Fr. James' Lectionary

The Lectionary is both a reading program for completing all of Holy Scripture on a one year schedule, and a daily comment on a portion of the day's reading wedded to a poem to give an added perspective on the theme.

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Location: Amherst, Virginia, United States

Saturday, April 01, 2006

Sexual Taboos: Bible Commentary on Leviticus 18 with poem by Brendan Galvin, Of Rivers, Theologies, and Persons Infamous

Daily Readings
Psalm 47, Exodus 37, Leviticus 18, II Timothy 3

Daily Text: Leviticus 18

Sexual Taboos
People of God were expected to behave differently from the world around them, Egypt and Canaan in this case. Christians too were taught separate patterns of behavior(cf. II Cor. 6:17 and Gal 5:22-23). These righteous behaviors were to mark the loyal child of God in either society.

Incest taboos were not unknown in the surrounding nations, but to have them spelled out in sacred writings, and so particularly, was unique to Israel. Menstruation was a protected time for women. They were not to be approached for sexual intercourse until their time was over and their ritual uncleanness past.

The taboo against offering offspring to Molech was likewise banned, but what was foreseen is unknown. Generally, child sacrifices are thought of, but here in a list of sexual taboos? The nations that worshipped Melek called him ‘king.’ The Jews changed the spelling and using the vowels from the word ‘shame’ called him Molech [185:883]. Whether there were opportunities to offer children as male and female prostitutes to Melek is unknown, but there must have been something that identified the sexual nature of the sin.

Homosexuality and bestiality were both prohibited. While there has been a sea change in public acceptance of homosexuality in the past two generations in the West, the biblical position is everywhere consistent with prohibition. Marriage between an acceptable pairing of man and woman is the norm.

Of Rivers, Theologies, and Persons Infamous
Roger Williams, 1671
Brendan Galvin


The Woonasquatucket, the Sakonnet, its rocks
a terror to hulls, the Taunton, Warren, Swansea
and Moshassuck—boundary waters all,
each involved in our discordances. With
Massachusetts grinding away on one side
and Connecticut on the other, poor Rhode Island
seemed a miserable grain of corn between.
I could say those rivers contribute to this
Narragansett Bay as the sects we admitted
flooded our colony. The Sakonnet might be
the Familists, who believed in direct
inspiration from the Holy Spirit, God’s Law
written on Adam’s heart when His breath
quickened the clay. How many days did I stumble
across the gadfly Samuel Gorton wandering
among the trees at Shawomet, conversing aloud
with the Creator? And let the Pawtuxet River—
where that two-legged beast Richard Chasmore
practicised his lust on a heifer, and William
Harris tried to work his land-lust—stand for
the Quakers, their reliance on a “Divine Light”
within. The Woonasquatucket we might say
represents the Anabaptists, or perhaps
the Antipedobaptists, or the Seventh-day Baptists
or Six Principle Baptists, for we welcomed
whatever Baptists arrived, one and all, even as
these rivers contribute to this bay. Grindletonians,
Ranters, Socinians, Antisabbatarians. With liberty
of conscience all might think as they would,
Anglicans, Jews, even Papists. And so
to Rhode Island and Providence Plantations
came some who held that the Lord was present in
hogs, dogs, and sheep, or that a harlot
was sanctified when she married a godly man.
Conjure any theological point and we housed
its espouser or defender, so long as he made no riot,
provoked no gusts, caused no false military
alarms, and took no part in plots and diggings,
as with Irish pirates or Dutch grave-robbers.
Nor would we welcome persons infamous,
as William Baker, much given to consorting
among Mohegan squaws at Pequot,
nor various wandering self-made squires and “sirs,”
as Captain George Wright, who flew like a cowbird
from bed to bed across these colonies, Plymouth
to Newport to New Netherlands, where he continued
his ungodly sports, apparently with Dutch approval.
Nor the Widow Messenger’s daughter,
Sarah Neale of Boston, great in the belly though unwed,
with a mouth abusive and unstoppable, who called
our town a cage of unclean birds, and yet
would live among us to spite our teeth. The rigider
colonies call us Rogues Island, the latrina
of New England, where everyone thinks otherwise
from everyone. Still, we agree upon freedom of thought
and the walling of civil government from church.
There is no lopping of ears or lives to enforce orthodoxy,
no witch-burning. We have drunk deeply from
the cup of great liberties, none deeper, but I tell you
the din and clash of opposing doctrines has
converted me to a Seeker, one who awaits the cure
of the Second Coming, and wishes some days I had never
sold my trading post at Cocumscussoc, that nest
down this bay in the Narragansett country where
no disturbing hand could reach me, whose name
when I say it to myself is as salutary as
two crows calling across its benign coves.
Image #44:51

Collect for the Day
Blessed are you, God of all the earth; you have called us out of every people and nation to be a royal priesthood and citizens of your holy city. May our words of praise call the world to turn to the joy of fellowship with you, through Jesus Christ our Lord. [476:765:47 psalm prayer]

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