Leviticus 18: Lessons From God’s Laws Regarding Sexual Purity

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Introduction: Within one generation, the institution of marriage has changed dramatically. In 1950, there were 90.2 marriages for every 1,000 unmarried women. By 2023, the number dropped to 6.2 Divorce rates have climbed. Sex outside of marriage is now socially acceptable. With the development of no fault divorces, adultery is also no longer stigmatized. Abortion is legal in most countries. Same sex marriages are now also widely accepted as a civil right.

In 2001, the Netherlands became the first government to permit same sex marriages. Between 2001 and 2023, same sex marriages became recognized in 24 countries.3

Within just one decade, same sex marriages also became widely accepted in the United States. Between 2004 and 2013, 17 states legalized same sex marriage by either court decision, legislative action, or by popular vote. In 2013, the U.S. Supreme Court held the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act to be unconstitutional. United States v. Windsor, 133 S.Ct. 2675 (June 26, 2013). That act defined marriage as a legal union between one man and one woman. It also stated that no state is required to recognize a same-sex marriage from another state. In 2015, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that all remaining state bans on same-sex marriage were unconstitutional. This legalized same-sex marriage throughout the entire U.S. proper and all incorporated territories. Obergefell v. Hodges, 135 S. Ct. 2584 (June 26, 2015).

Within a span of only 10 years, opinion polls on same sex marriage have also reversed. In 2005, only 28% of Americans approved of same sex marriage. In May of 2012, President Barack Obama also became the first President to endorse same sex marriages. Around this time, the entertainment industry and news media also embraced same sex marriage as a popular cause. By 2022, polls estimated that 61 Americans believed that same sex marriage is good for society.4

As same sex marriage has become accepted throughout the western world, the Church has followed suit. In 2003 Episcopal Church of the United States of America (the American body (province) of the Anglican Communion), approved Gene Robinson as the first openly bisexual (non-celibate) clergy to be ordained to the episcopate. Mary Glasspool then became the first open lesbian bishop for the Episcopal Diocese of Los Angeles. In 2009, Episcopal Church began to bless same sex unions. The Church of England, the parent church, later began to allow same-sex marriages for laypersons. During this time, the United Church of Christ began in 2005 to allow same sex marriages. In 2009, the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, the largest Lutheran church body in the United States, also began to allow blessings of same-sex marriages. At that time, it also began to allow for non-celibate gays to become ordained ministers. In 2014, the Presbyterian Church (USA) voted to change its definition of marriage. At that time, it also began to allow its pastors to officiate same-sex marriages. The Metropolitan Community Churches also now approve of same sex marriages. In 2015, the United Methodist Church approved of same sex marriages and same sex married clergy. An even wider list of international churches permit same sex marriages.

Christians opposed to same sex marriages on Biblical grounds now find themselves in the minority. Moreover, they have begun to face civil penalties and even jail time when they have objected same sex marriage on religious grounds. For example, in 2015, the State of Oregon forced a bakery called Sweet Cakes by Melissa to pay a fine of $136,927.07 after its owners refused to bake a cake for a same sex couple on religious grounds. Also in 2015, a federal district court judge jailed a Kentucky clerk named Kim Davis for six days after she objected on religious grounds to having her name placed on marriage licenses to same sex couples.

Politicians who adopt a Biblical definition of marriage are increasingly viewed as hateful bigots. In 2015, the State of Indiana faced boycotts from around the nation after it tried to pass a law which would have allowed Christians to opt out of providing services to same sex marriages on religious grounds. Eventually, the State of Indiana was forced to back down in its plan to allow for conscientious objectors to same sex marriages.

Even pastors who give sermons opposed to same sex marriage are not beyond attack. In 2014, the mayor of Houston served subpoenas on various churches demanding any sermons dealing with homosexuality, gender identity, or Annise Parker, the city’s first openly lesbian mayor. The city further threatened contempt of court proceedings against any pastors who fail to comply.

For some, it may appear that the Church has entered uncharted waters. But that view is mistaken. The current times in fact mirror the times that existed in the ancient world when same sex acts were widely accepted. In Leviticus chapter 18, God confronted His people with a list of prohibitions on certain sexual relationships. Everything on God’s list contradicted the world’s teachings at that time. It was a test of every believer whether they would follow the teachings of the world or God’s Word. From Leviticus Chapter 18, God gives seven lessons for every believer to follow.

First, God commands that believers follow His statutes, even if your culture adopts different standards. Second, He expects you to follow His rules in selecting a spouse. Third, He expects men and women to follow His rules regarding sexual contact while married. Fourth, He prohibits parents from sacrificing or aborting the fruits of their union – children. Fifth, although unpopular today, He prohibits same sex relationships in both the Old and New Testaments. Sixth, He prohibits sex with animals. Finally, He warns that He will punish nations (both Jews and gentiles) when they fail to follow the world’s standards over His standards for sexual morality.

1. Don’t Compromise God’s Word with the Standards of the World. Lev. 18:1-5.

  • God wants you to be a slave to righteousness. God began by declaring His supremacy over His people in all matters: “Then the Lord spoke to Moses, saying, ‘Speak to the sons of Israel and say to them, ‘I am the Lord your God.’” (Lev. 18:1). This was to remind the Israelites of the beginning words to the Ten Commandments where God declared: “I am the Lord your God who brought you out of the Land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery.” (Ex. 20:2). Just as He did with the Jews in Egypt, He can deliver you from slavery to the world (Ex. 20:2). With faith, He can deliver you from any type of sexual bondage (Phil. 4:13). From His point of view, you have become His servant after being freed from bondage: “For the sons of Israel are My servants; they are My servants whom I brought out from the land of Egypt. I am the LORD your God.” (Lev. 25:55). Through Jesus’ death, your body was bought with a great price (1 Cor. 6:19-20). Have been freed from being a slave to sin, He now wants you to be a slave to His standard of righteousness (Ro. 6:17-18).

  • God’s standards of morality are not the world’s standards. Before describing God’s rules for sexual morality, He warned the Jews not to do what people did in Canaan or Egypt, places which symbolized the bondage of this world: “You shall not do what is done in the land of Egypt 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.” (Lev. 18:3; Ezek. 20:18-19). The Jews were instead told to follow His Law: “You are to perform My judgments and keep My statutes, to live in accord with them; I am the Lord your God. So you shall keep My statutes and My judgments, by which a man may live if he does them; I am the Lord.” (Lev. 18:4-5). Although some might disagree with His Law as being out of step with public opinion, He warns that His ways and His thoughts are not ours: ‘“For My thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways My ways,’ declares the LORD.” (Is. 55:8). Furthermore, although public opinion may change, Jesus and His teachings do not change or evolve: “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.” (Heb. 13:8). Even in the New Testament, God declared the Law of the Old Testament to be “holy”: “So then, the Law is holy, and the commandment is holy and righteous and good.” (Ro. 7:12). Thus, a believer cannot look to the world, public opinion polls, TV, or movies (i.e., Egypt) for guidance about what type of sexual conduct is appropriate. If God’s Law about sexual morality becomes unpopular, Paul exhorts believers not to feel ashamed to defend them: “For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek.” (Rom. 1:16).

  • God will bless you when you stand for His Word in the face of ridicule. No one wants to be accused of being homophobic or standing for alleged hate speech by standing for what the Bible says is true. The temptation not to offend is compelling. Yet, God promises to bless you if you are persecuted, ridiculed, or despised for standing for his Word over the beliefs of the world: “Blessed are those who have been persecuted for the sake of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” (Matt. 5:10). “If you are reviled for the name of Christ, you are blessed, because the Spirit of glory and of God rests on you.” (1 Pet. 4:14). “Listen to Me, you who know righteousness, a people in whose heart is My law; do not fear the reproach of man, nor be dismayed at their revilings.” (Is. 51:7).

  • The laws regarding sexual purity still apply. Faced with societal trends in favor of same sex relationships, many Christians claim that the Law of sexual morality in the Old Testament no longer applies. Yet, Christ did not come to destroy the Law (Matt. 5:17-19). Wherever He fulfilled a Law, He imposed a different kind of obligation upon believers. For example, while Christ’s death fulfilled the need for blood sacrifices or sacrifices regarding your food or clothes, believers are now called upon to make “spiritual sacrifices” to Him (2 Pet. 2:5). This includes making your body a “living sacrifice” for Him (Ro. 12:1). Today, your body is the temple of God where the Holy Spirit resides: “Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and that you are not your own?” (1 Cor. 6:19; 3:16; 2 Cor. 6:16; Ro. 8:9). Because the Holy Spirit dwells within you, the early Church twice affirmed that Christ’s death did not relieve believers of the obligation to follow the Law regarding sexual purity (Acts 15:20, 29). Thus, the laws regarding sexual purity are still binding and profitable for training in righteousness: “All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness;” (2 Tim. 3:16). As will be shown below, sexual purity is the one and only area where God increased the standards of conduct between the Old and New Testaments.

2. Sexual Purity in Selecting a Spouse. Lev. 18:6-18.

  • Twelve prohibited marriages between a man and a woman. In the Bible, the number 12 is a number associated with God’s divine government for mankind. He ruled Israel through 12 tribes. Jesus also led His ministry on earth through 12 disciples. The family is one of God’s institutions for governance and passing down His teachings (Dt. 4:9-10; 6:7; 11:19; Prov. 22:6; Ps. 78:4-6; Eph. 6:4). By His definition, a marriage or “one flesh” exists anytime a man and a woman sexually join together (e.g., Ex. 22:16-17; Gen. 24:67; Matt 19:5-6; 1 Cor. 6:16). Yet, for everything good that God created, Satan created a counterfeit institution. In these verses, God outlines 12 kinds of counterfeit unions between a man and a woman.

(1) Blood relatives: First, God prohibited sexual unions between any blood relative: “None of you shall approach any blood relative of his to uncover nakedness; I am the Lord.” (Lev. 18:6). In the ancient world, including Egypt, many kingdoms had siblings marry to keep their royal lines pure. Yet, by prohibiting blood marriages, God protected the Jews from genetic diseases that they could not have understood. In modern times, geneticists have now shown blood relatives to have elevated chances for genetic diseases when they have children.

(2) Parents: Although seemingly redundant with the first rule, God’s second rule expressly prohibited for emphasis sexual unions between parents and their children: “You shall not uncover the nakedness of your father, that is, the nakedness of your mother. She is your mother; you are not to uncover her nakedness.” (Lev. 18:7). Lot and his daughters violated the first two laws on this list through their incest. The Moabites and the Ammonites, two of Israel’s enemies, grew out of this unholy union (Gen. 19:30-38). The Moabites and the Amorites were cursed and barred from God’s assemblies (Dt. 23:2-6). The Ammonites and the Moabites fought Israel on the edge of the Promised Land. They later came together with others to wage war against King Jehoshaphat (2 Chr. 20:1). Through His prophets, God later pronounced judgment against these nations and both were completely destroyed (Jer. 48:1; 49:1; Ezek. 21:28; Zeph. 2:8; Is. 15:1). Nothing remains today of either nation.

(3) Step-parents: God further prohibited sexual unions between children and their step-parents: “You shall not uncover the nakedness of your father’s wife; it is your father’s nakedness;” (Lev. 18:8). He repeated this rule throughout the Torah (Lev. 20:11; Dt. 22:30; 27:20). Jacob’s son Reuben violated this law when he defiled Rachael’s maid servant Bilhah (Gen. 35:22). In that time, to possess the harem of the ruler was an act that usurped the authority of the ruler (1 Kgs. 2:13). As a punishment, Reuben and his descendants lost their first-born status (Gen. 49:3-4; 1 Chr. 5:1-2). This tribe then rebelled while in the wilderness and shrank in size. It later disappeared altogether after Israel settled the Promised Land.

(4) Siblings: Although redundant with the first rule, God also expressly prohibited sexual unions between children and their siblings: “The nakedness of your sister, either your father’s daughter or your mother’s daughter, whether born at home or born outside, their nakedness you shall not uncover.” (Lev. 18:9; 20:17). He again protected the Jews from diseases they could not understand. The lesson is to follow His law even when the reasons are unclear.

(5) Grandchildren: Sexual unions between parents and their grandchildren are also unlawful: “10 The nakedness of your son’s daughter or your daughter’s daughter, their nakedness you shall not uncover; for their nakedness is yours.” (Lev. 18:10). Like the other laws on sexual morality, few would argue that Christ’s death freed believers to enter into such marriages.

(6) Half-siblings: God also prohibited sexual unions between half-siblings: “11 The nakedness of your father’s wife’s daughter, born to your father, she is your sister, you shall not uncover her nakedness.” (Lev. 18:11; 20:17). Ammon, the son of King David and his wife Ahinoam, violated the laws against both rape (Dt. 22:25-29) and this Law against sexual relationships with half-sisters when he raped his half-sister Tamar (the daughter of David and Maachah) (2 Sam. 13:12-13). Although Ammon was the heir-apparent to David’s throne, he lived under a curse as a result of his actions. He lost his chance to rule. God also removed His hedge of protection around him. His half-brother Absalom then avenged Tamar’s death by killing Amnon (2 Sam. 13:23-39).

(7) Aunts and uncles: A person also could not join together with an aunt or uncle: “12 You shall not uncover the nakedness of your father’s sister; she is your father’s blood relative. 13 You shall not uncover the nakedness of your mother’s sister, for she is your mother’s blood relative. 14 You shall not uncover the nakedness of your father’s brother; you shall not approach his wife, she is your aunt.” (Lev. 18:12-14; 20:20). Again, few would argue that Christ’s death made marriages between children and aunts or uncles lawful.

(8) Daughter-in-laws: Parents also could not join together with the spouse of their children: “15 You shall not uncover the nakedness of your daughter-in-law; she is your son’s wife, you shall not uncover her nakedness.” (Lev. 18:15; 20:10). Judah was tricked into having a child with his daughter-in-law Tamar after Tamar’s husband Er (Judah’s son) died for refusing to follow God’s directions to have a child with Tamar (Gen. 38:7). Onan was the next in line to be the firstborn. But God took his life after he also disobeyed Him by refusing to give Er’s widow Tamar a son (Gen. 38:8-10). The Law required that Onan give Tamar an heir who would receive the blessings of the first born (Dt. 25:5-10). Judah then broke God’s Law by withholding his third son Shelah from Tamar (Gen. 38:11, 26). Judah later negotiated with what he thought was a “temple prostitute.” Tamar was in fact the prostitute in disguise. Judah had no trouble knowing what the price was, suggesting that he was no stranger to this practice (Gen. 38:16-17). This meant that he was also guilty of fornication. Judah later also showed himself to be a hypocrite for saying that Tamar should be killed for having sex outside of marriage (Gen. 38:24). Judah deserved death for his actions. Yet, God still gave Judah the pre-emanate role amongst the tribes (Gen. 49:8-12). Jesus also drew his lineage from the union of Tamar and Judah (Matt. 1:3; Rev. 5:5). This showed God’s mercy and grace and His ability to use any person who repents of their sins.

(9) A brother’s wife or sister-in-law. A sibling also could not marry the spouse of another sibling: “16 You shall not uncover the nakedness of your brother’s wife; it is your brother’s nakedness.” (Lev. 18:16; 20:21). There was only one exception. In the days before social security and government support systems for widows, God permitted a marriage between a kinsman redeemer (a brother-in-law or a cousin) and the surviving widow to support the widow and her family (Dt. 25:5-10). This was known as either a “levirate marriage” (Latin) or a“yibbum” (Hebrew). The story of Tamar is an example of a failed yibbum.

(10) Mothers and daughters-in-law: A man also could not marry a woman and her daughter: “You shall not uncover the nakedness of a woman and of her daughter,” (Lev 18:17a; 20:14). Your natural revulsion to such a marriage is evidence of God’s Law written on your heart: “in that they show the work of the Law written in their hearts, their conscience bearing witness and their thoughts alternately accusing or else defending them,” (Ro. 2:15).

(11) Step granddaughters: A person further could not marry their step-grandchildren: “nor shall you take her son’s daughter or her daughter’s daughter, to uncover her nakedness; they are blood relatives. It is lewdness.” (Lev. 18:17(b)). Again, few would argue that Christ’s death made either of these types of marriages lawful.

(12) A wife’s sister or a sister-in-law: Finally, God barred a man from marrying both a woman and her sister: “18 You shall not marry a woman in addition to her sister as a rival while she is alive, to uncover her nakedness.” (Lev. 18:18). Jacob (one of the patriarchs of Israel) violated this Law when he married two sisters at the same time, Rachael and Leah. Because of this unholy union, turmoil and conflict never left this family or its descendants. Out of competition with her sister, Rachel felt that she would die unless she had a child (Gen. 30:1). Out of jealousy, Rachel then had her husband Jacob sleep with her servant Bilhah (Gen. 30:1-6). Also out of jealousy, Leah then had Jacob sleep with her servant Zilpah. She did this even though she already had four sons and had missed only one year without a pregnancy (Gen. 30:9-10). As an additional example of the turmoil created by Jacob’s marriage to two living sisters, Jacob’s older sons later sold Joseph (one of two sons of his favorite wife Rachael) into slavery (Gen. 37:18-36). Through these examples, God also showed that polygamy was not part of His plan for mankind. He wrote the Law of righteousness on every person’s heart (Jer. 31:33; Heb. 8:10; Ro. 2:15). Thus, no one would assert that Christ made this Law irrelevant. In fact, He made the Law of righteousness more stringent for believers because the Holy Spirit now dwells within believers.

  • Seven New Testament rules for marriage that were reaffirmed or made even stricter. In the New Testament, the rules for a union between a man and a woman were either reaffirmed or became stricter than they were in the Old Testament. There are a number of examples of this. First, as discussed above, the earlier Church twice singled out the Law for sexual morality to say that the Law still applies after Christ’s death (Acts 15:20, 29). For example, Paul condemned members of the Church of Corinth when a father’s son slept with or married his father’s wife (1 Cor. 5:1). Second, God prohibited believers from being unequally yoked in marriage to non-believers (2 Cor. 6:14-18). In the Old Testament, the Jews were only restricted against marrying foreigners (Dt. 7:3-4). As an example of the reason for this rule, Solomon’s pagan-worshiping foreign wives turned his heart away from God (1 Kgs. 11:4). Yet, there was nothing that restricted a believing Jew from marrying a non-believing Jew. Third, for any leader in Christ, God prohibits a man from having more than one wife (1 Tim. 3:2; 3:12). By contrast, many leaders in the Old Testament had more than one wife. For example, Solomon took 700 wives and 300 concubines (1 Kgs. 11:3). Fourth, while premarital consensual sex in the Old Testament could result in either a forced marriage or the male’s payment of a penalty dowry (Ex. 22:16-17), consensual sex before marriage in the New Testament is a form of fornication that God promises to judge: “Marriage is to be held in honor among all, and the marriage bed is to be undefiled; for fornicators and adulterers God will judge.” (Heb. 13:4). Fifth, for the first time, God specified in the New Testament that breaking His laws regarding sexual purity is a bar for the unsaved from entering into heaven (1 Cor. 6:9). Sixth, in the New Testament, any form of a union between a person and a prostitute is prohibited (1 Cor. 6:15-16). In the Old testament, God only prohibited temple prostitution (Ex. 34:14-15; Dt. 23:17; Judg. 2:17). He also warned parents against allowing their children to “defile” themselves by becoming prostitutes (Lev. 19:29). Yet, with the exception of a priest’s daughter (Lev. 21:9), Judah’s example (discussed above) shows that there was no specific punishment for non-temple prostitution. Finally, as stated above, believers are held to a higher standard of sexual purity both because the Holy Spirit now resides within them (1 Cor. 6:19; 3:16) and because they will one day be the bride of Christ in heaven (Eph. 5:25-27; Rev. 19:7-9). Thus, it is wrong for some to argue that the Law regarding sexual purity is now irrelevant. It instead applies with even greater force.

3. God’s Rules for Men and Women While Married. Lev. 18:19-20 & 20:18.

  • Respecting God’s rules. God also imposed two rules upon the Jews for their sexual activity within marriage. First, as part of the rules for “ritual purity” as opposed to moral purity, the Jews were prohibited from having relations during the time of menstruation: “19 Also you shall not approach a woman to uncover her nakedness during her menstrual impurity.” (Lev. 18:19; 15:24; 20:18). Childbirth and menstruation were cursed because of original sin (Gen. 3:16). The life of a person is in the blood (Lev. 17:11). The loss of this blood was a symbol of this sin. Even this symbol of sin could not be in God’s presence during Temple events. Because the Temple no longer exists, this rule no longer applies. This is the one and only rule regarding sexual purity that no longer applies. Yet, even though it is not required, many believers still voluntarily observe this rule out of respect toward God’s rules.

  • Adultery destroys families. The only other prohibition on sex while married is breaking your wedding vow and having sex with another person. Adultery is so offensive to God that it is listed both here and in the Seventh Commandment: “20 You shall not have intercourse with your neighbor’s wife, to be defiled with her.” (Lev. 18:20; Ex. 20:17; Dt. 5:18). For the unsaved, the penalty for violating this Commandment is death (Lev. 20:10; Dt. 22:22). When David committed adultery, he was saved after he repented. Yet, he suffered a lifetime of consequences for his actions. God’s prohibition against adultery still applies today.

  • Jesus again set a higher standard for sexual purity. When Jesus gave the standard for adultery, He not only reaffirmed the Seventh Commandment, He set a higher standard for believers to follow. He advised that a mere lustful look at another person is an act of adultery in God’s eyes: “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery’; but I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart.” (Matt. 5:27-28). Thus, there is no basis for some to claim that Christ loosened the laws of sexual purity. He did just the opposite.

4. God’s Prohibition against Abortion. Lev. 18:21.

  • The prohibition against killing children. God not only regulated when a man and a woman could have sexual relations, He also regulated what parents could do with their offspring. God makes each child within the womb (Ps. 139:13). A parent is merely a steward of His children. He gives people children to teach them His laws (Dt. 4:9-10; 6:7; 11:19; Prov. 22:6; Ps. 78:4-6; Eph. 6:4). Thus, child sacrifices to the gods of that time (i.e., Molech) were expressly prohibited as an abuse of the parent’s stewardship of God’s children: “You shall not give any of your offspring to offer them to Molech, nor shall you profane the name of your God; I am the LORD.” (Lev. 18:21). For those who engaged in this practice, God warned: “I will also set My face against that man and will cut him off from among his people, because he has given some of his offspring to Molech, so as to defile My sanctuary and to profane My holy name.” (Lev. 20:3-4). He also warned the Jews that He would curse the land if they sacrificed their children: “And shed innocent blood, the blood of their sons and their daughters, whom they sacrificed to the idols of Canaan; and the land was polluted with the blood.” (Ps. 106:38). When God gave the law of proportionality, He singled out killing an unborn baby as a crime worthy of death: “22 If men struggle with each other and strike a woman with child so that she gives birth prematurely, yet there is no injury, he shall surely be fined as the woman’s husband may demand of him, and he shall pay as the judges decide. But if there is any further injury, then you shall appoint as a penalty life for life, eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot, burn for burn, wound for wound, bruise for bruise.” (Ex. 21:22-24). God also warned that self-destructive behaviors between parents and their children is one sign of a curse on a nation (Lev. 26:29 - “Further, you will eat the flesh of your sons and the flesh of your daughters you will eat.” Dt. 28:53 (same)). Making a child sacrifice for yourself or for a better life is also a form of idolatry (Is. 47:8-10). Since 1973, there have been nearly 58 million U.S. abortions. There is nothing in the New Testament to suggest that child sacrifices are now allowed. God took His laws so seriously that He sent the Jews into exile when they ignored them. Thus, should believers expect God to bless the western world if it openly rebels against His laws?

5. God’s Prohibition Against Same Sex Relationships. Lev. 18:22.

  • The Old Testament prohibition against same sex acts. Although most would agree that the other laws in this chapter still apply, many assert that the next law against same sex relationships must be different. If the majority now accepts it, how could they all be wrong? Yet, unlike modern society, God is not conflicted about His view regarding same sex relationships: 22 You shall not lie with a male as one lies with a female; it is an abomination.” (Lev. 18:22). He further lists this prohibition between adultery, abortion, and bestiality, something that modern society would ridicule and call highly offensive (Lev. 18:21-23). Even though this act may involve two consenting adults who love each other, the penalty for sex between two people of the same sex was no minor offense in God’s eyes. For the unsaved, the penalty is death: “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.” (Lev. 20:13). God even barred cross-dressing: “A woman shall not wear man’s clothing, nor shall a man put on a woman’s clothing; for whoever does these things is an abomination to the Lord your God.” (Dt. 22:5). If God ran for elected office based upon His views, He would be ridiculed and rejected by the masses.

  • Examples of same sex acts punished in the Old Testament. Unlike other sins, God also punished entire populations for same sex acts. There are two examples of this in the Old Testament. First, through Noah, God cursed Ham for getting his father Noah drunk and then performing a same sex act upon his father. This curse extended to Ham’s descendants in Canaan (Gen. 9:24-25). Second, God found the sexual sins of Sodom to be exceedingly great (Gen. 18:20). Then, after the people of Sodom tried to forcibly sodomize the angels that God sent into the city to rescue Lot, He swiftly destroyed both cities: “Then the LORD rained on Sodom and Gomorrah brimstone and fire from the LORD out of heaven,” (Gen. 19:24). The prophets Isaiah, Jeremiah, and Ezekiel all referred to God’s judgment upon Sodom and Gomorrah as a historic fact with lessons for His people (e.g., Is. 1:9; Jer. 50:40; Ez. 16:49-50.) If someone wanted to excise out of the Old Testament every book which now contains “politically incorrect” condemnations of same sex acts, that person would need to remove the books of Genesis, Leviticus, Deuteronomy, Isaiah, Jeremiah, and Ezekial.

  • The New Testament prohibition against same sex acts. In the New Testament, Paul affirmed that same sex acts remain prohibited under God’s Law, even after Jesus’ death: “[A]nd in the same way also the men abandoned the natural function of the woman and burned in their desire toward one another, men with men committing indecent acts and receiving in their own persons the due penalty of their error.” (Ro. 1:27). For the unsaved, the penalty for this conduct also bars entry into heaven: “Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived; neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor homosexuals, nor thieves, nor the covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers, will inherit the kingdom of God.” (1 Cor. 6:9-10). Although some now teach that the sin of Sodom and Gomorrah was unkindness toward strangers, the New Testament makes clear that the sin of Sodom and Gomorrah was sexual perversion: “[J]ust as Sodom and Gomorrah and the cities around them, since they in the same way as these indulged in gross immorality and went after strange flesh, are exhibited as an example in undergoing the punishment of eternal fire.” (Jude 1:7). Like Paul, Peter also warned that the sins of Sodom and Gomorrah would bring God’s judgment: “if He condemned the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah to destruction by reducing them to ashes, having made them an example to those who would live ungodly lives thereafter;” (2 Pet. 2:6). Jesus also cited to the example of Sodom and Gomorrah to warn of the sins that were severe enough to bring judgment upon entire cities and countries, not just individuals: “Truly I say to you, it will be more tolerable for the land of Sodom and Gomorrah in the day of judgment than for that city.” (Matt. 10:15). “Nevertheless I say to you that it will be more tolerable for the land of Sodom in the day of judgment, than for you.” (Matt. 11:24). “I say to you, it will be more tolerable in that day for Sodom than for that city.” (Lk. 10:12). Jesus also said that God created people male and female for marriage (Matt. 19:4). If someone wanted to excise out of the New Testament every book which now contains “politically incorrect” condemnations of same sex acts, that person would need to remove the books of Matthew, Luke, Romans, Corinthians, Jude, and Peter. Throughout the entire Bible, this totals 12 of the books. Without Jesus, Paul, or Peter, there would be little reason to even have a New Testament.

  • The New Testament warns against all sins of the flesh. God did not single out same sex acts as the only prohibited act today. He instead bars all sexual acts of the flesh outside of a holy marriage. “But immorality or any impurity or greed must not even be named among you, as is proper among saints;” (Eph. 5:3). “Now the deeds of the flesh are evident, which are: immorality, impurity, sensuality,” (Gal. 5:19). “Flee immorality. Every other sin that a man commits is outside the body, but the immoral man sins against his own body.” (1 Cor. 6:18). Jesus also warned that all kinds of “sexual impurities” (which included same sex acts and other prohibited acts) defile a man (Matt. 15:19-20; Mk. 7:20-23).

  • Jesus’ warning not to teach against God’s laws. Jesus further warned against those who might preach or teach against God’s Law: “Whoever then annuls one of the least of these commandments, and teaches others to do the same, shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but whoever keeps and teaches them, he shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven.” (Matt. 5:19). “[I]f anyone takes away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God will take away his part from the tree of life and from the holy city, which are written in this book.” (Rev. 22:19). Thus, believers should be cautious when teaching others to ignore passages in the Bible, especially those that were repeated after Christ’s death.

  • Jesus’ warning not to be mean spirited or a hypocrite. Today, legal protections exist against employment discrimination for persons who practice same sex relationships. A believer should comply with laws against employment discrimination (Ro. 13:1-7). Yet, a believer should never be afraid of defending God’s standards of morality outside the workplace (Ro. 1:16). A believer should, however, always defend God’s Law on morality with a loving heart: “but sanctify Christ as Lord in your hearts, always being ready to make a defense to everyone who asks you to give an account for the hope that is in you, yet with gentleness and reverence.” (1 Pet. 3:15). When Jesus confronted the woman at the well, He spoke kindly to her instead of hammering her with her sexual sins (Jo. 4:17-18). Likewise, He spoke kindly to the woman who was about to be stoned for adultery. Only after saving her did He tell her “sin no more.” (Jo. 8:11). Jesus also warns believers to take the log out of their eyes before confronting another with a speck in his or her eyes (Matt. 7:5; Lk. 6:42). Thus, don’t confront another out of love until you have resolved your own sins.

  • Show “agape” love toward members of the same sex. Believers should not read these verses to be cold toward members of the same sex. In reference to a higher spiritual love, the Bible says of David and Jonathan’s relationship: “Your love to me was wonderful, surpassing the love of women.” (2 Sam. 1:26; 18:1-3; 20:17). An “eros” love is a sexual love. An “agape” love is a deep love for one another’s well-being. This “agape” love is what Jesus had for us (Jo. 3:16). Believers must have this “agape” love toward one another (Jo. 13:34). Are you friends with or at least friendly towards someone who is in a same sex relationship?

6. God’s Prohibition Against Bestiality. Lev. 18:23.

  • God’s prohibition against sex with animals. Immediately after listing His ban against same sex acts, God prohibited sex with animals: “23 Also you shall not have intercourse with any animal to be defiled with it, nor shall any woman stand before an animal to mate with it; it is a perversion.” (Lev. 18:23). Anyone who had sex with an animal was cursed: “Cursed is he who lies with any animal. And all the people shall say, ‘Amen.’” (Dt. 27:21). For the unsaved, the penalty for bestiality is also death: “Whoever lies with an animal shall surely be put to death.” (Ex. 22:19; Lev. 20:15). These prohibitions against bestiality are not repeated in the New Testament. Should we then assume that this practice is now acceptable because Christ somehow made the Law moot? No one would even make such an argument. Why then should believers assume that same sex acts are now acceptable when the prohibition against these acts is expressly repeated in the New Testament?

7. God Will Judge Nations Which Fail to Obey His Rules. Lev. 18:24-29.

  • Society must take God’s Law seriously. Although most people might be tempted to have a libertarian attitude toward sexual acts, God warned that He would punish the people of Canaan for their immoral sexual practices: “24 Do not defile yourselves by any of these things; for by all these the nations which I am casting out before you have become defiled. 25 For the land has become defiled, therefore I have brought its punishment upon it, so the land has spewed out its inhabitants. 26 But as for you, you are to keep My statutes and My judgments and shall not do any of these abominations, neither the native, nor the alien who sojourns among you 27 (for the men of the land who have been before you have done all these abominations, and the land has become defiled); 28 so that the land will not spew you out, should you defile it, as it has spewed out the nation which has been before you. 29 For whoever does any of these abominations, those persons who do so shall be cut off from among their people. 30 Thus you are to keep My charge, that you do not practice any of the abominable customs which have been practiced before you, so as not to defile yourselves with them; I am the Lord your God.’” (Lev. 18:24-29). The Canaanite curse dated back to the curse against Noah’s son Ham (Gen. 9:24-25). But God was slow to act. He told Abraham of His coming judgment 400 years before it happened (Gen. 15:16). He does not desire that any nation or any person perish (2 Pet. 3:9). He spared the people of Nineveh after they repented (Jonah 3:10). Yet, the peoples of Canaan, Sodom, and Gomorrah did not repent. Thus, God ultimately judged them. At Shittim, He also killed 24,000 Jews for their temple prostitution, more people than any other judgment while in the wilderness (Nu. 25:9). America is the leading country in terms of exporting pornography. We have removed any stigmas associated with sex outside of marriage, abortion, adultery, and same sex relationships. Divorce in the Church is rampant. In some cases, it exceeds the population.

  • Pray for the nation. Every believer has been given the gift of intercessory prayer. Jesus’ death ripped open the veil that separates man from God. Unlike the Jews who could only approach once per year, you can approach God in intercessory prayer every day. Are you using that privilege to pray for the nation on a regular basis?