Monica’s Longer Arguments no Better than the Tweets!, part 1
Recently, I posted that Twitter user Monicks made a supremely ignorant statement about God and moral responsibility. In that post, I specifically mention the trouble with arguing via Twitter; namely, you get only 140 characters to make your point.
So much for that idea. All unlimited words did for her was give her more rope with which to hang herself.
So let’s look at these 11 things that the Bible forbids, yet we do anyway. First, Monica intelligently anticipates the main objection that will be raised, to which she unintelligently replies:
As a final note, I know that nine of these 11 cite the Old Testament, which Christianity doesn’t necessarily adhere to as law.
To which I say: If you’re going to ignore the section of Leviticus that bans about tattoos, pork, shellfish, round haircuts, polyester and football, how can you possibly turn around and quote Leviticus 18:22 (“You shall not lie with a male as one lies with a female; it is an abomination.”) as irrefutable law?
But that’s me trying to introduce logic to religious fanaticism (or, at least, trying to counter some mix of ignorance, bigotry and narcissism with logic). And I should probably know better.
Why is this unintelligent? The short answer is in this video from Stand to Reason.
First, understand that the New Testament affirms the ban on homosexuality without reference to Leviticus. Also understand that one of Monica’s nine items isn’t part of the Law. The idea that withdrawal (or as she puts it crudely, “pulling out”) is a sin based on Genesis 38:9-10 isn’t reading deeply enough into the text.
Onan’s behavior in the relevant passage of Genesis is a violation of Levirite marriage. Levirite marriage took place when the eldest brother died before an heir was born. It was the duty of his the younger brother to marry his big brother’s wife and produce children that would be heirs to his brother’s estate. Onan enjoyed the pleasure of sex without owning up to the responsibility that comes with it.
To me, this is no different than people who use abortion as a safety net. There are serious responsibilities that come with the fun and enjoyment of sex. First is the spiritual giving. You are essentially giving a piece of yourself to the other person (go ahead–twist that sentence all you want; I have a perverted sense of humor). Forever, that person has a piece of you and you have a piece of them. This is more serious than many people like to think about, especially people who have had a lot of sexual partners. That’s a lot of pieces of you that can never belong to your future spouse, and all of those pieces rightfully belong to your future spouse.
Forgoing sex until marriage, therefore, increases the intimacy that you eventually share with your partner. Spreading yourself thin with multitudes of sex partners, on the other hand, decreases the intimacy.
The second problem with Onan’s behavior is that the command of multiplying is denied. Now, I’ve argued elsewhere that there is multiplying and responsible multiplying. A running theme in Jesus’ parables is the idea of a wealthy landowner returning after a long absence and rewarding responsible stewards of his property (see especially Lk 19:11-27). Which means that, no matter the command of God, we need to be mindful of all the gifts he’s given us (including this planet) and treat them with respect.
Sex is a gift, and it is a gift that can bring us great pleasure, enjoyment, and intimacy. However, there is a certain responsibility that goes along with it. The spiritual and physical intimacy shared with partners ought not to be trampled on. Sex should be for mutual enjoyment. These are the obvious responsibilities that come with sex. The culture of Onan’s day additionally placed the duty of raising descendants for deceased older brothers upon the younger brother. As any other duty that goes with sex, Onan should have taken this seriously.
However, he didn’t. He enjoyed the pleasures of sex, but skirted the duty placed before him. If a factory employee clocked in for his shift, but went to sleep instead of going to the assembly line, he shouldnt’ get paid for that time, right? Same idea here: without facing the responsibility of raising descendants for his brother, he shouldn’t have reaped the pleasure that came from having sex with his brother’s wife.
The bigger picture to see is that because Onan was punished before the Law went into place for a violation of the Law, it indicates an absolute morality that predates the Law. In other words, sin exists with or without the Law. Same reason Cain was punished for the murder of Abel. Same reason God was able to declare mankind sinful enough to warrant wiping them out in a Flood. Indeed, Paul argues this exact point, stating that the Law was added because of sin, to give us knowledge of sin.
Why the quibble? Because Monica’s naive dismissal of homosexuality as a sin because it is among Laws that border on ridiculous is both a genetic fallacy and betrays a complete lack of consistent hermeneutics.
It is simply wrong to assume that because Leviticus bans touching dead pigs, eating shellfish, wearing polyester and other mixed fabrics, and tattoos that this necessarily negates the sinfulness of homosexuality. Yes, some of its bans appear absurd, but give fair time to the stuff in Leviticus that should be banned. Leviticus bans incest (in explicit detail; it doesn’t just say incest, it spends two chapters listing all the forms of incest), bestiality, and other things that should unarguably be considered criminal (or at least really gross).
Glossing over the sin of homosexuality in this way is the genetic fallacy. Each claim should be evaluated on its own, not in regard to everything that has come before it. True, a track record can be established in that way, but the knife here still cuts both ways. Leviticus contains laws that are both useful and useless. The presence of the useless cannot be the sole determining factor.
For hermeneutics to be consistent, a person needs to consider each book in the context of what it was supposed to convey. Genesis is primarily historical, not legal. Leviticus and Deuteronomy are legal documents; Leviticus containing the priestly code of conduct and Deuteronomy being a suzerainty treaty in perfect Hittite style. Monica is dismissing the entire Old Testament as legal in her objection, which isn’t the case at all and that means she isn’t reading the books for what they are–only what she wants or needs for her argument to hold.
Ultimately, Monica’s objection–the objection she thought she answered–is actually the solution to the problem. We no longer follow the laws she has listed because we are not obligated to. Ritual purity isn’t necessary; fellowship in the church is open to everyone, regardless of the state of their genitals; so let’s play football (hopefully with more skill and luck than the Lions).
Tomorrow, we will look at the remaining items on her list.