Shellfish and Gay Bishops


The News Quiz is a satirical take on the week’s events which is aired on the popular 6:30 comedy slot on BBC Radio 4. This week one of the topics in the spotlight was the Church of England’s debate about the ordination of gay bishops.

Protests in Paris last November against plans to legalise same-sex marriage
Protests in Paris last November against plans to legalise same-sex marriage (BBC News website)

The banter included a tirade by one of the News Quiz regulars, the comedian and evangelical atheist Jeremy Hardy. He presented to a guffawing audience the following summary of the Bible’s stance on homosexuality:The Bible says that homosexuality is an abomination. The Bible also says that eating shellfish is an abomination. So much for the Bible. He quoted chapter and verse. The audience loved it.

In case you’re interested in what the Bible actually says on the subject …

Leviticus chapter 11 lists the animals that were ‘clean’ and ‘unclean’to the Israelites. Of the unclean animals it says ‘they shall be an abomination to you’. this includes shellfish. (The book of Leviticus in the Old Testament contains the laws which God gave to the Israelites, which became known as the Law of Moses.)

Leviticus 18:22 says that homosexuality is abomination.

Mr Hardy asserted therefore that homosexuality is equivalent to eating shellfish.

Actually, that’s rubbish:

1.Although the English word ‘abomination’ is the same in some English translations, the original Hebrew words that are used in the two chapters are different. The word used in Leviticus 11 means simply ‘loathsome’. The word used in Leviticus 18 means ‘morally disgusting’.

2.The Bible’s stance on homosexuality does not rest purely on Leviticus, as many of its critics infer. Condemnation of homosexuality is a consistent stance which the Bible maintains from Genesis through to the New Testament. (If you’d like some references, see Genesis chapters 18 & 19, Leviticus 20:13, Deuteronomy 23:17, Romans 1:26-27, 1 Corinthians 6:9.)

Christians are not told to observe the Jewish laws of clean and unclean animals (e.g. Acts 15:19-20). It’s perfectly OK for Christians to eat shellfish. However, the condemnation of practising homosexuality is as clear in the New Testament as in the Old Testament. (Note that we say ‘practising homosexuality’ – that’s what’s condemned. There are those who experience the tendency and resist it, the Bible does not condemn them.)

If you’d like to make a comment or know more about this subject, please get in touch.

4 Comments Add yours

  1. He got a laugh, though.

    The point is that people find church condemnation of gay lovemaking ridiculous and disgusting. They find it intolerance of people for how God created them. They find it immoral. In the US, it is the big issue driving people from certain churches.

  2. Chris says:

    Hi Clare
    Is what people think really the most important point? I disagree, I think the real point is what God thinks. And I’m afraid it’s pretty clear from the Bible, start to finish, that God entirely disapproves of homosexuality. If it’s an issue which is driving some people away from some churches, it’s not the fault of those churches!
    You use an interesting phrase – ‘it’s how God created them’. It may well be the case that some people are ‘born gay’, just as people can be born with a whole variety of handicaps. We don’t know why God gives some people the burdens they have. What we do know is that God disapproves of homosexuality.
    Look at it like this. Jesus said “If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me.” (Matthew 16:24) People who come to Jesus are all different, they all have different ways in which they need to deny themselves, different crosses to bear.
    Yes, this is one issue where the Bible is out of step with a large number of people in the modern world. Personally I’m convinced that the Bible is God’s word and it is right, and if what the Bible says doesn’t chime in with my own opinions, it’s my opinions that are wrong!

  3. Jebediah says:

    Fortunately this is one of the issues in which Christianity and Christadelphians have an utterly medieval, backward view, which, wonderfully, helps to push younger people away from the irrelevant pursuit of religion. No wonder church attendance is falling, just keep it up. Fail to adapt and you’ll (hopefully) disappear. Presumably you’re against gay marriage because it offends your delicate sensibilities. How about mixed-race marriages, I suppose you disapprove of those as well? Can you dig out some pious rubbish to support that position also?

    1. bible4burton says:

      Hi Jebediah
      Thanks for your post, it’s good to hear from you.
      A word of advice – I can tell you feel strongly about this, but people are always more likely to take you seriously if you don’t insult them.
      You’re right, Christian belief about homosexual practice is out of touch with modern western attitudes. But what do we do about it – change our beliefs to fit in, or stand up for what we believe? As Christadelphians we base our beliefs squarely on the Bible because we believe it’s the word of God, and we’re not going to change them. True, this won’t make us universally popular, but faithful Christians have never been universally popular.
      This web site tells you who we are and why we believe the things we do – please take a look, we’re always happy to discuss any issues you have.
      Finally, I don’t understand – why should we be against mixed-race marriage?
      Kind regards

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