Leviticus 18: A Text Dripping with Blood

Preston Sprinkle —  September 4, 2013 — 3 Comments
This entry is part 5 of 20 in the seriesHomosexuality in the Bible

Most heterosexual Christians I know exhibit a massive misunderstanding of homosexuality. I would put myself in this category. That’s why I’ve started an in-depth study of the issue, including conversations with LGBT

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www.dailywordofgodgroup.com

Christians. I still have a long way to go and I’m excited about the journey. But it doesn’t take long before you realize: We Evangelicals have so much to learn.

For instance, I often hear Christians use the term “homosexual” or “gay” without a specific definition in mind. Do we mean people with same sex attraction? Or people who are in a sexual relationship with someone of the same gender? Or someone who experiences some level of same sex attraction, but still possess more attraction to people of the opposite sex? Or what about people attracted to the same sex but remain celibate because they don’t believe the Bible allows them to act on their desires? Do you think of them when you use the term “gay?”

Or what about people who pursue a relationship with someone of the same sex but not because they are sexually attracted to them? For instance, when Maddie was 9 years old, her dad chained her to a toilet in the basement for three months, giving her scraps of food to keep her alive. After he released her, he raped her repeatedly for the next four years. Now, Maddie chooses only to pursue relationships with other women. “I’m not attracted to girls, but no man will ever touch me ever again,” says Maddie (see Marin, Love Is an Orientation, 41).

Is Maddie a lesbian? Does she have a “gay agenda?”

And that’s another often-misused term: agenda. As if everyone who is attracted to the same sex is on a soapbox trumpeting an agenda. Are some gay people pushing an agenda? Sure. But we heterosexuals, who still hold to a traditional view of Scripture (that it prohibits same-sex

www.theage.com.au

www.theage.com.au

intercourse), would do well to dig deep and understand the complicated and often painful reasons for that agenda. (And, it should go without saying, that many LGBT people don’t have an agenda.)

As I’ve read and listened to stories about people growing up with same-sex attraction and being abused and hated and unloved by the church, I cannot help but think that we’ve missed something. We’ve missed our divine mission of mediating the love of Christ to a broken world. Much of the “gay agenda” that does exist is a backlash to hateful oppression by Christians.

Other aspects of the LGBT community are misunderstood by conservative Christians. Too many to list, actually. One is that every person who ends up gay got that way because of certain societal influences. Their dad was absent. Their mom was domineering. Their sisters dressed them up in pink as a child. Or, of course, they must have been sexually abused.

Although societal influences often play a role, most experts believe—and most LGBT Christians would affirm—that both biological and societal influences play a role in one’s sexual orientation. Think about it: Many heterosexual people had an absentee dad, a domineering mom, creative sisters who donned them with dresses, and who were sexually abused yet are not attracted to the same sex.

Justin Lee, for instance, is a gay Christian and the leader of The Gay Christian Network. In his book Torn, he says that his upbringing defies the stereotype. His dad was affectionate and spent tons of time with him. His mom was not domineering. He wasn’t abused. His sisters didn’t make him wear panties as a kid. In fact, he grew up in a conservative, Southern Baptist, Bible believing, healthy Christian environment and to this day he remains committed to the inerrant text of Scripture, believing in its authority, celebrating the Lordship of Jesus over all areas of life, and has spent hundreds of hours praying that God would make him attracted to girls. But he’s not. Justin is gay. He never chose to be this way and he remains committed to following Jesus while being attracted to dudes.

So what does all this have to do with Leviticus 18?

Leviticus 18:22, along with Romans 1:25-27 and 1 Corinthians 6:9 (the three main passages about homosexuality), have been used to slap, kick, abuse, curse, and stab many—if not most—gay people today. It’s a text dripping with blood. It’s a text associated with hate, not love; abuse, not embrace; ignorance, not understanding. I still believe that these texts need to be studied and believed (in that order). They are God’s words not mine. But they need to be studied with a sober awareness of how they

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www.pwned.com

have been wielded to slaughter people made in the image of God who grew up with SSA (same sex attraction).

A Christian friend of mine, who has struggled with SSA, encouraged me to be sensitive to the long, dark, blood-stained history of these texts before I venture to exegete them—hence, this blog. After all, we are not just studying a text, but trying to love real people with real pain. People like Maddie.

With that in mind, in the next post I’m going to try to interpret Leviticus 18:22 and 20:13 by responding to the 5 arguments I gave in my last post. I apologize ahead of time if these next blogs come off as wooden, cold, or academic. If anything, they should be read alongside this blog to capture the full heart of what I’m striving for.

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Preston Sprinkle

Preston Sprinkle

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I'm married to a beautiful wife and we have four kids (3 girls and a boy). I've been teaching college level Bible and Theology classes for a few years now (since 2007), and enjoy hanging out with my family, running, surfing, and life in SoCal. Before I became a teacher, I was in school. Lots and lots of school. I did a B.A. and M.Div here in SoCal, and then did a Ph.D. in Scotland in NT studies. Before coming to EBC, I taught at Nottingham University for a semester, and Cedarville University for a couple of years. Along with surfing, I also love to research and write, and I've written a few things on Paul, Early Judaism, and Hell.
  • Danielle A.

    Thanks for starting this dialog (I know I’m a little late in the game!), I do however have a question regarding the term/label “Gay Christian”. How do you feel personally about using that terminology as a title of a person or persons?

    To be clear I am speaking about those who believe that gay = sinful.

    I have always been kind of perplexed by this term honestly. As a Christian, is it even really necessary to preface our faith with our sexual orientation (or with any lifestyle, really) ? I have heard arguments for both sides and honestly, other than the gay community, do we hear other people groups classify themselves with a lifestyle prefacing their belief in Christ? The best answer I received was from a person who formerly lived a gay lifestyle and has since changed his life due to receiving Christ. He told me that he does not believe in the term “gay Christian” bc as a former captive to homosexual desires, he feels that by labeling himself as such, would be glorifying the sin in a sense. God has redeemed him, therefore as a new creation in Christ, he is now dead to his sin, why carry the title?

    Would love to hear your thoughts, like you, I am very open to hearing all sides of this discussion topic.

    Thanks again!

    • Preston

      Ya, I’m fine with it. “Gay” simply means that a guy is attracted to guys. It doesn’t mean they are acting on that attraction. Even if someone is gay and struggles with it (i.e. they act on it from time to time), this is no different from a heterosexual person acting on their desires from time to time.

      So, if a person can struggle with greed, heterosexual lust, etc. and still be a Christian, then I’d say someone could be gay and be a Christian.

      I guess one problem I have with the “gay” Christian is the same I’d have with “American” Christian, or “Baptist” Christian. I don’t love to see other identities take the place of our supreme identity in Christ.

      • Danielle A.

        I couldn’t agree more with your last sentence. But, I don’t
        necessarily see “gay christian” as the same or even comparable to
        specifying certain denominations or cultures prefacing a person’s faith in Christ. I suppose that’s because I see one as a stronghold and the other as not. If we agree that homosexuality is sinful in the sight of God then wouldn’t the term “gay” be just that (a stronghold, or bondage)?
        Maybe, I am not quite certain on where you stand with the whole “being both gay and a Christian”? Perhaps I will just wait to read your book 🙂 In my opinion someone can totally be struggling with same sex desires, lusts, etc just as any other struggle/temptation/stronghold that any human can be born into or struggle with in life, and not have to be identified as “gay” or “homosexual”. We all have our thorns, right? I think if we had to be identified by our specific sins, we would in essence, be slaves to our sins. Christ calls us to “go and sin no more” (John 8:11). Paul tells us that when we are actively in our sin, we are dead in them. (paraphrasing Eph. 2:1) —
        (Also, side note, please forgive me for messing up my words in my
        previous comment – I meant to say he is now alive, where before he was dead in his sin) The very message of the gospel is that we have been redeemed, forgiven, and made new by the grace of our savior, Jesus Christ. In saying that, Christ exemplified to us that we are not judges and condemners ourselves, only God is the final judge, we therefore, as his followers are called to speak and display his truth and abide in his word. Daily we sin, but daily we repent and ask to be changed and made new. And through him we have power to break away from/overcome our strongholds and obtain freedom here on earth.

        I guess to me, by a Christian calling themselves “gay”, I see them as still clinging to their old selves and therefore not claiming their new
        [reborn] self in Christ. If that makes sense?
        In conclusion, I hope that by reading this you do not think I am being
        judgmental or too critical of those who are struggle with same sex
        attraction. I have a heart for this topic for sure and my desire if
        anything is to share the freedom that we have in Christ with people, we no longer have to live as slaves to sin. Sin is sin, it comes in so
        many different forms, and we all have to face it in this world
        regardless of who we are. My sin is no different from yours, right? But if we truly believe that Christ overcame the world (John 16:33), we can totally believe that he is capable to give us the power to overcome our sins, bypass our everyday distractions, and be free to focus fully on Him. (And yes, I know that this is all much easier said than done, I am not in any way downplaying the struggle and temptation of sin). If anything, I just want to be clear of who Jesus is and the power that He has, and has given to us by His Spirit! That truth cannot be overlooked.

        Thank you for responding to me. And if you read this, thank you for reading.
        Danielle