As I mentioned in my last blog post, I wanted to write about the book of Leviticus, and what I have learned during my studying. It is very common for certain verses of this book to be used against the LGBTQA+ community, and to be honest for some time I was struggling to make sense of what I knew about Leviticus and my own identity.
To even begin to grasp the true meaning of the book of Leviticus, we must first understand a little about the time in which it was written. What do we know about it? We know that it was written somewhere between 1200, and 1500 B.C. Right before this, the children of Israel had just endured 400 years of captivity in the land of Egypt- and had been delivered out of it by God, via Moses.
After that long period of time, it isn’t hard to imagine that some of their captors culture had trickled into the daily practices that the Israelites observed. This then is why Leviticus was written.
“Because the Israelites had been held captive in Egypt for 400 years, the concept of God had been distorted by the polytheistic, pagan Egyptians. The purpose of Leviticus is to provide instruction and laws to guide a sinful, yet redeemed people in their relationship with a holy God.” (https://www.gotquestions.org/Book-of-Leviticus.html)
What are some of the laws discussed in Leviticus?
Do not consume blood (Leviticus Ch. 17)
Do not have sex with family members (Leviticus 18:6-16)
Do not sacrifice your children to Molek (Leviticus 18:21)
Do not have sex with a man as one does with a woman (Leviticus 18:22)
Do not turn to idols (Leviticus 19:4)
Do not cut your hair at the sides of your head or the edges of your beard (Leviticus19:27)
Do not cut your body for the dead or put tattoos on your body (Leviticus19:28)
Do not use mediums or spiritists (Leviticus19:31)
These are just a few of the laws laid out in the book of Leviticus, but I wanted to spend some time discussing them, and why they were written so specifically. God has a reason for everything. It is clear to see how He wanted the Israelites to separate themselves from the pagan practices of the captors, in order to focus on Him and to begin living as His chosen people.
1. Do not consume blood.
In ancient Egypt, blood was considered to have healing properties. Because of this fact, it was used in medicines, ointments, and other healing properties of the day.
2. Do not have sex with family members.
It was the Egyptians belief that many of their deities wed their siblings. Geb and Nut; Osiris and Isis; She and Tefnit; Seth and Nephthys. This led to the practice being copied by members of the Egyptian ruling class. One such famous example are the parents of King Tutunkhamen. This trait carried on within their family line, the inbreeding leading to a wide range of defects, infections and diseases. While there isn’t much evidence of the lower classes marrying members of their family, sex with siblings was not considered taboo.
3. Do not sacrifice your children to Molek.
Molek, or Moloch, was the name of a sacrifice requiring god of the Egyptians, Phoenicians, and the Canaanites. Another more familiar translation of his name was Ba’al. It was common practice to offer sacrifices to garner favor from him.
4. Do not have sex with a man as one does with a woman.
This is one of the verses that is most often quoted to me, and one that I struggled for years with before I began studying on my own. Here is what I discovered: the homosexuality Leviticus is discussing is the specific form of male prostitution practiced in the religious rights of the ancient Egyptians. NOT the loving and consensual relationship between two same-sex partners, but prostitution in homage to their gods.
5. Do not turn to idols.
The ancient Egyptians practiced idol worship, as a representation of their gods. These depictions were not meant to be literal representations of their deities, but rather used symbolic images to “properly” show each god and their role in nature and the world.
6. Do not cut your hair at the sides of your head or the edges of your beard.
The Egyptians commonly shaved their heads bald as a sign of beauty, but instead of leaving it without hair, preferred to use wigs instead. Their priests were required to be completely free of hair.
7. Do not cut your body for the dead or put tattoos on your body.
These marks and tattoos were used by the Egyptians for several reasons, to mark a profession such as prostitution, or working class, as well as for fertility and therapeutic reasons. They were also used as a way to honor the dead, which is also why they cut themselves as well.
8. Do not use mediums or spiritists.
The ancient Egyptians used magic or mediums as a way to interact with their gods. They would also be consulted for troubled births, deaths, or various other issues in daily life.
So.. after reading all of this, what does it even mean? God desired that His chosen people be as far removed from the practices of their captors. There was a reason for these laws, and there was a time and place in which they needed to be adhered to and followed closely. God doesn’t do anything without a purpose, and we see Him clearly protecting and guiding His children away from pagan beliefs and ensuring they stayed near to Him.
That being said, this old law was established before Jesus came. Upon His arrival, He established the New law and covenant with His people, and His death created a direct path to the Father. We are not bound by the Old Law any longer.
Now knowing this, it is absurd to think that Christian’s need to use this in an argument against the LGBTQA+ community. We were commanded to Love one Another, and instead of judging, ostracizing, or belittling those you do not agree with- maybe we should work on loving them as Jesus does.
Being a member of the LGBTQA+ community does not mean you are going to hell, it is the separation from Jesus and His gift of salvation that condemns you. He does not reject you, He loves everyone.
I just wish the Church would embrace this too.