Neither Coming or Going?
(BCH_Leviticus_18_handout for Printable PDF Handout)
The command of God in Leviticus 18:1-5 had to be very hard to follow. Essentially God was saying do not be like anyone you have known (those in Egypt) and do not be like anyone you will know (those in Canaan). Israel was like the young person who has a poor example in both father and mother. There is no one to imitate.
As image-bearers, it is exceedingly hard to have no one to imitate. They had rules to follow (v. 4), but no example. They had a cloud of smoke and pillar of fire, but no mentor’s footsteps to walk in. There was no Paul to say, “Follow my example as I follow the example of Christ (I Cor 11:1).”
Reflecting on the context of commands can help us in the process of application. We might ask, “When does God speak to children who come to faith in godless homes?” Surprisingly, Leviticus 18 is one place. One thing you will notice is the degree of detail God goes into regarding the perverse practices Israel was to avoid. “Was that really necessary?” When your home is Egypt and Canaan it is.
As you read Leviticus, read the instructions of a Father who has adopted a late teenager who is emerging into independence from a harsh and grotesquely ungodly home. This Father is lovingly thorough, candid, and clear about the consequences.
Reading Leviticus 18 in this light, what do you learn about parenting? What do you learn about ministering within populations deeply marred and ingrained with sin? What do you learn about God’s character?
As you prepare to read Leviticus 19 about God’s holiness, how does the preceding chapter shape your view of God’s holiness? Consider both that God’s holiness is not unaware of the details of our sin (like Jesus’ touch to the lady with the issue of blood, God’s presence cleanses unholiness), and that God’s holiness stands in bold contrast to our sin.
All on the Same List (18:20-23)
Adultery, child sacrifice, homosexuality, and beastiality are all on the same list. That is important for the modern church to remember. The modern church is full of adulterers (and not just of the spiritual variety; see James 4), but, at least in conservative circles condemns the other three. What are we to make of this?
First, we might ask ourselves if we treat homosexuals and adulterers the same. Undoubtedly there are differences based upon the lifestyle variable more frequently associated with homosexuality, but do we diminish the “lifestyle” that comes with breaking up one (or two) family units, visitation schedules, and financial arrangements simply because “I fell out of love with one person and in love with another person.” Do we accept explanations for heterosexual sin that we would not accept for homosexual sin?
Second, we might also ask where are the homosexual recovery classes in our churches to coincide with the divorce recovery classes. Both are needed. As our culture becomes more “sexually diverse” and more lives are effected by this sexual brokenness the church will need to minister to those who seek help after a homosexual lifestyle. We must be prepared to give guidance and hope. If your church is interested in preparing for this type of ministry I would recommend the resources found at www.harvestusa.com “Proclaiming Christ as Lord to a Sexually Broken World.”
Vomiting Land (18:25)
As this verse so graphically illustrates, sin is like a stomach virus or spoiled food. That image should give us pause when we consider sinning. Willful sin is worse than licking a doorknob during flu season or drinking the milk your toddler let roll under the car seat.
Reflection: What aspect of the “my sin is safe” lie do you tend to believe? Do you tend to rely on the “I can control it,” “I can hide it,” “I can handle the consequences,” or some other version of the lie? Once you identify the version you believe, share it with a trusted Christian friend. Begin to debunk the lie before your moments of temptation. Don’t wait until the moment of temptation to try to think clearly. That is like trying to decide how much car you can afford after walking on a car lot and shaking the salesman’s hand.