I want to add some bits on top of this Tumblr post, because in addition this part about Christians no longer being subject to the old testament, it needs to be pointed out that no one is still subject to these verses.
I was raised in the Jehovah’s Witnesses faith. I’ve never believed in god, but was forced to participate until I finally moved out my mom’s house (and REALLY got out when I came out as trans), but for most of my life I was immured in their bible study culture. The JWs are totally a cult, but they really know their bible, and a huge part of their practice is spending time studying the context of the verses to reinforce their doctrine. Unfortunately, like most evangelical faiths, they still pick and choose which contexts to believe in, but it gave me a strong foundation to better understand just what the Bible says.
There are two scriptures in the book of Leviticus that are often cited regarding homosexuality. From the English Standard Version translation:
“You shall not lie with a male as with a woman; it is an abomination.” – Leviticus 18:22
If a man lies with a male as with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination; they shall surely be put to death; their blood is upon them. – Leviticus 20:13
First lets talk about the book of Leviticus itself. The reason that the book is called Leviticus is because it describes the laws of god as they were to apply to the tribe of Levi. This was not a book describing the general mosaic covenant for the entirety of Abraham’s descendants, just a subset of the larger mass of people. A lot of the book actually explicitly is law that only applied to the priest class of Levi, however these two scriptures aren’t of that set.
The tribe of Levi was dissolved during the Babylonian internment of the Israelites, and had actually been outmoded long before that, so the book doesn’t even apply to modern Jews (outside of orthodox sects). But on top of this, one needs to examine the context of when the book of Leviticus was written.
The Israelites had just fled Egypt and were wandering through the lands of the Canaanites (a bunch of various minor nations between Egypt and what is now Israel & Palestine, which incidentally later became the empire of Babylon). The Egyptians and the Canaanites both had their own sets of gods, but both were subjects of the fertility goddess Ishtar (aka Ashtarte or Inanna).
The way you worshiped Ishtar… was by fucking the priests, called the Assinu (who, incidentally, were usually trans women). The head of the household was expected to provide his “sacrifice” to the goddess by leaving behind his seed within the assinu (talk about patriarchy).
Chapter 18 of Leviticus starts by telling the Levites that they should not replicate the behaviors of the lands they were traveling through.
“You shall not do as they do in the land of Egypt, where you lived, and you shall not do as they do in the land of Canaan, to which I am bringing you. You shall not walk in their statutes.” – Leviticus 18:3
So, Moses wasn’t telling the Levites not to engage in gay sex, he was telling them that they shouldn’t worship other gods. Literally the verse right before 18:22 is about not sacrificing children to the god Molech.
Now let’s talk about these two verses. The book of Deuteronomy contains a mirror of the mosaic law as it was intended to apply to the Israelites in their new land. That’s actually what Deuteronomy means, “repetition” or “copy.” You could think of it like a backup of what the earlier books contain.
These passages about men laying with men do not exist in Deuteronomy. They didn’t need to be there, the whole plan was to wipe out every other religion from the land.
So… Leviticus means bupkis, and this is even without going into how the actual original Hebrew used in these verses does not say what the English translation says, and likely explicitly meant “lying with another diety”. You can read more about that in the links below.
There are still other passages often cited from the New Testament (1 Corinthians 6:9-10 and 1 Timothy 1:10) which are used against gays. Both of these were intentional mistranslations from the Greek Septuagint during the 1940s and originally referred to pedophilia and/or incest.
I also skipped over the way Deuteronomy is used against trans people, but I’ll leave that for a different post.