Leviticus 15:24, 18:19, 20:18

After arguing extensively with a high school classmate who is now a pastor about his support for sodomy, he brought up Leviticus 20:13. This Levitical law, along with 18:19 and 15:24 is challenging, and I have never really heard a satisfactory treatment of these. Obviously it doesn’t invalidate the extremely clear teaching of Leviticus 18,20 Romans 1, and 1Corinthians 6, and he is clearly a student of Matthew Vines there. But what are the best treatments you know of concerning Leviticus 15:24,18:19, and 20:18?
Edit, these passages are speaking of marital relations during menstruation, not homosexuality. They were a red herring in the context of that discussion.

In what way was he trying to use Leviticus 20:13 to defend sodomy?

Oh it was a total red herring, akin to the ole’ “do you eat shellfish and wear mixed fabrics” line.

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These are mainly clips. There are many excellent articles that address this (surprisingly Tim Keller has a few helpful things to say on this subject here: https://www.redeemer.com/redeemer-report/article/the_bible_and_same_sex_relationships_a_review_article).

I had these links saved and have passed them on to many people so am quickly putting them here:

Voddie Baucham. Start at 23:00 minute mark

I do not watch him or listen to him regularly nor do I share much of his theology but Michael Brown has a helpful clip on this: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WG3-SNty4Nc

Same with Pastor Doug Wilson who goes into a little more depth:

Grieving with you about that friend. He is greatly deceived. Most of my wife’s family is deceived on this as well. Hope these clips help brother! In and for Christ,

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Thanks, apparently my question was poorly worded, because I have zero real questions about the biblical condemnation of Sodomy and Effeminacy. My question really has to do with the Levitical law on sex during menstruation. It seems tough to categorize it with the moral/ceremonial distinction,

Here’s an interesting hybrid approach (not condoning, just offering up an interesting take). Take care, the descriptions are quite frank and medical:

I am suspicious of interpretations of the Torah that try to find modern medical/social reasons “behind” the laws. While I wouldn’t put it past God to have multiple reasons for his holiness code, I’m pretty sure the spiritual reasons are the more important. I’m reacting a bit here to family members who have become rather obsessed with a “return” to following Torah food laws and justify it somewhat by saying its healthier.

But I would agree that this is most likely part of the “Holiness” code of the Torah, meant to instruct Israel in the perfect holiness of God compared to our sinfulness through physical parables. Because I am more sympathetic to Progressive Covenentalism/Dispensationalism I tend to think it is much more difficult to cleanly divide the Torah into the classical moral/civil/ceremonial categories. The Law stands or falls as a unit, and the New Covenant means a new Law has been instituted by Christ and the Apostles, though we learn from the Torah as interpreted by them. So sex with your wife (to be clear) on her period is permitted now (but…no thanks for other reasons). Meanwhile sodomy is a deep perversion that strikes at creation and sexuality and is clearly condemned in both New and Old Covenants.

This is related to a similar issue I’ve thought about in the past…during the Jerusalem Council the verdict to the Gentile Christians was that they should abstain from sexual immorality (easy sell), not eat meat sacrificed to/polluted by idols, and lastly refrain from eating meat of strangled animals and blood. I have tended to think that last point was part of the ceremonial aspect of the Torah and is no longer applicable, but here it is stated quite clearly. When I’ve heard this preached on in the past, the last point is usually glossed over with a casual “who does that anymore?” quip. But anyone with a passing acquaintance with global cuisine knows that blood is a common ingredient in various dishes i.e. Scotland - blood pudding, Philippines - Dinuguan (Pork blood at that!). So it’s not a non-issue for some.

I’m still not quite sure how to take the Jerusalem Council verdict as a whole given how Paul seems to contradict the “food sacrificed to idols” bit in other letters, and then there is the blood prohibition. The best I’ve been able to do is as follows:

The reason given for the verdict as a whole is that “Moses has been proclaimed in the cities of the gentiles from ancient times” and not “because it is against the Torah” indicating to me that while it is clear sexual immorality is wrong always, it is possible the latter two statements are mainly cultural sensitivity issues borne out of a desire to not offend Jewish Christians, and can thus be relativized when dealing with cultural contexts in which there would be no offense. For example, when living in a Muslim culture (which I have), I often refrain from eating pork or drinking alcohol out of respect and a desire to maintain good relationships with Muslim friends for the sake of the gospel.

I’d love it if anyone had any other thoughts on how this seeming contradiction can be reconciled.

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Menstrual law appears to be typical ceremonial law. It’s only in Leviticus, isn’t it? And it specifically mentions physical uncleanliness as the end result. In fact, the man gets the impurity from the woman’s natural, unavoidable impurity.

A woman in Christ is not impure due to her period. So there’s no impurity to touch in Leviticus 15:24. And there’s no time during which Leviticus 18:19 applies for it’s stated reason.

Oh whoops! Sorry brother! I thought you wanted resources for your friend.

Nah, he has evidenced an extremely hard heart.

I’ve been using The Bible Project to help with discipling my children, and their work is good. This video they did on God‘s holiness helped both my kids AND me understand why these laws existed. God is so pure and holy that coming into his presence is no joke. Like the sun, his intense glory sustains all life, but exposing oneself to either without taking precaution is dangerous, and these ritual and ceremonial laws, many of which involved one’s physical body, were for Israel’s protection. Of course, the incarnation no longer necessitated these ritual and ceremonial precautions. However the moral law still stands, which is why Jesus said to both the oppressors and the oppressed, “Repent and follow me.”

I recommend these videos for parents making biblical literacy a priority for their kids.

My understanding is the menstruation passages are about ceremonial uncleanness, whereas sodomy is a direct violation of the seventh commandment. It’s also an active judgment of God per Romans 1. Here’s Matthew Henry on Leviticus 15:24:

This is concerning the ceremonial uncleanness which women lay under from their issues, both those that were regular and healthful, and according to the course of nature (Leviticus 15:19-24), and those that were unseasonable, excessive, and the disease of the body such was the bloody issue of that poor woman who was suddenly cured by touching the hem of Christ’s garment, after she had lain twelve years under her distemper, and had spent her estate upon physicians and physic in vain. This made the woman that was afflicted with it unclean (Leviticus 15:25) and every thing she touched unclean, Leviticus 15:26,27. And if she was cured, and found by seven days’ trial that she was perfectly free from her issue of blood, she was to be cleansed by the offering of two turtle-doves or two young pigeons, to make an atonement for her, Leviticus 15:28,29. All wicked courses, particularly idolatries, are compared to the uncleanness of a removed woman (Ezekiel 36:17), and, in allusion to this, it is said of Jerusalem (Lamentations 1:9), Her filthiness is in her skirts, so that (as it follows, Leviticus 15:17) she was shunned as a menstruous woman.

Let us bless God that we are not under the yoke of these carnal ordinances, that, as nothing can destroy us, so nothing can defile us, but sin. Those may now partake of the Lord’s supper who durst not then eat of the peace-offerings. And the defilement we contract by our sins of daily infirmity we may be cleansed from in secret by the renewed acts of repentance and faith, without bathing in water or bringing an offering to the door of the tabernacle. 2. Let us carefully abstain from all sin, as defiling to the conscience, and particularly from all fleshly lusts, possessing our vessel in sanctification and honour, and not in the lusts of uncleanness, which not only pollute the soul, but war against it, and threaten its ruin. 3. Let us all see how indispensably necessary real holiness is to our future happiness, and get our hearts purified by faith, that we may see God. Perhaps it is in allusion to these laws which forbade the unclean to approach the sanctuary that when it is asked, Who shall stand in God’s holy place? it is answered, He that hath clean hands and a pure heart (Psalm 24:3,4) for without holiness no man shall see the Lord

My experience with those who run to cleanliness laws in order to justify sodomy/lesbianism/trans-insanity/etc. is that they are not interested in truth or honesty. They try to shame you as absurd when it is their shamelessness that is absurd. We should stand firm and be like Paul, “I say this to your shame…” (1 Corinthians 6:5, 15:34).

Take care with the Bible Project. Tim Mackie has unsound views on the atonement and hell. See this video for insights: https://youtu.be/Bn3H-q41XbE

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Pardon my ignorance. Was there a particular pagan practice in regards to menstruation and sex that was being forbidden? I know that was the reasoning behind other ceremonial laws.

I think it’s clear that 18:19 is not like the sexual sins in chapter 18 in that the rest directly contradict the commandments against adultery and family dishonor, so it seems there must be more to its placement there than I’m seeing.

Michael, it’s clear from the context in Lev 18 that this was practiced in Egypt and Canaan and was part of the reasoning for God’s judgment of them. I really struggle therefore with this being ceremonial, since the nations of the world tended to be judged for sins against general revelation a la Amos.

Calvin, I believe, basically said it’s not decent for Christians to have sex with their wives during menstruation. That we are not beasts. I read it either in his commentaries or sermon on the verses, can’t remember where.

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I think your point about cultural sensitivities is a valid one. It might be that some of the various Levitical prohibitions, at least (=sex during menstruation) are related to cultural factors not now clear to us. OTOH (and looking into the NT) the “food offered to idols” considerations may not be a live issue for us, but they are a live issue for a number of Christians from Asian background I have known.

Thanks for the heads up. I had not yet seen the videos mentioned here. It looks like even The Gospel Coalition lists the same concerns about The Bible Project’s theology on atonement and propitiation.

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If it’s not too crude to ask, do we have an idea of what the immoral element of the practice would have been? I would research this myself but I can’t find the right set of keywords (and am proceeding cautiously…)

It seems there must be some additional element or motivation to have made it sinful before the Levitical law was given. If forbidden only to set the Israelites apart, then it would be ceremonial, like circumcision, which also has a hygienic benefit but is not necessary for Christians to practice.

I’m no theologian. I haven’t researched this. Maybe I shouldn’t pipe up but…

It seems like sex during menstruation would be seeking eroticism while studiosly avoiding fruitfulness. Good intended sex to be fruitful. That doesn’t mean that every instance needs to net a conception. But it seems like specifically avoiding the possibility of conception is a red flag.

There was that time with Onan and Tamar. I cant say that I fully understand that passage but what he did wasn’t right. And there was sex without the possibility of fruitfulness. To know what else can’t be fruitful? Sodomy. I’m not saying these are all the same, morally, but they all share some similarities. (I’m also not saying there isn’t a time for at least some faithful, fruitful, married couples to call it a day with biological children.)

I live in a sexually confused world and it has rubbed off on me. Much of my life is repentance. But I will say that sex during menstruation seems like a bad idea to me. Count me among those who think it should be avoided.

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Nathan, I was struck by the same thing. Ordering men to avoid sex with their wives during the two weeks of the month when the wife is least fertile seems like a recipe for large families. As someone else pointed out up-thread, applying modern science to the OT laws is always fraught, but in the context of Israel’s place in redemptive history, I can’t imagine that this was an accident.

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There may be nothing studious about it. It may just be simple ignorance, or a lack of self control. I have a hard time imagining a man or woman waiting for her period and saying, “Great! Let’s do this now so we don’t get pregnant!” Yet I’m sure there’s someone out there like that.

Without much study, I guess I’ve always applied this text in my mind as a simple admonishment toward self control for the Christian – specifically toward Christian men. Notice in Leviticus 15:24 that it was the man who is rendered unclean for this particular act. I realize that the woman was already unclean in her time of menstruation, but I think the emphasis on the man is nonetheless noteworthy.

While 1 Corinthians 7 discusses how a husband and wife should not deprive one another sexually, and how this is part of the way we minister to one another within marriage, I don’t think this text is meant to be understood as a license and encouragement for the husband and wife to act upon every single sexual impulse that they have. There are other times when a husband loves his wife by exercising self control and restraining his sexual desire. Consider how a man is called to cherish and nurture his wife’s body as he cherishes his own (Ephesians 5:28-29). If your wife is in the midst of a severe migraine, or a sciatica flair-up owing to the long-term effects of all the children she’s birthed, do we think it would be loving to pursue sex in that moment? The answer could be different depending on the situation, I suppose, but the point stands. Sometimes we care for our wife’s body by exercising self control.

Also, regardless of which translation of the verse you subscribe to, I believe 1 Thes. 4:4 is also instructive in this same regard. The married man has just as much need of having his sexual desires sanctified as the unmarried man. And there is an honor that is to be shown to the wife within the marriage bed.

So when I read Leviticus 15:24, I read it through a New Covenant lens that would remind me to honor and cherish my wife’s body; that even though my wife is a great gift to me sexually, she is not to be treated as a mere instrument to my gratification; that there are times which God has ordained for me to practice self control.

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