Thursday, March 09, 2006

Hanky Panky and the Old Testament

Just last month another Presbytery ordained a practicing, non-celibate, gay man as a Minister of the Word and Sacrament (the official title for pastors) in the PCUSA. No comments have come out of our national headquarters in Louisville. This issue of non-celibate gays, lesbians, bi-sexual and transgender persons (GLBT) is on the forefront of our denomination whether we like it or not. To understand this topic we must look at the broader topic of sex, God’s law and the ordained ministry. We begin with the Old Testament/Covenant.

Creation: God’s Model We are to Follow

Genesis 1:27, 28

So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him, male and female he created them. God blessed them and said, ‘Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it.’”

  1. The image of God involves people being male and female.
  2. The people were to have sexual intercourse.
  3. The sexual intercourse would result in pregnancy and childbirth.
  4. They were to populate the earth.

Genesis 2:24, 25

For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and they will become one flesh. The man and his wife were both naked and they felt no shame.”

  1. The joining of the man to a woman (marriage) involved leaving of the families.
  2. The couple becomes united before they become one flesh.
  3. The couple has sex (becomes “one flesh”).
  4. There is a uniting that goes beyond just the physical nature of the sexual act.
  5. There is comfortableness about the nakedness of the husband and wife.

The Effects of the Fall Begin to Show

Genesis 4:19, 23-24

Lamech married two women, one named Adah and the other Zillah… Lamech said to his wives, ‘Adah and Zillah, listen to me; wives of Lamech hear my words. I have killed a man for wounding me, a young man for injuring me. If Cain is avenged seven times, then Lamech seventy-seven times.’

  1. This is the first time that a person has violated the one-man, one-woman model that God created.
  2. The way that Lamech is not mentioned… it is taken for granted that people know the story/reason.
  3. It is very possible that since it involved a “young man” that it involved having sex with one of his wives.
  4. Lamech killed the young man.
  5. Lamech justifies his action and it is almost like he is warning the wives that he will do it again.

God’s Commandment to the People

Exodus 20:14, 17

You shall not commit adultery… You shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, or his manservant or maidservant...”

Deuteronomy 5:18,21

You shall not commit adultery… You shall not covet your neighbor’s wife. You shall not set your desire on your neighbor’s house or land, his manservant or maidservant… .

  1. God’s command is clear.
  2. People being people, pushed the definition to the point that it was easier for a man to have sex outside of marriage than it was for a woman to do the same sort of thing.

Unlawful Sexual Relations

Leviticus 18

  1. With a near relative.
  2. With your mother.
  3. With your sister or step-sister.
  4. With your son’s daughter or daughter’s daughter.
  5. With your half-sister.
  6. With your aunt – either by blood or marriage.
  7. With your daughter-in-law.
  8. With your brother’s wife.
  9. With a woman and her daughter.
  10. With your son’s daughter or daughter’s daughter (granddaughter)
  11. With your wife’s sister while your wife is living.
  12. With a woman during her period.
  13. With your neighbor’s wife.
  14. With a man as a man lies with a woman.
  15. With an animal.


  1. Such persons must be cut off from their people. (Lev. 18:29)
  2. If a man commits adultery with another man’s wife the two of them are to be put to death.
  3. If a man sleeps with his father’s wife the two of them are to be put to death.
  4. If a man sleeps with his daughter-in-law the two of them are to be put to death.
  5. If a man lies with a man as a man lies with a woman they are to be put to death.
  6. If a man marries both a man and her mother then all three must be burned in the fire.
  7. If a man has sex with an animal then the man and the animal are to be put to death.
  8. If a woman approaches an animal to have sex then the woman and the animal are to be put to death.
  9. If a man marries his sister or stepsister they are to be cut off from the people.
  10. If a man and woman have sex during her period they are to be cut off from the people.
  11. If sex with your aunt then you both will be “held responsible.”
  12. If a man marries his brother’s with they will remain childless.

“Detestable” (vs. 22)

“Detestable” is a very strong word in the Hebrew. It indicates that something is so horrible, repulsive or disgusting that God does not want to look upon it. That should give us a clue as to how God feels about gay sexual intercourse.

What about the ladies?

Does the holiness code allow women to have sex with another woman? After all, the code refers to “men.” The short answer is… NO! The holiness code is directed more to men than to women because men were the dominant gender in that day. Women were little more than property. The point of the holiness code was not to list every possible sin. The point was to list things that would illustrate what actions were wrong in the eyes of God and to provide examples so that people could wisely determine other acts that would be unacceptable before God. Gay sex… sin. Lesbian sex… sin. Having sexual encounters with men and women… sin.


The children of God had been in captivity in Egypt for several generations. They had become immersed in the culture of the Egyptians. They were heading to a land that was inhabited by people who worship different gods and practicing various sexual and religious acts that were wrong in God’s eyes. God wanted his people to be separate from the people who were to be driven out of the Promised Land. A major part of the difference had to do with their sexual practices.

It is amazing how today’s sexual culture in the USA mirrors that of the people in Ancient Egypt and Israel. God continues to call us to be a separate people.

The next posting will be called Hanky Panky and the New Testament/Covenant.


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