By Christopher Cudworth
And here we thought running and riding was all so innocent, even spiritually enlightening. It turns out your favorite activities are actually the root of all evil. It says so right in the Bible. Especially Leviticus, where you find out that the original laws of the Lord warn us against all sorts of things we do in our favorite sports.
Be Thou Not a Hot Mess
6 Then Moses said to Aaron and his sons Eleazar and Ithamar, “Do not let your hair become unkempt[a] and do not tear your clothes, or you will die and the Lord will be angry with the whole community.
Well, ain’t that nice to learn now? So it turns out that your bad case of Hat Head or Helmet Hair is evil in the sight of the Lord.
And who hasn’t accidentally ripped out the seams of a wet shirt while trying to take it off after a long run or ride? But that’s just the beginning. Leviticus has more to say about your pet hobbies.
Thou Shalt Not Drink Strong Beverages
Then the Lord said to Aaron, 9 “You and your sons are not to drink wine or other fermented drink whenever you go into the tent of meeting, or you will die. This is a lasting ordinance for the generations to come, 10 so that you can distinguish between the holy and the common, between the unclean and the clean…
Well, crap. So much for grabbing a beer in the post-race tent.
And Watch Out for Those Skid Marks
15 The Lord said to Moses and Aaron, 2 “Speak to the Israelites and say to them: ‘When any man has an unusual bodily discharge, such a discharge is unclean. 3 Whether it continues flowing from his body or is blocked, it will make him unclean.
Listen, running and riding is kind of an earthy occupation. We try to avoid sweating, peeing our pants or leaving skid marks in our chamois. But hey, sometimes things happen. You might even head out for a run after hot monkey sex in the morning and find a little sperm on your inseams. But according to Leviticus, you are unfit for human contact after that. For you are Unclean.
We Reiterate: No Hot Monkey Sex For You
16 “‘When a man has an emission of semen, he must bathe his whole body with water, and he will be unclean till evening. 17 Any clothing or leather that has semen on it must be washed with water, and it will be unclean till evening. 18 When a man has sexual relations with a woman and there is an emission of semen, both of them must bathe with water, and they will be unclean till evening.
So much for rolling out of bed after hot lovemaking and going for a run together in the morning sun. According to Leviticus, you need to part ways, go wash yourself with water and wait it out till nightfall. Doesn’t sound like much fun. And so much for going to work.
Women Take Note: Stop Bleeding Out Your Crotch
19 “‘When a woman has her regular flow of blood, the impurity of her monthly period will last seven days, and anyone who touches her will be unclean till evening.
I remember going to a Porta-Potty at a bike race and staring down into the well where a fresh layer of blood on a feminine product stared back up at me. So I get the ancient shock over womanly menstrual flow. But seven days? That amounts to solitary confinement. But if we’re going to pay attention to Leviticus, ladies, you better prepare yourself to train alone for a week or so. And that’s 12 times a year. At least.
Now You Know: Menstruating is Like a Fatal Disease
20 “‘Anything she lies on during her period will be unclean, and anything she sits on will be unclean. 21 Anyone who touches her bed will be unclean; they must wash their clothes and bathe with water, and they will be unclean till evening. 22 Anyone who touches anything she sits on will be unclean; they must wash their clothes and bathe with water, and they will be unclean till evening. 23 Whether it is the bed or anything she was sitting on, when anyone touches it, they will be unclean till evening.
Who knew that having your period was a crime against humanity? And God Forbid you should let anyone else sit on your bike seat or plop down where you just sat after a 20-miler.
24 “‘If a man has sexual relations with her and her monthly flow touches him, he will be unclean for seven days; any bed he lies on will be unclean.
So much for the notion of being One Flesh in marriage.
So Much For Those Sunday Morning Long Runs or Rides
29 “This is to be a lasting ordinance for you: On the tenth day of the seventh month you must deny yourselves[c] and not do any work—whether native-born or a foreigner residing among you— 30 because on this day atonement will be made for you, to cleanse you.
Better stay home in bed or risk the wrath of God and neighbors.
12 “‘Do not swear falsely by my name and so profane the name of your God. I am the Lord.
Nuff said. We presume.
Stop gossiping even though that’s the main reason you like to run or ride with others
16 “‘Do not go about spreading slander among your people.”
Gossip is fun. It makes the miles go by smoothly. Leviticus says no. Shut your trap and run or ride.
Stop Riding and Running So Fast
“‘Do not do anything that endangers your neighbor’s life. I am the Lord.”
“‘Do not wear clothing woven of two kinds of material.”
Well hell, that cuts out just about every type of running and riding gear you can buy these days. In fact the whole reason you buy that stuff is to see how cool the different textures of fabric are when you sew them together.
Stop Screwing Around
That law from Leviticus pretty much cuts out the entire Triathlon community where people enter into illicit relationships because they’re in the process of discovering their true selves through better diet, exercise and raw narcissism. It might just put a damper on sports as a whole in fact, if you put people to death for screwing around. That takes out the entire NBA, most of the NFL and probably all the outfielders and infielders in MLB as well.
People who run and ride like to explore the world with their bodies. It someone happens to get in front of you while you’re doing that, and sex ensues, it’s really not much different than straddling a bike or humping your way up a long hill on foot. Sex is part of the athletic world. Leviticus doesn’t agree, however. So good luck with that.
Now Leviticus is Just Confused
13 “‘If a man has sexual relations with a man as one does with a woman, both of them have done what is detestable. They are to be put to death; their blood will be on their own heads.
See, we’re starting to see that Leviticus can’t even get its facts right. This “law” we’re considering ignores the physical mechanics of the male and female anatomy. A man cannot technically have sexual relations with another man as one does with a woman. Men do not have vaginas. So the entire claim of sin here is a non-starter. And how funny is that when right now so many conservative religious believers use phrases like this from the Bible to ban gay people from having sex or buying things in Arizona. Perhaps we’re beginning to see that it’s actually Leviticus that is sort of screwed up.
What About Respecting Your Fellow Competitors? Loving your enemies?
19 Anyone who injures their neighbor is to be injured in the same manner: 20 fracture for fracture, eye for eye, tooth for tooth. The one who has inflicted the injury must suffer the same injury. 21 Whoever kills an animal must make restitution, but whoever kills a human being is to be put to death.
Leviticus means well, and these laws we’re talking about here had their time and purpose. But there was a certain Jewish fellow named Yeshua who came along and used hyperbole and really cool stories to convey spiritual principles. He wasn’t so much into enforcing the letter of the law as much as he was into getting us all to realize that it is the spirit of the law that counts. It doesn’t make things easier, necessarily. But it does not put a noose around your neck, because there’s this little thing called forgiveness at work in the world.
So it’s safe after all to run and ride and sweat and come and even leave some skid marks on your fitness shorts. You won’t go to hell or be put to death for your earthy endeavors. Not even if you mix Pearl Izumi clothes with Nike shoes. No one’s going to stone you or put you to death.
We Run and Ride to see the world in a different way. Thank God we’re not stuck in the Old Ways, or we’d probably all be dead.