Everyday activities that will get you stoned by Biblethumpers (not the good kind of stoned!).
More and more States in the US and countries around the world are starting to accept concepts such as Gay Marriage which were formerly seen as morally reprehensible and repugnant. Often the charge against the granting of such rights is led by religious groups who claim that homosexuality is against God’s law as set out in the Bible.
Of course we all know of (and can probably recite most of) the 10 Commandments and we know we should not tell lies, should not murder, rape, steal, prostitute your children etc. These are sensible concepts that have been taken from the Bible and codified into law in most nation states.
However, the Bible does not stop at sensible suggestions; it also prohibits a long list of activities that form a part of our modern way of life. Indeed many of the people insisting on bans on homosexuality because of the Bible are probably guilty of contravening some of the stranger prohibitions like eating fat (Leviticus 3:17). Many of these prohibitions are contained in the book of Leviticus but banned activities can be found throughout the Bible.
We have listed a few of our favorite things (most of which you have probably done or know someone who has at least once in your life) so here is our list of top 10 (reasonable) day to day things banned by the bible.
10. Fortune Telling (Leviticus 19:31) and Getting Tattoos (Leviticus 19:28)
Fortune telling is expressly banned by the book of Leviticus which says. “Regard not them that have familiar spirits, neither seek after wizards, to be defiled by them: I am the Lord your God.” Nevertheless fortune tellers are extremely popular in America and in other countries around the world. Go to the fair and you will probably be able to have your palm read, have someone stare into a crystal ball or tell your fortune from Tarot Cards. Just look at the back of any popular woman’s magazine (from high end to low end) and you will see pages and pages of listings for premium telephone fortune lines. But even if you don’t go to or use fortune tellers the chances are that you have contravened the prohibition in Leviticus. Do you know what star sign you are? Have you ever read the daily, weekly or longer prediction for that star sign? Almost certainly you have because just about every magazine and newspaper will carry an astrology section. A faith survey showed that 25% of Americans believe in Astrology and 15% of Americans have had their fortune told. Clearly Americans are not listening to Leviticus!
Perhaps you have a tattoo – Leviticus is also clear that this is completely unacceptable, it says “Ye shall not make any cuttings in your flesh for the dead, nor print any marks upon you: I am the Lord.”. Woe betides anyone who has a tattoo of their star sign! This prohibition no longer carries much weight as 45 Million Americans have refused to listen to the Bible and have at least one tattoo.
9. Divorce (Mark 10: 11-12) and Adultery (1 Corinthians 7:2 , Matthew 5 27-28 and elsewhere)
The Bible expressly bans divorce and frowns on Adultery. The book of Mark says “And he saith unto them, Whosoever shall put away his wife, and marry another, committeth adultery against her. And if a woman shall put away her husband, and be married to another, she committeth adultery.”.
Divorce rates in the US are staggeringly high, between 40-50% of first marriages fail with the rate rising to about 73% for third marriages. Children whose parents are divorced are four times more likely to see their marriage fail than children who grew up with parents in a stable marriage. It seems that Americans are happy to ignore Bible teachings on the sanctity of the family. It is true that Catholics are forbidden from remarrying in their faith after a divorce but the Church has found a way around this. Faithful Catholics can approach the church to have their marriage annulled, as though it never happened in the first place. Once they have their religious annulment and their civil divorce they are free to marry again.
It is not only divorce which is seen as wrong, adultery in any form is forbidden by both the Old and the New Testament. In 1 Corinthians St Paul tells us that “Nevertheless, to avoid fornication, let every man have his own wife, and let every woman have her own husband”. Americans are not much good. The Gospel of St Matthew tells us that even emotional affairs are wrong “Ye have heard that it was said by them of old time, Thou shalt not commit adultery: But I say unto you, That whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart.”
It appears that once again Americans prefer to do what they want and refuse to listen to the rulings of the bible. 57% of men and 53% of women admit to having been unfaithful within a relationship. 36% of Americans have had an affair at the workplace or on a business trip and 17% have had an affair with their brother or sister in law. Perhaps Americans should follow the teachings of the Bible rather more closely in this area but perhaps we are irredeemably bad (74% of men and 68% of women admit that they would have an affair if there were no negative consequences for them). No wonder the divorce rate is so high. One of the many religious arguments against same sex marriage is that it will destroy, injure or cheapen the institution of marriage. It seems that Americans are doing a good enough job at that all on our own!
8. Wearing Jewelry (1Timothy 2:9)
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Do you wear a necklace, or perhaps a wedding or engagement ring? If you do this you are acting in direct contravention of the Bible which tells us that “In like manner also, that women adorn themselves in modest apparel, with shamefacedness and sobriety; not with broided hair, or gold, or pearls, or costly array”. This prohibition is one that has never been taken seriously. For centuries and in countries around the world women have liked to adorn themselves with jewelry and their husbands have enjoyed the status they gain from being seen to be able to afford to spend money on trinkets.
The Jewelry industry in the US employs over 175,000 people in almost 65,000 businesses; it is worth $38billion a year and possibly more as the statistics do not cover internet and home-based stores. And it is not just jewelry that Timothy bans. Wearing costly clothes (that is the fashion industry doomed) or broided hair is also considered to be wrong. The beauty industry is likely to be worth $265billion by 2017. Clearly women (and men) in most worldwide are reluctant to cut down on spending on jewelry and good clothes. Of course there are countries where women do appear modestly dressed when they are outside the home. Places like Afghanistan under the Taliban, Saudi Arabia or the areas controlled by ISIS but this is not due to following the Bible and it is extremely uncommon in the west.
7. Shaving (Leviticus 19:27)
Shaving or, more specifically, men shaving their hair and beards is expressly banned by the Book of Leviticus which says “Ye shall not round the corners of your heads, neither shalt thou mar the corners of thy beard.” Women get a free pass on this one as there appears to be nothing to prevent them from shaving their legs, armpits or any other part of their body and indeed Men seem to be free to shave just about everywhere but their heads.
It seems that most men refuse to listen to the prohibition in Leviticus – 75% of men shave their face every day with only 7% eschewing the razor for religious reasons.
6. Cross-breeding Animals, planting two different seeds in the same field and wearing mixed fabrics (Leviticus 19:19 and Deuteronomy 22:9-11)
Leviticus has a lot to say about farming methods. In Leviticus 19:19 we are told “Ye shall keep my statutes. Thou shalt not let thy cattle gender with a diverse kind: thou shalt not sow thy field with mingled seed: neither shall a garment mingled of linen and woolen come upon thee.”
Firstly think about the mixed fabrics – look at the label of the clothes you are wearing right now. The chances are that it is a blend of some sort with the addition of spandex or other materials to help give it structure or shape. Even if you are wearing something that is 100% wool, cotton etc. can you say for sure that this is true of everything in your closet? Almost certainly not , next time you wear your expensive Gore-Tex jacket remember that you are failing to keep the statutes of the Lord!
We are also, apparently, banned from cross-breeding farm animals. Since the dawn of farming civilization human beings have bred animals together to create breeds better suited to their environment or that produce greater quantities of meet or other products. Currently the most popular beef cattle in the US is the Angus cow. This breed was created by crossing original Aberdeen Angus cows with native Longhorn cows to give a breed that was able to survive harsh winters and produce quality beef. If you are eating beef from the supermarket the chances are that you are contravening the strictures of Leviticus.
Farming two crops together in the same space is a fairly standard practice these days and can lead to increased yields. When farming with GMO crops it is standard practice to plant a non GMO ‘refuge’ crop to help prevent resistance developing amongst crop pests.
5. Women leaving their hair uncovered (1 Corinthians 11:5-6) and speaking in Church (1 Corinthians 14:34)
The Bible takes a pretty dim view on women going to church without their hair covered. In his first letter to the Corinthians St Paul says “But every woman that prayeth or prophesieth with her head uncovered dishonoureth her head: for that is even all one as if she were shaven. For if the woman be not covered, let her also be shorn: but if it be a shame for a woman to be shorn or shaven, let her be covered.”. In mediaeval times it was quite common for women to wear elaborate head coverings (nuns uniforms are typically based on these traditions) and even as recently as a few decades ago women would not think it decent or proper to go to church without a hat. These days, however, the concept of ‘Sunday Best’ has fallen into abeyance and it is not uncommon to see people of all genders visit church in casual clothes nor is it uncommon to see women without a hat.
St Paul really did not think women had much of a role outside the house at all, particularly not in church and he commanded the Corinthians to “Let your women keep silence in the churches: for it is not permitted unto them to speak; but they are commanded to be under obedience as also saith the law.”. In the 21st century more and more women have become powerful in all denominations of the Christian Church. The Anglican Church in the UK started to ordain women as priests in 1994 and, in 2014 voted to permit women to become bishops. Although the Catholic Church is a long way off appointing women to serve as priests, worldwide women lead a number of powerful and diverse Christian congregations. St Paul would have been very unhappy!
The Bible puts even more restrictions on women, however. The book of Leviticus tells us that they are unclean after giving birth and cannot enter a place of worship within a set period of time after the birth (the time is shorter for a male child and longer for a female one). Leviticus has further restrictions on the rights of women during their periods. Menstruating women are not permitted to enter a church, everything that she touches becomes unclean and any man who touches her (or anything she has touched) will be considered unclean for the rest of the day and will need to purify himself. The book of Ephesians tells wives to submit to the rule of their husbands and Deuteronomy warns women not to wear pants.
Modern women do not typically hide themselves away during their periods, they continue to go to work, do the school run, even go to church. While they go about their business they shake hands with people, hold doors open and generally participate in life and many of them compound this sin by wearing pants! Given the number of women out and about in daily life perhaps everyone should assume that they are unclean until evening and should purify themselves just in case!
4. Eating Pork (Leviticus 11:7-8) and Shellfish (Leviticus 11:10)
The dietary laws in the book of Leviticus are strict. They are still followed by the many Jews who keep kosher today. However, there are many Jews who do not observe dietary restrictions and very few Christians who do. Muslims are also forbidden from eating pork although again there are some who do enjoy it from time to time.
Actually, at the time the book of Leviticus was written the dietary restrictions made a lot of sense. Pork and Shellfish are foods that can spoil easily and if not eaten when fresh or cooked properly they can cause food poisoning. These days however Pork and shellfish are popular foods with over 68,000 pig farms in the US as at 2012. Seafood is also popular with Americas eating, on average, over 16 pounds of seafood every year.
3. Cursing your parents (Exodus 21:17)
Do you love your parents? Most people, unless they were blessed with particularly toxic parents have a decent relationship with Mom and Dad. We all know that one of the 10 commandments requires us to honor our father and mother but can you honestly say that you never had an off day with your parents? Have they ever done something to annoy you or make you really, really angry? Perhaps they gave you curfew when you were a teenager or maybe they insisted on you staying in and studying for SATs instead of going to a house party.
We sure hope that you never took your frustration out by cursing because if you did you are in big trouble! The Book of Exodus,warns “And he that curseth his father, or his mother, shall surely be put to death.”. Exodus stops short, however, of detailing exactly how you will be put to death. It does go on to explain that if an ox gores someone the ox should be stoned to death so perhaps you have that to worry about!
2. Losing your virginity out of wedlock (Deuteronomy 22 :20-21)
The bible places great store on women being virgins at the time of their marriage and the consequences of having sex beforehand can be vile. Deuteronomy tells us “But if this thing be true, and the tokens of virginity be not found for the damsel: Then they shall bring out the damsel to the door of her father’s house, and the men of her city shall stone her with stones that she die: because she hath wrought folly in Israel, to play the whore in her father’s house: so shalt thou put evil away from among you.”.
These days people marry at a much later age so fewer and fewer women are virgins at the time of their wedding. Most Americans lose their virginity by the time they leave high school or go to college. Surveys show that by the time they have reached 19, 80% of men and 75% of women are no longer virgins. Of course while the majority of people in the US no longer place a premium on a woman’s virginity there are other countries where women are punished for no longer being virgins, even if it is because they have been raped. Recent high profile cases in the Maldives, Saudi Arabia and others are proof of this. Of course the majority of those countries are applying a strict interpretation of Muslim Sharia law but it is very similar to what we would expect were the rules in Deuteronomy to be applied to modern day life.
1. Doing just about anything on a Sunday (Exodus 20:8-11)
The book of Exodus requires that we keep the Sabbath day holy and do no work at all. It says “Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days shalt thou labour, and do all thy work: But the seventh day is the sabbath of the Lord thy God: in it thou shalt not do any work, thou, nor thy …”. These days Sunday is part of our weekend, many people use it as a day of rest and recuperation but they no longer obey the strict commands of the Bible. While many Jewish families do set the Sabbath (sundown on Friday to sundown on Saturday) holy and do no work (this can include being as strict as not flicking a light switch or pressing a button on an elevator) the New Testament does modify the ban on ‘work’ to some extent with Jesus making it clear that a strict interpretation of the word ‘work’ was not always necessary.
Nevertheless for many years Sundays were kept as a day to go to church, to pray and think about god. Children in the past were even restricted in the toys they were allowed to play with on a Sunday. These days very few people consider restricting what they do on a Sunday, it is perfectly acceptable to watch (or play) sports, to go to the mall or just about anything.
So do you do any (or all) of the things on this list? Should you worry? Probably not. If you are not Christian then the laws do not apply to you in any event. If you are a Christian then theologians suggest that because Jesus fulfilled the ‘Old Covenant’ and imposed a ‘New Covenant’ and way of life going forward you are probably ok as long as you live a moral life guided by universal moral principles and the teachings of Jesus.
What this list shows is that while the Bible does contain a list of restrictions on how life should be structured and led not all of them are appropriate to our modern way of life. While people might use tradition and the bible to claim that same sex marriage or other things they disagree with such as divorce is inappropriate we do hope that they, or their family members are not guilty of any of the infractions listed in this article. After all every right thinking person makes sure that their clothes are not made of mixed fabric and good Christian women refuse to wear pants or come into contact with others when they are menstruating. Or perhaps not! In any event whether you follow these rules or not the New Testament warns Christians ‘Judge not that ye be not judged’.