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Sunday, July 11, 2010


A friend forwarded this very clever piece of writing, which you may already have seen. (Sorry about the small type, I can't seem to enlarge it):

Following the Bible: Some Questions

In her radio show, Dr Laura Schlesinger said that, as an observant Orthodox Jew, homosexuality is an abomination accordingto Leviticus 18:22, and cannot be condoned under any circumstance.The following response is an open letter to Dr.Laura, penned by a US resident, which was posted on the Internet.

Dear Dr. Laura:

Thank you for doing so much to educate people regarding debate. I do need some advice from you, however, regarding some other elements of God's Laws and how to follow them.

1. Leviticus 25:44 states that I may 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?

2. 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?

3. 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 offence.

4. 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?

5. 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, or should I ask the police to do it?

6. 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? Are there 'degrees' of abomination?

7. 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 wriggle-room here?

8. 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?

9. 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?

10. 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 and thus enjoy considerable expertise in such matters, so I'm confident you can help.

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

Your adoring fan.

James M. Kauffman, Ed.D. Professor Emeritus, Dept. Of Curriculum,
Instruction, and Special Education University of Virginia

(It would be a damn shame if we couldn't own a Canadian :)

Addendum, 7/13/10: It turns out that James M. Kauffman, who really is a distinguished Professor Emeritus at UV, is not the author of this letter, which has now been circulating on the internet under his name for ten years now. Someone by the name of Kent Ashcraft has claimed authorship, but the legitimacy of that claim is not clear.


Anonymous said...

Perfect! :)

John Craig said...

Guy -- I thought so too. This Kauffman is a clever fellow. How apropos that he was in the department at UV which dealt with Special Education, that experience helped him strike just the right tone with Dr. Laura.

Anonymous said...

John, I have a friend in town, a casual friend, who belongs to an evangelical church. From time to time, she has shared with me some marital woes. A few times she has told me that, on major decisions, she defers to her husband when they disagree, because "he is the head of the family" and the "Bible tells us so." While I wouldn't be rude enough to share this list with her, I've occasionally thought to myself that, if I put together a list like Kauffman did, would she see things differently. Doubt it, but it was enlightening and amusing to read the letter. (John, not sure how you feel about the head of the household rule....)

John Craig said...

Anonymous --
That's the woman I should have married!

More seriously, I'm not sure how I feel either. I guess whoever is smarter, or at least better qualified to make a particular decision, should make it. Which I guess is a way of weaseling out of answering the question.

My advice: Go ahead and show her this list. (Although I've never had any success arguing religious types out of their convictions, or, now that I think of it, arguing anybody out of any of their beliefs.) Also, I don't know whether her beliefs cleave to the Old Testament (including Leviticus) or New Testament, that may be a factor.

But you sound very polite, maybe it's better to stay that way.