Leviticus's function is:
Leviticus, called by Rabbinic writers "Law of the Priests" or "Law of the Sacrifices", contains nearly a complete collection of lawsconcerning the Levitical ministry. They are not codified in any logical order, but still we may discern certain groups of regulations touching the same subject. The Book of Exodus shows what God had done and was doing for His people; the Book of Leviticus prescribes what the people must do for God, and how they must render themselves worthy of His constant presence.
It is a contentious topic. You see, on the one hand if you ever listen to a strict Christian moralist want to denounce some modern aspect of society, or a minority group previously made criminal or demonized. It is a favorite, as it does give LAW, and is so ridiculous it gives "ammo" against all sorts of activities and people.
Now the trouble is many Christians will tell you that Christians can and should disregard Leviticus. They see the declarations in the New Testament (SPOILERS) by Jesus end the need to maintain the old laws, which make"themselves worthy of His constant presence," at an end. So, by this argument, Leviticus is irrelevant and only points made in the New Testament should carry weight. But, as I said, Leviticus is still delivered by people in arguments as standing divine law. And the people making these arguments are not just casual bible readers, they are quite often pastors, priest, and vicars. So, presumably, authorities. Sorry, "authorities."
So maybe when Jesus made the new covenant, he meant to free people from the old laws Or as many also say, it is meant to be the final and ultimate sacrifice, ending the need for future animal sacrifice. Apparently there is some confusion on what the bible says, means, and wants. That's so odd, that never happens.
But let's look at the laws: (Okay, not all of them because it drones on and stops being ridiculous quick.) Some of this is from the Skeptic's Annotated Bible.
- What animals are unclean.
- Martial infidelity. DEATH PENALTY.
- How to sacrifice animals.
- How to buy slaves.
- A setting for the financial value of human beings. (A woman's value gap here is even greater than in the modern work force. Progress!)
- How and with who cattle can graze. CATTLE SEGREGATION.
- We are dirty. Sex is dirty. Dirty! Dirty! Dirty!
- How to purify yourself.
- No, really the cleanliness obsession. It's like reading something from the mind of Monk (from the TV show Monk). You're dirty. Someone saw you, now they're dirty to. Oops, missed a spot, we have to start over again. High tech clean rooms are less paranoid.
- Sleeping with your mother-in-law. DEATH PENALTY, by being burned to death.
- No hair cutting.
- Being a psychic. DEATH PENALTY ...That is a bit much.
- Women menstruating are unclean. Stay away from them, make them separate themselves from the community.
- Sleeping with a female slave. SCOURGING...of the slave women. The guy is lucky it's just a slave.
- Baby girls are doubly unclean compared to baby boys.
- Sex with a women during her period. EXILE. In fact men are not to even look at menstruating women.
- The disabled are barred from approaching the alter. God only has time for the beautiful people.
- Having sex with an animal. DEATH PENALTY ALL AROUND. Even the animal abused.
- No multiblend fabric wearing.
- Disrespecting your parents. DEATH PENALTY.
- Don't mix crops in a field.
- Blasphemy. DEATH PENALTY.
- Oh, yeah. And apparently gay people are bad, or something. (Though oddly it focuses on what the dudes do. But I guess if they thought too much on what women were up to they'd have to restart the whole purifying cycle.)
And also consider some of the facts of Leviticus, which should apparently be accepted without question:
- Bats are birds.
- Stoning people to death is acceptable.
- Insects have 4 legs.
- Burning people to death is acceptable.
- You can keep slaves
We could also bring in Judaism, which Leviticus was produced for all those centuries ago. But in the United States any part of Leviticus still of interest to Jews, is a matter of personal action, and constrained by American law (if someone actually wanted to stone someone else). Now their may be some people or rabbi that quote it to denounce gay people, but they are such a minor and unremarkable group that they are lost amongst the horde of Catholic and Evangelical nutters. It's like the Jewish creationists.
As I like to say, I don't care what you believe. I care if you want to impose it on me and others. I care if you want to deny people rights, or criminalize activities or persons that have no real harmful affect.
Let's face it anyone who references Leviticus to justify an idea, law, or course of action, is going to be an asshole.
These are just a few of the people at pulpits, in legislatures, and in governor's mansions, deciding law and policy, many fondly quoting Leviticus.
We may now be creeped out.
I think Larisa nicely explains how confusing all these ancient religious laws are.