Monday, May 19, 2014

Lying with men

Hey everybody!

We left off on the story of Sodom and Gomorrah. After a little digging we discovered the story is about gang rape and power, nothing relevant to the topic at hand.

One verse down, five to go. Going in order, the next two verses are Leviticus 18:22 and 20:13.

“’Do not lie with a man as one lies with a woman; it is an abomination."
and 20:13
"..if a man lies with a male as with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination; they shall surely be put to death"

I’ve heard many variations of these verses, usually being quoted by my old high school classmates who probably couldn’t even tell you what book they're from.

The book is Leviticus, and it’s in the Old Testament. 

One important thing I’d like to point out is the difference between the old law and the new law: The Old Testament and the New Testament.

The Old Testament or old law contains 613 rules that God gave the Israelites. As more Gentiles began to convert to Christianity, there was a lot of debate over whether or not they should also have to follow the 600 plus rules.

In Acts 15 we see this unfold. The Council of Jerusalem was a group of early church leaders who decided in the year 49 AD that the Old Law would not be binding on new Gentile believers. For example, the rules regarding what Christians should eat, whether they should be circumcised, etc.

Paul, our favorite Bible dude, also had a lot to say about the place of the Old Law in our new Christian lives:

In Galatians 5 he refers to the old law as a "yolk of slavery" that we are not to be burdened by any more.
Romans 10:4 says "Christ is the end of the law."
Hebrews 8:13 says the covenant is obsolete, because Christ is the new covenant thus freeing us from the old system of the law.

Okay, so that aspect already makes it kind of hard to argue the relevance of two verses in the Old Testament.
However, not everything in the Old Testament can be disregarded as irrelevant.
The 10 commandments, for example, are widely believed to apply to today’s Christians.

So what we are looking at NOW is the difference between what Torn author Justin Lee so eloquently labels "cultural laws" and "moral laws".

Chapter 18 of Leviticus, where these particular verses are found, is a list of rules regarding sexual behavior. The important question we must ask ourselves regarding these verses is “which rules are cultural laws, and which rules are moral laws?” Or “Which rules were made for ritualistic practices that are done away with in Christ, and which rules are meant to continue through all time as a guide for Christians?” 

There is no where in the Bible that talks about the distinction between these two types of rules. Of course they exist, because barely twenty verses away in Leviticus is the rule that you may not plant two types of seeds in your field or wear clothes made from two types of fabric. (Leviticus 19:19)
Look at the tag on your shirt.

You should be ashamed of yourself.


Obviously we don’t follow many of the rules in Leviticus. So why do so many people think we should follow these?

One reason is because it is right next to rules about incest. We still follow those rules, so why not the one about men lying with men?

Incest, adultery, and bestiality are sexual taboos that are spoken of many times in the Bible, both in the Old and New Testament. Male same-sex prohibitions only appear in Leviticus, surrounded by rules we no longer consider part of our Christian duty to follow.

But they call it an abomination, and the penalty is death! It HAS to be relevant!

The word "abomination" is found 76 times in the KJV Bible (according to
Here are just a few of the many things referred to as an "abomination" in the Old Law:

  • contact with a woman on her period
  • eating shellfish
  • eating pork
  • eating rabbit
  • women wearing pants

And other things that require the death penalty:
  • working on the Sabbath
  • charging interest on a loan

I think it's also important to note here that many of the rules in the Old Law were created based on the condition of the ancient world. For example, the rules about cleanliness were probably given because disease and sickness were prevalent and hard to treat. "Spilling a man's seed" is a sin according to the Bible, because of course at that time, populating the Earth was of extreme importance. Perhaps the warnings against male-male intercourse have to do with the fact that diseases would spread, no children would come of it, and in the patriarchal world of Bible times, men playing the passive "female role" in sex was unthinkable.

And finally, I have a method that really helps me discern what is cultural and what is moral.
Look at the repercussions of the "sin." What are the consequences, and do they ultimately result in the glory of God?

In a nutshell: Is it hurting people?

Luke 6:43 
“No good tree bears bad fruit, nor does a bad tree bear good fruit."

Going back to the incest discussion, there is obvious harm done when these lines are crossed. Obvious "bad fruit". It is damaging to relationships, and affects the entire family. It can also be genetically damaging if the relationships produce children, etc.

But look at gay relationships. I'm not talking about prostitution, sex slaves, or any other immoral sexual relationship two men often had during Bible times (although historically that is probably what these Leviticus verses are talking about). I'm talking about two people who fall in love and are committed to God and to each other. What bad fruit will come from that? "Undermining the American family"? I think it's a little too late. Heteros messed that up on their own. 

But the consequences of NOT letting two people in love get married? Heartache, depression, isolation, even suicide in some cases.

So while it seems very easy to throw out the line "man shall not lie with man," it's pretty clear that the meaning is not so easy. The Old Law is a tricky business, because of how many rules we are no longer required to follow. The placement of these particular verses and the language used do not add any weight to the argument that they are still valid in today's homosexual relationships, especially when it is only directly addressed in Leviticus.

I took some of the examples and ideas for this post from Matthew Vines' video (click here), where he addresses ALL of the verses in a very organized and effective way. I recommend everyone watch it!

And if you still think this is all a load of bologna, at least take this away from my blog:

Matthew 22:37-40
Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”
I'm excited to begin studying the New Testament verses. Stay tuned, we're just getting started!