Leviticus 20:10 states, “If a man commits adultery with another man’s wife—with the wife of his neighbor—both the adulterer and the adulteress must be put to death.” – This is just one of many Biblical examples of absolute absurdity, supported by a “by the times” attitude.
Image by Beopenguin via FlickrWhat I mean by this, is that at the time these passages were written, the idea of adultery was so loathed that it was considered punishable by death.
Believe it or not, I don’t look down on this entry of Leviticus, along with countless other references like it. This is because I understand the concept of era-centric (or era-specific) writings and beliefs.
It’s like recalling a time in the not-so-far-away past when Western cultures allowed Slavery. It is not to say these things were not dishonorable and deplorable, but rather it is about recognizing our naivety as human beings. While I hate to play the ignorance card, I do have to acknowledge: We didn’t know any better. Sure, we should have known better, but we were stupid, ignorant, and just plain wrong. People thought racial segregation was an appropriate act. People thought blacks being lesser than whites was “natural”. People thought a lot of things we no longer believe…
… and that is the nature of the world.
We believe something for a time, and then we learn and grow. We leave atrocities behind, because they are the words and decrees of our former, unintelligent, ignorant selves in societies that no longer exist. Sure, America still exists, but the society which supported slavery no longer does. We now know better than that. We understand the equivalence in rights of human beings regardless of skin color. We understand it is a given, and not privileged.
Most people understand the concept of era-specific beliefs when you explain it in a manner such as this. Another example would be Gay Rights and how we as a society are moving (slowly but surely) toward universal equality for gays and lesbians in the area of basic human and societal rights as a given to everyone regardless of sexual orientation — and if you are still of the belief that homosexuals should not be afforded these rights, simply replace “sexual orientation” with “race” and you will have to concede to yourself on this point. If not, you may as well be a racist as well as homophobic.
Anyway… my point today, is how the majority of people are able to draw the logical conclusion that “100 years ago we were wrong about slavery, and we now know to move on from that and never again entertain its disgusting precept,” and yet those same people, if Christian (or Muslim or Jewish, or any other religion with an ancient holy book for that matter) can latch on to a book that contains words like Leviticus and still try to drive them into society’s heart; like a stake, nailing us to the wall of the past.
Christianity has been the main downfall of Western society making any real progress. Slavery itself was condoned by many Christians for years as being part of “God’s plan” for the way God supposedly set up the world. Prior to 1967, a black person could not marry a white person, and in one particular judicial proceeding, a judge of obvious Christian persuasion issued his ruling against interracial marriage, stating God separated the races onto different continents for a reason… and thusly, that was why he believed interracial marriage was wrong.
Somehow though, we still broke free of these absurdities. Even today, many Christians are quick to point out that the Leviticus writings don’t even apply any longer (because of the whole Jesus thing, even though he never came to obliterate the old laws, only to fulfill them… but whatever, that’s their conundrum to solve, not mine). However, you have to recognize the hypocrisy in a statement such as that: If you are throwing out part of your holy book, you are essentially throwing out the whole thing. Or, at the very least, you cast doubt on it, and open the entire thing up to logical scrutiny.
For no Christian who has half a brain would ever suggest we kill off adulterers any longer (there are some who do, believe it or not, but as I implied, the requirement of half a brain is sometimes not met). In a way they obviously recognize the idea of era-centric writings and decrees as a result; however, they are still more than willing to overlook other portions of Biblical texts (that appear in the New Testament as well, for the nay-sayers who wish to throw out the majority of the Old Testament) which are equally absurd. Things written by Paul for example, the true founder of the Christian faith who pieced the early faith together from Jewish myths and playwriting coupled with local Mithraic tribes and other Pagany religions… put into a pot, bring to a boil, stir on occasion, and out pops Christianity. [Most of what appears as the foundation of Christianity? Did not even exist or happen.]
That aside for another rant though, we have many things throughout the entirety of Christian scriptures that are also subject to the laws of era-specific writings and beliefs that need to be judged on a more modern logistical scale: Is this of value to today’s society, or has it gone the way of the dinosaurs (which some Christians don’t even believe existed, but still the same point is served, so stay with me here)?
Fact is, the majority of the Bible is no longer relevant, and is a set of long-outdated decrees. Aside from basic mother-goose type morals (The “Do good to others” motify… the so-called Golden Rule, stated by religions such as Buddhism at least 500 years before Christianity ever existed), the Bible is a set of archaic texts with very little of value other than being worthy of studying in a social-history type of way. We should always study our past, sure… to learn from our mistakes, and move past them; not embrace them as “truth” and indoctrinate them into children as “religion”.
Christianity is a lesson in the “do not wants” of the past. It is an excellent look into an early, primitive way that humanity tried to explain Life, the Universe, and Everything (RIP, Douglas). But it needs to be left in the past… So while we’re busy throwing out parts of the Bible as being not exactly “useful” to today’s world, such as the killing of adulterers, perhaps we need to use this same logic and apply it to the religion (not just Christianity, but all religions) as a whole.
We are living in a world that can exist beyond religion, as something so much more than religion. We have the capability to strive leaps and bounds into the future, but in order to do so, we must put away childish, desperate things of the past, and embrace our true selves in the present… so that we can work together for a brighter future, firmly rooted in logic and rationale, rather than mythology and fairytales.
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