I don’t know how to answer this powerful argument against continuing to condemn homosexuality when we don’t observe the rest of the Old Testament laws. I got this in an email and now I’m just confused. Can you help?
Laura Schlessinger dispenses sex advice to people who call in to her radio show. Recently, she said that as an observant Orthodox Jew homosexuality is to her an abomination according to Leviticus 18:22 and cannot be condoned in any circumstance.
Dear Dr. Laura,
Thank you for doing so much to educate people regarding God’s Law. I have learned a great deal from your radio 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 them 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 Bible 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 bitch to the zoning people. 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. What do you think would be a fair price for her? She’s 18 and starting college. Will the slave buyer be required to continue to pay for her education by law?
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 and threaten to call Human Resources.
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? Is there something wrong with them due to the weather?
e) I have a neighbor who insists on working on the Sabbath. Exodus 35:2 clearly states he should be put to death. Am I morally obligated to kill him myself, or should this be a neighborhood improvement project? What is a good day to start? Should we begin with small stones? Kind of lead up to it?
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 agree. I mean, a shrimp just isn’t the same as a you-know-what. 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? Would contact lenses fall within some exception?
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? The Mafia once took out Albert Anastasia in a barbershop, but I’m not Catholic; is this ecumenical thing a sign that it’s ok?
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. Your devoted disciple and adoring fan.
The “big picture” behind the argument about condemning homosexuality as an archaic, Old Testament rule can be understood by the fact that there are different kinds of laws in the Old Testament. Civil and ceremonial laws, such as those concerning religious sacrifices and penalties for unacceptable societal behaviors, were time-bound and limited to the people of Israel. They are no longer in force for a variety of reasons: first, all the OT sacrifices and ceremonies were given as a foreshadowing of the Messiah’s ministry and of His death, burial and resurrection. They are no longer necessary because they were the preparation for the Reality that has come. Second, the civil laws pertained to a nation of people who no longer exist. (The current nation of Israel is a political one, not the same as the group of OT people God called to follow Him alone as their Ruler.)
Moral laws, such the Ten Commandments and all the laws constraining sexual immorality, are not time-bound because they are rooted in the character of God. Time and culture changes do not affect the importance of not worshiping any false Gods because God is the only true God; of not murdering because every person is made in the image of God; of being honest because God is truth; of not stealing because God wants us to trust HIM to meet our needs instead of taking what we want; of being faithful to one’s spouse because God is faithful. And none of the Old Testament laws concerning sexual morality changed in the New Testament because they, too, are based on the character of God as pure and holy. It is always sinful to have sex with someone you’re not married to, regardless of gender.
The scriptural prohibition against homosexuality is further underscored by what Paul reveals as the purpose of sex in marriage in Ephesians 5: sexual intercourse between husband and wife is an earthly picture of the spiritual union of two very different, very other beings—Christ and His bride, the Church. Sexual coupling of two same-gendered people can never reflect the deep spiritual significance of sex. Instead, it is really about pursuing pleasure, and pleasure is not the primary purpose of sex (despite our culture’s views). But that’s another topic.
This distinction between civil/ceremonial laws and moral laws is seen in just about any family with healthy boundaries. When our sons were small, we had rules about “no TV before homework is done” and “don’t leave your bicycle in the driveway.” Those rules were time-bound, not timeless, because they were appropriate only for their growing-up years. We don’t have those rules anymore because they are both adults, out of the house and in their own homes now. But we still have character-based expectations that they be responsible, honest, respectful, and kind. Those “rules” won’t change because they are a different kind from the training rules they grew up with.
I hope you find this helpful.
P.S. I have seen this purported letter to Dr. Laura before (by someone who obviously thinks himself very clever). I think it’s interesting that Dr. Laura is no longer an orthodox Jew. She is still a God-follower, though. And her views on homosexuality haven’t changed because, for the most part, she has a biblical worldview.
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