Posted by: Alicia | December 1, 2008

Homosexuality and the Bible – Leviticus 18:22,20:13

“Most Christians, confirmed in their understanding of grace, do not, and will not use Leviticus as a point of condemnation for gay people.  Using Leviticus as such is the stand of the spiritually immature, unlearned, unsophisticated and naive.  Many gay people fall into these categories which has brought about a great deal of self-condemnation and feelings of guilt.  Finding laws and following them was a lot easier than understanding freedom, which requires maturity in decision making.  Paul said, “All things are lawful to me, but all things are not expedient. [1 Corinthians 6:12]” – Silvia Pennington, author of “Good News for Modern Gays.”

I was one of the gays that Silvia speaks of in her book; for I, too, allowed the law to condemn me, even though I was under grace, having accepted Christ as my Lord and Savior.  For I was ill equiped and unlearned, and had allowed others to tell me how to live my spiritual life, and as a result, I lived in constant turmoil and self-condemnation.  For if you are gay (or lesbian), God made you that way, and there is nothing you can do to change it.  Sure, you can push your feelings down inside of you and deny them (God knows I tried to do that for seven years), but they are always there, ready to come to the surface at any moment.

I can remember attending an Exodus Intl Conference in Colorado Springs in the early ’90’s.  And sitting in my room at night, I would film myself with my camcorder, as I discussed the events of the day, and how I was feeling.  And every night I would talk about a young woman I had grown “fond” of that was attending the conference.  I would share my feelings and then pray for God to take them away from me.  But lo and behold, they were back the next tiime I saw her.  Hmmm … I wonder if God was trying to tell me something even back then?

It was about 3 years later that Silvia Pennington’s book was given to me by a young woman from Canada.  When she first handed it to me, I quickly set it aside, afraid to even consider the possibility of reading it.  But after much quiet deliberation, I finally sat down in the middle of my livingroom floor, with all my different versions of the bible, my Strong’s Corcordance, my Hebrew and Greek Interlineal, and all my other resources scattered around me, and proceeded to read her book.  And as I read, I looked up every reference she provided, checked and cross checked every note, every saying, every quote.  And after many hours of reading and research, I put down her book, having finally finished it, and started to cry. 

Why did I cry?  Was I convicted and full of shame and guilt?  Did I finally realize that I needed to reject who and what I was, and somehow plead to God for forgiveness?  No, it was just the opposite; I was angry, very angry.  I was so angry that I began to sob.  And as I sobbed, I mourned for all the years wasted buying the lie that I was an abomination in the eyes of God.  And unless I walked away from my detestable “life-style”, I would surely burn in hell.  I also mourned for all the years I could have been spending with someone I loved, instead of living a life of loneliness and celebacy.

So, that day, in 1996, with great thanks to Silvia Pennington (who has since gone on to be with the Lord);  I made the decision to no longer try to be something I’m not, and instead embrace who and what I truly am; a lesbian, and one that is loved by God.  Afterall, I have always been this way, and from the time I was a little girl I’ve had a special, wonderful relationship with God, and God never once left my side nor abandoned me.

So having said all that, let’s take a look at Leviticus 18:22,20:13, the two verses so often used to condemn the gay/lesbian community.  To start off, howver, we have to first allow for the possibility that homosexuality as we understand it today, may not even be the issue here; for homosexuality is not being addressed in the Levitical text.  With that in mind, the Law vs. Grace is the only authoritative stand we can take.  However, for refutability sake, let’s take a look at the scriptures any way.

Leviticus 18:22  “You shall not lie with male as one lies with female; it is an abomination.”

Leviticus 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 bloodguiltiness is upon them.”

This is an explicit command in the Mosaic Law that men should not lie with other men as with women.  As Christians, our law is from Christ.  Theologians, beginning with Paul, have pointed out that the Laws have been fulfilled by Christ, and are therefore, no longer binding on us.

Matthew 5:17 “Do not think that I came to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I did not come to abolish, but to fulfill”.

Romans 8:1-4 “Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.  For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set you free from the law of sin and of death.  For what the Law could not do, weak as it was through the flesh, God did:  sending God’s own son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and as an offering for sin, God condemned sin in the flesh, so that the requirement of the Law might be fulfilled in us, who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit.”

Traditional Christian theology has shown us that we no longer are bound by the dietary laws such as, “don’t eat shellfish, don’t eat pork”, etc.  However, in understanding the Levitical Laws, it is important to consider the circumstances under which they were written.  During the time of the writing of the Levitical Laws, the Israelites were in close contact with Canaanite culture and religious practices.  The priests of Israel were concerned with their need to guard against the foreign, cultic practices of the Canaanites.  In comparison to the Canaanite culture which was sophisticated and aristrocratic, the Israeli culture was crude; for the culture of the Hebrews was a semi-nomadic culture based on the tending of flocks. 

With that in mind, let’s read what the Princeton Theology Professor Berhhard Anderson said concerning the sexual practices of the Canaanite culture:

“The opposition in the phrase, “Yahweh versus Baal” comes to focus on the meaning of sex.  In Canaanite religion, sex was elevated to the realm of the divine.  The divine powers, it was believed, was disclosed in the space of nature – – that is the mystery of fertility.  The gods were sexual in nature and were worshipped in sexual rites.  The erotic relations of the gods and goddesses were hidden within the ever recurring cycle of the death and resurrection of Baal.  But this cycle of fertility, according to the ancient view, did not take place by itself through natural law.  Rather, the purpose of religion was to preserve and enhance the fertility upon which man was dependent for his existence.”

The Levitical texts, then had a specific purpose in mind, that of maintaining the Israeli religion to resist Canaanite influences.  You will find the Levitical references to homosexual practices are prefaced with a prohibition against idol worship:

Leviiticus 18:3,21

“You shall not do what is done in the land of Eqypt where you lived, nor are you to do what is done in the land of Canaan where I am bringing you; you shall not walk in their statutes (customs).”

“Neither shall you give any of your offerings to offer them to Molech, nor shall you profane the name of your God, I am the Lord.”

Leviticus 20:2

“You shall also say to the sons of Israel, ‘Any man from the sons of Israel or from the aliens sojourning in Israel who gives any of his offering to Molech, shall surely be put to death; the people of the land shall stone him with stones.”

The obvious purpose of the writing is to separate Hebrews from foreign cults.  Throughout the book of Leviticus there is a calling apart of the Israelis from the idolatrous Canaanites.

The command in Leviticus, among the other commands of the Law, should be interpreted in the light of the scripture that Paul explained in Galatians 3:23-25:

“But before faith came, we were kept under the Law, shut upin the faith which should afterwards be revealed.  Wherefore the Law was our schoolmaster to bring us unto Christ, that we might be justified by faith, but after that faith is come, we are no longer under a schoolmaster.”

There is also the story about Peter in Acts 10:28.  In this vision a sheet was let down from heaven.  On it were things that the Mosaic Law said not to eat because they were unclean, and a voice said, “Kill and eat.”  Well, Peter said “Uh, no, no, no thanks; I don’t eat unclean stuff (I am writing this in my own words, of course)”, and the voice said, “what God has made clean, you have not the right to call profane.”  Three times this happened, and suddenly there was a knock at the door, and it was a message from Cornelius’ house, saying that an angel of God had directed Cornelius to send for Peter.  And lo and behold, Cornelius was of all things – a Gentile!  Peter went there and told Cornelius, “you know it is forbidden for Jews to mix with people of another race and visit them, but God has made it clear to me that I must not call anyone profane or unclean.”

Cornelius and all those Gentiles in his house were made believers and the Holy Spirit came down and they were baptized.  Peter had won the first Gentile converts.  Should it be any different for the G.L.B.T. community?  No.

Having said all that, what is an “abomination” according to the Old Testament?  Well, to correctly look at this word, we have to first ensure that we are using the right word, as abomination is used in many different ways.  The word we are concerned with is #8441 in the Strong’s Concordance, Hebrew and Chaldee Dictionary:

8441: toe-ebah (to-ay-baw); fem. act. part. (mor. ), i.e. (as noun) an abhorrence; espec. idolatry or (concr.) and idol: – abominable (custom, thing), abomination.

According to the following scriptures, God considered the following an abomination:

  • Practicing the customs of other nations – Lev 18:30
  • Eating anything prohibited by the Law (i.e. shell fish, pigs, etc.) – Deuteronomy 14:3
  • Coveting the silver or gold on graven images of other gods – Deuteronomy 7:25-26
  • Sacrificing children – Deuteronomy 12:31
  • Sacrificing an ox or sheep to God that is defective – Deuteronomoy 17:1
  • Divination, witchcraft, interpreting omens, sorcery, mediums, spiritualist, or those who call up the dead – Deuteronomy 18:9-14
  • Women wearing men’s clothes, or visa versa – Deuteronomy 22:5
  • Bringing blood money (or money gained through ill-means) into the house of God for an offering – Deuteronomy 23:18
  • Remarrying your ex-wife after her new husband dies – Deuteronomy 24:1-4
  • Using unequal weights (or charging more for something you sell than is reasonable) – Deuteronomy 25:13-16
  • Anyone who makes statues or any image of anything – Deuteronomy 27:15
  • Deviousness – Proverbs 3:32
  • Proud eyes (look), lying tongue, hands that shed innocent blood, a heart that devises wicked plans, feet that run rapidly to evil, a false witness, one that spreads strife among brothers – Proverbs 6:16-19
  • Proud heart – Proverbs 16:5

With the above in mind, if you do the following you are an abomination to God:

  • Take on the customs of other nations (wow, in the U.S. I think that would be all of us, as we are a nation of so many different cultures)
  • Eat anything not kosher (shell fish, pig, etc.) – Well, no more Red Lobster, and no more ham for Thanksgiving, Christmas and Easter.
  • Coveting what our movie stars, sport stars, etc. have.  Afterall, don’t a lot of us “worship” stars?
  • Failing to take care of children that are being abused and neglected.  How many of us have seen a parent being too harsh with their child, and instead of doing something, we turn away, afraid to get involved.  And what about all the needy children in our nation?  How many of us truly give to the local charity monetarily or by giving our time?
  • Giving praise to God or an offering in the offering plate at church when we have unresolved strife in our lives (at home or at work)
  • Looking to spirtualists or mediums for answers to things that we should be taking to God.
  • Wearing the opposite gender’s clothes .. Hmm … I believe that means all women who wear pants, and men who wear shorts, etc.
  • Making an offering at church with money gained through greed or by taking advantage of someone.  Or even giving money to the church, when you don’t have enough to feed your family.
  • Remarrying your wife after her second husband dies.  Well, I guess that throws out any rekindling of relationships between former spouses.
  • Making more profit than you should when selling something.  Did you only pay $50.00 for that set of weights, yet you’re selling them for $100.00?
  • Taking pictures of people or things, or making sculptures of anyone or anything.  This includes your family, etc.
  • Being devious
  • Acting proud, or arrogant, lying or speaking an untruth, doing something that causes harm to another (esp. when they don’t deserve it), being too quick to do harm (losing your temper, flying off the handle), telling something about someone that you know isn’t true, just so you can’t make up a good story, being a spoon (sh-t stirrer).
  • Being proud – unwilling to bend or admit that you are wrong, or unwilling to accept help when someone offers it.

In closing, my message is this .. rather than spend so much time telling others how they should live their lives, perhaps we should instead reflect upon our own to see what needs to change within it?  If we all would focus on our own imperfections and as Christ commanded, “first remove the log that is in your own eye, so that you can then see clearly to remove the splinter that is in your brother’s eye.”, then the world would be a much better place. 

Doesn’t it make sense that those who seek to judge others and focus on other’s weaknesses, are just ignoring their own?

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