God’s command concerning homosexuality is clear: “You shall not lie with a male as one lies with a female; it is an abomination” (Lev 18:22).

This is expanded in Leviticus 20:13. “If there is a man who lies with a male as those who lie with a woman, both of them have committed a detestable act.” These passages are set in the context of God’s judgment on sexual crimes and are an expansion of the seventh commandment.

Moses was not trying to establish an exhaustive code on the subject of sexuality; rather he was dealing with certain gross offenses of the seventh commandment that were common in the nations surrounding Israel at the time.

Pro-homosexual advocates usually dismiss these passages by relegating them to simple religious prohibitions rather than taking them as moral prohibitions. Blair exhibits this line of reasoning.

That the very pronounced Old Testament judgment against a man’s having sexual relations with another man is included in the priestly Holiness Code of Leviticus (18:22 and 20:13) is significant because the concern of the priests was one of ritual purity. It was not the moral preaching of the prophets. From this priestly point of view, it is clear that above all else, Israel was to be uncontaminated by her pagan neighbors. In all things, she was to remain a separate “pure vessel unto the Lord.” At this time, male prostitutes in the temples of the Canaanites, Babylonians, and other neighboring peoples, were common features of the pagan rites. There, it is understandable that this “homosexuality” connected with the worship of false gods would certainly color Israel’s perspective on any and all homosexual activity. [1]

Blair, and those who follow his line of thinking, assume that ritual purity and moral preaching are always distinct. Therefore the passages in Leviticus, they argue, are not really speaking against homosexuality as such, but only against
identifying with the practice of alien religions. The issue was religious identity, not the righteousness of God.

But this type of reasoning begs the question on several counts. The first major fault is in assuming that ritual purity and moral purity are always distinct. Those who make this dichotomy argue that Leviticus 18 and 20 cannot be of an ethical or moral nature. Blair states this when he divides the priests with their ritual purity and the prophets with their moral teaching into two groups that were not to transgress each other’s territory. But the prophets preached to the needs of their day. Anything not included in their teaching is more logically explained by that particular sin’s absence among the sins of that generation, rather than by a rigid distinction between ceremonial and moral purity. To hold to such a distinction one would have to conclude that adultery was not morally wrong (18:20), child sacrifice had no moral implications (18:2 1), and that nothing is inherently evil with bestiality (18:23). The point is that ceremonial purity and moral purity often coincide.

These passages, again, are consistent with God’s purpose for human sexuality, as presented in Genesis 1-3. When these passages are studied, it becomes obvious that God’s purpose is to preserve the sanctity of marriage and the home.


Pro-homosexual advocates spend much effort and time trying to show the irrelevance of the Law to Christians today. Scanzoni and Mollenkott are an example of this. “Consistency and fairness would seem to dictate that if the Israelite Holiness Code is to be invoked against twentieth-century homosexuals, it should likewise be invoked against such common practices as eating rare steak, wearing mixed fabrics, and having marital intercourse during the menstrual period.” [2] Blair follows Scanzoni and Mollenkott in arguing that the Old Testament Law must be thrown out when seeking a guide to the issue of homosexuality.

It is interesting how lightly evangelicals have taken other proscriptions found in the same Old Testament Code, e.g.: rules against the eating of rabbit (Lev 11:26), oysters, clams, shrimp, and lobster (Lev 11:10ff), and rare steaks (Lev 17:10). Evangelicals do not picket or try to close down seafood restaurants nor do we keep kosher kitchens. We do not always order steaks “well-done.” We eat pork and ham. The wearing of clothes made from interwoven linen and wool (Deut 22:11) does not seem to bother us at an. Evangelicals do not say, in accordance with these same laws of cultic purification (Lev 20:13), that those who practice homosexual activity should be executed as prescribed. Evangelicals do not demand the death penalty for the Jeane Dixons of this world (Lev 20:27) nor do we”cut off” from among the people, as is demanded by this same Code, those who have intercourse with women during menstruation (Lev 20:18) and those who marry women who have been divorced (Lev 21:14). Evangelicals do not keep out of the pulpit those who are visually handicapped or lame or those “with a limb too long” (Lev 21:18ff). [3]

These statements expose a great ignorance of how the Law fits into the total scheme of the Scriptures. When taken to their
logical conclusion these assertions make it possible to say that having sex with animals or engaging in incest is okay for today simply because homosexuality is sandwiched between these two prohibitions. These writers pay a great price in
trying to justify their position. It would have been easier for them to say that Christ brought an end to the entire Law (Rom 10:4). The Ten commandments are also included in this termination (2 Cor 3:7-11). Christ is now the Christian’s High Priest, which shows that a radical change in the Law has come about (Heb 7:11). The Law has been superseded (Heb 7:11).

When the statement is made that the Law had ended, this does not mean that God no longer has any laws or codes for His people. This does not mean that there are no moral precepts to be followed. The New Testament speaks of the “law of the Spirit” (Rom 8:2), the “law of Christ” (Gal 6:2), and the “royal law” (James 2:8). This “law” includes numerous commands, both positive and negative, which form a distinct code of ethics for today. [4]  It is here that the pro-homosexual exegetes have made their mistake. As a unit the New Testament code is new, but not all the commands in the New Testament are new. There is overlap, deletion, and addition. Some of the commands in the Mosaic code have been reincorporated into the New Testament code.

But if the Law was done away, how can parts of it be repeated in the New Testament? The answer lies in the distinction between the Old Testament code and the commandments which were contained in that code.

The Mosaic law has been done away in its entirety as a code. God is no longer guiding the life of man by this particular code. In its place He has introduced the law of Christ. Many of the individual commands within that law are new, but some are not. Some of the ones which are old were also found in the Mosaic law and they are now incorporated completely and [are] forever done away. As part of the law of Christ they are binding on the believer today. [5]

This throws much light on the statements made by those who would justify homosexuality from a biblical standpoint. It serves to bring their emotional rhetoric into proper focus. The laws concerning diet, punishment by stoning, or wearing mixed fabrics have been abrogated. However, the proscriptions against homosexual behavior have been repeated in the New Testament code (Rom 1:26-27; 1 Cor 6:9-11; 1 Tim 1:9-10). This should be a major concern of pro-homosexual advocates simply because it totally destroys the point they attempt to make with regard to the Old Testament law. It is false to say that something which was sin under the Law is no longer sin under grace.

What this all means is that the commands dealing with homosexuality in Leviticus 18:23 and 20:13 are still highly relevant because they have been reincorporated into the New Testament code. A moral unity exists between the Old and New Testaments. It has always been wrong to murder, rape, steal, to have sexual relations with animals, and to have
sexual relations with persons of the same sex. God has dealt with people in different ways at different times, but His standard for righteousness has never changed. If morality has changed then the character of God has changed, because
the basis of morality is in the character of God who is immutable (Mal 3:6). (Online source)

P. Michael Ukleja

End Notes:

{1] Ralph Blair, An Evangelical Look at Homosexuality (Chicago: Moody Press, 1963), p. 3.

[2] Letha Scanzoni and Virginia Ramey Mollenkott, “Is the Homosexual My Neighbor?” (San Francisco: Harper & Row, 1978). pp. 60-61.

[3] Blair, “An Evangelical Look at Homosexuality,” p. 3.

[4] Charles C. Ryrie, “The Grace of God” (Chicago: Moody Press, 1963), pp. 105-113.

[5] Charles C. Ryrie, “The End of the Law,” Bibliotheca Sacra 124 (July-September 1967):246.

See also: