Are the alternative interpretations of Leviticus 18:22 plausible, or just wishful thinking from LGBT friendly folk?

Posted: November 30, 2017 in Uncategorized

“Lord Jesus, have mercy on me and bless this answer if it comports with your word and your will; correct me if I am wrong.”

Preface:

We are told in Micah 6:6-8,

“With what shall I come before the Lord

and bow down before the exalted God?

Shall I come before him with burnt offerings,

with calves a year old?

Will the Lord be pleased with thousands of rams,

with ten thousand rivers of olive oil?

Shall I offer my firstborn for my transgression,

the fruit of my body for the sin of my soul?

He has shown you, O mortal, what is good.

And what does the Lord require of you?

To act justly and to love mercy

and to walk humbly with your God.”(emphasis mine)

Justice is for the victims of sin, crime, or injustice; mercy is for the perpetrators of sin, crime, or injustice. Humility before God is absolutely essential for all of us in all cases, because we will often fail to mete out justice, and we will often fail to act mercifully. Furthermore, we are to act justly; we don’t have to like it or love it, we just have to do it, but we are to LOVE mercy! We love to show mercy because we love the mercy that God has shown towards us. We walk in humility, navigating life and it’s pitfalls and traps, knowing that at any time we may be unjust or unmerciful, prayerfully pleading with God to check our motivations, desires, and actions.

Justice, the “law”, shows us our sin. In Romans, God tells us through Paul, “I would not have known what sin was had it not been for the law. For I would not have known what coveting really was if the law had not said, ‘You shall not covet.’” (1) We have the tendency to soft-pedal things like this, “Everybody does it. It’s ‘natural’, so don’t feel so bad”, “Who doesn’t covet?!” I have a friend who is a student in Russia. He got saved recently. One afternoon, I got a message from him: “I commit a sin”. Uh-oh… “I cheated on test today”. In our talking about it, in some ways, he was still trying to defend his cheating. I found that cheating (according to him) is common, “normal” in Russian universities, even bribery for good grades. There is a proverb, “You can’t fill the pocket with ‘Thank you’.” But then I asked him, “What was the very first thing you told me about this? “I commit a sin.” Why was that the first thing you thought? Because he knew in his heart it was wrong. He now understands.* What was the difference? Before his salvation, we had never discussed cheating, and he was perfectly fine with it. Why, all of a sudden, out of the blue, does he message me and confess, “I commit a sin”?! I submit that it is because he had a “heart transplant”. Ezekiel talks about a promise made in chapter 36:25–27, “I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you will be clean; I will cleanse you from all your impurities and from all your idols. I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh. And I will put my Spirit in you and move you to follow my decrees and be careful to keep my laws.” (emphasis mine) This would have been unheard of to Ezekiel’s audience; the Holy Spirit dwelt in the Temple, where none but the high priest could go. He “came upon” people but then left. Having him dwell in us would have been pretty terrifying! But my friend now had this “heart of flesh”; the Holy Spirit lives inside him. It was this Spirit who convicted him.

Mercy shows us the way to safety, redemption, salvation. Paul said, “Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners—of whom I am the worst. But for that very reason I was shown mercy so that in me, the worst of sinners, Christ Jesus might display his immense patience as an example for those who would believe in him and receive eternal life.” (2) “Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy.” Jesus, Matthew 5:7 Don’t be deceived, mercy acts, too, as John MacArthur says, ““Mercy is seeing a man without food and giving him food. Mercy is seeing a person begging for love and giving him love. Mercy is seeing someone lonely and giving him company. Mercy is meeting the need, not just feeling it.”

Humility is our “protection” from the effects of harshness in justice, and weakness in humility. “ ‘Walk humbly’ is a description of the heart’s attitude toward God. God’s people depend on Him rather than their own abilities (Micah 2:3). Instead of taking pride in what we bring to God, we humbly recognize that no amount of personal sacrifice can replace a heart committed to justice and love. Israel’s rhetorical questions had a three-part progression, and verse 8 contains a similar progression. The response of a godly heart is outward (do justice), inward (love mercy), and upward (walk humbly).” (What does it mean to do justly, love mercy, and walk humbly (Micah 6:8)?) Is God humble? Absolutely! Jesus is the lamb that was slain “before the foundation of the earth”. Even in eternity, he had humbled himself before the Father: “Of course, it was at Bethlehem, leading right through to Calvary, that we see the humility of Christ most gloriously displayed. Nevertheless we can say that at the incarnation Jesus took humanity but not humility. Humility had been, and always will be, part of the divine character.

“Christ’s humanity made him hungry, thirsty and tired, but it did not change his character in any way. Neither did his humanity add any new personality traits to his divinity, such as humility.

“In short, Jesus is humility personified – is and always was. Admittedly, his humiliation began at Bethlehem and culminated at Calvary. But his humility went right back to eternity.” (Is God humble? | Evangelical Times) Jesus said, “If you have seen me, you have seen the Father. If Jesus is humble, it is also a trait of the Father.

Both justice and mercy must come together in humility, like a three strand braid. Again in Romans, Paul testifies, “…He (God) did it (presented Christ as a sacrifice of atonement) to demonstrate his justice at the present time, so as to be just and the one who justifies those who have faith in Jesus”(Romans 3:26). Amos 5:21–24 says, “I hate, I despise your feasts, and I take no delight in your solemn assemblies. Even though you offer me your burnt offerings and grain offerings, I will not accept them; and the peace offerings of your fattened animals, I will not look upon them. Take away from me the noise of your songs; to the melody of your harps I will not listen. But let justice roll down like waters, and righteousness like an ever-flowing stream.” God pronounced this because the people were unmerciful: “Therefore because you trample on the poor and you exact taxes of grain from him, you have built houses of hewn stone, but you shall not dwell in them; you have planted pleasant vineyards, but you shall not drink their wine. For I know how many are your transgressions and how great are your sins– you who afflict the righteous, who take a bribe, and turn aside the needy in the gate.” It was the act of mercy—Jesus’ sacrificial atonement in our place, that revealed God’s justice, the fact that the sin had to be atoned for. It is our mercy towards the weak and disenfranchised that demonstrates our justice. Julie Camarin sums up Romans 3:26 well: “Without Jesus, God cannot be both just and merciful.” (What Christians Need to Understand about Mercy)  Saint Thomas states, “Mercy without justice is the mother of dissolution; [and] justice without mercy is cruelty.” (Super Matthaeum, Cap. V, l. 2.) “Thus, when the balance between mercy and justice is lost, the wicked either are allowed to go unpunished or are punished with brutality. Both things lead to social chaos and cause confusion in people’s minds. Indeed, failing to punish one who breaks divine or human laws weakens the notion of good and evil in people’s consciences and leads to moral relativism. For its part, cruelty in punishment makes justice odious to the people.” (http://www.tfp.org/mercy-without-justice-is-the-mother-of-dissolution-justice-without-mercy-is-cruelty/)

I give this long preface to pray that we approach this issue with justice, mercy, and humility. Too often, the modern evangelical church focuses a laser sharp, burning flame through the “justice” lens, but ignores the mercy and humility that must accompany it. When was the last time Christians in the US were accused of being too merciful or too humble? Like, never?

No, the alternative interpretations of Leviticus 18:22 are not plausible. But it’s really irrelevant in the entire context of God’s Word. God created Adam and Eve, man and woman, male and female. They were joined together by God himself in the first marriage. His very first commands were: “have dominion over creation,” and “be fruitful and multiply” (Genesis 1:26-28). In other words, they could have as much sex as they desired. now, aside from homosexuality, are there any other sexual practices that are indisputably sinful according to the Bible? Yep: Adultery. Incest. Bestiality. Any sexual relations outside of marriage. It is this last that is important. While it was not a capital crime in the Old Testament, it was a crime, like theft; the offense warranted a fine (see Exodus 22:16-17; Deuteronomy 22:28-29). In the New Testament, “fornication” means any sexual relations outside of marriage.

There was a group in the early Church called Judaizers. These were Pharisees who had become Christians. They felt that the Way, as it was known then, was just a new branch of Judaism; therefore, they believed new male gentile believers needed to be circumcised and all had to follow the Levitical law, including its dietary restrictions. A great argument arose, which was ultimately settled at the First Church Council in Jerusalem, presided over by James. What was the decision? “It is my judgment, therefore, that we should not make it difficult for the Gentiles who are turning to God. Instead we should write to them, telling them to abstain from food polluted by idols, from sexual immorality, from the meat of strangled animals and from blood. What is sexual immorality? “In the New Testament, the word most often translated ‘sexual immorality’ is porneia. This word is also translated as ‘whoredom,’ ‘fornication,’ and ‘idolatry.’ It means ‘a surrendering of sexual purity’, and it is primarily used of premarital sexual relations. From this Greek word we get the English word pornography, stemming from the concept of ‘selling off.’ Sexual immorality is the ‘selling off’ of sexual purity and involves any type of sexual expression outside the boundaries of a Biblically defined marriage relationship (Matthew 19:4–5).

“The connection between sexual immorality and idolatry is best understood in the context of 1 Corinthians 6:18, which says, ‘Flee from sexual immorality. All other sins a man commits are outside his body, but he who sins sexually sins against his own body.’ The bodies of believers are the ‘temple of the Holy Spirit’ (1 Corinthians 6:19–20). Pagan idol worship often involved perverse and immoral sexual acts performed in the temple of a false god. When we use our physical bodies for immoral purposes, we are imitating pagan worship by profaning God’s holy temple with acts He calls detestable (1 Corinthians 6:9–11).” (What is sexual immorality?) Let Jesus Christ speak: “For it is from within, out of a person’s heart, that evil thoughts come—sexual immorality*, theft, murder, adultery, greed, malice, deceit, lewdness, envy, slander, arrogance and folly. All these evils come from inside and defile a person.” (Mark 7:21–23) Ergo: Any sexual relationship, including between consenting adults, outside of marriage is SIN. In Revelation 22:14–15, we are told, “Blessed are those who wash their robes, so that they may have the right to the tree of life and that they may enter the city by the gates. Outside are the dogs and sorcerers and the sexually immoral and murderers and idolaters, and everyone who loves and practices falsehood.”

This makes the passage from Matthew 19:4–5 above of paramount importance, because, just like the only righteous way for a straight person to enjoy sexual congress with a member of the opposite sex is through marriage, the only way a gay person could justify committing sexual acts with members of the same sex is to claim that holy marriage of same sex couples is acceptable to, indeed, sanctified by, God. But Jesus clearly defines Biblical marriage, “He answered, ‘Have you not read that he who created them from the beginning made them male and female, and said, “Thereforea man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh”’”? Jesus may not have addressed homosexuality directly, but he definitely confirmed what the holy sacrament of marriage was. Elsewhere in the New Testament, Paul says that “Therefore an overseer must be above reproach, the husband of one wife, sober-minded, self-controlled, respectable, hospitable, able to teach…” (I Timothy 3:2), and “A deacon must be the husband of but one wife, a good manager of his children and of his own household” (I Timothy 3:8), also, “No widow may be put on the list of widows unless she is over sixty, has been faithful to her husband…” (I Timothy 5:9), finally, “An elder must be blameless, faithful to his wife, a man whose children believe and are not open to the charge of being wild and disobedient.” (Titus 1:6) Two men cannot become “one flesh”; two women cannot become “one flesh”. Neither can they “be fruitful and multiply.”

Image result for two shall become one flesh

We have seen that sex outside of marriage, even in the Old Testament, was not condoned by the Levitical Law. It was a crime. The injunctions against sex outside of marriage are further strengthened in the New Testament. Jesus himself condemned all sexual immorality and confirmed that holy marriage was between one man and one woman for life. The Apostle Paul further confirmed this.

NONE OF THIS gives a Christian the right, much less the “duty”, to express hatred towards homosexuals, any more than we would towards adulterers or the sexually promiscuous. God does not “hate fags”. Bullying, harassment, name-calling…any kind of cruelty or mean-spirited behavior is as detestable to God as every other sin. Christians today, and I would single out many evangelical conservatives, need to study the Word more. If they did, they would find this string of 7 things that are “detestable” (abominations) to God: “haughty eyes, a lying tongue, hands that shed innocent blood, a heart that devises wicked schemes, feet that are quick to rush into evil, a false witness who pours out lies and a person who stirs up conflict in the community.” (6:17–19)

One final word: Ezekiel 16:49–50 clearly delineate the sins of Sodom: “She and her daughters were arrogant, overfed and unconcerned; they did not help the poor and needy. They were haughty and did detestable things before me. Therefore I did away with them as you have seen.” Arrogance, gluttony, and apathy; disregard of the poor and needy; pride and detestable practices rounded their sin out. Sounds to me a lot like a current president many in the evangelical community continue to support, perhaps because they are just like him. Yes, the men of Sodom did detestable things before God. Based on the Biblical account, homosexuality was clearly one of them; but for Christians to focus on that one sin at the cost of ignoring all the others is like a doctor treating a patient’s high blood pressure but ignoring his obesity, COPD, diabetes, and melanoma!

God has called us all to repentance. There are things we all have to deny in order to follow Jesus: wealth, power, our appetites, lying, cheating, stealing, and yes, our sexual desires. Even if God never “cures” a person of their desires, their lusts, if he will provide the strength and grace necessary for a “straight” person to deny their sexual desires, he will provide the same to people who are attracted to the same sex. “For there are eunuchs who were born that way, and there are eunuchs who have been made eunuchs by others–and there are those who choose to live like eunuchs for the sake of the kingdom of heaven. The one who can accept this should accept it.” Matthew 19:12

All emphasis in scriptures are mine.

*It is simply NOT POSSIBLE that Jesus would not have meant homosexual acts as well.

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