Legendary British actor Sir Ian McKellen confirmed in a recent interview with Details that he tears the page that contains Leviticus 18:22 out of copies of The Bible in his hotel rooms. Openly gay for the past 20 years, McKellen said, "I do, absolutely. I'm not proudly defacing the book, but it's a choice between removing that page and throwing away the whole Bible."
Often pointed out by critics as an example of antiquated dogma, Leviticus 18:22 states, "You shall not lie with a male as with a woman. It is an abomination." (Leviticus 20:13 records a similar position.) Few realize, however, that this is not the first reference to homosexuality in the Bible.
Amid the mass depravity in Sodom (near the Jordan River in present-day southwest Asia), a group of men approached Lot, the righteous nephew of Abraham, and said in Genesis 19:5, "Where are the men who came to you tonight? Bring them out to us that we may know them carnally."
It is no coincidence that the destruction of Sodom (and Gomorrah) is recorded in the same chapter, just 19 verses later.
The New Testament offers something about the alternative lifestyle as well. Perhaps most potently, Romans 1:26-27 asserts:
"For this reason God gave them up to vile passions. For even their women exchanged the natural use for what is against nature. Likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust for one another, men with men committing what is shameful, and receiving in themselves the penalty of their error which was due."
Comparable New Testament verses are also found in I Corinthians 6:9, I Timothy 1:10 and Jude 1:7. Why these are commonly overlooked is anyone's guess, but it most likely has something to do with a prevailing sense of Biblical ignorance.
Fortunately -- and I'm being factitious here -- McKellen didn't rip portions of which he might not approve from the Talmud, Confucius' Analects, the Tao Te Ching, Krishna's Bhagavata Purana, the Hindu Veda and Upanishads, Buddhism's Tripitaka, or the Koran (which also forbids homosexuality).
That, of course, would amount to intolerance.