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By Elaine 

Author "Calling the Rainbow Nation Home"


The Levitical Law

(Leviticus 18:22 & Leviticus 20:13)

Leviticus 18:21 (NIV)

“Do not lie with a man as one lies with a woman; that is detestable.”

Leviticus 20:13 (NIV)
"If a man lies with a man as one lies with a woman, both of them have done what is detestable. They must be put to death; their blood will be on their own heads."

The “holiness code” is laid out for us throughout the Book of Leviticus and parts of Deuteronomy. The Israelites were to follow these laws until the Messiah came and a new covenant was created. This of course happened with the arrival of Christ who established a new covenant, which was founded upon “better promises” (Hebrews 8:6). This new covenant did not rely on a lengthy list of do’s and don’ts but focused instead on the heart of God’s will for us. That being the great commandment of Love in which we are to love God first and foremost and love our neighbor as we love our self (Matthew 22:37-40; Galatians 5:14; John 13:34; Romans 13:10).

The problem we have here is that some have called for these Levitical Laws to be enforced upon the homosexual community. I’ve even seen people from time to time call for homosexuals to be stoned to death based on Leviticus 20:13! Luckily such folks only represent a small fringe element within the church. Even so, many good intentioned folks still use these passages today in an effort to demonstrate that homosexuality is a sin.

This is very dangerous for a variety of reasons, the most obvious one being that Paul warned us repeatedly that our salvation can only be achieved through Jesus Christ and nothing else. Any attempt on our part to gain our salvation or purify our lives by following a Levitical list of do’s and don’ts is doomed to fail. Worse yet, if we attempt to follow such a list of rules we are denying the very work that Christ did for us on the cross (Galatians 2:21-3:11; 5:1-6)!

This isn’t a new problem. The early Christian Church didn’t want to let go of their Laws and were especially keen to enforce them on the Gentiles who they considered an abomination (boy this sounds familiar!). Paul fought long and hard against such ideas and pointed out again and again that if any one of us tries to follow the Law or enforce the Law upon others. God will hold us accountable for following each and every one of the Laws – no exceptions (Galatians 5:1-6)! This means of course if we want to enforce Levitical Laws on someone else God will require us (not them!) to uphold ALL the Levitical Laws! This would be no easy task!

These laws require that you can’t go anywhere on the Sabbath so that would rule out going to church, shopping at the mall or going to a ball game. If your kids cursed or disobeyed you, you would be under obligation to put them to death. Same penalty for those who read their horoscopes – yep – death. Know of anybody who had committed adultery? You’ve got it! Death. 

While such harsh punishments should reduce our overpopulation problems and traffic jams on the way to work. I’m not sure this is what God has in mind for us today! At least its a little easier for those of us in our menstrual period. Instead of death we would only be sent out beyond the city limits to wait out our "humiliation". Jewelry, beauty parlors (i.e. hair styles) or tattoos – forget it! No pork or shellfish and touching anything “unclean” is out. At least that one sounds ok – I don’t like unclean things. Of course the rub in this case is that anything with a cloven hoof is considered “unclean” so that means pigskin and the like is out! No bacon in the morning, leather purses, wallets, jackets and the like are out. Footballs and basketballs would have to convert over to synthetics or those sports would be out as well.

Divorces would get pretty interesting too. You see, men were permitted to ‘put away’ their wives just about anytime they wanted to. Not to mention they were allowed to have as many wives as they wanted! Women, on the other hand, were forbidden to initiate the divorce and would be stoned to death if they were caught cheating. I could go on and on, but why - especially since these Laws are no longer applicable to us today?

Philippians 3:9-10 (NIV)
“… not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ-the righteousness that comes from God and is by faith.”

Galatians 2:15-16 (NIV)
“ know that a man is not justified by observing the law, but by faith in Jesus Christ. So we, too, have put our faith in Christ Jesus that we may be justified by faith in Christ and not by observing the law, because by observing the law no one will be justified.”

Still I come from the school of thought that every single bit of Scripture is important and nothing should be discarded (2 Timothy 3:16). What this means to me is that while we are no longer under the Levitical law today, I still believe the principles we can learn from them are as valid now as they were to the Israelites thousands of years ago. Such principles as:

  1. Holiness                                                                                                             The Levitical Laws ordered the Israelites to have no other gods and to stay away from the shrine prostitutes, which many believe is the subject of these passages in Leviticus. Likewise the great commandment of love calls upon us to put God first in our lives.

  2. Respect                                                                                                              The Levitical Law directed the Israelites to treat others with respect and honor. That included providing food and shelter for strangers traveling through their land.

  3. Family                                                                                                              Many of the Levitical Laws stressed the importance of family and procreation, which was essential for the continuation of the Israelite nation. Now we become members of the family of Christ not through a natural birth but through a spiritual re-birth. However the need to cherish our ‘spiritual’ and physical family is as important now as it was then.

  4. Health                                                                                                                The Levitical Laws stressed personnel hygiene, proper eating habits and the need to stay away from temple prostitutes and never having sex outside of marriage.

While all of these points are as valid as they were thousands of years ago when the Levitical Laws were written, Jesus Himself stated that these principles are embodied in and completely fulfilled when we carry out the great commandment to love (Matthew 22:37-40). For when we act in love toward one another, we won’t treat others (or ourselves!) with disrespect or do them harm. We will cherish our families – both our physical and our spiritual family members (fellow Christians). And we will love our Lord “God with all (our) heart and with all (our) soul and with all (our) mind.” For “this is the first and greatest commandment” (Matthew 22:37-40) and upon “these two commandments depend the whole Law and the Prophets." (Matthew 22:40 NAS)

Note: For a more amusing look at the Levitical Law this gem was posted on the bulletin board awhile back...


Laura Schlessinger is a US radio personality who dispenses advice to people who call in to her radio show. Recently, she said that homosexuality is an abomination according to Leviticus 18:22 and cannot be condoned under any circumstances. The following is an open letter to Dr. Laura penned by a US resident:

Dear Dr. Laura,

Thank you for doing so much to educate people regarding God's Law. I have learned a great deal from your show and I try to share that knowledge with as many people as I can. When someone tries to defend the homosexual lifestyle, for example, I simply remind him or her that Leviticus 18:22 clearly states it to be an abomination. End of debate. I do need some advice from you however, regarding some of the specific laws and how to follow them.

(a) When I burn a bull on the altar as a sacrifice, I know it creates a pleasing odor for the Lord (Lev. 1:9). The problem is my neighbors. They claim the odor is not pleasing to them. Should I smite them?

(b) I would like to sell my daughter into slavery, as sanctioned in Exodus 21:7. In this day and age, what do you think would be a fair price for her?

(c) I know that I am allowed no contact with a woman while she is in her period of menstrual uncleanliness (Lev. 15:19-24). The problem is, how do I tell? I have tried asking, but most women take offence.

(d) Lev. 25:44 states that I may indeed possess slaves, both male and female, provided they are purchased from neighboring nations. A friend of mine claims that this applies to Mexicans, but not Canadians. Can you clarify? Why can't I own Canadians?

(e) I have a neighbor who insists on working on Sunday (the Sabbath). In the book of Exodus verse 35:2 it clearly states he should be put to death. Am I morally obligated to kill him myself?

(f) A friend of mine feels that even though eating shellfish is an abomination (Lev. 11:10), it is a lesser abomination than homosexuality. I don't know. Can you settle this?

(g) Lev. 21:20 states that I may not approach the altar of God if I have a defect in my sight. I have to admit that I wear reading glasses. Does my vision have to be 20/20, or is there some wiggle room here?

(h) Most of my male friends get their hair trimmed, including the hair around their temples, even though this is expressly forbidden by Lev.19:27. How should they die?

(i) I know from Lev. 11:6-8 that touching the skin of a dead pig makes me unclean, but may I still play football if I wear gloves?

(j) My uncle has a farm. He violates Lev. 19:19 by planting two different crops in the same field, as does his wife by wearing garments made of two different kinds of thread (cotton/polyester blend). He also tends to curse and blaspheme a lot. Is it really necessary that we go to all the trouble of getting the whole town together to stone them? (Lev.24:10-16). Couldn't we just burn them to death at a private family affair like we do with people who sleep with their in-laws? (Lev. 20:14).

I know you have studied these things extensively, so I am confident you can help. Thank you again for reminding us that God's word is eternal and unchanging, and we should do what the bible says.

Your devoted disciple and adoring fan.



For a more in depth look at this subject read "Calling the Rainbow Nation Home"

by Rev. Sundby

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