There has been some confusion over the Old Testament book of Leviticus, regarding certain provisions in the law of God which calls for death in specific matters of personal conduct. Does the Bible require the death of an individaul who practices adultery, fornication, homosexuality, or lesbianism, today?
In any attempt at understanding the Bible, we should first look at:
- Who the particular text is addressed to?
- What is the context?
- When was it written?
We notice that Leviticus chapter 20 is written specifically to: “the children of Israel.” Therefore, we cannot take this verse and universally apply it to the Christian church today. Nor can we apply it to the world, who are not addressed by this command.
Leviticus 20:1-2 1 Then the LORD spoke to Moses, saying, 2 “Again, you shall say to the children of Israel:
This is not to say that God does not require all people to conduct themselves in purity in matters concerning their bodies. The Bible is very clear that God did not creates us for immorality, but instead to be a people of virtue.
We should remember that the Bible contains two Covenants of God. One, based in the laws of Moses, from the Old Testament. Two, a covenant based upon the sacrifice of Jesus, at the cross, in the New Testament.
God made a covenant of salvation with Abram, because He believed what God said concerning sin and the future salvation of the Messiah. This covenant was based on obedience to the law of God. As long as Abram and his descendants were obedient, they would remain under the protection of this covenant.
On the same day the LORD made a covenant with Abram: “To your descendants I have given this land… —Genesis 15:18
When Jesus arrived on the earth as the Messiah, the covenant was changed from obedience to the law, to faith in the completed work of Jesus on the cross. Moses was able to lead the children of Israel through the desert, but not able to bring them into the land God promised. It was by faith in the promises of God that the children of Israel crossed the Jordan river and entered the land that He had promised.
For on the one hand there is an annulling of the former commandment because of its weakness and unprofitableness, 19 for the law made nothing perfect; on the other hand, there is the bringing in of a better hope, through which we draw near to God. —Hebrews 7:18-19
The law itself is good. The problem is not with the laws of God, the difficulty is with us. No person can keep the law—we are not capable. We may keep some of the law, sometimes; but we will never be able to keep all of the laws—all of the time. God requires perfection, we are not capable of perfection. Those who seek to please God by their religion are in error. No person will ever be justified in the sight of God by trying to keep the ten commandments. It is impossible.
Take for example: the ninth commandment, regarding telling the truth. According to this command; no person should ever tell a lie. The problem is that every person has told a lie, at one time or another.
We read in the book of James that God requires perfection. In order to please God by keeping His law, a person must keep all of the laws from the day of their birth, untill the day of their death—without a single violation. If we ever break one of the ten commandments, we are guilty of breaking all of the laws of God.
For whoever shall keep the whole law, and yet stumble in one point, he is guilty of all. —James 2:10
It was never the intention of the ten commandments to give us a standard to obey, in order to be acceptable to God. This is a universal mistake that many people make in thinking about God.
A majority of the religion’s of the world demand obedience to the laws of their particular religion or religious books, in order to be acceptable by God. The Bible does not teach this. God said that the purpose of the ten commandments was to show us that we are all guilty. By looking at the requirements, each one of us would realize that we can never keep them all. At some point, we are going to fail. since God requires that we all keep every command, for our entire life, not one of us could ever be acceptable to God based on our attempts at keeping the law.
The purpose of the law of God; the ten commandments, and all the laws that came from these ten, was to act as our teacher, to cause us to realize we cannot do it.
Therefore the law was our teacher to bring us to Christ, that we might be justified by faith. —Galatians 3:24
Galatians 3:24 informs us that the true purpose of the law was to bring us to the point where we understand that we can never please God, nor achieve His requirements, by trying to keep the law. The purpose of the law was to bring us to Christ. In other words, as I realized that I cannot keep what God commands, I ask: “Is there no other way.” For in trying to keep what God requires, I understand I will not ever be able to achieve this. So, in asking if there is another way, God tells us that He sent His Son into the world, to become one of us, and to die for us. So that by believing in the completed sacrifice that Jesus has made for us on the cross, all of our sins (inability to keep the law), have been fully paid for by Jesus. Those who trust in Jesus Christ, by faith, achieve the completion of the law and are no longer under the condemnation of God for their sins.
Many people have departed a relationship with God after they realized that they could not achieve, nor meet the requirements of the laws of God. They did not read the books of Romans and Galatians where God specifically tells the reader that they will not be able to keep these laws. We must come through Jesus sacrifice, if we will be acceptable to God.
For what the law could not do in that it was weak through the flesh, God did by sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, on account of sin: He condemned sin in the flesh, 4 that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us who do not walk according to the flesh but according to the Spirit. —Romans 8:3-4
Therefore we conclude that a man is justified by faith in Christ, apart from the deeds of the law. —Romans 3:28
Having become acceptable to God by Jesus death and resurrection, we have kept the entire law of God and are fully ready for heaven.
Does this mean that we do not have to try and keep the law now?
Since God has shown us such great Grace (unmerited favor), by not counting our sins against us—for the sake of Jesus death for us, can we now live any way that we choose?
Of course not. This would be a tremendous insult to God—who gave His only Son to die for us. It cost God something of eternal value, that we may never be able to fully comprehend. God allowed Jesus to die for us so that we would not be lost and have a chance at eternal life. Could any person take this gift and then ignore the entire reason that Jesus died; for our sins, only to continue to mount up more and more sins, which Jesus also had to suffer for? This would be a terrible and ungrateful response to such a gracious and kind exhibition of God’s love.
If we truly understand what it cost God to allow His Son to die for us, we must show our sincere gratitude by seeking to avoid sin at all cost. To ignore and take for granted what Jesus has done: to die for our sins, only to further commit more sins, would show that we are not really worthy of the great sacrifice Jesus has made.
If a person dies in a car accident and leaves their organs to those who are dying; what kind of person would take these precious gifts and not be extremely grateful? Would we take a new liver from someone who died to make our life possible—only to kill that liver by excessive consumption of alcohol and destroy the gift that we have received?
How could we who have been saved by the death of Jesus, continue any longer in sins—which caused Jesus death in the first place?
If we were not sinners, Jesus would never have died.
If jesus had not died for us and paid the price that we owed for our own sins, all of us would have stood before God and would suffer the penalty of our actions, ourselves. Because of Jesus sacrifice for us, those who remain under the shelter of His death and resurrection, will never see the judgement of God for their sins.
God has commanded every person to repent (change their mind), to turn from sin and turn to Jesus for salvation. If we do not obey this command, there remains no other way that we can be saved.
Truly, these times of ignorance God overlooked, but now commands all men everywhere to repent. —Acts 17:30
(Jesus speaking) I tell you, no; but unless you repent you will all likewise perish. —Luke 13:3
(Jesus speaking) But you are not willing to come to Me that you may have life. —John 5:40
We began this article with the question of God’s command to execute those who conduct themselves in adultery, fornication, and sodomy.
Many critics of the Bible, and those who push the agenda of the LGBT lifestyle, state that the Bible does not condemn their choices. The basis for this assertion is the fact that in order to condemn the homosexual or lesbian for sexual sins, a society would have to also condemn the adulterer and fornicator.
This is an incorrect assumption.
God commanded the people of Israel to put to death those who practice these sins, but this law was not applicable to those outside the descendants of Abraham.
Today, God’s command is universal for all people: All sin is equal before God. The liar, the thief, the adulterer, fornicator, homosexual, and lesbian, are all commanded to repent of their sins and turn to Jesus for the forgiveness of sins. The liar is on equal footing with the homosexual under God’s command. All people, for all time, must repent; turn from their sins, and turn to Jesus as their Savior—if they will be saved. If any person refuses to obey God’s command, they will be lost forever.
Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived. Neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor homosexuals, nor sodomites, 10 nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners will inherit the kingdom of God. —Corinthians 6:9
The New Covenant that God has made with all people today, requires turning from all sin and a turning to Jesus as Savior. No person today will ever be perfect in their attempt at keeping the laws of God. This is why we need Jesus and the great sacrifice He has made for us. We cannot cease from sin, but we must cease from endorsing sin in our lives—now that we have come to a knowledge of the truth.
You may not have understood what God requires before today, but upon reading this article, and having seen with your own eyes what God had said; you are responsible for your actions from this point forward.
After we are saved by Jesus, and attempt to keep the laws of God, and fail, we now have an advocate who has kept what we could not. Jesus has lived a perfect life as a man, and has offered His life, in exchange for ours. Because He is God, who took the body of a man and became one of us, He was qualified to die for us. Because His life was perfect and without sin, He was qualified to be our perfect substitute. Because His life as God—offered up for us—is eternal, it is of sufficient value to pay for the sins of every person, for all time.
In the early part of the Old Testament, from the book of Leviticus, God was seeking to separate for Himself; a group of people who were unlike the pagan nations of the world. He wanted to call people into a new relationship with Himself that was based on personal holiness. The people who would agree to this covenant, would remove from their lives, all the pagan practices of the nations who were around them. Many of the sins that are listed in the book of Leviticus, were a rampart part of the Canaanites who lived in close proximity to Israel. These individuals offered up their newborn babies to the searing hot arms of their cast iron god, Molech. They conducted themselves promiscuously with each other, giving no sanctity to the family or the relationship between a man and a woman. In essence, everything was permissible. As a result, their culture was in chaos. People did whatever was right in their own eyes, and human carnage resulted from their careless actions.
God warned the Canaanites for almost one thousand years, to repent and turn to Him. They refused, and were finally destroyed.
See the article: Reconciling the Love of God and the Wrath of God
See how God’s command to repent was obeyed by the people of Nineveh, and He spared the entire nation: Jonah’s Prophecy
When God called the nation of Israel into being, He did so with the goal of displaying to the world, the fact that people could live a new way. By following the laws of God and by having a relationship with Him, they could enjoy an existence of immense happiness and peace. The pagan nations of the world had no such peace. They lived in constant terror and evil.
As God institutes the laws of Leviticus chapter 20, He calls His people to live a life that is totally the opposite of those in other places around the world. Holiness begins with the way that we use our bodies. It continues with the way we treat our husband, wife, children, parents, and neighbors. We love, honor, respect, and care for each other. We do not use our bodies for personal selfishness, but to honor God, who made us for Himself.
The laws of Leviticus are shocking to us today. No court in the United States, nor those of many other nations, would condemn a person to death who had committed the acts of adultery, fornication, or homosexuality. These are considered normal behavior in the lives of human beings. Why then does God condemn these actions?
We must understand that in the beginning, God created man—perfect. From the beginning, He made us male and female and these two beings were intended as counterparts of each other. Man and woman were made in the image and likeness of God. They were fashioned to display the love, grace, and kindness of God. Mankind was made as a reflection of who God is and what His nature is like.
When man changes anything from the original purpose for which God intended, this becomes a perversion of His creation.
Imagine that you conceive, design, engineer, and create a particular thing of beauty. You intend that this work of yours should be used for the purpose for which you intended. In large part, what you have created, is an extension of you—an expression of who you are as a person.
Imagine that people would take what you have created and use it for an end that you never intended. They would use your creation for evil and to fulfill the lusts of their own desires. They have not considered you or the purpose that you intended for your creation. By the perversion of something you love, and have made for good, people have transformed your work into an instrument that diminishes and tarnishes your creation. In effect, it diminishes and tarnished you.
Today, we have international copyright laws that prohibit a person from taking something that was made by another and using it in a form that is not what the creator of that product intended. They take someone else’s work and use it for their own purposes and attach their name to it. The creator of this work has the right to file suit in a court of law and recover their work and stop the wrongful use of their creation.
Does not God, also have the right to make male and female and intend that they use the functions of their bodies, in a manner that is clear and obvious? Those who change the normal function of a man and woman and join together, same sexes, make a perversion of God’s intention for human life. This behavior diminished the value of human life and makes us nothing more than animals.
There has been a gradual decline in the value of human life over the past 50 years. Since abortion on demand became legal in 1973, by a decision of the Supreme Court, the United States has also become progressively more tolerant of the gay lifestyle. Parents stopped taking their children to churches where the Bible was taught. Pastors failed to teach what the Bible says. After two generations, we have a society that no longer views same sex couples as sinful. As hollywood and television stations have gradually placed movies and programs with gay couples in front of the nation, each generation has become more tolerant of the LGBT lifestyle. God has not changed, we have changed. God has not adapted to human sin, He stands against it today as fervently as He did when He allowed His Son to die for it. If God should accept sodomy and lesbianism today as acceptable lifestyles, then He must go back and apologize to all those who He formerly condemned in all the pagan nations of the world and in every society—who are now lost forever for their sins.
God is serious regarding the correct use of the human body. He created us to bring glory to Him, by the way that we live our lives. For this reason, He commands all people—everywhere, to not permit two men or two women to engage in a sexual relationship with each other.
We are not homophobic, or intolerant of people when we restate what God has already said, concerning His creation. We are simply reinforcing the precious nature of God’s creation of man and woman, for the specific purposes that He made us for. All people know that the LGBT lifestyle is a perversion of the self-evident purpose of the human body. Instead of taking a stand for what is righteous and true, people are afraid of being politically incorrect and viewed as a bigot. We should be more concerned about what God thinks, than what men and women think.
We should refrain from adultery, fornication, sex between two men or two women, or with an animal; for these principles are understood as important for the preservation of human society, and the quality of life that God has intended for all people. If we fail to stand against this current moral slide into depravity, the United States, and every nation which continues to allows sexual perversion to continue, will no longer be able to live in a free and righteous society.
God told Moses to write the words to Leviticus, chapter 20, for the sake a new nation that He was calling into existence. He did not say these things to deprive us of life, but to enhance our lives and maintain human life as unique and infinitely important. God understands that when we pervert what He has made, we are the first to suffer. We see evidence of this suffering, all over the world as human life is no longer precious and unique. We kill the unborn for the sake of convenience, and make ourselves like the animals of this world by engaging in sexual behavior—unsuitable for human beings.
Leviticus 20:7-16 7 Consecrate yourselves therefore, and be holy, for I am the LORD your God. 8 And you shall keep My statutes, and perform them: I am the LORD who sanctifies you. 9 “For everyone who curses his father or his mother shall surely be put to death. He has cursed his father or his mother. His blood shall be upon him. 10 “The man who commits adultery with another man’s wife, he who commits adultery with his neighbor’s wife, the adulterer and the adulteress, shall surely be put to death. 11 The man who lies with his father’s wife has uncovered his father’s nakedness; both of them shall surely be put to death. Their blood shall be upon them. 12 If a man lies with his daughter-in-law, both of them shall surely be put to death. They have committed perversion. Their blood shall be upon them. 13 If a man lies with a male as he lies with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination. They shall surely be put to death. Their blood shall be upon them. 14 If a man marries a woman and her mother, it is wickedness. They shall be burned with fire, both he and they, that there may be no wickedness among you. 15 If a man mates with an animal, he shall surely be put to death, and you shall kill the animal. 16 If a woman approaches any animal and mates with it, you shall kill the woman and the animal. They shall surely be put to death. Their blood is upon them.
These points are important in discussions regarding our reaction to those who may practice some of the things that are condemned in Leviticus chapter 20.
You shall not lie with a male as with a woman. It is an abomination. —Leviticus 18:22
The view of the gay community is that their choices are based upon an orientation that is not under the control of the individual, therefore the condemnation of these persons for things which they have no choice, is unjust.
According to God, who made all persons, this is not true. God made us male and female and it is because of personal choices that we determine how we will live, not because we are simply acting upon an instinct that is within us. God made us male and female and He did not make a mistake. Every day of human existence, people make choices of restraint to not act upon their desires, knowing that to do so would be wrong. Sexual sin is on equal footing with all other sins, they are choices. When Christians speak out against these actions, we are thinking of what God has said, not what we might personally feel as a person.
I personally love sinners. I love fornicators, adulterers, liars, homosexuals, and lesbians. I am no better than they are; I am simply better off. I have taken all of my filthy sins, which are just as bad as any other person, and have carried them to Jesus. He promised to remove them, based upon the death that He has died for me and all people. I believe what He said, and therefore—according to His word, I am saved. Not because I am better than any other sinner, but because I obeyed the commandment of God and did what He said.
God created us with a purpose. That purpose is evident by the way that He has made us. Male and Female, each with their own form and function, made for each other. It is self-evident that men were not created for men, nor women for women. We all know that this is true, and we understand why God has commanded these things. We all see what our allowance of the gay lifestyle in society has done to the fabric of human life.
It is time for all men and women to repent of our sins and come to Jesus, from where salvation originates.