One of our U.S. Senators (someone who I generally like and respect) made the comment last week, “I believe in Leviticus.” He was referring to the Supreme Court beginning its hearings on same-sex marriage. He was asked by a reporter how he felt about same-sex marriage and this was his reason for opposing it, “I believe in Leviticus.”
There are so many directions one could take this conversation. I respect his right to have an opinion and position, but I bristle when one contributes to Christianity’s image problem. You see, part of the issue for anyone who claims to take the Bible literally is they generally take what matches their belief system literally. To be fair, even those of us who don’t take the Bible literally have the same problem of interpretation. We too often focus on what works for us and glaze over the rest.
To “believe” in Leviticus would also entail one never wearing gold (this is punishable by death),never leaving your hair unkempt (good thing I don’t have to worry about that), picking up grapes in your vineyard, never mixing fabrics of clothing, not having any tattoos, or not trimming your beard. You get the picture. One could argue that in some respect taking the Bible literally is to not take it seriously.
Let’s get it out-of-the-way that all of us are guilty of cherry picking when it comes to scripture. Let’s also acknowledge that when we begin to take the Bible seriously, we have to look at the overarching story. It’s a life-giving, often messy account of the relationship between God, people, and creation. If we look closely enough, we see fragments of our own story woven into others stories. Sometimes we see more than fragments and it scares the heck out of us.
We find narratives of challenge, comfort, grace, peace and justice woven throughout the 66 books. We discover a collection of writings that was not written for us, but somehow is written for us. To take the Bible seriously is to understand God’s unique, timeless concern for all people. To take the Bible seriously is to discover just how love always has the final word and love is the central player in God’s relationship with humanity.
So believe in Leviticus if you must, however I don’t think that is the best way to draw closer to your Creator and the ones your Creator loves. Take the Bible seriously and see a whole new world open up to you.
Oh and Leviticus also directs you to bring a lamb to your priest that the priest must slaughter on the altar. Better run and practice my butchering skills.