Navigating a Sex-Crazed Culture (With an Old Testament Chapter as Your Guide: Leviticus 18)

This is the big one! Many people have targeted Leviticus 18 as the chapter to debate in the conversation about God and homosexuality. I encountered this conversation twice in the week leading up to reading this chapter. I find it helpful to read the chapter in its entirety (and the whole book of Leviticus, for that matter), in order to grasp the whole picture of God’s expectations for the Israelites. So before you jump into my thoughts on the subject, read here.

What does Leviticus 18 tell me about God:

  • God is not surprised by culturally accepted sinful practices.

I’ve heard people say “things are getting worse,” referring to our culture’s obsession with pushing the sexual boundaries. Interestingly, the unhealthy sexual practices were happening in other cultures long before our founding fathers set foot on American soil.

  • God sets standards for his people regardless of the cultural norms.

God was not surprised by Egypt and Canaan’s sin, and He isn’t surprised by my cultures sin either. He knew the heavy influence the Israelites were walking into, and spelled out very specific instructions on what not to do.

How can I live in light of this:

  • Live according to Romans 12:1-2

Therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, I urge you to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God; this is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this age, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may discern what is the good, pleasing, and perfect will of God.

In so many ways, Romans 12:1-2 sums up what we are studying in Leviticus. I am challenged to live a life that is set-apart, looking more like Jesus than the culture around me. My body and life are not my own, rather I am part of a sacrifice (along with the rest of the believers) to God. Not in my physical death, like an animal of Leviticus sacrifices, but in the daily death to my desires.

This means I don’t read books or watch movies that promote unhealthy sexual activity, no matter how popular they are in my culture. I will admit, my curiosity runs rampant when I recognize how elevated sex is in my American culture. Regardless, God calls me to a different standard. God doesn’t require me to remove myself from my culture; still, in order to reach that standard of being set-apart, I must renew my mind in Christ daily.

  • I can also live according to Romans 12:3, in humility and kindness.

For by the grace given to me, I tell everyone among you not to think of himself more highly than he should think. Instead, think sensibly, as God has distributed a measure of faith to each one. Romans 12:3

The trouble with the conversation about God’s sexual standards is how “good people” use them to elevate themselves above others. Someone engaging in sexual sin, from sex-out-of-marriage to homosexuality, is first and foremost in need of the gospel that God loves them and made a way to have a relationship with them. And you know what? The same is true for this dirty, grimy, disgusting sinner who struggles with the not-lesser sins of pride, gluttony, laziness, rudeness, sarcasm, and idolatry. I have been released from the guilt of my sin because of Jesus sacrifice, which gives me no higher place to stand than any other sinner saved by grace, now or in the future.

Other thoughts or questions:

  • Not today.