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Summary: This message is designed to help us to consider: (1) whether ‘the spirit of the law’ endures beyond ‘the letter of the law’ and (2) whether God’s silence is a synonym of His absence or His affirmation.

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The Lord spoke to Moses, saying: 2Speak to the people of Israel and say to them: I am the Lord your God. 3You shall not do as they do in the land of Egypt, where you lived, and you shall not do as they do in the land of Canaan, to which I am bringing you. You shall not follow their statutes. 4My ordinances you shall observe and my statutes you shall keep, following them: I am the Lord your God. 5You shall keep my statutes and my ordinances; by doing so one shall live: I am the Lord. 6None of you shall approach anyone near of kin to uncover nakedness: I am the Lord. 7You shall not uncover the nakedness of your father, which is the nakedness of your mother; she is your mother, you shall not uncover her nakedness. 8You shall not uncover the nakedness of your father’s wife; it is the nakedness of your father. 9You shall not uncover the nakedness of your sister, your father’s daughter or your mother’s daughter, whether born at home or born abroad. 10You shall not uncover the nakedness of your son’s daughter or of your daughter’s daughter, for their nakedness is your own nakedness. 11You shall not uncover the nakedness of your father’s wife’s daughter, begotten by your father, since she is your sister. 12You shall not uncover the nakedness of your father’s sister; she is your father’s flesh. 13You shall not uncover the nakedness of your mother’s sister, for she is your mother’s flesh. 14You shall not uncover the nakedness of your father’s brother, that is, you shall not approach his wife; she is your aunt. 15You shall not uncover the nakedness of your daughter-in-law: she is your son’s wife; you shall not uncover her nakedness. 16You shall not uncover the nakedness of your brother’s wife; it is your brother’s nakedness. 17You shall not uncover the nakedness of a woman and her daughter, and you shall not take her son’s daughter or her daughter’s daughter to uncover her nakedness; they are your flesh; it is depravity. 18And you shall not take a woman as a rival to her sister, uncovering her nakedness while her sister is still alive. 19You shall not approach a woman to uncover her nakedness while she is in her menstrual uncleanness. 20You shall not have sexual relations with your kinsman’s wife, and defile yourself with her. 21You shall not give any of your offspring to sacrifice them to Molech, and so profane the name of your God: I am the Lord. 22You shall not lie with a male as with a woman; it is an abomination. 23You shall not have sexual relations with any animal and defile yourself with it, nor shall any woman give herself to an animal to have sexual relations with it: it is perversion. 24Do not defile yourselves in any of these ways, for by all these practices the nations I am casting out before you have defiled themselves. 25Thus the land became defiled; and I punished it for its iniquity, and the land vomited out its inhabitants. 26But you shall keep my statutes and my ordinances and commit none of these abominations, either the citizen or the alien who resides among you 27(for the inhabitants of the land, who were before you, committed all of these abominations, and the land became defiled); 28otherwise the land will vomit you out for defiling it, as it vomited out the nation that was before you. 29For whoever commits any of these abominations shall be cut off from their people. 30So keep my charge not to commit any of these abominations that were done before you, and not to defile yourselves by them: I am the Lord your God. (Leviticus 18:1-30)

I lead a weekly bible study at my church. In examining the life of David from 2nd Samuel, chapters 11-17, we have noted that David’s choices cascaded into the destruction of his family life. We found it interesting that David, who had illicit relations with Bathsheba (Uriah’s wife) and orchestrated the death of Uriah, saw his sin mirrored in the rape of his daughter Tamar by his son Amnon. We then took a look at Leviticus, chapter 18; this chapter gives laws concerning the regulation of sexual relationships. Verses 6, 9 and 12 state specifically against having sex with immediate relatives and one’s sister in particular. The class attendees were unanimous in saying that anyone in the Israelite community should have been held accountable for violating that law. No waivers, exemptions, immunity, release, absolution, exclusion, or indemnity from complying. Simple, clear, unambiguous – pretty straight forward directives

In light of the fact that Leviticus is considered part of the Hebrew scriptures and that those in Christ are not under the law, but under grace, I asked the question ‘Do Christians commit sexual sins today?’ After the laughter died down, I assured the class that this was a serious question. I explained that the reason for the question was because actions that were defined as sins in the Hebrew scriptures may not be defined as sins today. I was suggesting that perhaps the passage of time had negated ‘the letter and/or the spirit of the law’. As a class exercise, I asked them to go through the list of ‘shall nots’ in Leviticus chapter 18 and to identify those acts that were deemed sins then but not necessarily sins now.

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