This letter is specifically for those Masons who shouted me down with cries of "Leviticus!" when I stood to speak for the elimination of most of 6.207 (27) from the Tennessee Masonic Code. It also applies to those who silently support them.
A friend on Facebook made a post which reminded me of something that I once said long ago; I had forgotten it until that moment.
For non-Masons, I have to explain something first so you have a context. After each degree, a Mason memorizes a series of answers to questions in a question-and-answer lecture that relates to the degree they just went through. In order to advance to the next degree, the Mason must be able to proficiently answer the questions. During the teaching, the instructor asks the question, then gives the answer. At the examination to determine if the Mason is proficient, he has to recite the answers with minimal, if any prompts.
Some lodges teach rote memorization, e.g. "say these specific words in this specific order" and the instructors never teach the meaning of what they are learning. As an example, one part went like this: "I will not reveal the secrets of this degree... without without due trial, strict examination or legal information." In the Masonic world, these three word pairs have very specific meanings as to what you are supposed to do to the brother to determine if a brother is entitled to receive certain knowledge. If you received your instruction from a "rote" instructor, you probably don't know what those methods are or what would determine a pass/fail. If you received instruction from my lodge, the instructors (including myself) would talk about what those words meant and what you had to do. We found that this extra knowledge helped in the retention of the memorization and inspired the Mason to learn more.
So what does rote memorization has to to with Leviticus? I'm glad you asked.
I have read my Bible from Genesis to Revelations. I prefer the New International Version because it is derived from the original texts and is heavily footnoted to provide context. In the Old Testament it was made clear that you could not enter the Kingdom of Yahweh (God) if you were not spiritually clean. If you sinned, the only way for you to atone for your sins was by making the appropriate sacrifice to God. In Leviticus, the exact steps you had to take in the sacrifice was laid out as well as the animal/thing used as the offering. There were five specific areas of offerings. Burnt offerings, grain offerings, fellowship offerings, sin offerings and guilt offerings. Each type of offering had a different purpose and required a different sacrifice depending on the social/financial status of the one performing the offering.
As an example, if you unintentionally broke one of the Ten Commandments this would fall under the heading of a "sin offering." If a high priest or the whole congregation was guilty, a young bull would be required. If the sinner was a leader, a male goat would be required. For a common person, the sacrifice had to be a female goat or a lamb. The poor could offer a dove or pigeon and for the very poor, a tenth of an ephah, or about 2.25 gallons of flour.
Leviticus Chapters 18-20 lists various sins. Some of them listed in Chapter 18 are repeated in Chapter 20 with punishments.
- Giving (sacrificing) your child to Molech (the god of the Ammonites).
- Not stoning a man to death for giving his child to Molech.
- Anyone who turns to Mediums or Spiritualists.
- Cursing a parent.
- Sleeping with another man's wife (adultery).
- Sleeping with his fathers wife.
- Sleeping with his daughter-in-law.
- Homosexuality ("If a man lies with a man as one lies with a woman...").
- If a man marries both a woman and her mother.
- Having sex with an animal (man or woman).
- If a man marries his sister.
- If a man has sex with a woman during menstruation.
- Cursing the deaf or putting stumbling blocks in the way of the blind.
- Endangering your neighbors life.
- Mating different kinds of animals.
- Planting one field with two kinds of seed.
- Wearing clothing made of two different kinds of material.
- Eating meat with the blood still in it.
- Cutting the hair on the sides of your head or trimming your beard.
- Mutilating or tattooing yourselves.
- Using dishonest measures.
In today's world how many people do you know of who sacrifice an animal every time they broke one of the above laws? Pretty much zero. And many Christians will say why through rote memorization. They say the correct thing ("Jesus sacrificed Himself on the cross for all of the sins of Mankind") but there is no knowledge, no realization of what that exactly means.
Here's what I realized and said many years ago: "Jesus' sacrifice on the cross rendered inert all of the laws laid out in the Old Testament."
Knowing our history is important. that's why the Bible contains the OT. However the laws contained in the OT are no longer requirements to be followed and strictly obeyed.
This is clearly spelled out in Matthew Chapter 22. In verse 36, the Sadducees asked, "Teacher, what is the greatest commandment in the Law?" Jesus' reply in versus 37-40 reads,
Jesus replied, " 'Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.' This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: 'Love your neighbor as yourself.' All the Law and the Prophets hang on the two commandments."
Every law in the Old Testament became irrelevant the moment Jesus breathed His last saying, "It is finished."
Here's my final kick in the gonads to my hyper-religious former brothers:
If you demand adherence to the laws laid down in the OT, you negate Jesus' sacrifice. He died in vain because you prefer the old laws and don't think His sacrifice was good enough for you.
Think about that the next time you open your pie hole to shout "Leviticus!"