Subject: Leviticus 18.22; 20.13
It's another month, and OPERATION: REBIRTH is still making
progress. This Bible Study alone is helping so many people;
it's hard to keep up with the "thank you" emails we get. We
thank God for the opportunity to invest into the lives of
people all over the world. It's not a responsibility we take
lightly. We consider it a blessing, not a burden to do the
work that we have been able to do. We also look forward to
continuing the work of speaking life, healing and truth.
This month we will be dealing with two of the most quoted
scriptures people use in their stance against the same-gender
loving community. Leviticus 18.22 says "Thou shalt not
lie with mankind, as with womankind: it is abomination."
And Leviticus 20.13 says "If a man also lie with mankind,
as he lieth with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination:
they shall surely be put to death; their blood shall be upon
them." On the surface, it's a closed case. With a literalist
interpretation of this scripture, the act of same-gender sex
is wrong, and in the eyes of God is punishable by death. We
will delve deeper into this issue and "take a closer look"
at this scripture. Hopefully, those who read will be enlightened
and liberated from church imposed guilt and shame. So, let's
When looking at the "Levitical Holiness Code", we must understand
that it was a code of conduct that was part of a covenant
that required the children of Israel to not participate in
the religious rituals of the Canaanites once they entered
the land God promised to them. They were to remain separate
in every way. They were not to eat with the Canaanites, intermarry,
worship with/or like them. They were to remain "holy" or set
apart. In obeying this covenant, they would prove themselves
to be God's chosen people. They would be instantly identifiable
as the people of covenant. This same code also prohibits the
eating of certain foods, wearing certain types of clothes,
and also discriminates against people with disabilities as
it relates to worship and the priesthood.
We must also remember that it was always in the forefront
of the minds of the people of Israel the covenant made with
their patriarch Abraham. God promised Abraham that he would
make of him a mighty nation. A nation whose number would be
like that of the stars in the sky or the sand of the sea.
He would be the Father of many people….a great nation (Genesis
17.5). So when making laws, or instituting a code of conduct
that would govern their actions they had to keep in mind that
God's covenant with the father of their faith was to make
them a great nation. They could not participate in anything
they thought would hinder or keep them from fulfilling that
In taking a closer look at these two verses, we will look
at the transliteration from Hebrew to English. In taking each
character of Hebrew into English, Leviticus 18.22 looks like
"V'et zachar lo tishkav mishk'vei ishah to'evah hu"…when
translated into English reads "And with a male thou shalt
not lie down in beds of a woman; it is an abomination."
Leviticus 20.13 looks likes this…
"V'ish asher yishkav et zachar mishk'vei ishah to'evah
asu shneihem mot yumatu d'meihem bam" when translated
into English reads "And a man who will lie down with a
male in beds of a woman, both of them have made an abomination;
dying they will die. Their blood is on them."
We are going to look at the words "mishk'vei" and "to'evah"
and it will give us a better understanding of what these verses
are trying to say. First, the word "mishk'vei" is a noun.
The main form of it is "mishkav, and the root letters of the
noun, sh-k-v are the same letters of the verb root in the
verse (lie down). Mishk'vei is in the plural construct state,
meaning "beds of", and the noun "ishah" means woman. To'evah
is translated "abomination" in English. Yet the definition
is key to the interpretation of the verse. Most define this
word as "disgusting" or "detestable". Others simply define
it as "improper" or "unclean", as if to say "good Jews just
don't do that".
With what we know now, the verse says a man cannot, or should
not lie down with a man in the bed of a woman. During this
time period, a woman was considered property. And since women
were considered unclean during certain times of month, they
had beds of their own. Other than the woman herself, nobody
was permitted to sleep in her bed but her husband. Husbands
often didn't sleep in the same bed with their wives unless
they were there for the express purpose of having sex with
them. And there were rules which said when he could do that.
So this verse is more about WHERE same-gender sex could occur,
and not about the sex itself.
Now just why would the author even bring this up? Well, the
Canaanites' religious rituals or worship included sex acts.
They worshipped fertility gods who were thought to bring blessings
on their crops, livestock, children, etc. During these rituals,
everyone participated. Even relatives would have sex with
one another. They would also burn babies as sacrifice at the
altars built to these fertility gods. And since incest, human
sacrifice, and having sex anywhere was part of the worship,
the Israelites were not permitted to perform these acts if
they were going to be different and separated unto a Holy
The sex acts were prohibited because of religious reasons,
more specifically idol worship. This law was not a blanket
prohibition of sexuality. The entire code was meant to keep
Israel from engaging in the religious practices of the Canaanite
people. The argument here is religious, not moral or ethical.
If the Jews of this time period were to maintain a strong
identity, and build a large nation, they could not be like
the people around them in any way or form….including their