The so-called holiness code that contains Leviticus 18-20 is often interpreted as a list of divine demands that constitute God’s mandatory moral standards. Depending on the interpreter, these demands either represent the highest standard of human moral excellence or an unbearable burden designed to be contrasted with the future liberation by Christ. Some of the imperatives are cited by skeptics as evidence of the inherent absurdity of the Bible’s moral system. These interpretations are misguided because the text in context is not intended as a litany of moral instructions.’ (p.89) ‘The Old Testament legal texts do exist for a purpose, but that purpose is not for the formation of moral principles.’ (p.94) ‘The Old Testament’s legal wisdom literature in context is indeed supposed to shape Israelite society, but it is not supposed to provide a set of instructions by which anyone in any place or time can construct God’s ideal society.’ (p.101) ‘If we obeyed the particular instructions of the Old Testament text, we would become good citizens of the ancient Near East. If we obeyed the particular instructions of the New Testament text, we would become good citizens of classical Rome… A good citizen of the ancient or classical world is not a good citizen of the modern world.’ (p.23)’ (Walton & Walton, The Lost World of the Israelite Conquest)

Lev 18:1 The LORD said to Moses,

Lev 18:2 “Speak to the Israelites and say to them: ‘I am the LORD your God.

Lev 18:3 You must not do as they do in Egypt, where you used to live, and you must not do as they do in the land of Canaan, where I am bringing you. Do not follow their practices.

Lev 18:4 You must obey my laws and be careful to follow my decrees. I am the LORD your God.

Lev 18:5 Keep my decrees and laws, for the man who obeys them will live by them. I am the LORD.

Lev 18:6 “‘No-one is to approach any close relative to have sexual relations. I am the LORD.

Lev 18:7 “‘Do not dishonour your father by having sexual relations with your mother. She is your mother; do not have relations with her.

Lev 18:8 “‘Do not have sexual relations with your father’s wife; that would dishonour your father.

Lev 18:9 “‘Do not have sexual relations with your sister, either your father’s daughter or your mother’s daughter, whether she was born in the same home or elsewhere.

Lev 18:10 “‘Do not have sexual relations with your son’s daughter or your daughter’s daughter; that would dishonour you.

Lev 18:11 “‘Do not have sexual relations with the daughter of your father’s wife, born to your father; she is your sister.

Lev 18:12 “‘Do not have sexual relations with your father’s sister; she is your father’s close relative.

Lev 18:13 “‘Do not have sexual relations with your mother’s sister, because she is your mother’s close relative.

Lev 18:14 “‘Do not dishonour your father’s brother by approaching his wife to have sexual relations; she is your aunt.

Lev 18:15 “‘Do not have sexual relations with your daughter-in-law. She is your son’s wife; do not have relations with her.

Lev 18:16 “‘Do not have sexual relations with your brother’s wife; that would dishonour your brother.

Lev 18:17 “‘Do not have sexual relations with both a woman and her daughter. Do not have sexual relations with either her son’s daughter or her daughter’s daughter; they are her close relatives. That is wickedness.

Lev 18:18 “‘Do not take your wife’s sister as a rival wife and have sexual relations with her while your wife is living.

Lev 18:19 “‘Do not approach a woman to have sexual relations during the uncleanness of her monthly period.

Lev 18:20 “‘Do not have sexual relations with your neighbour’s wife and defile yourself with her.

Lev 18:21 “‘Do not give any of your children to be sacrificed to Molech, for you must not profane the name of your God. I am the LORD.

Lev 18:22 “‘Do not lie with a man as one lies with a woman; that is detestable.

See Lev 20:13.  The homosexual lobby argues that these texts refer to acts performed in the name of religion, and therefore are not relevant to the general question about same-sex relationships today.  But the natural interpretation is that they prohibit homosexual intercourse of every kind.

The Queen James Bible, which claims to be the world’s first gay Bible translation, renders this verse:-

‘Thou shalt not lie with mankind as with womenkind in the temple of Molech; it is an abomination.’

This ‘clarification’ has, however, been achieved at the expense of changing the text of Scripture itself, by conflating the present verse with the previous one.  As Greg Downes remarks, ‘this flagrant distortion and twisting of scripture in an attempt to make the text say what it patently does not will fail to convince anyone committed to the authority of the Bible.’ (Christianity, Feb 2013, p31)

According to Livingout, ‘“an abomination” is often used to describe idolatry, and some suggest these verses are not condemning homosexual behaviour in general, but only the cultic prostitution connected to pagan temples. It is also often claimed that the fact that these prohibitions appear in a book full of other laws which no Christians think they are expected to follow today suggests that they should not be taken as having abiding moral relevance. But to take the first objection, the language used is not that specific; it refers to lying with a man “as with a woman,” – that is, in very general terms. Secondly, the surrounding verses in each instance describe other forms of sexual sin (such as incest, adultery and bestiality), none of which is anything to do with pagan temples or idolatry, and which we would take as being applicable to Christians today. It is moral, rather than just pagan religious behaviour that’s in view. Furthermore, Leviticus 20:13 highlights both male parties equally, again suggesting general, consensual homosexual activity (as opposed to gay rape or a forced relationship).’

Lev 18:23 “‘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.

Lev 18:24 “‘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.

Lev 18:25 Even the land was defiled; so I punished it for its sin, and the land vomited out its inhabitants.

Lev 18:26 But you must keep my decrees and my laws. The native-born and the aliens living among you must not do any of these detestable things,

Lev 18:27 for all these things were done by the people who lived in the land before you, and the land became defiled.

Lev 18:28 And if you defile the land, it will vomit you out as it vomited out the nations that were before you.

Lev 18:29 “‘Everyone who does any of these detestable things—such persons must be cut off from their people.

Lev 18:30 Keep my requirements and do not follow any of the detestable customs that were practised before you came and do not defile yourselves with them. I am the LORD your God.’”


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