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List of actions prohibited by the Bible

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Not to be confused with the list of actions prohibited by the Qur'an.
I'm not a bad man. I don't drink or dance or swear. I've done everything the Bible says, even the stuff that contradicts the other stuff! I've even kept kosher, just to stay on the safe side.
—Ned Flanders, "Hurricane Neddy", The Simpsons'[1]

There are a lot of actions prohibited by the Bible. How many have you done? Can you count them all?

Vote up if you've done the thing in question and vote down if you haven't. Vote neutral where the question doesn't apply to you (e.g., posed to any gender you don't identify as, posed to a slave and you live outside of North Korea, unsure if you've sacrificed to Baal, etc.).

Overview[edit]

The biggest single set of crimes are sexual in nature, usually punishable by the death penalty, followed by a whole set of religious prohibitions. It should be noted that things we consider sexual crimes (like rape and child abuse) are not what the Old Testament is talking about. Sexual transgressions typically relate to a failure to comport oneself (sexually) in a manner that the Israelites approved of. Adultery and masturbation were regarded as worse than modern crimes such as molestation or rape — arguably because they challenged such moral issues as "Which of my children is really mine, so gets my land?" and "The more sons I have the more land I can work, so the more money I own." Taken by the word of God alone, however, one just has to assume that God cares if you touch yourself or find someone sexy before you are married.

Though exactly why God should have such a deep and abiding interest in the sexual and marital predilections of his creations is not clear. The religious laws describe the various rituals and taboos involved in the proper way of worshiping the Israelite God, and also seek to prevent apostasy. At least in this case, the reasoning behind assassinating anybody who stepped out of line is clear.

There are also a few fundamentalist Christians such as the followers of Dominionism who feel that the death penalties as described should to be enforced today.[2][3]

Old Testament[edit]

The Hebrew Bible, or Tanakh (the source for the Christian Old Testament), which forms the core texts of the Halakha, or corpus of Jewish divine law, includes a surprising number of crimes that merit the death penalty as punishment. These laws were believed to form an integral part of the overall "Covenant" between the Israelites and YHWH. When the Christians adopted the Old Testament as their canon, neither they as a body, nor Jesus as the Messiah, revised or redacted any of these laws, for all they edited was the Hebrew texts. Many of the following belong to the ceremonial and civil categories of the Mosaic Law, which Christians regard as defunct and Jews regard as binding on themselves only.

Sexual acts[edit]

All of these used to merit death in ancient times; however, with the destruction of the second Jewish temple, the Jewish Sanhedrin courts all but abolished the death penalty. In Israel (where Judaic religious courts still exist), capital punishment is allowed only during wartime and only for genocide, crimes against humanity, war crimes, and treason (and has been employed only twice: against Meir Tobianski,Wikipedia who was later found out to be innocent, and against Adolf Eichmann,Wikipedia who deserved it).

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-2882Having homosexual intercourse between men (Leviticus 18:22, Leviticus 20:13).
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-2248Committing adultery between a man and a woman (Leviticus 20:10-12, Deuteronomy 22:22).
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-1739Lying about virginity (Deuteronomy 22:20-21).[note 1]
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-382Being one of the majority of women who don’t bleed when losing their virginity (Deuteronomy 22:20–21).[4]
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-1106Being the daughter of a priest and practicing prostitution (Leviticus 21:9).[note 2]
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-3457Raping an engaged female virgin (Deuteronomy 22:25).[note 3]
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-1187If an engaged female virgin, being raped in a city (Deuteronomy 22:23-27).[note 4]
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-2809Being male and practicing bestiality (Leviticus 20:15).[note 5]
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-1274Being female and practicing bestiality (Leviticus 20:16).[note 6]
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-3370Having sex with your father’s wife (Leviticus 20:20).[note 7]
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-2869Having sex with your daughter-in-law (Leviticus 20:30).
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-3206Having incestual sex (Leviticus 20:17).
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-3360Marrying a woman and her daughter (Leviticus 20:14).[note 8]
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-920Having sex with a woman who is menstruating (Leviticus 20:18).

A few of these crimes demand that the "sinners" be burned to death rather than stoned to death, the more usual form of capital punishment. One can wonder why these crimes in particular merit this especially horrible fate.[note 9]

Food and drink[edit]

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1997Consuming blood (Genesis 9:4, Leviticus 17:10).[note 10]
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3959Eating a cheeseburger or anything that mixes meat and dairy (Exodus 23:19).
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-2882Sacrificing anything with yeast or honey (Leviticus 2:11).
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3105Eating leavened bread (bread with yeast) during the Feast of Unleavened Bread (Exodus 12:15).
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3687Eating fat (Leviticus 3:17).
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3588Eating pork (Leviticus 11:7–8).
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-941Waiting too long before consuming sacrifices (Leviticus 19:5–8).
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2804Eating aquatic creatures lacking fins or scales (Deuteronomy 14:9-10).
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3403Eating any meat not killed according to the Kosher practice (Deuteronomy 12:21).
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-380Eating peace offerings while ritually unclean (Leviticus 7:20).

Religious[edit]

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353Being a male who is not circumcised (Genesis 17:14).
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-1614Trying to convert people to another religion (Deuteronomy 13:1-11, Deuteronomy 18:20).[note 11]
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-1525Worshiping idols (Exodus 22:20, Leviticus 20:1-5, Deuteronomy 17:2-7).
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-1201Practicing magic (Exodus 22:18).[note 12]
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2803Blaspheming (Leviticus 24:14-16,23).
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3109Breaking the Sabbath (Exodus 31:14, Numbers 15:32-36).
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-1773Consulting a psychic or spiritualist (Leviticus 19:31).
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-2432Being a psychic, medium, or spiritualist (Leviticus 20:27).[note 13]
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-115Being a town that believes in another, non-YHWH god (Deuteronomy 13:12-15).[note 14]
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-2433Giving one of your descendants to Molech (Leviticus 20:2).[note 15]
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-2073Not being a priest and going near the tabernacleWikipedia when it is being moved (Numbers 1:51).
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-2173Being a false prophet (Deuteronomy 13:5, Deuteronomy 18:20, Zechariah 13:2-3).
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2924Performing any work on the Sabbath (Exodus 20:10).
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486Going to the temple in an unclean state (Numbers 19:13).
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-2411Engaging in ritual animal sacrifices other than at the temple (Leviticus 17:1-9).
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-2465Manufacturing anointing oil (Exodus 30:33).
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25For a woman to pray without covering her head (1 Corinthians 11:5).

Violent and legal crimes[edit]

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-2807Murdering a slave (Exodus 21:26-27).[note 16]
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-2842Kidnapping and selling a man (Exodus 21:16).
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-2048Perjuring yourself (in certain cases) (Deuteronomy 19:15-21).[note 17]
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1143Ignoring the judgment of a judge or a priest (Deuteronomy 17:8-13).
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-2357Not constraining a known dangerous bull, if the bull subsequently kills a man or a woman (Exodus 21:29).[note 18]

Parenting[edit]

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-1331Striking your parents (Exodus 21:15).
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1917Cursing your parents (Exodus 21:17, Leviticus 20:9).
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1282Being a stubborn, rebellious, profligate, and drunkard son (Deuteronomy 21:18-21).[note 19]

Daily life[edit]

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805Planting more than one kind of seed in a field (Leviticus 19:19).
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2958Wearing clothing woven of more than one kind of cloth (Leviticus 19:19).
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2574Cutting the hair on the sides of your head or clipping of the edges of your beard (Leviticus 19:27).[note 20]
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547Touching the dead carcass of a pig (Deuteronomy 14:8).
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827Dressing across gender lines (Deuteronomy 22:5).
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1421Cutting your bodies for the dead or putting tattoo marks on yourself (Leviticus 19:28).

Things that don’t go anywhere else[edit]

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-9Living in a city that failed to surrender to the Israelites (Deuteronomy 20:12-14).[note 21]

New Testament[edit]

Although many — probably most — Christians maintain the New Testament ultimately served as an abrogation of the stricter forms and practices of the Mosaic Law, it did codify a few new prohibitions unstated in the text of the Old Testament.

Note that none of these can be demonstrated to have been said by Jesus himself — indeed, as nobody was taking notes when Jesus was speaking, we have no real way of knowing what Jesus may have said about these things. For that matter, there is even debate about whether Jesus even existed.

However, it is also worth noting that, notwithstanding certain episodes where he is claimed to have interpreted laws in a relaxed way (e.g., the Sabbath working law), Jesus did not explicitly say the old laws were now invalid, and dispensations from following them largely came as a result of the spread of Christianity to non-Jews by Paul of Tarsus. On the contrary, Jesus endorses Mosaic Law in Matthew 5:18, where he says, "For truly I tell you, until heaven and earth disappear, not the smallest letter, not the least stroke of a pen, will by any means disappear from the Law until everything is accomplished."[note 22]

Slaves[edit]

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613Disobedience (Ephesians 6:5).

Women[edit]

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-147Speaking in church (if also a woman) (1 Corinthians 14:34-35).
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-1036Homosexual intercourse between women (Romans 1:26).

Men[edit]

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-71Homosexual intercourse between men (Romans 1:27).
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-39Praying with their head covered (1 Corinthians 11:4).

See also[edit]

Notes[edit]

  1. Applies to girls who are still in their fathers' homes, who lie about their virginity, and are presented to their husband as a virgin. The accused is guilty until proved innocent.
  2. Death by fire. This should probably be seen as a ban on sacred prostitutionWikipedia
  3. If she is not engaged, you only have to marry her and give her father 50 shekels. No mention is made of the girl’s opinion, and no punishment is specified for raping a single non-virgin female.
  4. If it takes place in a field, the victim is spared, because nobody would have heard her screams. Lovely.
  5. Both the human and the animal die — because the animal is obviously responsible.
  6. As above, both the human and the animal die.
  7. "Your father's wife" is distinct from "your mother," as it was permissible at the time for men to have several wives. Both die.
  8. Mother, daughter, and husband are all burnt to death.
  9. One possible explanation is that those acts punished by burning were those considered forms of heresy or blasphemy and thus "crimes" against YHWH, rather than against other humans. This would certainly fit with the ban on priests' daughters practicing (sacred) prostitution (note that the Canaanite religionWikipedia featured sacred prostitution, and indeed one of its gods, Moloch ("Molech"), is mentioned several times in Leviticus 18 and 20). That would suggest that marrying a wife and her daughter was not "just" considered a sexual taboo, but an outright blasphemous act (possibly again connected to sacred prostitution and/or divine marriageWikipedia rituals among the Canaanites). It would also mean that witchcraft was considered a "civil offense" to be punished by stoning, rather than heresy or blasphemy (unlike in the later Christian tradition). For instance, Jewish tradition has SolomonWikipedia controlling spirits and demons, which was not seen as a problem, unlike his idolatry as described from 1 Kings 11:4 onwards.
  10. Blood in meat is not exempt. This would presumably include eating black pudding or blood soup. It would presumably also include any blood accidentally consumed when an Ultra-Orthodox Jewish mohel sucks the blood from a newly circumcised baby's penis. (Yes, they really do this.)
  11. Stoned to death.
  12. Unless you're doing 'divine healing' on national television.
  13. Death.
  14. Kill everybody, including animals, and burn the town, and the people who do believe in that god. This is really some kind of "Exterminatus" instruction. The Bible is less specific about individual apostasy within the community. This is also reflected in the Qur'an, although the Sharia does have a stated law to follow in the event of an individual's apostasy that leads to either imprisonment until conversion, or the death penalty.
  15. Probably refers to human sacrifice, which is not now as commonly practiced. Or not, since Abraham is not punished for attempting to sacrifice his son. Or is it because God asked for that?
  16. However, if a slave is beaten to death, the owner is “punished” — not necessarily killed. If the slave survives the beating, then there is no punishment-unless the slave's tooth or eye is damaged. This is part of a wide range of slavery laws in the Old and New Testament. (Genesis 9:6, Exodus 21:12, Numbers 35:16–21)
  17. Deuteronomy 19:20 explicitly identifies that the purpose of this is deterrence. "The rest of the people will hear of this and be afraid, and never again will such an evil thing (malicious and false testimony by one man against another) be done among you." Presumably, all the other death penalties are assumed to be for deterrence as well.
  18. Both the animal and the reckless owner of the dangerous bull are to be put to death.
  19. Stoning.
  20. This commandment is the reason why Orthodox Jews often sport sidelocks and big beards.
  21. Kill all the men, make the women and children slaves.
  22. This is how it's translated in the New International Version, whereas The RationalWiki Annotated Bible uses the good old King James translation.

References[edit]

  1. Simpsons Wiki — Hurricane Neddy Quotes
  2. http://www.religioustolerance.org/reconstr.htm
  3. http://www.theologyonline.com/DEATH.HTML
  4. 44 Interesting Facts About Hymens, “One study revealed that only 43% of women bleed during initial intercourse. Bleeding does indicate ‘breaking’ of the hymen. The ‘first bleed’ could be caused by tense vaginal muscles, inadequate lubrication, rushed entry, or vaginal abrasions.”