Scripture: “So keep my charge never to practice any of these abominable customs that were practiced before you, and never to make yourselves unclean by them: I am the LORD your God.” Leviticus 18:30 ESV
Observation: The Lord, having instructed Moses on how to observe the Day of Atonement, then addresses two particular sins that distinguished the godless nations from Israel: eating the blood of animals and engaging in perverse sexual relations (chapters 17-18). The concern regarding blood did not pertain to hygiene but to its essential element in sustaining life. Hence, God, the author of life, gave blood through an animal sacrifice to “make atonement [for Israel] by its life” (17:11). In other words, the transactional sprinkling of blood transferred sin in one direction and life in the other. Thus, Israel must not treat this sacred ceremony lightly by consuming blood as did the pagan nations as part of their idol-worship practice.
Secondly, to separate God’s people from the godless of Egypt and Canaan (18:2-3) who crossed moral boundaries in sexual activity (as part of their pagan worship), the Lord prohibited:
- incest (18:6-17),
- intercourse during the wife’s menstruation (18:19),
- adultery (18:20),
- sacrificing children to foreign fertility gods (18:21),
- same-sex intercourse (18:22), and
- beastiality (18:23).
As the above verse 30 states, to practice these abominable customs would defile Yahweh’s cherished, chosen people.
Takeaway: When on the brink of a schism over whether Gentile converts should uphold the Mosaic law, the Jerusalem Council saved the day by paring observance to three prohibitions (Acts 15):
- eating meat sacrificed to idols,
- consuming blood or strangled meat, and
- sexual immorality
Thirteen hundred years from Moses to the Jerusalem Council, the similarities are striking. And for both, upholding the sanctity of life is the heartbeat of God’s holiness code.
So what challenges do we face today regarding this matter? The application is straightforward but culturally and politically charged. Indeed, we may even face persecution and imprisonment when defending the sanctity of life of the unborn and monogamous heterosexual marriages. So as ambassadors of Christ, how do we navigate these uncertain times without capitulating to our cancel culture? By being the Lord’s vessels of life support, making choices within our realms of influence that preserve the sanctity of life under God’s holiness code while loving those who see things differently. It’s a tricky balance that requires the wisdom and guidance of the Holy Spirit and the support of fellow believers who are also committed to the cause. And if we stay on course, his grace will be sufficient to guide us onward and upward.
Prayer: Father God, we thank you for your Son, who transferred our sins into his body and eternal life into ours by his blood. Would you please grant us the strength, courage, and guidance of your Holy Spirit to be vessels of life support for the unborn and Christ-centered heterosexual marriages? Amen.
Rev. Gordon Green, M.Div., M.A. Counseling