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Leviticus Chapters 18 and 20

There are common arguments used by Christians to show that the two passages in Leviticus cannot be used to condemn same-gender sexual relationships. Those reasons are:

1) Most Christians do not follow the Levitical laws.
2) The context of the passages is not about loving same-gender relationships.
3) The verses are not translated correctly.

Christians and Levitical Laws:

Most Christians do not apply commands in Leviticus to their lives. They believe these laws are not binding on Christians. They do not believe they are under obligation to perform ritual hand washing, to refrain from eating pork or to abstain from sex during a woman’s period.

Christian churches do not make much of an attempt to apply the commands in Leviticus to corporate life. The requirements in Leviticus was that no priest serve the Lord, unless he was physically perfect. That is no longer the case. Pastors and priests are not required to marry virgins, as commanded in Leviticus 21:13. Churches do not check potential pastors for blemishes, eye defects, physical disabilities and inspect a potential pastor's testicles to ensure they are perfect before the pastor is hired (requirement in Leviticus 21:16 to 21). For Christians who feel Calvary wipes away the need to keep the laws in Leviticus, enforcing Levitical laws on homosexuals is grossly inconsistent theology. Those Christians who wish to enforce the laws of Leviticus upon gay people need to admit their theology is very inconsistent and is potentially flawed.

One question that comes to mind regarding Leviticus relates to the word abomination. Leviticus 11:7 talks about pork as being unclean meat. Most Christians do not worry about the passages in Leviticus where the word abomination is used. Leviticus 11:10 is one of a passages where unclean food is called an abmomination. Christians generally do not consider eating pork an abomination, but Leviticus (11:11) considers even the carcases of unclean animals to be an abomination. Clean and unclean meat laws are not something most Christians feel any obligation to keep, yet many Christians insist that being gay is an abomination, when eating they feel eating pork is not an abomination.


Leviticus 18:21 -22 And thou shalt not let any of thy seed pass through [the fire] to Molech, neither shalt thou profane the name of thy God: I [am] the LORD. Thou shalt not lie with mankind, as with womankind: it [is] abomination.

There are two possible contexts for Leviticus 18:21-22. The verse is in the context of children, because verse 21 indicates that nobody is to allow their "seed" or children to pass through the fire. The second possibility is that the context is about the worshipping other gods.

According to the respected Keil and Delitzsch Biblical commentary, Moloch was a Canaanite idol. These commentators believe going through the fire was a ceremony in which children were dedicated to the god Moloch. Immediately after a prohibition has been given to worshipping a pagan idol, by dedicating children to a pagan god, we see the what appears to be a prohibition of men having sexual intercourse with other men. The immediate context of this verse is worshipping other gods. Because the immediate context is worshipping pagan gods, one cannot be sure if this is a prohibition against gay relationships. This could be a prohibition against having sex with a man as a form of worshipping another god.

R.K. Harrison, author of the Leviticus volume of the Tyndale Old Testament Commentaries, indicates homosexual relationships played a role in cultic worship rituals. Harrison states there may have been homosexual activities as part of the worship rituals to the goddess Ishtar.

Leviticus 20:13 If a man also lie with mankind, as he lieth with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination: they shall surely be put to death; their blood [shall be] upon them.

The context of this verse is very much like the context of Leviticus Chapter 18. The context of this verse can be seen in the early verses in Leviticus Chapter 20. Verse 2 of Chapter 20 sets the tone and the context. Again, thou shalt say to the children of Israel, Whosoever he be of the children of Israel, or of the strangers that sojourn in Israel, that giveth any of his seed unto Molech; he shall surely be put to death: the people of the land shall stone him with stones.

The authors of the New Jerome Biblical Commentary point out that Chapter 20 outlines the sanctions placed on people who violated the commands in Leviticus Chapter 18. That means the sanctions listed in Chapter 20 against same-gender sexual relationships are about sanctions placed on those who worship other gods.

We are not sure how much of an issue sex between men was at this time. The Jewish commentator Bamberger, in his commentary on Leviticus, mentions that there is no record of the death sentence being carried out by Jewish people for violating this prohibition.


Some theologians believe the two passages in Leviticus are not correctly translated. According to the Modern Standard English Version the two Levitical passages condemn sex with children.

Leviticus 18:21-22 You shall not give any of your children to sacrifice to Moloch; neither shall you profane the name of your God: I am the LORD. You shall not lie with a child as with a consenting adult. That is detestable.

Leviticus 20:13 1If a man has laid with a child, as with concenting adult, both of them have done something detestable: they shall surely be put to death; their blood shall be upon them.

Information about the Modern Standard Version Bible can be found at

Application for LGBT+ People:

This text speaks to queer and Trans people. God is calling LGBT+ people to stop the self-destructive sin of worshipping other gods. This sin robs gay, bisexual, and pansexual people of life, of the joy of living. Homosexuals can heal and become healing agents when they refuse to worship pagan gods. Those pagan gods include the god of public opinion - doing what society expects, the god of family approval - doing what one's family wants, the god of church blessing - acting exactly how the church demands and the god of following abusive or deceived pastors - attending the churches of abusive pastors and supporting their ministry with offerings. When gay and bisexual people turn away from these harmful gods, they can serve God and humanity with liberty.

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