“Cherry-picking” is an idiom that refers to the logical fallacy of choosing only data that confirms one’s bias while ignoring other data that points otherwise. For example, a salesman hyping a new drug may point to one or two cases where it has worked marvelously while failing to disclose that 998 other people found it ineffective.
The US Supreme Court made a historic decision last Friday to legalize and recognize same-sex marriage throughout the United States of America. LGBT advocates and supporters celebrated while conservatives, especially religious clergy, were dismayed, calling the it a “violation of natural law” (never mind that homosexual behavior has been found in animals) as well as being offensive to God and an “abomination” according to Leviticus 20:13 (ESV): “If a man lies with a male as with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination; they shall surely be put to death; their blood is upon them.”
So what does this have to do with cherry-picking? Well, the person who uses this verse to justify the “evilness” of homosexuality must also do what the second part of the verse says — to put to death these people. But most would balk at that although there are a few who openly state that “the government needs to kill all of the sodomites and all of their supporters, as the Scriptures command.” Thankfully, most people are not as bereft of their senses as these are. But that’s cherry-picking right there, in just one verse.
Cherry-picking also means focusing on the restriction of that verse (and another similar-sounding one in Leviticus 18:22) while ignoring other restrictions FOUND IN THE SAME BOOK.
Do you enjoy lechon, pork chop, adobo or bacon? Too bad. Leviticus 11:7-8 “And the pig, because it parts the hoof and is cloven-footed but does not chew the cud, is unclean to you. You shall not eat any of their flesh, and you shall not touch their carcasses; they are unclean to you.”
Garlic shrimp, sizzling squid, baked clams and oysters? You’re supposed to hate them like God does. Leviticus 11:10-12 “But anything in the seas or the rivers that does not have fins and scales, of the swarming creatures in the waters and of the living creatures that are in the waters, is detestable to you. You shall regard them as detestable; you shall not eat any of their flesh, and you shall detest their carcasses. Everything in the waters that does not have fins and scales is detestable to you.”
Dinuguan, anyone? Rare or medium steak? Leviticus 17:14 “Therefore I have said to the people of Israel, You shall not eat the blood of any creature, for the life of every creature is its blood. Whoever eats it shall be cut off.”
Beware of menstruating women. Leviticus 15:19-20 “When a woman has a discharge, and the discharge in her body is blood, she shall be in her menstrual impurity for seven days, and whoever touches her shall be unclean until the evening. And everything on which she lies during her menstrual impurity shall be unclean. Everything also on which she sits shall be unclean.”
As well as men with wet dreams. Leviticus 15: 16-17 “If a man has an emission of semen, he shall bathe his whole body in water and be unclean until the evening. And every garment and every skin on which the semen comes shall be washed with water and be unclean until the evening.”
Apparently, things such as crew cuts, beard trims and tattoos are forbidden as well — even if the tattoo is of Jesus. Leviticus 19:27-28 “You shall not round off the hair on your temples or mar the edges of your beard. You shall not make any cuts on your body for the dead or tattoo yourselves: I am the LORD.”
Amidst all these, do you know what the good Lord doesn’t see as an abomination? Slavery — as long as you make sure to buy your slaves from other nations and not your own. Leviticus 25:44 “As for your male and female slaves whom you may have: you may buy male and female slaves from among the nations that are around you.”
Now, the common argument against this is that these were laws specifically directed towards Israel that were applicable for them at that point in time. All right, but if you use that argument, you can’t use Leviticus to justify homophobia. If you think that our morality has evolved when it comes to dietary restrictions, bodily functions and so on, then it has similarly evolved for sexuality. But if you think morality is static and that “the word of the Lord stands forever” (Isaiah 40:8), then you should be willing to obey all those other restrictions and commands as well. You can’t have it both ways.
I like eating cherries but cherry-picking arguments are an abomination to me. Away from me, heathens.
Originally published in Sunstar Davao.