Leviticus 18:22 New Living Translation (NLT) 22 “Do not practice homosexuality, having sex with another man as with a woman. It is a detestable sin.”
From “Torn” by Justin Lee (chapter 12)…
This verse is certainly straightforward: “Don’t lie with a man as with a woman.” Period. End of story. Except that it wasn’t the end of the story. Leviticus is in the Old Testament, and as anyone who’s been to Sunday school knows, Christians don’t typically follow most of the commands in the Old Testament. We do follow some, though, so was this one of the ones we should follow or one of the ones we shouldn’t?
I read through the list of rules. Some of them were things that certainly seemed just as valid today as when they were written: Bestiality, incest, lying, stealing, and child sacrifice are all condemned in the passage, and Christians continue to condemn them today. But there were plenty of other rules that no Christian I know would preach today. Among other things, Leviticus 18– 20 also condemns shaving, wearing mixed fabrics, getting tattoos, sowing different crops in the same field, and sexual activity during a woman’s period. Clearly, just because something was condemned for the Israelites in Moses’ day didn’t mean it was likewise condemned for Christians today.
In the Old Testament there are cultural (ceremonial/ritual) laws and there are moral laws. We must use discernment. For example, there is a rule against wearing mixed fabrics. I couldn’t imagine God condemning a twenty-first-century Christian for wearing a cotton/ poly blend.
Theologian Robert Gagnon commented on this verse. He said,” I do not doubt that the circles out of which Leviticus 18: 22 was produced had in view homosexual cult prostitution, at least partly. Homosexual cult prostitution appears to have been the primary form in which homosexual intercourse was practiced in Israel.”
The existence of cult prostitutes are confirmed in the Book of Kings:
1 Kings 14:24
And there were also male cult prostitutes in the land. They did according to all the abominations of the nations that the LORD drove out before the people of Israel. (ESV)
1 Kings 15:12
He put away the male cult prostitutes out of the land and removed all the idols that his fathers had made. (ESV)
2 Kings 23:7
He also tore down the living quarters of the male and female shrine prostitutes that were inside the Temple of the LORD, where the women wove coverings for the Asherah pole. (NLT)
Thus we can safely discard these scriptures as teaching us nothing about homosexual orientation as it relates to a monogamous relationship.
Lee, Justin (2012-11-13). Torn: Rescuing the Gospel from the Gays-vs.-Christians Debate (ch 12). FaithWords. Kindle Edition.
I would like to present to you a thoroughly researched – but brief – explanation of the different facets of gay marriage and homosexuality as a sin. You may know me as the activist in the Wyoming Valley who helped “take down” LAG Towing (though this is not complete). I have an incredibly popular anti-corruption blog (please google “WB Truth”). I am also a working on my first Christian book (“Getting to Heaven”). It always bothered me to hear who homosexuality were targeted in church to the exclusion of virtually every kind of sin. Since gay marriage is an issue most strongly opposed by the church – I wanted to do some research. Some of this you may find very enlightening.
Here are some areas where the bible touches on gay or transgender issues:
Lev. 18:22 “You shall not lie with a male as one lies with a female; it is an abomination.”
Lev. 20:13 “If there is a man who lies with a male as those who lie with a woman, both of them have committed a detestable act; they shall surely be put to death. Their bloodguiltness is upon them”
My comment: These scriptures are from the Old Testament. But we live with a new covenant – the New Testament. God will not put anybody to death for sinning. Otherwise the sacrifice of Jesus was in vain.
Romans 1:26-28 26 That is why God abandoned them to their shameful desires. Even the women turned against the natural way to have sex and instead indulged in sex with each other.27 And the men, instead of having normal sexual relations with women, burned with lust for each other. Men did shameful things with other men, and as a result of this sin, they suffered within themselves the penalty they deserved. 28 Since they thought it foolish to acknowledge God, he abandoned them to their foolish thinking and let them do things that should never be done.
My comment: The key words here are “they thought it foolish to acknowledge God…” In other words, these people did not perform an act or two – but instead made it their entire lifestyle. They were perhaps sex addicts… and their desires were such that God’s light was blotted out. Bear in mind, however, what was happening at this time. Homosexual sex escalated to levels nowhere near to the worst that we have. This is the time when Roman Empire Caligula ruled. It was not uncommon to engage young boys in relations. Pedophilia. My point here is it is important to take into context the period when this was occurring.
A fair minded person, however, would understand from the verses above that God certainly did not condone homosexuality. But now we need to bring in the context of homosexuality in relation to other sins. It is here where singular focus on homosexuality falls apart. For example, Matthew 19:24 says, “I’ll say it again–it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter the Kingdom of God!”
My comment: Is there an outcry against wealth in the church? Of course not. Like the references to lust in Romans 1:26-28, it is the excessive love of money that is warned against here. It’s the love of money that crowds out everything in our lives – including our faith in God. Why is there not an outcry against wealth like there is to same sex attraction? It is hypocritical.
The most powerful scripture is this. 1 Cor. 6:9-10 says, “Or do you not know that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived; neitherfornicators, noridolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor homosexuals, northieves, nor the covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers, shall inherit the kingdom of God.”
My comments: These scriptures must be allegorical otherwise Jesus did not die for our sins – and we know He did. The critical point here is that homosexuality is put on the same level as many other sins that we routinely commit every day of our lives. Anybody that isolates the homosexual element to the exclusion of other sins is acting in a discriminatory way.
Who shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Let’s take them one at a time:
Fornicators? Who among us has had premarital sex outside of marriage?
Idolaters? Who hasn’t pursued idols? Idols are people we put on a pedestal. This could be a romantic interest, a sports or rock star, or even a charismatic preacher. Consider young girls and “boy bands.”
Adulterers? We certainly know many of these. Will they too be banned from the Kingdom of Heaven?
Effeminate? This likely refers to gay men. But according to these verse – it has the same standing as other sins.
Thieves? Ever take a pen from work? Ever take anything that didn’t belong to you?
The Covetous? Capitalism is based on coveting. We covet a greater salary, a greater standard of living, a “better” life for our kids, higher stock prices. We covet good health… even a nice retirement. How many people know this is a sin?
Drunkards? Addiction and alcoholism is an anathema to faith. But there is hope in recovery.
Revilers? This refers to abusing people with nasty words. To vituperate. Gay slurs.
Swindlers? This unscrupulous trickery to defraud others. Too many names to list here.
The critical point here is that we must surrender
We must surrender to the fact that we are born with a “sin nature” and we cannot “not” sin
We are wired to sin way as humans.
If we don’t sin – then Jesus died for nothing. Think about that one!
Once we understand this we realize to scrutinize one sin over all the others is illogical and nonsensical.
Failed Reparative Therapy – Exodus International This story was run on ABC’s 20/20 this summer (2013). The story details how the group’s founder and minister, Alan Chambers, gave up on trying to turn homosexuals to “going straight.” He not only disbanded his ministry – but he made an apology to all those he hurt and confused. An apology was issued for the “damage that has been caused,” and an official statement was made that after four decades of working with countless people from the gay community, it was clear that sexual orientation cannot be changed.
Choice The Christian implications are cataclysmic. This one ministry was held up as the standard, as the hope, for converting gay people to being straight. It also addressed the concept ofchoice. Many Christians, without doing a scintilla of research or actually interviewing a gay person, have doggedly maintained that being gay is a choice. The collapse of Exodus simultaneously collapse of “choice as an option.” (for more… google “Exodus International apologizes).
If being gay is not a choice – then it is a given
Since when in America do we discriminate against how we are wired…
any more than we discriminate against race or sex?
Gays have the right to pursue liberty and happiness like “straights” do
This is the bottom line.
If you believe in God, then you know that He has equipped us with natural laws that work time and again – but not perfectly. Nature is consistent – but not perfect. Nature sometimes varies from the norm and gives us unexpected results.
– We expect rain as part of nature… but unexpectedly floods occur.
– We expect wind as part of nature… but unexpectedly hurricanes and tornados occur.
– We expect our babies to be healthy as nature takes its course… but unexpectedly some have Down’s Syndrome.
– We expect our babies to be healthy as nature takes its course… but unexpectedly some have autism.
– We expect our babies to meet the sexual norm as nature takes its course… but we expect our babies to meet the sexual norm as nature takes its course… but unexpectedly some children are hardwired to be gay. Should they not have the rights of others?