This past Yom Kippur, September 25, 1993, my synagogue invited me to explain the afternoon scriptural reading: the list of forbidden sexual liaisons in Leviticus 18. I chose to focus on what is today one of the most frequently quoted passages in the entire Bible, “Do not lie with a male as one lies with a woman; it is an abomination” (Leviticus 18:22).
What I said may be both good news and bad news to my Christian friends, depending on their position on gay and lesbian rights: This biblical prohibition is addressed only to Jews. Non-Jews are affected only if they reside in the Holy Land, but not elsewhere (see the closing exhortation in Leviticus 18, verses 24–30). Thus, it is incorrect to apply this prohibition on a universal scale.a