Homosexuality and the Law of Moses

Published 2:40 pm Thursday, February 17, 2022

There are many who seek to avoid the penalty of sin by perverting what the Law of Moses states concerning homosexual activity. So, the question is valid that asks does the Law of Moses as found in the Old Testament actually condemn homosexuality? To answer the question, all one must do is let the Old Testament speak for itself. We learn in Leviticus 18:22 KJV, “Thou shalt not lie with mankind, as with womankind: it is abomination.” Next, we learn in Leviticus 20:13 KJV, “If a man also lie with mankind, as he lieth with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination: they shall surely be put to death; their blood shall be upon them.” As we allow these two verses to run through our minds it is evident, at least in the mind of the writer of this article what the Law is stating. But perhaps more importantly, how do others read and understand what is being said by the inspired writer Moses. What does the law of Moses actually say about homosexuality?
With the previous verses in our minds lets examine some of the key statements as we try to answer this question. The phrase to “lie with” (as seen in these two verses) literally means to have sexual relations with another. This was the case as it was used in Genesis 39:7-14, in the story of Joseph. While the participants may have been different the action still involved sexual relations. The phrase used in Leviticus was used many times and always held the same meaning. Consider the following: (Genesis 19:32, Leviticus 15:24; 18:20; 18:23; 20:12-15). Time and time again the phrase is used and generally involves sexual intercourse. There are a few exceptions and in those exceptions the context gives us the difference as in Genesis 47:30. There are those who attempt to justify homosexuality from the text found in Leviticus, they tell us that these two passages (Lev. 18:22; 20:13) are merely in reference to abusive sexual encounters between those of the same sex (specifically homosexual rape, or, abusive cultic practices). The same people insist that the law was only given to prohibit the kind of activity that the heathen nations around them practiced. They then insist that these verses have nothing to do with modern day issues we face concerning homosexual activity between same sex individuals. They insist that the Levitical law has nothing to do with what they deem as a loving and committed homosexual relationship.
While it is true that the Law of Moses gave prohibitions concerning many of the practices of the nations around them, the restriction found in (Lev. 18:24-30) does not include this. In fact, Paul pointed out in 1 Tim. 1:8-10, that the Law was given for those that lived lawless and disobedient. The law as stated in Leviticus clearly teaches that a man is not to have sexual relations with another man such as he would with a woman. Each passage sited call such activity an abomination.” If we study correctly, we will understand that the act of homosexuality is unnatural and that proper sexual relations with a woman (lying with a woman) is implied as the natural act of mankind. In fact, this is what God had intended from the beginning (Gen. 2:24; Matt. 19:4-5).
We need to understand the severity of the penalty of such activities under the Law of Moses. According to the law of Leviticus 20:10-16, homosexuality, adultery, incest, bestiality, and the like were all punishable by death. To be honest rape is not a consideration of this passage but rather a willing relationship entered into by two consenting adults. There is an important question that must be answered, If Leviticus 20:13 refers to “homosexual rape,” why is the victim being put to death? The verse is dealing with sexual immorality. Furthermore, we learn in Deuteronomy 22:25-27, that the innocent victim of rape shall not be put to death. Clearly then, both Leviticus 18:22 and 20:13 are not talking about homosexual rape, but about mutual homosexual relations.
It is clear that the Law of Moses did in fact condemn homosexuality. But we are not left without other instruction concerning this most important topic. In the following weeks we will take time to consider other divine texts that will help us to understand more perfectly what God desires of us concerning this topic. Please continue to have an open mind as we continue this topic next week.
(Tony Hoss is minister of the Centerview Church of Christ, Elizabethton)

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