Updated: Jan 19, 2020
(cheeky, I know)
Torah Portion 'Acharei Mot'
Today, we’re all about incest, homosexuality and beastiality as discussed in Leviticus 18. It’s a hard topic and it’s another one that no doubt will make people feel a little uncomfortable. Last time we were here though we talked about menstruation. It was weird, very weird, but we lived through it and somehow we all grew a little.
Somehow, I actually think that Leviticus, in all its grossness and awesomeness, is a book that really brings people together. You have to overcome some awkward boundaries if you’re going to talk about this stuff right?!
Right. So, let’s get Levitical.
Before we begin though, I need to stress a theological point that’s really important. It’s one that scholars Christians and Jews alike agree on. It’s the fact that Genesis 1 – 3 is the foundation of all things in the Scripture. Not just for the grand story of Messiah overcoming death but for other things including God’s prototype of marriage and sexuality within the Bible. Leviticus 18 is a fitting time to go back to Genesis and look at in the context of sexuality as it informs much of what the Bible has to say in subsequent books.
Let’s start here;
Genesis 1:26–28 (NKJV)
26 Then God said, “Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.” 27 So God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them. 28 Then God blessed them, and God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply; fill the earth and subdue it; have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over every living thing that moves on the earth.”
Genesis 1:26 – 28 presents the high point of the creation, that is, the creation of ‘ha adam’; mankind. Now much has been speculated about the start of verse 27 which states that God created man in ‘His image’, but less is said about the latter half of the verse which says ‘male and female He created them.’
Studying this in the context of sexuality teaches us that the distinction in gender is a creation of God. That’s perhaps a very simple and minor thing to identify, but the implication is great. God created the distinction of gender which verse 28 explicitly connects to sexuality. He said ‘be fruitful and multiply’ when God created us ‘male and female’. Thus God created his perfect standard for gender and sexuality.
God says this whilst mankind is in its perfect state. Gender and sex are part of God’s creation and need not be viewed as some kind of carnal allowance God permitted for us, its part of God’s perfect design.
Now the historical context for these words teaches us a little something about God himself too. In the ancient world, many of the pagan myths contemporary to that of Israel portrayed the creative act itself as sex. So for example, you had god a fornicate with god b and somehow that resulted in the creation of humanity (hence the focus and connection with sexuality and pagan worship). The book of Genesis stresses that sex is not the creative act but a creation of God. It takes sex out of divine realm and places it in the realm of humans. It’s a point worth noting because we can’t then associate God himself as something that participates in the sex act. Whilst God uses the imagery of marriage and intimacy, sex is something created for us and it wasn’t used by God to create. Israelites at the time would have understood the difference and this greatly influenced and contrasted Israelite worship which didn’t include any form of sex (as per the pagan creative act) or any form of cult prostitution.
Whilst we’re talking gender allow me to point out that there are plenty of people out there who, as a matter of interest, hold to this theory that the first ‘adam’ (man) was an androgynous creation; that is, both female and male. Whilst we’re here let me just point out that ‘adam’, which yes means mankind, is often employed as a term to address both genders. Often a law is given to ‘adam’ in the Torah which indicates that it is applicable to all people, not just the men. The scripture also clearly says ‘male and female He created them’ and later, in Genesis 2, Adam is still referred to with the same Hebrew term indicating that he didn’t change genders or anything like that when the woman was created.
Before Eve was created though? Perhaps she was within him and pulled out of him as it says in Scripture. We don’t have to assume that our true form is as some king of androgynous being. We were created with gender.
Genesis 2 gives us further detail of God’s plan for gender and sexuality. It’s widely accepted to not be chronological with Genesis 1 but another account, from a different perspective with different detail, of the same event (widely accepted in Christianity and Judaism and can be debated elsewhere). Genesis 2 begins with Adam, prior to Eve, and one thing God does is have Adam name all the animals.
It says when doing so that ‘for Adam there was not found a helper comparable to him’;
Genesis 2:19–20 (NKJV)
19 Out of the ground the Lord God formed every beast of the field and every bird of the air, and brought them to Adam to see what he would call them. And whatever Adam called each living creature, that was its name. 20 So Adam gave names to all cattle, to the birds of the air, and to every beast of the field. But for Adam there was not found a helper comparable to him.
The need for Adam to have a ‘pair’ is clearly identified. Not only does he have to have a pair, but it has to be compatible to him.
In fact, God identified the need for Adam to have a ‘pair’ in the verse prior to the identification of the animals. Perhaps during this process Adam himself identified his longing and need to have a fitting pair. None were found amongst the animals which by clear implication rules out beastiality;
Genesis 2:18 (NKJV)
18 And the Lord God said, “It is not good that man should be alone; I will make him a helper comparable to him.”
Now whilst we’re on this verse it’s worth nothing that everything is called ‘good’ within God’s creation with the exception of man in an ‘alone’ state. God says this ‘is not good’. What’s worth the note though is the fact that ‘ontology’ in the ancient world was closely connected to something’s function (see Walton for an exhaustive argument for this). The ancients didn’t think science and didn’t really need to know the ‘how’ of creation the way that our culture seems to. They were more interested in the function of creation, why were you created and for what reason. Knowing this is key to understanding what is considered ‘good’ and what is considered ‘not good’ in the Scripture. Good, is when something fulfills its function. It’s when the hammer can hammer; that’s its function, that’s what it was made for. Good for mankind is when it’s procreating; it’s key to its function and fulfillment. Good is not dwelling alone, it’s being together in community and it’s in mankind creating a little bit more of mankind.
We can even compare this to the underlying factors that determine purity and impurity in the book of Leviticus. All things impure, regardless of sin or not, are connected to and united in death. All things good and pure in Leviticus are connected to and united in life. Life is what is good. Gender and sexuality which is good must be connected to life.
Before we get to the creation of Eve let’s back step again and look at the creation of Adam;
Genesis 2:7 (NKJV)
7 And the Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living being.
The last of that verse is really ‘man became a living soul’. It’s important to know that because it eliminates the conceptual barrier that we have created between a man and his soul. It’s not so much that you have living soul; it’s more that you are a living soul. Man is a unity of the physical and the spiritual.
Why I point this out is because it informs the ‘oneness’ that is required in marriage. It is not just a joining of the physical flesh but of the soul itself. For these reasons true unity in sexuality requires a unity of spirit, not just of the body.
Nonetheless Eve is then built out of Adam’s rib;
Genesis 2:21–22 (NKJV)
21 And the Lord God caused a deep sleep to fall on Adam, and he slept; and He took one of his ribs, and closed up the flesh in its place. 22 Then the rib which the Lord God had taken from man He made into a woman, and He brought her to the man.
Much has been said about the ‘rib’ that Eve was ‘built’ from. Peter Lombard famously points out that Eve was not taken from the feet of Adam to be subordinate to him, but from the side to be equal to him. Indeed, I’ll gloss over the hierarchy conversation as it’s not my full purpose today but within God’s creation of gender Peter Lombard is correct; God didn’t create woman to be inferior.
God’s command to humanity to tend and to keep the garden, to take creation under dominion was spoken to both male and female, not just the man. Eve is Adam’s partner in creation. Sure, there’s a division of roles etc. but not subordination as is the popular thought. In fact, whilst we’re on it, the Hebrew term for ‘helper’ is ‘ezer kenegdo’ and it’s actually a term which is used in scripture to describe a military ally coming to the aid of another. It can also be translated as ‘counterpart’; not ‘servant’. The Hebrew paints a very different picture than that of someone made inferior.
Having seen Eve for the first time Adam exclaims;
Genesis 2:23 (NKJV)
23 And Adam said:
“This is now bone of my bones
And flesh of my flesh;
She shall be called Woman,
Because she was taken out of Man.”
So Adam recognizes his counterpart. The opening to his first words ‘zot ha pa’am’, translated as ‘this is’, is actually difficult to render. Having looked at it myself I’m not sure how I would translate it. Scholars seem to agree though that it’s as if Adam was exclaiming ‘Wow! At last…this is bone of my bones…’ etc. It’s the realization that Adam is face to face with his counterpart and his words are the first words of a marriage covenant that we find in scripture.
The next verse validates this in that it says;
Genesis 2:24 (NKJV)
24 Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and they shall become one flesh.
Much can be learnt and inferred from this verse alone. Allow to elaborate and mention a few things I haven’t so far.
Firstly, the idea of ‘one flesh’ is stated as a state of ‘becoming’ between the man and the woman. Together they are ‘one flesh’ and whilst I don’t want to diminish the importance of pro-creation it actually says so without stating that they became one because of the birth of a child. Adam and Eve were one flesh prior to childbirth. For our purpose today we can learn a somewhat wonderful and awkward fact from that. Sexuality, including the sexual act (within marriage), is part of God’s creative order and whilst there’s a clear purpose in it i.e. procreation, it’s considered good and whole in and of itself within the unity of marriage.
Verse 24 and those prior to it are in the singular in the Hebrew. 1 man, marries 1 wife. God’s creation of sexuality and marriage is singular, it is monogamous (as is our relationship with God).
Verse 24 identifies that a man must leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife. Before we even get to Leviticus 18 we can clearly infer then that incest is not part of the created order.
In fact, if you think about it, we’ve just about ruled out all the things prohibited in Leviticus 18 but we’ll still get there. Before we do though we can see how gender, sexuality and marriage were all part of the created order. We can see that it is special, it’s something that God created to be good; we know it’s monogamous, that it’s heterosexual and that ultimately it brings that which is good into the world; it brings life.
Finally, in the climax of the story, Adam and Eve stand before one another;
Genesis 2:25 (NKJV)
25 And they were both naked, the man and his wife, and were not ashamed.
The Hebrew can actually be rendered as;
‘they were not ashamed before one another’
The literary structure of this moment in Genesis 2 stands in exact parallel with the Sabbath earlier described in the Scripture. Remember, what we have here is 2 accounts of creation. The pinnacle of the first is the Sabbath; the pinnacle of the second is the marriage between Adam and Eve. This is no coincidence and what the Bible has done is pair the concept of marriage intimately with the concept of the Sabbath.
We see that God actualizes the Sabbath with His presence and He does likewise by His presence in marriage. By linking these 2 institutions the Bible clearly teaches us that marriage is holy just like the Sabbath. It also teaches us that in marriage we have unity and covenantal devotion with our partner, equivalent to that which is found in God realized and confirmed in the Sabbath.
Thus Sabbath and marriage intersect in a manner that is truly special. It was on the 6th night of creation when Adam was married to Eve, and as the Sabbath is sanctified by God so too is marriage and sexuality which is good.
Let’s begin then with the book of Leviticus 18 and see what we learn.
It begins with;
Leviticus 18:2 (NKJV)
2 “Speak to the children of Israel, and say to them: ‘I am the Lord your God.
It’s actually not all that common for God to begin his legal discourses to Moses with His self declaration. In fact, this is only 1 of 2 legal discourses where God begins with the phrase ‘I am the Lord your God…’
The only other time He has done this was on top Mt Sinai;
Exodus 20:2 (NKJV)
2 “I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage.
It’s a clear and a stark message. For these laws God makes it clear; I am the God of Mt Sinai; I am the One that has set you free. It’s a rather significant stamp of authority that God has placed on this chapter.
YHWH continues to say;
Leviticus 18:3 (The Scriptures)
3 ‘Do not do as they do in the land of Mitsrayim, where you dwelt. And do not do as they do in the land of Kena‘an, where I am bringing you, and do not walk in their laws.
The context is sexual sin and the comparison of sexual sin with the ancient world is an interesting one. Perhaps there isn’t a need to discuss this but certainly things can be learnt when we look to see what ancient world thought of sexual transgression. In particular, when we look at homosexuality there actually isn’t a large swathe of evidence regarding its practice. History seems to tell us that it did exist within the cultic context but we’re unclear if it was practiced in a widespread manner (I’m excluding the time period of Rome and Greece etc.). Certainly, cultic prostitution existed in many of Israel’s neighbors and that did include homosexual activity. From ancient writings it would appear that homosexuals were viewed with disdain and considered cursed by the gods to have been turned into a woman. In the book of Deuteronomy male prostitutes are labeled as ‘dogs’ and yet Israel was not the first country to have called male prostitutes such.
For other sins it’s hard to say. Scripture is clear on child sacrifice been practiced but incest as a norm? We do know that within Egyptian royalty it was fairly common for Pharaoh’s to marry their sister. In fact, in Ancient Egypt they never wrote down the rules for who would succeed the Pharoah but it always seemed to go to the guy who married the Pharaoh’s daughter (which included the son). We’re not overly sure why but it was a practice that lasted a very long time in ancient Egypt (it’s called the Heiress theory).
Nonetheless, YHWH makes it clear towards the end of Leviticus;
Leviticus 18:27 (The Scriptures)
27 … the men of the land who were before you have done all these abominations, and thus the land became defiled
This brings me to another interesting point. The Torah is for Israel but verse 27 clearly shows that the other nations, who are not bound by the same covenant as us were judged by these very laws. It’s indicative that the laws here, including the sexual laws, were universal.
On this note, verse 4 says ‘which if a man does (i.e. these laws) that he shall live by them’. As mentioned before, the term ‘adam’, which is used here, can be rendered ‘mankind’ indicating that these laws are universal for all of humanity. Verse 4 also ends with ‘I am the Lord’. It doesn’t say, ‘I am the Lord your God’ as the Scripture tends too. It simply speaks to the fact that YHW is Lord over creation, whether or not He is ‘your God’ matters not; the sexual standards described herein apply to all humanity.
Following on from here Leviticus 18 presents a rather comprehensive list of do’s and don’ts when it comes to sexuality. Ironically, it teaches us much about the makeup of the family unit.
The bulk of the laws pertain to incest and there are 2 principals which govern the boundaries. They are, in Hebrew, ‘she’er’ which refers to ‘flesh’ relations and ‘ervah’, which means nakedness but refers to affinial relations.
The she’er prohibitions refer to people who are in your kinship group as summarized by;
Leviticus 18:6 (NKJV)
6 ‘None of you shall approach anyone who is near of kin to him, to uncover his nakedness: I am the Lord.
The ‘ervah’ prohibitions are for those people who have married into the family and their connections. It’s labeled ervah because for these people the Scripture (as it also does for ‘she’er’) forbids us to not ‘uncover their nakedness’ which is a euphemism for the sex act.
Much has been said about the list and people debate about some of the relationships that are and aren’t included in the list. There are some notable exceptions however the Bible does have them covered. For example the Father/daughter possibility is not mentioned explicitly, it is however forbidden based on the commandment to not approach anyone of your own kin. Leviticus 21:2 provides us with a definition of what close kin is and it includes the nuclear family and the daughter is explicitly identified. Lesbianism is also not included however it is reasonable to understand that it is. Notwithstanding that, Paul explicitly prohibits lesbianism in the New Testament. He says;
Romans 1:26–27 (NKJV)
26 For this reason God gave them up to vile passions. For even their women exchanged the natural use for what is against nature. 27 Likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust for one another, men with men committing what is shameful, and receiving in themselves the penalty of their error which was due.
Whilst the list can be studied in some depth, I think it’s easier to simply do what God considered ‘good’; that is, marriage as ordained in Genesis 1.
Once you move through the incest laws you encounter the laws prohibiting adultery, child sacrifice, beastiality, sex with a menstruant and homosexuality (not in that particular order).
The laws themselves are rather self explanatory. The one that draws the most attention of course is the prohibition against homosexuality;
Leviticus 18:22 (The Scriptures)
22 ‘And do not lie with a male as with a woman, it is an abomination.
Whilst the laws are summed up to be ‘abominations’ in verse 27, homosexuality is the only one that is individually labeled as an ‘abomination’. It stands in stark contrast to the ancient world. Contemporary civilizations may have had disdain for homosexual practice but the laws pertaining to it were complex. They punished the active and passive participant separately; they considered the cultic context and the non cultic context differently. Punishments varied and punishments even (ironically) in some cases suggested that the homosexual was raped. The Scripture makes no distinction and is absolute in its prohibition on homosexuality no matter the context.
That homosexuality was labeled individually as ‘abomination’ whilst placed with a number of sins summed up as ‘abominations’ leads us to an interesting allusion in Ezekiel. Exekiel says;
Ezekiel 18:12–13 (NKJV)
12 If he has oppressed the poor and needy,
Robbed by violence,
Not restored the pledge,
Lifted his eyes to the idols,
Or committed abomination;
13 If he has exacted usury
Or taken increase—
Shall he then live?
He shall not live!
If he has done any of these abominations,
He shall surely die;
His blood shall be upon him.
Ezekial use of ‘abomination’ in these words follows the same pattern as Leviticus 18. When labeling sins he mentions one individual abomination and then sums all the sins up calling them abominations. The allusion is that the ‘abomination’ committed here, which Ezekiel first says in the singular, is that of homosexuality.
We see Ezekiel’s singular use of the word abomination also in Ezekiel 16 where, in talking about Sodom, it’s clearly a reference to homosexual activity.
Ezekiel 16:49–50 (NKJV)
49 Look, this was the iniquity of your sister Sodom: She and her daughter had pride, fullness of food, and abundance of idleness; neither did she strengthen the hand of the poor and needy. 50 And they were haughty and committed abomination before Me; therefore I took them away as I saw fit.
Later in the Torah, in Leviticus 20 the prohibitions are repeated but with the sin’s associated punishment. For some the punishment is being ‘cut off’ which is exile from the community (it was also considered ‘divine punishment’ to be cut off’). For other sins, such as adultery, incest with close kin, homosexuality and bestiality the punishment is death. The language is striking in its absolute nature;
Leviticus 20:13 (NKJV)
13 If a man lies with a male as he lies with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination. They shall surely be put to death. Their blood shall be upon them.
Of course, no one really debates the laws on beastiality or child sacrifice but so much has been said of the laws pertaining to homosexuality and many are the reasons given to Biblically permit its practice today.
Of the few we could mention there’s only one I would identify. It’s this idea that these pertain only to ritual concerns and that outside of the Temple homosexuality would be permitted. The argument is basically that male cult prostitution is forbidden but a loving homosexual relationship would be permitted.
We could spend a bit of time here but having looked at the chapter this argument simply cannot stand up. Homosexuality is placed within the laws of beastiality and incest. Are we to assume that incest is ok outside of the cultic context if performed within a loving relationship? Of course not. The laws are universal in scope, applicable to all humanity and pertain to sin in general, not just sin by means of breaching ritual practices. Leviticus is full of universal laws, to define it as only relevant with a standing Temple is completely ignorant.
Another point worth stressing here is the idea of marriage and a factor I need you to understand is that Leviticus 18 does not prohibit marriages per se; it prohibits the sexual intercourse of the nature been described. Understand this in light of the fact that sex in and of itself is not a marriage. A marriage is many things, sex is a big part of that, but it requires covenant and consummation by God himself (as we saw in Genesis 1). Sex alone doesn’t make you married.
So, if you engage in incest, you are not married to the other participant nor can that relationship be validated later by marriage. The Torah only allows 2 single heterosexual people to make amends by marriage in later texts of the Torah if they have sinned and have intercourse prior to the covenant.
This is important to know. If you’re raped it does not mean that you’re married to your rapist nor can that union be validated in any way. If you perform homosexuality, it also does not mean that you are married.
Leviticus 18 does not prohibit marriages to these kinds of unions per se because these unions cannot be validated by marriage. Marriage for homosexuality does not exist.
Proponents of same sex marriage oft turn to the New Testament to validate homosexuality. Within our belief we know that the Torah still stands but we can further validate the Genesis concept of marriage within New Testament Scripture. Yeshua himself does it;
Mark 10:4–9 (NKJV)
4 They said, “Moses permitted a man to write a certificate of divorce, and to dismiss her.”
5 And Jesus answered and said to them, “Because of the hardness of your heart he wrote you this precept. 6 But from the beginning of the creation, God ‘made them male and female.’ 7 ‘For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, 8 and the two shall become one flesh’; so then they are no longer two, but one flesh. 9 Therefore what God has joined together, let not man separate.”
Scholars have also widely agreed that there remains a distinct and intentional connection between Acts 15 and Leviticus 17 to 18. Brief context, Acts 15 is where the Jerusalem Council was meeting to discuss what they would do with all the new gentile believers in Yeshua. What yoke should be put upon them?
Having considered this, the council famously declares four main prohibitions for the new believers;
Acts 15:28–29 (NKJV)
28 For it seemed good to the Holy Spirit, and to us, to lay upon you no greater burden than these necessary things: 29 that you abstain from things offered to idols, from blood, from things strangled, and from sexual immorality. If you keep yourselves from these, you will do well.
Why this is so interesting is that the 4 prohibitions is the same list, in the same order, as the 4 main legal prohibitions stated for the ‘stranger’ dwelling in the midst of Israel in Leviticus 17 – 18. The council, led by the Holy Spirit, were teaching Torah and quoting Torah.
With regards to ‘sexual immorality’ the Greek of the text refers to it as ‘porneia’. Understanding the parallel and citation of Leviticus 18 informs us that the word ‘porneia’ encapsulates all forms of sexual immorality as defined by the Torah and this includes homosexuality.
This informs what is truly been referred to when the New Testament authors used this same word. It encapsulates all forms of sexual immorality, including homosexuality. Yeshua himself comments on porneia;
Mark 7:20–23 (NKJV)
20 And He said, “What comes out of a man, that defiles a man. 21 For from within, out of the heart of men, proceed evil thoughts, adulteries, fornications (porneia), murders, 22 thefts, covetousness, wickedness, deceit, lewdness, an evil eye, blasphemy, pride, foolishness. 23 All these evil things come from within and defile a man.”
But what about Paul?
We’ve mentioned his words in Romans 1 which indicate that the ban on homosexuality included lesbianism (which the sages also taught). The rebuttal here tends to suggest that Paul is only banning abusive forms of homosexuality but whilst I could write extensively on that I really don’t see how that’s a possibility. In fact, in Romans 1 Paul makes clear references to the book of genesis and whilst he might not be set on condemning homosexuality he is clear in honoring the Genesis 1 intent. Paul’s main focus is what homosexual relations are not – that is, they’re not the male/female union ordained by God.
Paul also prohibits homosexuality in 1 Corinthians and 1 Timothy;
1 Corinthians 6:9–10 (NKJV)
9 Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived. Neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor homosexuals, nor sodomites, 10 nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners will inherit the kingdom of God.
The greek here is interesting. For homosexual the greek word is ‘malakoi’ and literally means ‘soft men’, probably referring to the passive participant in homosexuality. His word ‘sodomite’ is interesting. It’s ‘arsenokoitai’ and I must stress, arsenokoitai never appears in the Greek literature of Paul’s time; it’s only used in Jewish Christian literature. It’s actually a word made from combining two Greek words which appear in Leviticus 18 and 20. They are the words ‘arsen’ which is male’, and the word ‘lying’ which is ‘koite’. These correspond to the Hebrew words ‘zakar’ and ‘miskab’ which refers to male intercourse (man ‘arsen’ shall not lie ‘miskab’ with a man as like a woman).
Understanding that the origins of the word for ‘sodomy’ where brought forth from Leviticus 18 clearly shows us that Paul again had the Torah in mind. He was not forbidding homosexual rape but citing the laws of Leviticus which prohibit homosexuality in its entirety.
He uses the word ‘arsenokoitai’ again in 1 Timothy;
1 Timothy 1:8–10 (The Scriptures)
8 And we know that the Torah is good if one uses it legitimately,
9 knowing this: that Torah is not laid down for a righteous being, but for the lawless and unruly, for the wicked and for sinners, for the wrong-doers and profane, for those who kill their fathers or mothers, for murderers,
10 for those who whore, for sodomites, for kidnappers, for liars, for perjurers, and for whatever else that is contrary to sound teaching,
Paul in no way creates a theology that permits any form of sexual immorality, inclusive of homosexuality.
Here, I find myself at a loss. I never really wanted to single out homosexuality as a discussion point but it seems to be the fight that the world wants to pick. What I will point out at this point now is that homosexuality part of the broader scope of sexual immorality which is likewise considered abomination by God.
The punishment is death. There is no cleansing prescribed in the Torah for such sins however Paul ironically and quite simply provided us with the answer as to how we are to address sexual immorality in our lives.
I’ll again quote 1 Corinthians but with the next verse included. It’s an important one;
1 Corinthians 6:9–11 (NKJV)
9 Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived. Neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor homosexuals, nor sodomites, 10 nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners will inherit the kingdom of God. 11 And such were some of you. But you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus and by the Spirit of our God.
I find it amazing; Paul identifies these sins, condemns them, but then he identifies the fact that the congregation included many people who participated in such sins. Amazingly he goes on to say ‘you were washed…sanctified…justified in the name of the Lord Jesus’.
As I said, there is no washing in the Old Testament for these sins; no cleansing that can be effective. It’s a fact that the book of Hebrews points out. It too teaches us of the true cleansing and of the One that can truly wash away sin.
Hebrews 9:13–14 (NKJV)
13 For if the blood of bulls and goats and the ashes of a heifer, sprinkling the unclean, sanctifies for the purifying of the flesh, 14 how much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered Himself without spot to God, cleanse your conscience from dead works to serve the living God?
Knowing that there remains no sacrifice or washing in Leviticus for sexual immorality identifies the dire need for Messiah. Without Him there is no recompense for the sexually immoral.
These Scriptures say we need to be washed; only the water of Messiah can do this and if sin and impurity is intimate with death, then our only hope is to be intimate with the One who gives life and can restore. We need the true marriage; true union with the living God. With Him, and only with Him, can mankind be saved.
I’ll end with this from Leviticus 18;
Leviticus 18:4–5 (The Scriptures)
4 ‘Do My right-rulings and guard My laws, to walk in them. I am the Lord your God
5 ‘And you shall guard My laws and My right-rulings, which a man does and lives by them. I am YHWH
But allow me to expound this verse further.
Verse 5 says ‘which a man does and lives by them’. Rather than ‘ish’, which is the common word for ‘man, the verse says ‘adam’, which yes means ‘man’ or ‘mankind’, but it’s absolutely a remez (connection) to Adam, the first man of creation and to the second Adam, Messiah.
Rather than ‘a man’, the verse literally says ‘ha adam’, meaning, ‘the man’, as in the singular/specific man (Adam). The verse then is only speaking of one particular ‘Adam’ (man) – who is Messiah.
‘Ha Adam’ has long been understood as a reference to The Messiah due to its clear relationship with Adam and the ‘heavenly Adam’ which is Messiah found in the book of Ezekiel.
The word ‘lives’, as in the part of the verse ‘lives by them’, is ‘chai’.
Chai means ‘life’ and in this form is translated as ‘to live’. It also means ‘to be alive, keep alive, to revive, to recover, and to return to life’, i.e. – to resurrect.
The verse therefore is key to understanding redemption from sexual immorality. It can be understood as;
Do my right rulings and guard my laws, to walk in them. I am YHWH your Elohim. And you shall guard my laws and my right rulings which The Messiah does; be resurrected by them. I am YHWH your Elohim.
The answer to sin is Messiah; repent and return to Him.