How do you interpret Leviticus 18:22 and 20:13, man should not lay with man?
Molech was a false god of Canaan
It is always important to consider context when we study the Bible. The context of Lev 18:22 and 20:13 is the Holiness Code which is found in Leviticus chapters 17 - 26. Please click on text links throughout this article for additional information.
Leviticus 17:7 prohibits idolatry "They must no longer offer any of their sacrifices to the goat idols to whom they prostitute themselves. This is to be a lasting ordinance for them and for the generations to come."
Lev 17:7 - New International Version"They are no longer to slaughter their sacrifices to the goat demons, with whom they have been committing prostitution. This will be a perpetual statute for you throughout your generations."
Lev 17:7 - International Standard Version
Leviticus 16:29-34 helps us establish biblical context. In Leviticus God testifies to the absolute necessity of atonement, using the Hebrew word כָּפַר kaphar 49 times in 27 chapters. Kaphar means: to cover, purge, make atonement, make reconciliation, atone for sin, thus indicating that Jehovah's sacrifices are the sacrifices Israel must offer.
The ultimate blood sacrifice for Jehovah was a lamb, Exodus 12:3ff. because a lamb was a type of Christ Who would eventually come as God's passover lamb
, 1 Corinthians 5:7 or "the Lamb of God which taketh away the sin of the world,"
Gospel of John 1:29.
Israel is therefore to remember the day of atonement on which, each year, blood sacrifices were offered to Jehovah. That is how Leviticus 16 ends. Israel is NOT to offer sacrifices to goat demons and false gods, as they had been doing in the land of Egypt and in the wilderness where they were traveling. That is how Leviticus 17 begins.
Remember the context. We cannot throw our mind out of gear and insist that suddenly, entirely apart from the biblical cultural doctrinal historical religious context, Moses slaps his forehead and exclaims:
"Oh yeah, I forgot about those nasty gays and lesbians - I gotta say something against them too!"
Historical and religious context
The historical and religious context is that pagan sacrifices were being offered to the goat demons
who infested the wilderness through which the children of Israel were traveling en route to Canaan. The context is that the Jews, God's chosen people continued to commit prostitution to goat demons.
Leviticus 18:22 was given to the children of Israel in the biblical cultural doctrinal historical linguistic literary and religious context of Leviticus 16:29-34, 17:3-7, 18:3, 21 and 27, to prepare them for entry into the Holy Land. The context is pure worship of Jehovah vs. pagan religious practices, including prostitution to goat demons
. The context is not lesbians and not gay men.
Egyptians worshiped goat demons
The ancient Egyptians also worshiped goat demons
, which is why Moses specifically reminds Israel in Leviticus 18:3 that they are NOT to engage in the pagan religious practices of Egypt where they came from and Canaan, where they are going.
God and Moses are prohibiting cultic sexual rites which worshiped goat demons and Ashtoreth, the Canaanite fertility goddess. Ashtoreth was the fertility goddess consort of Molech
, 18:21. Worshiping and committing prostitution with goat demons and false gods and goddesses was so abominable to God that He promised to expel Israel from the land if they committed that sin in the land, Lev 18:24-29.
Leviticus 20:13 was given in the biblical cultural historical and religious context of Lev 16:29-34, 17:7, 18:3, 21, 27; 20:2, 3, 4, 5, 23. Again, the context is pagan religious practices in which Israel is forbidden to worship or sacrifice to or commit prostitution with goat demons, Molech and Ashtoreth. The context is not lesbianism and not homosexuality.
The link to Corinth
So much does God hate this false worship that He mentions it in the New Testament in 1 Corinthians 10:14-21. Flee from idolatry. Remember Israel in the wilderness. The things the Gentiles sacrifice, they sacrifice to devils, and not to God. You cannot drink the cup of the Lord and the cup of devils.
Corinth was the epicenter of idolatry
in ancient Greece, so immoral that the name Corinth became synonymous with sexual idolatry. Almost 1500 years after events in Leviticus, Paul was forced to deal with the same kind of pagan idolatry
in Corinth, as temple prostitutes got saved and joined the church, 1 Cor 6:9-10. Paul even coins a new Greek word, arsenokoitai,
using the same words used in the Septuagint version of Lev 20:13
to describe the shrine prostitutes
he personally witnessed in ancient Corinth.
Is the context clear now?
The Bible uses the rubric (a rubric is an authoritative rule) of Molech worship to describe pagan sexual practices which included worship of Ashtoreth, 2 Kings 23:5-10. There is nothing new under the sun. Human beings always struggle with idolatry. It was true in ancient Judaism and it was true in the early history of the Christian church.
Goat demons and cult prostitutes and Molech and child sacrifice are mentioned in Leviticus so that the children of Israel (and we) will know that the real issue is worship of Jehovah, the true God. The context is that God hates pagan religious practices like shrine prostitution and worship of demon gods, like the worship of Molech and by implication, the worship of his fertility goddess consort, Ashtoreth
The context of Leviticus is not lesbians. The context of Leviticus is not gay men. The context of Leviticus is not bisexuals. The context of Leviticus is not transgendered people. More Information
1. To whom is the Book of Leviticus addressed?
2. With what pagan practices did God link the Leviticus 18:22 and 20:13 prohibitions?
3. How is Molech linked to Leviticus 18:22 and 20:13?
4. What is the purpose of Moses Law?
5. Did the Law of Moses apply to all people everywhere?
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This page updated December 14, 2022