The Skeptical Teacher

Musings of a science teacher & skeptic in an age of woo.

Way to “Know the Bible” Tattoo Dude: How Christian Fundamentalists Aren’t Literalists

Posted by mattusmaximus on February 20, 2011

A hilarious photo is making the rounds on the Internet, and I thought it was worth a bit of analysis.  It is a photograph of a man’s arm, tattooed with the Biblical verse from Leviticus 18:22: “You shall not lie with a male as one does with a woman.  It is an abomination.” Here it is…

No doubt, this guy was expressing his disapproval of homosexuality – in fact, it seems he may have been involved in a hate crime, hence the photograph and media coverage.  I’m also guessing, given the emphasis on the Bible, that this fellow’s also a fundamentalist Christian, someone who claims that they get their morality from a “literal” reading of the Bible.

Here’s the funny part: in the very same book of the Bible quoted by this guy, there is a verse which expressly forbids tattooing. It’s in Leviticus 19:28:Ye shall not make any cuttings in your flesh for the dead, nor print any marks upon you: I am the LORD.

Wow, you can’t make this stuff up :)

While hilarious, I think this points out something crucial in the mindset of most people who refer to themselves as Biblical “literalists”: they are, essentially, hypocrites.  You see, most Christians who claim that mantle for themselves are just posturing, though they may sincerely believe it, because what they want is to have their particular interpretation of the Bible to take precidence above all others (including those of many other Christians).  They are interpreting the Bible, just like anyone else, yet they refuse to accept that’s what they are doing.

In closing, as a way of sticking my thumb into the collective eye of these so-called Biblical “literalists”, I would like to reference the now-infamous “Letter to Dr. Laura” on the issue of homosexuality and the Bible…

Dear Dr. Laura:

Thank you for doing so much to educate people regarding God’s Law. I have learned a great deal from your show, and try to share that knowledge with as many people as I can. When someone tries to defend the homosexual lifestyle, for example, I simply remind them that Leviticus 18:22 clearly states it to be an abomination… End of debate.

I do need some advice from you, however, regarding some other elements of God’s Laws and how to follow them.

1. Leviticus 25:44 states that I may possess slaves, both male and female, provided they are purchased from neighboring nations. A friend of mine claims that this applies to Mexicans, but not Canadians. Can you clarify? Why can’t I own Canadians?

2. I would like to sell my daughter into slavery, as sanctioned in Exodus 21:7. In this day and age, what do you think would be a fair price for her?

3. I know that I am allowed no contact with a woman while she is in her period of menstrual uncleanliness – Lev.15: 19-24. The problem is how do I tell? I have tried asking, but most women take offense.

4. When I burn a bull on the altar as a sacrifice, I know it creates a pleasing odor for the Lord – Lev.1:9. The problem is, my neighbors. They claim the odor is not pleasing to them. Should I smite them?

5. I have a neighbor who insists on working on the Sabbath.Exodus 35:2. clearly states he should be put to death. Am I morally obligated to kill him myself, or should I ask the police to do it?

6. A friend of mine feels that even though eating shellfish is an abomination – Lev. 11:10, it is a lesser abomination than homosexuality. I don’t agree. Can you settle this? Are there ‘degrees’ of abomination?

7. Lev. 21:20 states that I may not approach the altar of God if I have a defect in my sight. I have to admit that I wear reading glasses. Does my vision have to be 20/20, or is there some wiggle- room here?

8. Most of my male friends get their hair trimmed, including the hair around their temples, even though this is expressly forbidden by Lev. 19:27. How should they die?

9. I know from Lev. 11:6-8 that touching the skin of a dead pig makes me unclean, but may I still play football if I wear gloves?

10. My uncle has a farm. He violates Lev.19:19 by planting two different crops in the same field, as does his wife by wearing garments made of two different kinds of thread (cotton/polyester blend). He also tends to curse and blaspheme a lot. Is it really necessary that we go to all the trouble of getting the whole town together to stone them? Lev.24:10-16.

Couldn’t we just burn them to death at a private family affair, like we do with people who sleep with their in-laws? (Lev. 20:14)

I know you have studied these things extensively and thus enjoy considerable expertise in such matters, so I am confident you can help. Thank you again for reminding us that God’s word is eternal and unchanging.

Dear Dr. Laura,
<BR><BR>
Thank you for doing so much to educate people regarding God's Law. I have learned a great deal from your show, and I try to share that knowledge with as many people as I can. When someone tries to defend the homosexual lifestyle, for example, I simply remind him that <NOBR>Leviticus 18:22</NOBR> clearly
states it to be an abomination. End of debate.
<BR><BR>
I do need some advice from you, however, regarding some of the specific laws and how to best follow them.
<BR><BR>
a) When I burn a bull on the altar as a sacrifice, I know it creates a pleasing odor for the Lord <NOBR>(Lev 1:9).</NOBR> The problem is my neighbors. They claim the odor is not pleasing to them. Should I smite them?
<BR><BR>
b) I would like to sell my daughter into slavery, as sanctioned in <NOBR>Exodus 21:7.</NOBR> In this day and age, what do you think would be a fair price for her?
<BR><BR>
c) I know that I am allowed no contact with a woman while she is in her period of menstrual uncleanliness <NOBR>(Lev 15:19-24).</NOBR> The problem is, how do I tell? I have tried asking, but most women take offense.
<BR><BR>
d) Lev. 25:44 states that I may indeed possess slaves, both male and female, provided they are purchased from neighboring nations. A friend of mine claims that this applies to Mexicans, but not Canadians. Can you
clarify? Why can't I own Canadians?
<BR><BR>
e) I have a neighbor who insists on working on the Sabbath. <NOBR>Exodus 35:2</NOBR> clearly states he should be put to death. Am I morally obligated to kill him myself?
<BR><BR>
f) A friend of mine feels that even though eating shellfish is an Abomination <NOBR>(Lev 11:10),</NOBR> it is a lesser abomination than homosexuality. I don't agree. Can you settle this?
<BR><BR>
g) Lev 21:20 states that I may not approach the altar of God if I have a defect in my sight. I have to admit that I wear reading glasses. Does my vision have to be 20/20, or is there some wiggle room here?
<BR><BR>
h) Most of my male friends get their hair trimmed, including the hair around their temples, even though this is expressly forbidden by <NOBR>Lev 19:27.</NOBR> How should they die?
<BR><BR>
i) I know from Lev 11:6-8 that touching the skin of a dead pig makes me unclean, but may I still play football if I wear gloves?
<BR><BR>
j) My uncle has a farm. He violates Lev 19:19 by planting two different crops in the same field, as does his wife by wearing garments made of two different kinds of thread (cotton/polyester blend). He also tends to curse and blaspheme a lot. Is it really necessary that we go to all the trouble of getting the whole town together to stone them? <NOBR>(Lev 24:10-16)</NOBR> Couldn't we just burn them to death at a private family affair like we do with people who sleep with their in-laws? <NOBR>(Lev. 20:14)</NOBR>
<BR><BR>
I know you have studied these things extensively, so I am confident you can help.
<BR><BR>
Thank you again for reminding us that God's word is eternal and unchanging.
<BR><BR>
Your devoted disciple and adoring fan.
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4 Responses to “Way to “Know the Bible” Tattoo Dude: How Christian Fundamentalists Aren’t Literalists”

  1. Blow Me said

    Leviticus sucks balls

  2. Christian said

    Actually, if I may inquire further, what would be a good place to start if I am curious about skepticism in general? Where could I find a comprehensive “basic tenets of skepticism” sort of introduction?

  3. Christian said

    Sorry, I just realized I commented on the wrong blog post; I mean to comment on the one about evolution.

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