Leviticus 18 and Homosexual Practice

Leviticus 18 and Homosexual PracticeOne of the many passages in scripture dealing with sexual immorality is Leviticus 18. In this chapter, we have direct quotes from God on the subject as spoken to Moses. This is a mark of Leviticus in general. Throughout the book passage after passage begins “The LORD said to Moses…” For this and other reasons I believe Leviticus 18 is the strongest passage in the Bible that addresses the morality of homosexual practice – even though only one verse in the chapter mentions it.

The majority of the chapter is devoted to inappropriate heterosexual relationships.

Verse 6 says: “No one is to approach a close relative to have sexual relations. I am the LORD.” Then, from verse 7 through 18, what is meant by “close relative” is fleshed out. Verses 19-20 highlight two additional circumstances where heterosexual sex is forbidden for the people of Israel.

Then in verse 22 we read: “Do not lie with a man as one lies with a woman; that is detestable.”

This one and only mention of homosexual behavior in an extended discussion of sexual immorality is significant. Up to this point, male / female intercourse is presented as the standard, otherwise why list exceptions? God is saying, do not practice male / female intercourse in these particular ways (the implication being, there are other, non-forbidden ways to engage in heterosexual sex). Notice also that a male audience is assumed for all the exceptions. Do not have sex with your sister, aunt, sister-in-law, etc. Notably, nowhere is sex with a brother, uncle or brother-in-law forbidden. Why? Because homosexual activity is sinful per se. There is no need to list exceptions because there are none. Verse 22 is a universal condemnation of all homosexual practice.

“Do not lie with a man as one lies with a woman; that is detestable.” Full stop. The biblical prohibition against homosexual practice is not just with regard to temple prostitution or non-committed relationships as is sometimes alleged. It is something God forbids in all circumstances.

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