May 9, 2015

The Bible and Homosexuality VII: Leviticus 20:13

Forgiveness for Those Who Will Repent of Sin

As for Leviticus 20:13, we see more of what we have already seen in Leviticus 18:22 but with an addition of capital punishment or a death penalty. As noted in the section on Leviticus 18, homosexuality is still a moral sin and not a legal restriction under ceremonial/civil law for the Jews. It is still deemed as reprehensible to God but a serious question arises that needs answering:

Should the penalty be the same today as noted in the Old Testament which was death? There are certain aspects that need to be properly understood before quickly dismissing this. This is where proper understanding of theology and Scripture are absolutely critical or things start to get wonky fast and get horribly misunderstood. Is man to issue capital punishment in these instances? A definitive and resounding no should be heard from all Christians.

The real question is: Will God implement a capital punishment for sin? People need to understand that this answer is and definitive and resounding yes all throughout the Bible, not just for homosexuality. But here is the kicker...all sinners are issued a death penalty according to the Bible. The wages of sin is death (Romans 6:23). In this way we all suffer a death penalty for our sins (sexual or otherwise) as we all die in Adam. Our escape is through repentance and the acceptance of what Jesus has done for us.

1 Corinthians 15:22 ~ "For as in Adam all die, so in Christ all will be made alive."


These clarifications having been made, we should examine the actual verse closer for its significance in this dialectic. 

Leviticus 20:13 ~ 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 blood-guiltiness is upon them…”

There is no distinction between the passive and dominant partner in the homosexual relationship above, they are both denounced here. We see in the very next verse the same punishment was prescribed for those that marry a mother and her daughter or are involved with bestiality. Sadly, even the animal in this scenario becomes victim to man’s sin in an act of bestiality.

Leviticus 20:14-15 ~ If there is a man who marries a woman and her mother, it is immorality; both he and they shall be burned with fire, so that there will be no immorality in your midst. If there is a man who lies with an animal, he shall surely be put to death; you shall also kill the animal.

In Leviticus 18 and here, sin or the immorality of homosexuality was not being singled-out but rather grouped-in with other sins. The issue isn’t so much the homosexuality per se as it is the whole idea of sin being in violation of God commands and being violation of covenant. As mentioned in the section on Leviticus 18, participants involved in the sin of homosexuality (and other moral and sexual sins) were involved in breaking a covenant relationship by performing sex outside of heterosexual marriage which is itself a covenant). Unrepentant sin/sinners that violated God’s statutes in the Old Testament would incur the due penalty for said sin…death. 

Today these penalties are considered extreme by modern standards. Death for homosexuality and other sexual misconduct seems too excessive. Unfortunately, to deem these punishments as too extreme in in their Ancient Near Eastern biblical setting in this passage is to make an illegitimate bridging of historical contexts here. There needs to be a distinction made between Moses time and our own. It needs to be realized that Israel was first and foremost a covenant nation. All in the nation were under the same expectations of holiness with God. When they entered the land they all became a political-national entity. To sin against God was to sin against the covenant made with God. In other words, to violate covenant became a national offense as the covenant was with the Israelite people and God. This violation should be seen as tantamount to treason or crime against the State because it endangered all within the nation by risk of residual contamination (symbiotic) and also violation of covenant. When framed as treason to a nation state that risks its purity (Baker 155).

Unlike today’s pluralistic society where it is literally “every person for themselves”, Israel was a homogeneous nation tightly tied together and tied to God through their covenant at Mt Sinai. For one to violate covenant is for all to violate it as they were all in covenant together with God as a nation. Like a ballast tied to a balloon, too much impurity dragged everyone down morally. The punishments were apparently used as an effort purge as noted in Deuteronomy 17:7, “the evil from among you [the people]” and as a deterrent as noted in Deuteronomy 19:18-20:

The judges shall investigate thoroughly, and if the witness is a false witness and he has accused his brother falsely, then you shall do to him just as he had intended to do to his brother. Thus you shall purge the evil from among you. The rest will hear and be afraid, and will never again do such an evil thing among you.

Additionally, it should be observed that the death punishments for these laws were for a different dispensation under the Law. The principles or morality or principles behind the laws still apply though. The Law has now been abrogated or more specifically fulfilled by Jesus Christ. Although our punishment is not immediate in this new dispensation, the wages of sin are still death (Romans 6:23). This is because...

Romans 3:19-20 ~ "...we know that whatever the law says, it says to those who are under the law, so that every mouth may be silenced and the whole world held accountable to God. Therefore no one will be declared righteous in God’s sight by the works of the law; rather, through the law we become conscious of our sin.

So the dispensation under Christ now fully takes affect and holds sway. That means we need to seek Christ and repent of our sins, not keep wantonly practicing them in open rebellion against God which is what we see by gay affirming churches and openly and proudly gay Christians. What's more is that because the Mosiac (Levitical) law so clearly spells out the transgression of homosexuality and other sexually immoral sins against God...we have absolutely no excuse to not be able to see that we are clearly in violation of God's moral expectations of us. They are spelled out in the Law. To interpret any of these passages on any sexual immorality as anything other than prohibition is be ignorant of Scripture as a whole.

This then begs the following questions that need to be asked. Is an openly gay Christian in rebellion against God who continues to practice homosexuality actually Christian? Is a church or entire denomination that allows practicing homosexuality or any sexual immorality for that matter into church leadership….well, is it actually Christian?

The sins mentioned in Leviticus are still as sinful now as they were then and this is evidenced by their prohibition in the New Testament. In the case of homosexuality we see it is still forbidden in Christianity as noted in 1 Corinthians 6, Romans 1, etc.  Regardless of how modern liberal exegetes wish to view this Corinthian passage, it is written by Paul to show continuity and unification between the moral principles of the Old Testament law and a new dispensation of grace in and under Christ. Regardless of how lightly modern culture views these sins, God still sees them the same way he did in Moses’ time because God is holy and immutable (Enns 192, Erickson 97, Wenham 281). It is only because of the forbearance of God and arrival of His Son that those that perpetrate theses sins are not penalized immediately.

In the end what we see from the homosexual point of view in both of the instances in Leviticus is a failure or unwillingness to distinguish between the things intended to be temporary and that which is permanent and applicable to all persons (White-Kindle location 790). In the text of the Bible there were not distinctions between what was temporary (ceremonial for Israel), and that which is universal (morality for all humanity for all time). We have already seen this in relation to the dietary or ceremonial laws of the priesthood versus the much more superfluous sins of moral law such as homosexuality. In the end it must be understood that moral laws are perpetually binding whereas ceremonial laws have now ended. These distinctions must be understood to properly interpret Scripture...or the Law of Moses becomes a relativistic quagmire.


Okay. So I am not viciously attacked on this post I must be abundantly clear. I personally am not condoning murder or killing of sinners. THAT IS NOT WHAT IS BEING SAID HERE! Apparently, there are many Bible illiterate people out there with poor reading comprehension reading Christian blogs. If this is the conclusion you've come to after reading have  mistook the entire implicit theme in this post and this series in general. I repeat, am NOT condoning capital punishment for homosexuality. Nor am I saying it is warranted for many other sins in this life to be carried out by man.

If that was the case then there would literally be an empty planet as all people would be convicted of sin and summarily executed. Furthermore the executioners and judges would themselves be hypocrites as they too are sinners. Only God is perfectly fit to judge sinners (Isaiah 33:22, James 4:12). This post speaks to all sinners and sin that is not repented of. This is literally a case of, "Let he that is without sin cast the first stone." We need to discern when people are in jeopardy of condemnation but we are not the one's to pass judgement on the sin itself, it is God's prerogative to do so.

What I am saying is that we all die at the end of our lives because sin has gotten us to that point. Just as I said in the beginning, "For as in Adam all die,  what I have also clear stated and alluded to in the body and conclusion of this post is that because we all die in Adam, it is so, "in Christ all will be made alive." What we see here is not a literal death penalty by and of itself as most would understand it, but rather a punishment and reprieve from that judgement. It is a reprieve or pardon only if a person would turn to Christ and trust what He has already done on the Cross to cover for sin. This is so the death penalty called for is not spiritually permanent. We will all die, that much is absolutely certain, and in that way we all suffer a death penalty for our sin. The real question is this: Do you want to make that death penalty spiritually eternal? The difference is repentance and turning from all sin and accepting Christ, not continuing in unrepentant sin.

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