question, put to me during the furor over the ordaining of a homosexual Episcopalian bishop, was, "Would it be okay to stone him?" The answer, directly from the pages of scripture, is a resounding, "You betcha!" Homosexuality is clearly an abomination -- an offensive violation of established custom, an abhorrent act. It says so right in Leviticus 18:22: "You shall not lie with a male as one lies with a female; it is an abomination." And Leviticus 20:13 adds, "they shall surely be put to death."

Break out the fossil collection! But, and I add this only as a caution, look out for the snags.

For one, in the very same Bible, in John 8:7, Christ himself says, "Let anyone among you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone." So before we pick a starting hurler, we have to sort out anyone who has committed one or more of the other abominations, and who, if sincere, will take their rightful place inside the circle with the bishop.

What other abominations does the Bible specify? Of course, adultery (Lev 18:20), sex with animals (Lev 18:23), remarrying one's wife after she's had another husband in between (Deut 24:4), or approaching any woman and humming "Strangers in the Night" during the time of her "uncleanness" (Lev 18:19). Cross-dressing is out (Deut 22:5), and that includes Halloween costumes, slacks on women, bib overalls on little girls, or a wife wearing her husband's favorite Oxford buttondown. And more on buttondowns in a moment.

Other abominations include tarot readings, glancing at your horoscope, trimming one's beard, and getting a tattoo, even if it says, "Mom" (Lev 19:26-28). Haughty eyes (Prov 6:17) and telling lies (Prov 6:17, 12:22) are big abominations. Being untruthful also includes false weights and measures (Prov 11:1), or any other dishonesty in business. "Everyone who acts unjustly is an abomination to the LORD your God" (Prov 11:16).

What do abominators have for dinner? Rare steaks off the grill (Lev 17:10), Lobster Newburg at the Krebs and crab cakes in Baltimore (Lev 11:10), a rack of ribs at the Dinosaur Bar-B-Que (Lev 11:7).

But abominations are not just about bodily functions. Charging or paying interest are abominations. Bankers and anyone with a mortgage, car loan or credit card debt will be unavailable to throw the first stone, regardless of the interest rate (Psalm 15:1-5, Jeremiah 15:10).

Graven images of other gods are an abomination (Deut 7:25). Thus the Happy Buddha on my dresser and my postcards of the Great Buddha at Kamakura would excuse me from taking the lead in rock throwing, if I hadn't already fallen by the wayside.

My personal favorite abomination is wearing blended fabrics. Deuteronomy 22:11 forbids wearing a material made of wool and linen, but Leviticus 19:19 says it's an abomination to wear any blended material, period. Hence a woman in a man's buttondown can be doubly abominable if it's a no-iron, easy care blend of cotton and polyester.

Of course, when confronted with such information, there are people who will tell you that the blended fabrics abomination is really just a symbolic warning that Jews should not mix with other cultures, and that the dietary laws were set aside for Gentiles at the Council of Jerusalem, and that these "other abominations" were about self-preservation, hygiene and just for Orthodox Jews anyway. In short, when something they do is shown to be an abomination, many abominators become instant anthropologists, Biblical scholars and historians as well.

So why do active abominators continue to refer to the Bible when condemning homosexuals? Are such men and women unaware of their own abominations detailed in the same scriptures? Or are they simply counting on their audience being unaware?

For myself, I am sure that people of integrity, once informed of their own abominable behavior, will step into the circle and accept for themselves whatever punishment they were going to hand out to others. "Since all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God." (Romans 3:23) That's the verse I recall whenever someone uses the Bible to justify their own pet bias

Monday, 17 October 2011

Deuteronomy 22

1If you see your brother’s ox or sheep straying, do not ignore it but be sure to take it back to him. 2If the brother does not live near you or if you do not know who he is, take it home with you and keep it until he comes looking for it. Then give it back to him. 3Do the same if you find your brother’s donkey or his cloak or anything he loses. Do not ignore it.

4If you see your brother’s donkey or his ox fallen on the road, do not ignore it. Help him get it to its feet.

5A woman must not wear men’s clothing, nor a man wear women’s clothing, for the LORD your God detests anyone who does this.

6If you come across a bird’s nest beside the road, either in a tree or on the ground, and the mother is sitting on the young or on the eggs, do not take the mother with the young. 7You may take the young, but be sure to let the mother go, so that it may go well with you and you may have a long life.

8When you build a new house, make a parapet around your roof so that you may not bring the guilt of bloodshed on your house if someone falls from the roof.

9Do not plant two kinds of seed in your vineyard; if you do, not only the crops you plant but also the fruit of the vineyard will be defiled.a

10Do not plow with an ox and a donkey yoked together.

11Do not wear clothes of wool and linen woven together.

12Make tassels on the four corners of the cloak you wear.

Marriage Violations

13If a man takes a wife and, after lying with her, dislikes her 14and slanders her and gives her a bad name, saying, “I married this woman, but when I approached her, I did not find proof of her virginity,” 15then the girl’s father and mother shall bring proof that she was a virgin to the town elders at the gate. 16The girl’s father will say to the elders, “I gave my daughter in marriage to this man, but he dislikes her. 17Now he has slandered her and said, ‘I did not find your daughter to be a virgin.’ But here is the proof of my daughter’s virginity.” Then her parents shall display the cloth before the elders of the town, 18and the elders shall take the man and punish him. 19They shall fine him a hundred shekels of silverb and give them to the girl’s father, because this man has given an Israelite virgin a bad name. She shall continue to be his wife; he must not divorce her as long as he lives.

20If, however, the charge is true and no proof of the girl’s virginity can be found, 21she shall be brought to the door of her father’s house and there the men of her town shall stone her to death. She has done a disgraceful thing in Israel by being promiscuous while still in her father’s house. You must purge the evil from among you.

22If a man is found sleeping with another man’s wife, both the man who slept with her and the woman must die. You must purge the evil from Israel.

23If a man happens to meet in a town a virgin pledged to be married and he sleeps with her, 24you shall take both of them to the gate of that town and stone them to death—the girl because she was in a town and did not scream for help, and the man because he violated another man’s wife. You must purge the evil from among you.

25But if out in the country a man happens to meet a girl pledged to be married and rapes her, only the man who has done this shall die. 26Do nothing to the girl; she has committed no sin deserving death. This case is like that of someone who attacks and murders his neighbor, 27for the man found the girl out in the country, and though the betrothed girl screamed, there was no one to rescue her.

28If a man happens to meet a virgin who is not pledged to be married and rapes her and they are discovered, 29he shall pay the girl’s father fifty shekels of silver.c He must marry the girl, for he has violated her. He can never divorce her as long as he lives.

30A man is not to marry his father’s wife; he must not dishonor his father’s bed.

Thursday, 25 August 2011


Abomination (from Latin abominari, "to deprecate as an ill omen") is an English term used to translate the Biblical Hebrew terms shiqquwts ("shiqqûts") and sheqets, which are derived from shâqats, or the terms תֹּועֵבָה, tōʻēḇā or to'e'va (noun) or ta'ev (verb). An abomination in English is that which is exceptionally loathsome, hateful, sinful, wicked, or vile.

The Biblical words usually translated as "abomination" do not always convey the same sense of moral exceptionalism as the English term does today, as it often may signify that which is forbidden or unclean according to the religion (especially sheqets). Linguistically in this case, it may be closer in meaning to the Polynesian term taboo or tapu, signifying that which is forbidden, and should not be eaten, and or not touched, and which sometimes was a capital crime. The word most often translated "abomination" to denote grave moral offenses is Tōʻēḇā. This article examines the term as it is used in English translations of the Bible, and also the actual senses of the words which are being translated into this term in English.

The term shiqquwts is translated abomination by almost all translations of the Bible. The similar words, sheqets, and shâqats, are almost exclusively used for dietary violations.

The most often used but different Hebrew term, tōʻēḇā, is also translated as abomination in the Authorized King James Version, and sometimes in the NASB. Many modern versions of the Bible (including the NIV and NET) translate it detestable; the NAB translates it loathsome. It is mainly used to denote idolatry; and in many other cases it refers to inherently evil things such as illicit sex, lying, murder, deceit, etc.; and for unclean foods.

Another word which can signify that which is abhorred is zâ‛am. There are less used Hebrew words with a similar conveyance, as well as Greek terms for such.