Why can't I own Canadians?

by CynthiaYockey on March 10, 2009

I originally planned this post on the unchanging Bible and homosexuality to be about Dr. Laura and her flip from Orthodox Judaism to evangelical Christianity, but the pertinent quote from Eric Hoffer’s The True Believer is too heavy and needs its own post. Also, today I came across a post by dear Stacy McCain railing against gay marriage and gay rights on Biblical grounds, so I am administering this medicine to him as my reply.

Barbara Mikkelson of Snopes.com could not determine the identity of the author of the letter to Dr. Laura below, which has been circulating since around May 2000:

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 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 Leviticus 18:22 clearly states it to be an abomination. End of debate.

I do need some advice from you, however, regarding some of the specific laws and how to best follow them.

a) 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?

b) 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?

c) 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.

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?

e) 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?

f) 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?

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?

h) 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?

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?

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? (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, so I am confident you can help.

Thank you again for reminding us that God’s word is eternal and unchanging.

Your devoted disciple and adoring fan.

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Gordon March 11, 2009 at 7:10 am

I suppose a Christian who knew their doctrine would point out that the examples cited in the letter are all from the Old Testatment, which Jesus declared null and void as far as rules go. Paul, however, railed against homosexuality in the Epistles, and that’s part of the new rules.

Paul was not really fond of women, either, unlike Jesus. And apparently Jesus liked his women a little on the trashy side. As I understand it, though, the scriptures are silent on whether he liked big booty.

Steve Poling March 11, 2009 at 12:07 pm

The Bible, like any text is subject to multiple interpretations. Jesus says he is a door, and you can interpret that as an assertion that he has hinges and a latch. This is not to say that all interpretations are created equal. Joseph in prison said to his fellow-prisoners, “Do not interpretations belong to God.” And I take that to mean some interpretations will be better when they more closely approximate God’s opinion of the text’s intent.

I find that perverse interpretation is a hobby of those with an interest in discrediting the Bible. Fine. That’s your right. However, if there is disclosure of information from transcendent deity to mankind, we can benefit from picking between competing interpretations to find one that’s more consistent and reasonable.

Reformed Christianity distinguishes between different types of law given by God: Essential law, reflecting God’s character or Aristotelian essens (e.g. the 10 commandments). Ceremonial law, reflecting God’s regulation of rites of the Jewish religion (e.g. howto prepare a burnt offering). Civil law, reflecting God’s legislation of citizens of ancient Israel. When the apostle Peter was commanded to eat ‘unclean’ food in Acts 10, it demonstrates that non-essential law is not binding on people outside the Jewish religion or state.

However, any law that reflects the character of God will change as often as God changes. I.e. it won’t. And it’ll have the same domain as God’s sphere of influence. I.e. everywhere.

Sexual preferences are not mentioned in the 10 Commandments. This might argue against their being binding here and now. However, there are New Testament references, particularly Romans 1, that you might want to examine. They lead me to believe deity is not indifferent about same-sex conduct; the NT lumps it in with adultery (commandment #7). The Savior’s remark equating the lustful look with adultery, puts a lot of people in moral jeopardy who might otherwise think themselves quite upright.

The Savior interpreted the law of Moses in a way that raised the law’s demands and internalized them. I concluded that it’s humanly impossible for me to keep the law’s demands or atone for my prior bad acts. This drove me to seek mercy in Christ and claim this mercy by faith alone.

Don’t take my word for any of this. Get a Bible and check it out for yourself.

Cynthia Yockey March 11, 2009 at 4:44 pm


I’ve only glanced through your post and have to run out to take my father on an errand, but since we’ll be gone at least a couple of hours I just want to reply that I have posts planned that will address the issues you are raising.

Thanks for stopping by and come back again, soon!

Cynthia Yockey March 12, 2009 at 7:43 am

Steve and Deuce,

So there IS wiggle room!

My consistent observation is that people are able to use the Bible to support their prejudices, whatever they are. I’m not going to hit that tar baby. Bible quote battles, to me, are all heat and no light.

I do not look to the Bible, or any dogma for that matter, for validation. In future posts, I’ll be explaining how I honor how people seek God, but dogma, not so much. Dogmas relating to women, gays and lesbians strike me as being entirely motivated by greed, sexual lust and lust for power posing as divine revelation.

I honor your love of God, which transcends all dogma, so let’s always have our attention on the fact that that is our common ground.

Steve, thank you for taking so much time and thought in your comment, and Deuce, thank you for your comment, too.


Deuce Geary March 12, 2009 at 1:04 am

What Steve said.

Actually, Steve sounds like much more of a bible scholar than I’ll ever be, but a former pastor of mine described the breakdown in Old Testament rules somewhat differently: providential rules (regarding the Hebrews’ relationship with God) and prudential rules (rules given to the Hebrews to allow them to prosper (by keeping the healthy, e.g.), but not actually theological laws).

Joy McCann March 12, 2009 at 1:50 am

1) Why so much of Ceiling Cat? Can’t we break it up with other LOLanimals?

2) I would like to know more about your heirloom tomatoes. They look very good!

Cynthia Yockey March 12, 2009 at 7:24 am


“Ceiling Cat Approves” is in a rotator folder and those photos come up randomly. “Ceiling Cat Approves” just tickles me and I always feel like that photo is a good omen. To have it come up less often, all I can do is add more photos and leave it to the randomizer. I’ll be adding photos gradually.

For the photo, “In da beginnin, Ceiling Cat created da erth outa thin airz,” I have a plug-in that lets me insert text and/or photos in various places in my theme. I like this Ceiling Cat photo and put in the HTML for it to appear after comments. I thought it would come up after ALL the comments, not after EACH comment. Since it’s the latter, and it turns out to be such a large photo it’s intrusive and people don’t know what to make of why it is showing up — which is just because it makes me laugh, and after some comments I figure I need that — I’m going to have to find a new home for the creator Ceiling Cat — maybe my “About” page.

About the heirloom tomatoes, yes, those are photos of my tomatoes in the rotator box with “Ceiling Cat Approves.” I have to put seeds in this week.

I have been stalled on two e-book projects for some time now and the momentum from pulling this blog together and getting it going will help me get them finished in the next few months. One e-book is about living wills and end-of-life care decisions and I will be posting about that soon since Melanie Phillips wrote a column this week of the most towering ignorance that will, mark my words, make euthanasia as pandemic in the U.K. as it is in Holland if her view prevails. My experience in caregiving and end-of-life care gives me ample credentials to set her — I hate to use this word, but, oh well — straight. The other book is about heirloom tomatoes and where to find all the best plants and seeds for them.

Do you have any specific tomato questions?

Dave M March 12, 2009 at 2:14 pm

I kind of think people make this more complicated than it needs to be. It’s never been a contention of Judeo-Christian religion that it is intrinsically evil for a man to have a foreskin or eat a lobster (I think Islam is kind of a different story, muslihoon has posted about this). The Dr. Laura letter is a glaring example about how being pricks makes people stupid, that is, unable to comprehend simple contextual shifts in text.

If there’s any dogma about lesbians, it’s entirely extrabiblical.

Steve Poling March 12, 2009 at 3:35 pm

My only contention is that if, and I mean if, deity has disclosed moral imperatives to mankind, it behooves us to acquaint ourselves therewith and ascertain to our moral obligations soon enough to do something about them. You’ll note that I haven’t invited you to church (you’d be welcome) or opened my Bible or hit you over the head therewith (I’ve got a big heavy one).

I’m from a Christian tradition that teaches everyone has a right to be wrong and that God alone holds the marking pen. Thus I’m uncomfortable with the term “Dogma” since it seems to abdicate the individual’s responsibility to figure out what s/he believes.

I think it’s OK to kid and tease a bit, but I always try to avoid unpleasant and uncivil arguments. If both of us aren’t smiling at the end, we’ve done something wrong.

Anon March 12, 2009 at 11:44 pm

I’m an atheist, but all that matters is that lesbians and gays are genetic mistakes. If you can’t reproduce biologically then you die out.

Cynthia Yockey March 13, 2009 at 1:07 pm



I really can’t go along with the self-serving “straights are the good ones, gays are mistakes” argument, I see it used too frequently by people who have no other source of self-esteem than the fact that they are straight.

I have a friend who tells me there’s something in Vedic literature about how various sexual positions result in homosexual children. I believe these are the ones that are the MOST fun.

So I expect we’ll be around for the duration.


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