Today we read one of the first of the “clobber verses” in the discussion around homosexuality and the bible. These clobber verses have been used to attack and bloody the LGBTQ community throughout history. God did not give us His Word to be used as a club against others and must be deeply disappointed in those who do.
This section on “unlawful sexual relations” is an interesting one for a number of reasons. It begins with a summary – don’t have sex with a close relation. Speaking only to the men in it’s patriarchal society, the point seems to be holiness, separation from the society around them in terms of sexual behavior. It goes on to list the people one must avoid sexually, including moms, daughters, aunts, granddaughters, and others. Then a similar theme comes, sexual relations during a woman’s period. Since blood was unclean, this makes sense.
Suddenly, it forbids child sacrifice. This seems almost a non-sequiter. But then a forbidding of homosexual activity and bestiality finish off the section. One final statement of the purpose of these prohibitions – to remain separate from the nations around you – ends the chapter.
None of these prohibitions have been either allowed or ignored since this was written. We still forbid close sexual relations, child sacrifice, and bestiality. So the “Old Testament is irrelevant” argument doesn’t apply here, though it may elsewhere. Yet we seem to have ignored the most important part of this whole chapter: holiness. We really don’t put much import at all on being noticeably different from the nations around us. In fact, many tout the value of being like the people at our work, school, or neighborhood in terms of evangelism.
Is it ok for us to proclaim the importance of holding to these individual laws while virtually ignoring the whole point of those laws? Is it appropriate for us to blend in to the society around us, or should we still be attempting to be noticeably different or separate – in a word, holy – from the people around us? Is it more important to be accepted by our schoolmates or workmates, or to stand out as a Christian?