The Bible and Homosexuality
|Correctly Understanding Leviticus 20:13 and 18:22|
By Jagannatha Prakasa (© May 11, 1999; last updated August 1, 2006)
"If a man also lie with mankind, as he lieth with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination: they shall surely be put to death; their blood shall be upon them."Leviticus 18:22
"Thou shalt not lie with mankind, as with womankind: it is abomination."
These verses are found within the "Holiness Code" which emphasized to the Israelites that they were to be set apart to God from the rest of the nations. The CONTEXT is God's prohibition that the Israelites must not engage in the practices found in the nearby fertility cult of Molech and Ashteroth. Look at the beginning of the chapter and you will see this clearly:
1 And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying,
2 After the doings of the land of Egypt, wherein ye dwelt, shall ye not do: and after the doings of the land of Canaan, whither I bring you, shall ye not do: neither shall ye walk in their ordinances.
4 Ye shall do my judgments, and keep mine ordinances, to walk therein: I am the LORD your God.
5 Ye shall therefore keep my statutes, and my judgments: which if a man do, he shall live in them: I am the LORD.
As religious cults tend to ignore the Scriptural context in order to justify their doctrines, so too well meaning Christians sometimes take a verse here or there without considering its context when it appears, at first glance, that the verse supports their position. Such is the case here.
The God of Israel never directed the people to engage in ritual sexual magic as the Pagan religions around them did, and yet certain of God's people were practicing these rites. Such was unacceptable to God because: "Ye shall do my judgments, and keep mine ordinances, to walk therein: I am the LORD your God."
The word "Abomination" used here is a translation of the Hebrew word to-ay-baw which specifically refers to idolatrous practices that are displeasing to God. This word has nothing to do with sexuality, neither homo nor heterosexual, unless that sexuality is directly involved in the worship of other gods. Hence, this prohibition is the same as Paul's concern in Romans 1 and I Corinthians 6:9. The reference here is to the fertility worship, i.e. sex rites, which the Israelites were to shun. They were to only walk in paths directed by their God. In the following verses (6 on), many of these forbidden activities are specifically listed.
Note the verse just before the one we are considering here (verse 19):
"And thou shalt not let any of thy seed pass through the fire to Molech, neither shalt thou profane the name of thy God: I am the LORD:
Allowing ones semen to be used in Pagan rites to fertility gods etc., and moreover the worship in any manner of those gods, is what is being discussed here, not homosexuality. Notice what the incorporation of sexuality into Pagan rites does, it 'profanes the name of thy God,' hence God commands the Jews that He alone is their God. And so we read in context:
"...And thou shalt not let any of thy seed pass through the fire to Molech, neither shalt thou profane the name of thy God: I am the LORD: If a man also lie with mankind, as he lieth with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination: they shall surely be put to death; their blood shall be upon them."
What exactly is Moses forbidding here? In context he is forbidding the people from worshiping Molech and the other local gods in any way, including through the popular sex rites.
That this is what is being forbidden is even clearer in Leviticus 20! Note how this chapter begins:
1 And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying,
2 Again, thou shalt say to the children of Israel, Whosoever he be of the children of Israel, or of the strangers that sojourn in Israel, that giveth any of his seed unto Molech; he shall surely be put to death: the people of the land shall stone him with stones.
3 And I will set my face against that man, and will cut him off from among his people; because he hath given of his seed unto Molech, to defile my sanctuary, and to profane my holy name.
4 And if the people of the land do any ways hide their eyes from the man, when he giveth of his seed unto Molech, and kill him not:
5 Then I will set my face against that man, and against his family, and will cut him off, and all that go a whoring after him, to commit whoredom with Molech, from among their people.
6 And the soul that turneth after such as have familiar spirits, and after wizards, to go a whoring after them, I will even set my face against that soul, and will cut him off from among his people.
7 Sanctify yourselves therefore, and be ye holy: for I am the LORD your God.
8 And ye shall keep my statutes, and do them: I am the LORD which sanctify you.
Then certain abuses are innumerated and we come to verse 13, again specifically concerning the use of semen and sex magic.
Throughout their history the Israelites had a weakness for idolatry according to the Bible. This is simply another example of God seeking to control that weakness. These two verses say nothing about homosexuality.
Peace, Love, and Light!