Now these are delightful challenges! As a teacher, I wish more students had the courage to ask them.
Here are a few answers:
The whole point of Leviticus and Deuteronomy was to teach Israel how to separate and become distinct from all they had learned while in Egyptian captivity. They are books of contrast and separation, distinctions and differences. For example, Egypt worshipped death, Israel was called to worship life. The Ten Commandments of Exodus 20 are instructions of how to become different. Holy items shall be “sanctified”—literally, “set apart”—that is, distinct from non-holy items. Jews themselves, and later Christians, are likewise to be “set apart” for God.
Men and women were created different and distinct, therefore their roles, behavior and even dress should not be confused as the Egyptians did (and many pagan cultures still do).
For example, Deuteronomy 22:11 says, “You shall not wear a material mixed of wool and linen together.” The whole reason being “don’t confuse plant and animal products, they’re different categories, remember that.” There’s painful detail throughout the Bible pounding this meta-theme home.
God created different “kinds” of things, and we must honor His distinctions and not confuse them, for it is an “abomination,” exactly the very thing advocates for same-sex marriage are guilty of.
What about the shellfish? If you read the context of Leviticus 11:9-12, it too is talking about honoring distinctions. God is simply saying, in my paraphrase, “Eat fish, don’t eat bugs. Fish have fins and swim, bugs have legs and crawl. Even if you find things in the water that aren’t crawling, if they have legs, they can crawl—so they’re bugs, don’t eat them. Fish, good; sea-bugs, bad. Honor the distinction.”
The Bible’s statements prohibiting homosexual behavior are rooted in this need to recognize and honor the distinctions—here between men and women.
As far as the eating of shrimp, Jesus permits the eating of shellfish under what he says in Matthew 15:11: “It is not what enters into the mouth that defiles the man, but what proceeds out of the mouth, this defiles the man.” And Paul emphasized in Romans 14:14 that it’s all about personal conscience anyway.
As far as the “stoning your wife” and “selling your daughter into slavery” claims go, they too have a simple answer. In 1400 B.C., before the law was given to Moses by the hand of God at Mt. Sinai, no nation had any moral code that prohibited a man from killing his wife, wives, or children for any reason. Pagans sacrificed their children to Baal and Moloch, Israel would not. Pagans could kill their families, Israel would not. So, the Old Testament improved the extant moral order by requiring men to go before the elders before any child was to be stoned (Deuteronomy 21:19). And, in all of the rabbinic writings to my knowledge there’s not one instance of the elders ever approving of a single stoning of a child.
Lastly, when you read the full context of Exodus 21:7-11, the “selling your daughter into slavery” slur, it too was an improvement over the ancient moral order. My paraphrase again, “If you sell your daughter off to a man and he becomes unhappy with her, he must give you a chance to redeem her and buy her back, he may not sell her off to foreigners. And if the man bought her for his son, she must not be treated as a slave, but as a daughter.” Like all the other teachings in the Old Testament, this was a big improvement over what was going on among the peoples around Israel.
Come to think of it, it still is—we still have “honor killings” of wayward daughters and wives today throughout the Muslim world.
Like Michelle Malkin, I too am waiting for the “other” Prop 8 musical to come out, as she says, “the one with angry activists storming restaurants and Mormon temples, hectoring elderly people over their signs, and hounding donors large and small until they pay off their tormentors in the name of tolerance. Anyone?”
I’ll bet the “Hairspray” boys won’t be doing that one any time soon.