On homosexuality and the moral laws of Leviticus

images-1If we think the Bible’s prohibition of homosexuality in Leviticus is obsolete because it’s old and analogous to other Old Testament laws that pass away, we should also think that the laws against adultery, bestiality and offering children to Moloch have passed away. These are the reasonable laws to compare for continuity.

When people argue that the proper laws for analogy have to do with eating shell-fish or tattoos they might be showing a light respect for sacred scripture or a lack of talent for legal reasoning.

These laws grouped together as an expression of moral reasoning (not for Israel as a typical people) but as general laws for all people, Jew and Gentile, exhibit themselves as manifestation of the Moral and not merely ceremonial law, as expressions of universal goodness and applicable to all persons under the same or similar circumstances.

Since they are binding and perpetual expressions of the laws of God, if we void them we mark ourselves as divorced from His covenant and so from His grace.

It’s not very different from rejecting His law against worshipping other gods or premeditated murder.

To reject the law of the God is to reject the God of the law. All through scripture, Old Testament or New, He takes these things personally.

The law on this explains that this is how the Gentiles (not the Jew or the Christian) pollute themselves and so any argument that calls them rules for Israel misses the point. Of course they were rules for Israel; were reading a law book of Israel but the law itself was for everyone and pre-existed the writing of the text (any law that pre-existed the text cannot be reasonably argued to be limited to the text). The text doesn’t create the law it simply codifies it into written form.

So often, we hear people comparing the ancient equivalent of traffic code against International Law and thinking their arguments obvious and air tight.

Christians though should be clear minded and more careful.

Just read it for yourself and use your best judgement as to what’s being said.

Leviticus 18

20 “‘Do not have sexual relations with your neighbor’s wife and defile yourself with her.

21 “‘Do not give any of your children to be sacrificed to Molek, for you must not profane the name of your God. I am the Lord.

22 “‘Do not have sexual relations with a man as one does with a woman; that is detestable.

23 “‘Do not have sexual relations with an animal and defile yourself with it. A woman must not present herself to an animal to have sexual relations with it; that is a perversion.

24 “‘Do not defile yourselves in any of these ways, because this is how the nations that I am going to drive out before you became defiled. 25 Even the land was defiled; so I punished it for its sin, and the land vomited out its inhabitants. 26 But you must keep my decrees and my laws. The native-born and the foreigners residing among you must not do any of these detestable things, 27 for all these things were done by the people who lived in the land before you, and the land became defiled. 28 And if you defile the land, it will vomit you out as it vomited out the nations that were before you.

29 “‘Everyone who does any of these detestable things—such persons must be cut off from their people. 30 Keep my requirements and do not follow any of the detestable customs that were practiced before you came and do not defile yourselves with them. I am the Lord your God.’”

Now obviously, there are both ceremonial and moral laws within the Bible in general and the book of Leviticus in specific, and there might be places where it’s a labor of the mind to distinguish which one we’re dealing with at the time, but this doesn’t seem to be one of them. Really, this is one of the most obvious expressions of the contrary, where the moral and non-figurative nature of the text is laid out with an excruciating clarity, such that it leaves us without an excuse.

Neiswonger

14 thoughts on “On homosexuality and the moral laws of Leviticus

  1. Chris, can you speak to the argument where these forbidden acts (homosexual acts included) are only declared to be so because and only because they are forms of idolatry, which is what God is REALLY against. The argument I hear is, God is really not prohibiting the loving practice of monogamous same sex relationships, in which covenant is honored and modeled in the same way it is in opposite sex relationships, He’s really rather against any form of worship to other gods, which is what these types of non-committed, sexually driven, abusive, etc. homosexual acts are referring to. (referrencing having sex with temple prostitutes or eunuchs ‘bred’ for this type of idolatry common at the time).

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    1. What is the ultimate idolatry if not self-will? God created humankind as the crown of his creation, in the male-female complement that is the foundational principle of the whole of creation. Those who demand a “right” to same-sex “marriage” are defying God’s foundational principle and basis of his creation of humankind, and all to serve their idol of self-will.

      No, it is not just a personal indulgence, but a bullying demand for a legalized right to pirate and debase society’s foundational institution of marriage, reflecting as it does God’s creation of humankind as the male-female complement — and for no other reason than idolatrous self-will.

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    2. Surely for there to be a prohibition against idolatry to be considered there would have to be some evidence, from the text, that idolatry was in mind. There isn’t. Not in the prohibition against homosexuality, not in the prohibition against adultery, not in the prohibition against bestiality. Rather it was, “this is something detestable in God’s eyes, don’t do it.”

      Yet even if idolatry was referenced, that still wouldn’t be an argument in favour of homosexual legitimization. There was a prohibition against offering one’s child to Moloch; are we to assume that it was the “offering to Moloch” that was the problem? If you just wanted to burn your child for some other reason it was okay?

      No, the burning of children as well as the offering of said children to Moloch were abominations. It would not matter if the homosexuality, or adultery, or bestiality was part of some pagan practise, doing them as part of pagan practise would just make the act twice as detestable to God.

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  2. The hermeneutic of if you hold to one you must hold to them all is given always by the novice, one who cannot make appropriate distinctions. There is no apostle, or prophet or even by Christ Himself who ever held to this binding method of interpretation. Quite the contrary, we see laws set aside or abrogated by Christ, and by the Holy Spirit as He teaches His apostles to do likewise. Counsels and arguments also testify against this sloppy method. If one cannot make proper distinctions he ought to be wise enough to restrain himself from trying to school those who can.

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    1. What??? Jesus himself, in the clearest terms, without exception, affirmed the entire Law and warned against those who sought to overturn any least particle of it!

      Nor did he ever overturn any least particle of the Law. The ceremonial aspects of the Law — such as circumcision, dietary proscriptions, animal sacrifices, etc. — are all fulfilled by TRANSLATION to their true spiritual signification, and his own discourse and especially the Epistles are LOADED with such spiritual translations and fulfillments.

      As for the moral aspects of the Law, by the Law’s own clear assertion and Jesus’ reaffirmation, they stand as is in perpetuity, being based on God’s own eternal and inalterable principles.

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  3. So, I guess Jack Black got it wrong with
    “Proposition 8 The Musical?” Sadly, our
    culture doesn’t have the moral foundation
    necessary with which to discern the deficient
    hermeneutic at work with those who seek
    these irrational appeals to moral equivalency.

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  4. That there is a difference between the ceremonial and the moral aspects of the law has been (or ought to have been) obvious from the Baptist’s and Jesus’ proclamation of the Gospel, and the NT writers’ expounding of the symbolism of the ceremonial aspects. Jesus in the clearest terms affirmed the Law in its entirety and warned against trying to overturn a single particle of it. There is no excuse for pretending to be puzzled by this, claiming that the Gospel replaces and dispenses with the Law, if you simply understand that the ceremonial aspects are symbolic, and ultimately fulfilled in the spiritual reality that the symbol signifies.

    Once you have fully internalized that the prohibition against pork is intended to cultivate a rejection of any partaking in piggish lusts, or “hoggishness,” it then makes no difference if you eat the inert meat — unless, per I Cor. 8, I Cor. 10, Rom. 14, the association still bothers your conscience, in which case abstain. A little familiarity with the distinctive zoology of the pig can give greater depth to the spiritual reasons for the prohibition.

    In the OT itself the spiritual signification of this symbolism of the ceremonial law was already being unfolded, in such as these: “Rend your hearts and not your garments.” “Circumcise yourselves to the Lord, and remove the foreskins of your hearts.” “Sacrifice and offering you did not desire; you have given me an open ear.” “The one offering a gift … it’s as the blood [life] of a pig!” This unfolding continues in Jesus’ own discourse, and begins breaking into full bloom in the Epistles.

    The most numerous of such translations from the literal to the spiritual, in both OT and NT, occur with regard to circumcision, the mark of the Covenant. If you have read the Bible, OT and/or NT, you can’t help being struck by the number of times the theme of circumcision comes up with clear translation to its spiritual signification. How can we honestly not understand this fulfillment of the ceremonial laws in terms of their spiritual translation? Per Jesus, not overturned, but fulfilled!

    The moral laws, on the other hand — very much including those prohibitions against ALL the sexual perversions including homosexuality — stand in perpetuity as is, literally (although they do have spiritual overtones as well), and scriptures of both OT and NT make this clear. You’re not going to be able to wiggle out of them with any amount of sneering that they are “old”!

    How can we be looking for ways to get rid of or wiggle around the God’s eternal Law, and claim to be followers of Christ? You are parted from Christ, whoever you are that claim or try to imply that God’s prohibition against homosexuality is “old” and hence obsolete. Those who are in Christ know, with him, that homosexuality is the most profound violation of the eternal principle in which God created humankind, and no amount of passage of time is ever, ever going to change that principle.

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    1. KAC, with no invitation to conflict, rather just an honest question I would appreciate a thoughtful response to…How does this PRACTICALLY flesh out when a son or daughter of those in covenant with one another in the body of Christ is gay. And please consider, for the sake of understanding, the full perspective of one wrestling on the other side of this issue. If I may spell that out briefly. From those I’ve talked to, it’s less of the opinion that somehow forms in my head…that gay people are taking some sort of pleasure cruise into something forbidden just to satisfy their evil desires and saying a big ‘screw you’ to God’s design; I want to do it my way. Rather, their story is more like this, this from a female’s perspective, “During the time when girls grow up and start experiencing attraction to guys, I never shared the experience of attraction to guys but girls instead. As time goes on and romantic feelings and experiences play out at developmental phases, I shared this same developmental growth with every other girl except the internal longings I was developing were towards women instead of men. This confused me and I tried to avoid it at first, knowing it was stigmatized, but I never ‘grew out of it’ or felt any other natural inclination. So growing up Christian, knowing that I was fearfully and wonderfully made, and that God knew me even in my mother’s womb, knowing that He knows every hair on my head, and I am made in the very image of our heavenly Father, how does that reconcile with the simple fact that I never once have felt any attraction to a man.”
      So to my question, in your church body an elders adult daughter’s story is the same as above. An elders daughter that is committed to Christ and is prayerfully seeking the Lord in all areas of life yet cannot reconcile the way God made her with arguments calling what she finds within herself sinful. What does the body of Christ do in this situation? Does she get to come to Sunday Services? Does she get to have meaningful discipleship relationships with people? Can she come to Bible study? Can she be part of a prayer ministry? We don’t get any interactions of Jesus recorded on the topic, but what would his response be to a leader of the church asking such questions as they did so many other questions?

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      1. Paul’s statement on homosexuality is that it was an extreme sign of depravity (Romans 1:26). I don’t think it takes such a deep level of depravity today to get to that point today and there are plenty of people who slip into slavery to all sorts of sexual sin fairly easily even when raised in the church.

        Society has been pushing very hard to make deviant behavior appear to be a result of uncontrolled circumstances (even to the point of claiming that people getting a midnight snack have a mental disorder out of their control).

        Humans are reduced to a single blip in a long chemical reaction that started billions of years ago and, as such, are just presenting as they are because it’s what they are. Further, sex drive is a natural thing that shouldn’t be repressed because it would lead to all sorts of mental health issues.

        Add to that the less scientific explanations being filled with feel good messages about “being who you are” (while you CAN’T be anything other than who you are, the implication is that desiring to change who you are is evil).

        It’s to the point where we are sending people to counselors if they say they believe in the Biblical definition of sin (even the ones who just intellectually acknowledge it) and leaving those with an increased risk of a veritable number of mental health risks (known to be associated to homosexuality regardless of how tolerant the culture they live in is) without counsel because they’re just “being who they’re made to be”.

        The Bible paints a different picture. We are to die to ourselves (and in so doing gain a new life in Christ free from the slavery of sin), commit ourselves to Him, and the Holy Spirit will work in our lives to eliminate the corruption of sin in us. This message has been proved true in the lives of a number of previously homosexual individuals who now attempt to help others with the same issue (though that’s harder to do with all the laws preventing counselling).

        If a person is truly seeking salvation from their unrighteousness Christ already paid that price. However, in this age of increasing lawlessness many (even those professing Christianity) look for ways to justify hanging on to sinful nature while “whitewashing” the outside (Matthew 23:27) and they want to use the blood of Christ to do it.

        In the first case it’s NECESSARY that the person be allowed to continue in Christian fellowship. In the second the church shouldn’t allow themselves to be used to make someone look good. The problem is having the discernment to tell the difference.

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      2. Something I’m curious about in your specific example. Does the person who knows she is fearfully and wonderfully made also recognize that she was born of a corruptible seed and in desperate need of not only salvation but also sanctification?

        We like the messages that portray humanity as “basically good but needing salvation from that one time we kinda slipped up”, but the truth, according to God Himself, is quite different. We have been born with the corruption of sin and are dying (1 Corinthians 15:22).

        I, myself having come from a lot of “cultural Christianity”, have had to learn that lesson over a lot of scriptural study, and still find myself slipping into the worldly way of thinking. We’re raised to think that sins are the exception and we are basically good, but need to shape up a few problem areas. It’s the root of a lot of confusion within the church.

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  5. I say to those wrestling with homosexuality, consider this we are similar to ever animal species in that we desire to pair up and for most the desire to reproduce. Most of what we are be it genetics or if you accept spirituality as I do believe that these gifts are inherit.

    If that being true, with your hair color, height, hair type all a mixture of 46 chromosomes how does nature evolve to cease reproduction by altering its male, female design on a global scale?

    In addition if you accept Gods design, the Bible has answered this age old riddle long before it was popularized. God gave woman to be help fit for a man, that means to be his other half. To bare his children, and because women come so close to death when bearing young they possess an enlightment, mother knows best, a mothers love, these aren’t just sayings but spiritual attributes designed for the women to guide her family on the path of righteousness. See proverbs ch.31 virtuous woman.

    A woman who chooses to love women is not void of these gifts yet the applications are measured a bit differently.
    1. If your community is based on these principals what are your reproductive effects.
    2. What are the long term effects of straight kids being raised in gay families through adoptions.
    3. Is there a national secirity risk of losing males to the feminine movement, with the gay lifestyle being popularized by the media and social media boys are not playing football, and basketball and joining the military. Being gay is their activity, were as the females have assumed male identities. Yet in times of war just because you want to be a man doesnt make the enemy care and thats a major concern when a large demographic of your population switch roles.

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