"But Leviticus Says!"
I believe that if you understand that faith is a matter of mind as well as heart, and that taking the Bible as truth it must always be taken in context. I firmly hold to historic Biblical faith. But saying that, I do not believe that every promise in the Bible is for me. Some portions of the Bible were written to and for specific groups of people and individuals. Much of the Old Testament was written specifically to and for God’s Old Covenant People – the Jews. I in no way mean to imply that I do not believe in the Old Testament. However, when coming to scripture we must be very careful in our handling of God’s Word.
When we studied Sodom in the 2 question we concluded that Sodom was destroyed for many reasons: none of which included homosexuality.
Now what about Leviticus?
“Do not lie with a man as one lies with a woman; that is detestable.” Lev. 18:22
“If a man lies with a man as one lies with a woman, both of them have done what is detestable. They must be put to death; their blood will be on their own hands.” Lev. 20:13
These two passages are used as the proof that all aspects of homosexuality are contrary to the will of God. Some evangelicals and the religious right come close to making the Bible an idol. The Bible is to be used not misused. It is amusing to me when my conservative and liberal friends make statements about the Bible when they have never even read it for themselves.
The key to understanding and interpreting the Bible is to “do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly handles the word of truth.” 2 Timothy 2:15
Whenever you read the Bible these guidelines are suggested.
- To whom was the passage in question originally written? To an individual? To the Jews? To the church? To whom?
- Who was the writer?
- Why was the passage written?
- What were some of the circumstances surrounding the writing of the passage?
- What is the passage really saying and teaching? Every minister of God understands that every passage of scripture has different levels of meaning. For example, give ten preachers a certain text to preach and every one of those sermons will be different.
- How does the passage in question apply to me? To the Church? To Society? Was it specifically written for another time, another people, another cultural setting?
- How does it reveal Jesus Christ?
- Is it to be taken literally? Why or why not?
- How does it compare with the overall teachings of the Bible? Always keep in mind that Scripture interprets Scripture. One Biblical doctrine does not contradict another doctrine. The message of the Bible is one of unity.
- What can I learn from the passage being considered?
The Old Testament book has rules regarding what was to be eaten, the type of clothing that was to be worn, as well as sexual restrictions. These were written for the people of Israel. Nearly every act of Jewish life was spelled out in Leviticus. This book was written and directed to the Jews. We read in Romans 6:14 “for you are not under the law, but under grace.” This does not mean that we are lawless. It simply means that the Law is complete and fulfilled in Christ.
The two verses in Leviticus that address homosexuality are isolated passages. Yet these two passages are continually referred to by preachers who condemn all aspects of homosexuality and homosexuals as people.
Read Leviticus chapters 18-20.
Nearly everything recorded in these three chapters is dealing with heterosexual behavior. Therefore, what is written in this portion is actually addressing and warning heterosexuals to avoid sexual behavior that would be natural and normal for the heterosexual person but not natural and normal for the homosexual person.
Leviticus was written to warn the people of Israel to avoid idolatry. The people of Sodom allowed their worship to degenerate into a filthy and obscene perversion. The conclusion of the priests who had only seen the pagan worship which was a mixture of an orgy and prostitution, male and female.
Many Christian leaders use the two verses about homosexuality which was observed in pagan worship and basically throw out nearly all the rest of Leviticus.
Do you wear glasses? Read Leviticus 21:16-23 According to this passage their need to be a screener at every worship service to turn these people away.
Some other restrictions that never get mentioned.
Lev. 19:27 “Do not cut the hair at the sides of your head or clip off the edges of you beard.”
Lev. 11:6, “The rabbit, though it chews cud, does not have a split hoof: it is unclean for you.”
Lev. 11:7-8, “And the pig, though it has a split hoof completely divided, does not chew the cud; it is unclean for you. You must not eat their meat or touch their carcass: they are unclean for you.”
- Leviticus 25:44 allows for slavery.
- Exodus 21:7 You may sell your daughters
- Lev. 15:19-24 No contact with a woman during her period of menstrual uncleanliness.
- Lev. 1:9 Burn a bull on the altar. The neighbors will complain.
- I have a neighbor who mows his yard on the Sabbath (which by the way in the Old Testament is Saturday). Should he be put to death?
- A friend of mine feels that eating shellfish is an abomination – Lev. 11:10. Are there degrees of abomination?
- Lev. 21:20 No one can approach the altar of God if he/she has a defect in sight. Does that mean 20/20 only?
- I spent a lot of time on my grandfather’s farm and we would have rows of different crops. Lev. 19:19
- My sisters wear garments that have two kinds of thread. It says we should get the whole city together and stone them. Lev. 24:10-16
- Maybe we could just burn them in a quiet family ceremony as we do with people who sleep with their in-laws. Lev. 20:14
- Lev. 20:10 If adultery occurs both MUST be put to death.
Why do Christians want to dismiss 99% of the book of Leviticus and hold on to two verses that deal with 1%?
-- Jerry Cook