Really Sciency

Visit my other blog 'Really Sciency' looking at Climate Science and its portrayal, misrepresentation and denial in the media.

Wednesday, 22 December 2010

The disfigured are barred from God's sanctuary

All religious scripture contains a lot of wisdom and good sense, but there are some passages that, according to my moral compass at least, are plainly wrong or bonkers. Of course it could be argued that such passages are open to interpretation, allegorical or taken out of context. However there are some that I find difficult to take any other way that what seems to be plainly written. 

Being from a Christian culture I am more familiar with versions of the Bible and I find that such passages are rarely well known amoung Christians, even thoses who claim to have read the Bible. Either they accept the moral and ethical implications of such passages or they have found a way to ignore them or only cherry pick the bits they think are relevent and good.

One such passage that offends my morals and which I struggle to view in any other way that which seems obvious is Leviticus 21

It contains such trivial commands directly from God as, Priests must not shave and marry only a virgin.

 


To the more serious, particularly if someone is serious about their scripture in a fundamental way, with God commanding that if a Priest happens to have who becomes a prostitute they must burn them if they become prostitutes. Honour killing is therefore justified.


But the passage that should make Christians think is verses 16 to 23;

" The LORD said to Moses, “Say to Aaron: ‘For the generations to come none of your descendants who has a defect may come near to offer the food of his God. No man who has any defect may come near: no man who is blind or lame, disfigured or deformed; no man with a crippled foot or hand, or who is a hunchback or a dwarf, or who has any eye defect, or who has festering or running sores or damaged testicles. No descendant of Aaron the priest who has any defect is to come near to present the food offerings to the LORD. He has a defect; he must not come near to offer the food of his God. He may eat the most holy food of his God, as well as the holy food; yet because of his defect, he must not go near the curtain or approach the altar, and so desecrate my sanctuary. I am the LORD, who makes them holy.’”"

 

 

Does this mean that the disabled or disfigured can not recieve the sacrament or is my interpretation wrong?

31 comments:

  1. What role was played in ancient Jewish society by the descendants of Aaron?

    Who was it who made the food offerings to the Lord and who also ate of the holy food of God?

    Is the Jerusalem Temple and priesthood still extant?

    How did Jesus deal with the crippled, ill and disfigured?

    Are Christians, living under the New Coveneant created by Jesus' sacrifice on the cross, bound by the laws of the of the Old Covenant?



    Having had a Christian upbringing I suspect you already know the answer to all five questions as well as the final question that you pose in your blog entry.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Well done.
    You have given the predictable stock answer Christians give every time they are faced with absurdities in the Old Testament. Which is basically that Jesus Christ ripped up the old contract and introduced a new rule book.

    Unfortunately such an answer is wholly unsatisfactory, ignores many logical inconsistencies and fails to adequately address the point.

    # While the Old Testament is easy pickings, the New also encourages some rather dubious practices like picking up snakes and drinking deadly poison a claiming a true believer will remain unharmed (Mark 16).

    # The god you believe in must have got it wrong first time, changed his mind or developed a new sense of morality. Not a good trait for the omnipotent.

    # The is plenty of indication that Jesus accepted all the commands in the old testament (Matt 5:7 “Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfil them). If my bible teaching is remembered correctly wasn’t it Paul, post Christ, that started changing the rules?

    # There is no clear indication of what was cancelled and what was changed according to this ‘New Covenant’. The OT has been used to justify horrors like burning people at the stake and gay bashing – surely those passages should have been superseded? But many Christians seem to think not. Why think Leviticus has been?

    # Last but most important, even if a new covenant was entered into it doesn’t address the point of the post. Christians have to accept that since the beginning of Mankind until just a couple of thousand years ago people were commanded and encouraged to do some pretty bizarre, discriminatory and murderous things.

    ReplyDelete
  3. So you accept that this was a strawman question that you already knew the answer to.

    At least we're making some progress with your honesty now.

    ;-)

    ReplyDelete
  4. Straw man? Even if I did know the answer to a question I asked how does that make it a straw man? You seem to not know what the straw man fallacy is.

    But I asked if my interpretation is wrong - I don't believe it is - but that does not make it in any way an invalid question let alone a fallacy.

    You seem to be suggesting it was by using a get out clause I cannot see the logic of. I assume that your current change of tack means that you cannot justify the logic of it either.

    ReplyDelete
  5. You accept that you knew what the mainstream Christian position would be on this question would be before you asked it.

    Anyone who has had a Christian upbringing (as you claim to have) had would know that:

    *The descendants of Aaron referred to in this passage of scripture formed the Jewish temple priestly caste.
    *The altar of the Lord refers to holy of holies of the Jerusalem temple that could only be approached by the temple priests.
    *The temple and the priesthood no longer exist, having been destroyed by the Romans in AD70.
    *Jesus mixed with the sick, disfigured, leprous and others considered to be "unclean" by the Jewish religious authorities of the time and attracted criticism from groups such as the Pharisees for this behaviour.
    *Jesus' perfect sacrifice on the cross rendered the need for temple sacrifice for the atonement of sin redundant (according to Christian theology).


    Therefore your question "Does this mean that the disabled or disfigured can not recieve the sacrament or is my interpretation wrong?" is entirely facetious since, having had a Christian upbringing, you must have known that according to Christian theology your interpretation WAS wrong and that this passage from Leviticus refers to a specific group of people (the temple priesthood) in a specific place (the holy of holies of the Jerusalem temple) in a time past (prior the the temple destruction in 70AD) and is not (and never has been) required of Christians.

    ReplyDelete
  6. Sorry Anon but my Christian upbringing taught me little of the Jewish temple elite. I'm sure I was not told that they should burn there own daughters if they became prostitutes.

    And I can never remember being taught anything about Gods prejudice against cripples, hunchbacks and dwarves.

    You have given no reason why such things are not currently required of Christians, except a vague assertion that the rules have changed without being able to show how you know which do not apply and which are still in force.

    Nor have you supported such a claim in the face of Christ's own contradiction that he was not there to abolish such religious laws.

    But can we both at least agree that the god you believe in did command his faithful carry out such atrocities before his son arrived on the scene and that you have no problems in reconciling that?

    ReplyDelete
  7. So you weren't taught, as part of your Christian upbringing, that Christ mixed with those considered to be "impure" by Jewish society at that time, that Christ's sacrifice served as atonement for all our sins, that because of this no further sacrifice was necessary and that subsequently Christians live under a new covenant and are not bound by the same rules as the old covenant between God and the Jewish people?


    Either you had a very deficient "Christian" upbringing or you're being dishonest (again).

    ReplyDelete
  8. Now you are being dishonest. I told you exactly what my Christian education was lacking and it wasn't what you are now dishonestly claiming it to be.

    I have also stated, now more than once, why I see the idea of a 'new covenant' unsupported and unfounded in the biblical scripture.

    I haver also asked you a question that you appear not to have the courage to answer directly.

    ReplyDelete
  9. I find it incredible that your "Christian upbringing" was so lacking that you it failed to teach you that Jesus associated with the sick, leprous and others considered to be "unclean" by Jewish society of that period or that Christians do not consider themselves to be bound by the same laws as the Jews.

    Or did your "Christian" upbringing include circumcision and adherence to Jewish dietary rules?

    ReplyDelete
  10. Still being dishonest I see.
    Where have I said my Christian up bringing - which included regular daily worship and being appointed a Sunday school teacher - included any of your straw man claims?

    Just in case you are incapable of reading or re-reading, I only said my Christian upbringing;

    Taught me little of the Jewish temple elite.
    I was not told that Jewish priests should burn there own daughters if they became prostitutes.
    I can never remember being taught anything about Gods prejudice against cripples, hunchbacks and dwarves.

    So I will ask my unanswered question again, can we both agree that the god you believe in did command his faithful carry out such atrocities before his son arrived on the scene and that you have no problems in reconciling that?

    ReplyDelete
  11. Can we both agree that you knew (as anyone with the most meagre of Christian upbringings would know) that this passage of scripture did not "mean that the disabled or disfigured can not recieve the sacrament" before you asked your question?

    Or are you going to continue with the dishonest pretence that your Christian upbringing didn't include any mention of Jesus mixing with lepers, the maimed and others considered to be ritually unclean by Jewish society at that time and also made no mention of a "New Covenant" that rendered adherence to the sacrificial laws of the "Old Covenant" unnecessary?

    ReplyDelete
  12. I know you have a very high opinion of yourself but to repetitively call people who disagree with you 'dishonest' is somewhat verging on megalomania.

    I have already explained why I consider the idea of any 'New Covenant' flawed and no one has yet refuted the points made.

    It is also irrelevant that the alleged son of a god mixed with the very people that his father god discriminated against - it is supposed to be the very same god after all.

    ReplyDelete
  13. "I know you have a very high opinion of yourself but to repetitively call people who disagree with you 'dishonest' is somewhat verging on megalomania."

    You would know: "Still being dishonest I see."

    Your accusation to me in your previous reply.



    "I have already explained why I consider the idea of any 'New Covenant' flawed and no one has yet refuted the points made."
    Yes, but that doesn't change the fact that you were aware of it and therefore must have also been aware that Christians wouldn't see themselves as being bound by the Levitical law that you quote.

    That being the case I cannot see how you could have honestly said "Does this mean that the disabled or disfigured can not recieve the sacrament or is my interpretation wrong?" without knowing in advance that, from a Christian perspective, this interpretation HAD to be wrong.

    ReplyDelete
  14. "Christians wouldn't see themselves as being bound by the Levitical law that you quote."

    I won't try your childish tactic of claiming dishonesty - just pointing out your ignorance. Christians have used Levitical law all through history to justify intolerance to others. Just because you use it to dodge those implications doesn't change the facts.

    And my interpenetration does not have to be wrong. It is a valid as any. I have seen no evidence of Jesus stating what was or wasn't included in this alleged 'New Covenant'. In fact I don't believe he mentioned any such thing but stated what can be interpreted as the opposite.

    ReplyDelete
  15. "And my interpenetration does not have to be wrong. It is a valid as any."

    But you knew, from your upbringing, that it wouldn't be the mainstream Christian interpretation when you presented it.

    You knew before you asked "is my interpretation wrong?" that from a mainstream Christian perspective this interpretation would not be considered to be correct.

    You knew that this rule only applied to temple priests.

    The big clue was in the heading of the section scripture that you provided a link to: "Leviticus 21 Rules for Priests".

    You knew that this did not mean that the Bible says that "the disabled or disfigured can not recieve the sacrament" because you knew that this passage relates to temple priests (the descendants of Aaron) only since the passage makes this perfectly clear.



    "I won't try your childish tactic of claiming dishonesty"
    Really? Despite having employed this "childish tactic" numerous times already in this exchange:
    "Lazarus said...
    Still being dishonest I see."

    "Lazarus said...
    Now you are being dishonest."

    ReplyDelete
  16. "But you knew, from your upbringing, that it wouldn't be the mainstream Christian interpretation when you presented it."

    It doesn't matter what mainstream opinion is, only what the correct interpretation is. Opinions change with education and maturity - in my case at least.

    "You knew that this rule only applied to temple priests."

    Does it? That may be what we have all been taught but on what evidence is that teaching based? Jesus never mentioned that any of those temple rules no longer apply - he inferred the exact opposite, and we still have priests - whether still called priests or an equivalent moniker. We still have descendants of Aaron.

    Are you saying you believe in a god who has given certain people the right to discriminate against the disabled? That is where your logic leads.

    ""Lazarus said...
    Now you are being dishonest." "

    Taking things out of context and applying them to another situation is dishonest. So it seems that you are childish, dishonest and ignorant.

    Why not direct me to the where it states what rules are and are not included in the 'New Covenant' and the scripture where Jesus himself states that such will exist because if him?

    As well as the two direct questions above, how about answering the other one you have continually avoided;
    Do you believe in a god that did command some of his faithful to carry out such atrocities before his son arrived on the scene and do you have any problems in reconciling that?

    ReplyDelete
  17. "Lazarus said...
    I won't try your childish tactic of claiming dishonesty"



    "Lazarus said...
    Still being dishonest I see."

    "Lazarus said...
    Now you are being dishonest."

    "Lazarus said...
    So it seems that you are childish, dishonest and ignorant."




    Hmmmmm!

    Looks like I no longer have to accuse you of dishonesty since it is plainly exposed for all to see.

    ReplyDelete
  18. By the way: the long and the short of it is that you asked people to comment on whether your interpretation of this passage of scripture to mean that the disfigured could not receive the sacraments was correct or not when your Christian upbringing meant that you knew that this wasn't how Christians understand this passage.

    You deliberately created an interpretation that you knew wasn't in concordance with mainstream Christian belief and then tried to present it as valid despite knowing that this passage was a specific instruction to specific people at a specific time rather than a general instruction for all for all time.

    There's a word for that sort of behaviour.

    Begins with "D".

    You know the word.

    It's the one that you wouldn't use against me.

    (Apart from the times that you have).

    ;-)

    ReplyDelete
  19. "Taking things out of context and applying them to another situation is dishonest."

    You have taken the passage of scripture quoted in your blog entry entirely out of it's original context (as a specific instruction to the Jerusalem temple priesthood) and out of it's Christian context (the relationship between Christianity and the laws of the Old Covenant as established by the early church)in order to try and claim that it can be used to imply that "the disabled or disfigured can not recieve the sacrament".

    Like you say: "Taking things out of context and applying them to another situation is dishonest".

    ;-)

    ReplyDelete
  20. "Looks like I no longer have to accuse you of dishonesty since it is plainly exposed for all to see."

    Still using out of context remarks to refer to things they don't. You do understand the concept of keeping remarks in context don't you? For example a comment usually refers to the preceding one but not necessarily to all preceding ones where the focus of the comment has changed - understand?

    It is clearly wrong to do what you have been doing when referring to my comments. Now the question is, are you wrong through dishonestly misrepresenting, or wrong through your own ignorance?

    "You deliberately created an interpretation that you knew wasn't in concordance with mainstream Christian belief and then tried to present it as valid despite knowing that this passage was a specific instruction to specific people at a specific time rather than a general instruction for all for all time."

    You still have not explained why my interpretation isn't valid. Where did Jesus say it doesn't apply today? Where did he said God changed his mind (never mind the implications of a omnipotent deity doing that)? When is you admission that you worship a god who would do something like this in the first place?

    You have also, deliberately it would seem, avoid answering direct questions on you own beliefs in the matter.

    I can only assume that you are embarrassed by the beliefs you still hold from an indoctrinated upbringing. We will never know for sure as long as you hide behind them and pontificate.

    ReplyDelete
  21. "You do understand the concept of keeping remarks in context don't you?"

    You clearly don't.

    Hence your blog entry trying to apply a passage of scripture without any context whatsoever.

    ReplyDelete
  22. Yet you fail to put it in any context, just refuse to answer direct questions.

    So I am wrong to say that you worship a god who would do something like this in the first place?

    That the descendents of Aaron shouldn't behave as these scriptures dictate?

    How does the context change that?

    ReplyDelete
  23. "Yet you fail to put it in any context"

    Fail to put "what" in any context?

    If you mean the original scripture that you quoted I have explained the ancient Jewish context to which it originally applied and also how such laws are considered from a Christian context.

    The only person trying to apply this passage without any context is you.



    "just refuse to answer direct questions"

    Why should I pander to your attempts to deflect attention from your dishonest* interpretation of this scripture?

    *dishonest because you knew before you posted it that it applied to a particular situation and isn't any sort of universal law.

    ReplyDelete
  24. "Fail to put "what" in any context?"

    You assertion of a 'New Covenant'.

    The is plenty of indication that Jesus accepted all the commands in the old testament (Matt 5:7 “Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfil them).

    You have given no reason why such things are not currently required of Christians, except a vague assertion that the rules have changed without being able to show how you know which do not apply and which are still in force.

    ReplyDelete
  25. "Lazarus said...
    "Fail to put "what" in any context?"

    You assertion of a 'New Covenant'."

    The point is that you were aware of the concept of the "New Covenant" within Christian theology as negating the requirements for the sacrificial atonement for sins set out in the "Old Covenant" (irrespective of whether or not you accept this decision of the early Church to be valid or not) and therefore your suggestion that this passage meant that "that the disabled or disfigured can not recieve the sacrament" of Christianity was dishonest.

    That's without going into the fact that this rule specifically applied only to the priesthood of a temple that no longer exists.

    ReplyDelete
  26. "You have given no reason why such things are not currently required of Christians, except a vague assertion that the rules have changed without being able to show how you know which do not apply and which are still in force"

    Your alleged "Christian upbringing" didn't include the The Acts of the Apostles (detailing the decision of the Council of Jerusalem) or St Paul's Letter to the Galatians? It didn't include Jesus' summary of the whole of the Law?

    Did it include any of the following passages (and their equivalents in the other synoptic Gospels)?
    Matt9:14-17
    Matt12:1-14
    Matt15:1-20
    Matt22:34-40

    ReplyDelete
  27. "you were aware of the concept of the "New Covenant" within Christian theology as negating the requirements for the sacrificial atonement for sins set out in the "Old Covenant" (irrespective of whether or not you accept this decision of the early Church to be valid or not) and therefore your suggestion that this passage meant that "that the disabled or disfigured can not recieve the sacrament" of Christianity was dishonest."

    Why is being aware of one interpretation but putting another - more supported interpretation make it dishonest?

    "St Paul's Letter to the Galatians?"

    Which is my point. Jesus never said any such thing, and I stated that in my very first reply to your first comment.

    ReplyDelete
  28. "Jesus never said any such thing"

    Luke 22:20 anyone?


    Even if Jesus had never mentioned a "New Covenant" you have taken this passage of scripture out of it's original context (as an instruction to the temple priests of Jerusalem only) and out of it's Christian context (2000 years of theology dating back to the Apostles decision at the First Council of Jerusalem that states that Christians are not bound by the laws of the Old Covenant) and tried to suggest that your contextless interpretation is a valid one which would prevent Christians giving "the sacrament" to the disabled or disfigured.

    Since you, as someone who claims to have received a Christian upbringing, should be aware of both the original Jewish context and the current Christian context your suggestion that this is a valid interpretation for Christians (whom else would be administering "the sacrament"?) is a dishonest one.

    ReplyDelete
  29. "Luke 22:20 anyone?"

    Choosing a single verse is definitely taking it out of context. Just because the words 'new covenant' is mentioned does not make it a new contract where future Christians can pick and choose stuff in the OT (which their God allowed) if it seems barbaric against modern morality. The 'new covenant' you are wrongly trying to use was purely a remembrance ceremony for their teacher.


    "(as an instruction to the temple priests of Jerusalem only)"

    That is also taking it out of context. Only in hindsight and after the establishment of Christianity as a religion - which was many years after the death of Christ - does that make sense.

    At the time it was an instruction to all priests of the one god of the commandments. Nothing even hints that it still doesn't apply to all priests.

    ReplyDelete
  30. "At the time it was an instruction to all priests of the one god of the commandments. Nothing even hints that it still doesn't apply to all priests."

    Apart form the fact that it is specifically addressed to the descendants of Aaron?

    Doh!

    ReplyDelete