Chapter 18

Prohibited Sexual Practices

    • The Lord told Moses to tell the Israelites, “I am the Lord your God. Don’t behave like the Egyptians, among whom you used to live, or the Canaanites in the land that I am bringing you to. You must obey all of my regulations and decrees because I am your God and you will find life through these commands.”

      • Guzik writes, “Before God gave a single command in this area, He first established a foundation for the whole matter. He declared this principle: “You belong to Me, you shall not do as the world does.”

      • Guzik further notes, “Sadly, the Christians today often take their standard of sexual conduct from the world, and not from God and His Word. Clearly, Christians should be different from the world in their sexual morality, and they should follow a Biblical standard of sexual morality. In the early church, one argument for the truth of Christianity offered by Christians was ‘You can know it’s true by looking at our lives.’ Today, the Christian world says, ‘Don’t look at me, look at Jesus.’”

    • Do not ever have sexual relations with a close relative- not your mother, not your father’s wife (even if she isn’t your mother), not your sister, not your step-sisters, not with your grandchild, not with your aunt, not your uncle’s wife, not with your daughter-in-law, not your brother’s wife. Do not have sexual relations with both a woman and her daughter. Don’t marry her granddaughter and have sexual relations with her. While your wife is still alive, don’t marry her sister and have sexual relations with her. Don’t have sexual relations with a woman while she is impure from her menstrual period. Don’t have sexual relations with your neighbor’s wife. Do not allow any of your children to be sacrificed to Molech- that would profane the name of the Lord your God. Do not practice homosexuality or bestiality. A woman must never engage in bestiality.”

      • HCSB commentary notes, “Homosexuality and bestiality were apparently common in Canaanite culture. Homosexuality (v 22) is mentioned with reference to the Canaanites (Genesis 19:5-11; Judges 19) and also attested in Mesopotamia. Bestiality (v 23) is also known from Egyptian, Canaanite, and Hittite sources. In the Egyptian royal family brothers married sisters. In the laws of Hammurabi and in the Hittite law codes some of the incestuous relationships listed in 18:6-18 are prohibited… Hittite laws assign the death penalty to lying with some animals, but lying with a horse or a mule carried no penalty. In Israel, all bestiality was a capital offense…Since marriages within the extended clan were encouraged there was a tendency toward endogamy- that is, marrying within one’s own group. Marriages of this kind were essential to ensure ancestral lands would be retained within the clan. These incest laws are meant to prevent excessive inbreeding within families that were otherwise bound together as socioeconomic units.”

      • HCSB also notes that verse 8 (do not have sexual relations with your father’s wife) was the sin that Reuben committed in Genesis 35:22.

      • HCSB also notes that according to verse 9 (do not have sexual relations with your sister) “what was acceptable during the Patriarchal period (Genesis 20:12) is now forbidden.”

      • The Molech cult involved the sacrifice of children (Leviticus 20:2-5; Deuteronomy 12:31; 18:10; 2 Kings 23:10; Jeremiah 32:35). Remnants of Molech sacrifices have been found in North Africa, and there is evidence to suggest that these rites originated in Phoenicia. The book of Jubilees (part of OT apocryphal literature) connects intermarriage, specifically the marrying of one’s children to pagans, with the sin of Molech.” (HCSB commentary) Guzik writes, “The pagan god (or, demon, more accurately) Molech was worshipped by heating a metal statue representing the god until it was red hot, then by placing a living infant on the outstretched hands of the statue, while beating drums drowned out the screams of the child until it burned to death.”

      • NLT Illustrated Study Bible writes, “In Genesis 1:31, God pronounced all things good. This yielded a theology of the created order where good is defined by what God created and by the way He intended it to function. Part of this ‘good’ was the creation of woman as man’s companion (Genesis 2:22-24). Marriage forms a microcosm of the human race, which stands as the corporate bearer of God’s image. Sin, introduced by the fall (Genesis 3), disrupted the created order. Homosexuality is but one example of sinful violation of God’s order; it is tied to the rejection of God by fallen humanity (Romans 1:25-32). The Hebrew word translated detestable (to’ebah) indicates strong disapproval and disgust (Leviticus 20:13; see also 18:26-30).”

      • In response to a couple of common pro-homosexual arguments Guzik writes, “This command is commonly objected to on the grounds that one was born – or created – with homosexual desires. ‘I was born this way; God made me a homosexual. It is my nature to be homosexual; it would be against my nature to be heterosexual’…The problem is that the Bible says we are all sinners by nature; not a single person is born without an attraction to sin in some way or another. We should not say that God made the homosexual; we could say that Adam did, when he passed on the effects of his rebellion to the entire human race…Our inborn attraction to sin justifies nothing. The one who practices homosexuality can no more justify himself by saying ‘I was born this way’ than can the person who hates homosexuals justify their ungodly hatred by saying ‘I was born this way’…Many justify homosexual practice on the basis of love. They might say, ‘How can it be wrong to love someone of my own sex? How can love be wrong?’ Yet if someone loves their children, it does not justify sexual conduct with them. The issue isn’t love; the issue is of sexual conduct. Of course, the Bible in no way condemns love between people of the same sex, but it does say that sexual conduct between those people is sin.”

      • Are sexual relations with your wife really a sin during her menstrual period? Guzik notes, “This command is an echo of Leviticus 15:19, where the penalty for breaking this observance of ceremonial cleanliness was described (the penalty was to perform a ritual washing).” Contrast this with the Israelite penalty for homosexuality in Leviticus 20:13– the death penalty. Homosexuality was not a mere matter of ritual uncleanness.

    • Don’t defile yourselves in any of these ways because these are the reasons I am driving the current inhabitants of these lands out and giving it to you. They have so defiled the land that it is vomiting them out. You must keep My regulations and decrees- none of you or the foreigners who live among you are to commit these abominations. If you do, you will defile the land in the same way as the people who inhabited the land before you, and the land will vomit you out just as it vomited them out. Anyone who commits any of these abominations must be cut off from the community. Instead, you must follow My instructions- I am the Lord your God.”

      • NLT Illustrated Study Bible notes, “Just as the land would vomit out the Canaanites, it would also vomit out the Israelites if they acted like the Canaanites. This came to pass with the destruction and exile of the northern kingdom by the Assyrians in 722 BC (2 Kings 17:6) and when the Babylonians destroyed and exiled Judah in 586 BC (2 Kings 25:8-21).