Tuesday, 21 July 2015

Thoughts on Leviticus 18:22, Part 8: Why the focus?

Why do Christians expend so much energy and attention on the issue of homosexuality and Leviticus 18:22?  Why ignore all the other ‘sins’ listed in Leviticus 18? Why not jump on these?
I would argue that it is the homosexual community that has made 18:22 an issue.  These are the same individuals who would try and persuade us that this way of life is normal and acceptable.  Not only do they seek to have everyone accept/condone this lifestyle, they promote and celebrate it, often belittling and attacking those who would seek to honour God’s commands.  Conversely, the other ‘sins’ listed are for the most part still frowned upon – we do not promote and celebrate incest or bestiality.  But who knows, even adultery is being promoted on websites and in the media as socially acceptable these days.
Once again, seeking to examine the issue in context, we read God’s viewpoint: “Give the following instructions to the people of Israel.  I am the LORD your God.  So do not act like the people in Egypt, where you used to live, or like the people of Canaan, where I am taking you.  You must not imitate their way of life….” Leviticus 18:1-3. And then at the end of the chapter God says, “So obey my instructions, and do not defile yourselves by committing any of these detestable practises that were committed by the people who lived in the land before you.  I am the LORD your God.”  Yes, these commandments are given specifically to the Israelites (God’s people), but God also notes that these acts are detestable even when practiced by others.  In God’s eyes His principles hold true for all of humanity.

As Kevin deYoung noted, "It cannot be overstated how seriously the Bible treats the sin of sexual immorality. Sexual sin is never considered adiaphora, a matter of indifference, an agree-to-disagree issue like food laws or holy days (Rom. 14:1–15:7). To the contrary, sexual immorality is precisely the sort of sin that characterizes those who will not enter the kingdom of heaven. There are at least eight vice lists in the New Testament (Mark 7:21–22; Rom. 1:24–31; 13:13; 1 Cor. 6:9–10; Gal. 5:19–21; Col. 3:5–9; 1 Tim. 1:9–10; Rev. 21:8), and sexual immorality is included in every one of these. In fact, in seven of the eight lists there are multiple references to sexual immorality (e.g., impurity, sensuality, orgies, men who practice homosexuality), and in most of the passages some kind of sexual immorality heads the lists. You would be hard-pressed to find a sin more frequently, more uniformly, and more seriously condemned in the New Testament than sexual sin."