Leviticus 17&18: Immorality

In these chapters God discusses the things He considers immoral. Leviticus 17 is another discussion concerning offerings; Leviticus 18 continues discussing things God does not approve focusing on sexuality and what people consider today to be sexual orientation.

Introduction

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Leviticus 17 is another discussion concerning offerings; this time God specifies His opinion on offerings that are not brought to the tabernacle (which as you can guess, is something God does not approve of). Leviticus 18 continues discussing things God does not approve focusing on sexuality and what people consider today to be sexual orientation.
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Offerings at the Tabernacle

God warns the Israelites about sacrificing to other gods as opposed to bringing their sacrifices to Him at the tabernacle; anyone who committed this heinous act and violation of the 1st commandment was to be cut off from the people. Strangers passing through were also subject to this command, which meant people were not allowed to worship idols within the borders of Israel regardless of descent. Following the common theme or metaphor of God's followers being His bride, God refers to idol worship as "whoring." It is also suggested that this passage is speaking of one who killed an animal but did not bring it as an offering (neither to God nor to idols).[1] Killing an animal—a creation from God, a life God owns—without offering that blood spilled from that life to God seems both greedy and brazen. While I didn't read the passage this way at first, I can see how someone would interpret it that way.

God reminds the Israelites not to eat the blood of any animal (or man, for that matter). Being the life force of all living creatures, the blood belongs to God and is not to be consumed (this law is reiterated in Acts 15 for New Testament believers). Anyone who ate blood was also cut off from Israel.

Note, for those who read teen fantasy novels (or watch the subsequent shows), this means that even though vampires have been romanticized into a dichotomy that describes "good" vampires who use alternative blood sources such as animal blood or blood bags from hospitals, they are still in violation of God's command to abstain from all blood and squarely places them in not-of-God territory. Also, while I'm on the topic of vampires, if vampires were real, I believe the process of becoming a vampire would have to follow that of the Vampire Diaries mythology, in that to complete the transition one has to make the decision to drink the blood. I do not think it would be something you could catch (like in Ultraviolet), have forced upon you (like in The Twilight Saga), or be born with (like in Vampire Academy). Yes, Fantasy happens to be one of my favorite genres, unfortunately the more you study the Word, the more unGodly you realize many of these fantasy worlds happen to be, but I digress, back to the topic at hand.
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Immoral Acts

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The immoral acts listed in Leviticus 18 are almost all related to sex. The first thing God bans is incest, through the generalization of "near kin" followed by examples. Also listed as immoral acts are homosexuality and bestiality. Most people agree that incest is wrong, though the degree to which people consider something may differ. The same can be said a bestiality, but many contest whether homosexuality is immoral or not. Some churches welcome homosexuality with open arms, while others stand on the fence or condemn it. I discuss the issue in more detail in the post "Homosexuality in the Bible." God also condemns child sacrifices near the end of Leviticus 18.

God warns the Israelites that if they defile themselves with these acts, they also defile the land and the land will spit out its inhabitants. This implies that sin will cause the land to behave in such a way humans couldn't survive. Whether God intended this to mean famines or plagues or something entirely different is an unanswered question.
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Incest

Incest is an interesting topic because depending on who you talk to, the definition of "close kin" will change. God gives example, most of which everyone will agree upon (such as a parent), but something such as a first cousin is something up for debate. For instance, I grew up with the grandson of my grandmother's niece; I consider him my cousin, see him the same way I see my aunts'/uncles' children, and consider that "close kin." On the other hand, I had friends whose grandmothers were sisters and they didn't consider themselves related. You see this get even more complicated when you start adding in step-siblings, step-cousins, etc. Close blood relations (siblings and parents), however, have been proven to cause birth defects, many of which can be observed in the Egyptian royal families of Moses' era. Another interesting point of incest, stems from pre-Mosaic law. We know that Adam and Eve's children had to marry each other—there were no other people present. Abraham married his sister, Jacob married sisters, and it's possible incest occurred with Japheth, Ham, and Seth's children (again, there weren't but so many people on the planet). What changed? Well, in Abraham's case, there may have been no wrong doing: God specifies only a half sister of shared paternity, but not a maternal sister (I wouldn't advocate for anyone marrying their half sibling regardless), and we are not told which parent Sarah and Abraham share. We do get confirmation that God recognizes their marriage as legitimate both when Abraham lies to Abimelech, and when he lies to pharaoh. Jacob was tricked into marrying Leah, but we see that many problems arise in the form of jealousy and favoritism. Perhaps God did consider this immoral (after all Jacob wasn't perfect) but breaking the oath of marriage would have been immoral as well. In explanation of allowing Adam and Eve's children to marry each other, some people have suggested that our genes decayed over time as a result of sin preventing us from continuing this type of behavior. I discussed this in Genesis 4 & 5: The Progeny of Adam.
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Bestiality

I don't know why, but I was shocked to find that there are a people who think bestiality is ok—the Google search results for "what's wrong with bestiality" turned up some disturbing results (I was searching for how the abused animal suffers or something to add to this section). I found that today's society defines zoophilia as the term for people that "fall in love" with animals, and some argue that bestiality and zoophilia are not the same thing.[2] There are plenty of stories in the media about people actually having sex with animals which is clearly defined as immoral by God. Those who do not believe in God debate the morality of the issue based upon consent. Godless people differentiate homosexuality and pedophilia based on consent, so it's not surprising that they would debate this issue in the same way. Though, I don't see how anyone can reason that an animal can consent to sex but a 13 year old can't... Further, a pet would be in the same position as a student in a teacher-student relationship. Just because you can do something, does not mean you should. For now, the law agrees with God and considers human-animal sex to be animal abuse.
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Homosexuality

Since this is such a controversial topic, I'll cover it in a post of its own (it became too long to be a sub-section).
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References

  1. Thomas Nelson Publishers. KJV Study Bible. pg. 1998
  2. Silverberg, Cory. "What's the Difference Between Bestiality and Zoophilia?". About.com

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Author Image Author Image I love reading the Word of God. With prayer God's Word reveals so much: from comfort to temperance, from perspective to affirmation. Digging into the depths of the Word, cross-referencing history, language and time differences, is a passion of mine. In March of 2015 I decided to go back through the Bible doing an in depth study on each section I read. Eventually I decided to share my journal of notes as I partake in this journey. I hope you are blessed by God and inspired to pursue a deeper relationship with Him. I love reading and learning about God, nature, and science. I am interested in how it all connects. The Creator's fingerprints are all over his creation. We can learn so much about Him and how we came to be by exploring the world around us. Join me as I explore the world and draw closer to the One who created it all.
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