Leviticus Part 1: Love Your Neighbor as You Love Yourself…Unless.

June 21, 2010

Leviticus is very interesting in that it outlines various traditions, rules and consequences as defined by God. As with sections of Exodus, I sort of CliffsNoted my way through the boring stuff. But in those more than 30 pages, I found some value and many exceptions.

I’m not particularly adept at following rules be they legal, moral or social. I follow the ones I find most beneficial — wearing a seatbelt (if I’m in the front seat), applying sunblock (after succumbing to summer’s inaugural burn), taking care of those I love (but only if they’re not pissing me off), keeping my hands off the property of others (a few mishaps here) and respecting the lives of others (see section 1A for a complete library of addendums). I obey rules and laws sidelined with consequences I prefer to avoid  — paying taxes (um…), voting (soon to join the do-not-follow section) and killing (of large animals). And I disregard the ridiculous — respecting misplaced stop signs (when cops are not around), succumbing to obligation (unless it includes intoxication) and expressing kindness toward strangers (see section 1B for specifics).

My rules concerning rules are only consistent in devotion to exception. This, in effect, is Leviticus, a section of the Bible known for the “love your neighbor as you love yourself” commandment, one that gets lost in the quagmire of God’s laws, which are so confusing it’s nearly impossible to decipher right from wrong. (For the record, it took 30 pages before I noticed it’s “Le-vi-ti-cus,” not “Le-vic-tus.”)

Thankfully, a multitude of exceptions are wrapped up in these laws. I thrive on exceptions and therefore can place the following in my patchwork list of acceptable rules.  

1. Laws Concerning Skin Diseases: Yes, I agree that skin diseases are disgusting and an individual afflicted by such a disease should be examined and, if necessary, quarantined. Unless of course the affliction is ringworm and it happens to be on my leg.

2. Laws Concerning Mildew: Also disgusting, but wonderful if covered by insurance.

3. Unclean Bodily Discharges: Agree with the concept, not the fluids.

4. Laws of Holiness and Justice: This is generally good stuff — no cheating, no lying, no breaking promises, no holding grudges — and a perfect demonstration of the value of exception. Have you ever gone a week without cheating, lying, breaking a promise or holding a grudge? I have, but only if white lies and cheating at board games are classified as exceptions to the cheating and lying portion of holiness and justice.

5. Eye for an eye. Love it, but prefer the world follow it after I’m safely housed in a concrete bunker in a land far, far away.

The way in which God designs these rules, regulations and punishments is ingenious because complexity allows for confusion, which encourages interpretation, which results in justification. Some people really blow the justification component. Justifying the alleged killing of a strawberry stripper as a means to appease a bitch-slapping wife is not exactly the best logic.

That being said, justification is generally used to excuse blurry and harmless offenses. If God had created black and white rules punishable by the same consequence, we’d be screwed. If the punishment were death, we would cease to exist. If the punishment were guilt and shame, we would cease to prosper.

Humans are imperfect and incapable of linearly following legal, moral and social laws. If God’s laws didn’t allow for exception and interpretation we would not only hate ourselves for consistently failing, we would, by default, hate our neighbor. It is simply impossible to fully love your neighbor if you hate yourself.

Cheers to God’s exceptions.

Stopping Point: Should be Numbers, but will be Leviticus Part II — “That’s What She Said

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2 Responses to “Leviticus Part 1: Love Your Neighbor as You Love Yourself…Unless.”

  1. […] not a mathematician, but I crunched some numbers during Leviticus and according to young God, humans can have sex nine times during a 30-day month. Max. If the stars […]

  2. […] is a modern day prophet. Like prophets, psychics predict events. People listen to the predictions they like and ignore those they […]

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