Levitical Layout

Does the case for the layout of Leviticus affect the condemnations of homosexuality? Let’s talk about it on Deeper Waters.

A friend of the ministry recently sent me this item: http://jewishstudies.rutgers.edu/component/docman/doc_view/418-jsq-two-screens?Itemid=267

It’s a fascinating read on the work of Mary Douglas in interpreting the book of Leviticus. Douglas thinks that the book describes a layout of the tabernacle as it were. Chapters 1-17 deal with the common area. 18-24 deal with the priestly area. 25-27 deal with the Holy of Holies. Does that mean that chapters 18-20 would only apply to the priests?

Well first off, let’s look at some commands in these chapters that would not apply to the common folk then.

18:21 “Do not give any of your children to be sacrificed to Molek, for you must not profane the name of your God. I am the Lord.”

So priests could not sacrifice to Molech, but everyone else could.

19:4 “Do not turn to idols or make metal gods for yourselves. I am the Lord your God.”

Idolatry was only a no-no for priests. Not for everyone else.

19:11-18 “11 “‘Do not steal.

“‘Do not lie.

“‘Do not deceive one another.

12 “‘Do not swear falsely by my name and so profane the name of your God. I am the Lord.

13 “‘Do not defraud or rob your neighbor.

“‘Do not hold back the wages of a hired worker overnight.

14 “‘Do not curse the deaf or put a stumbling block in front of the blind, but fear your God. I am the Lord.

15 “‘Do not pervert justice; do not show partiality to the poor or favoritism to the great, but judge your neighbor fairly.

16 “‘Do not go about spreading slander among your people.

“‘Do not do anything that endangers your neighbor’s life. I am the Lord.

17 “‘Do not hate a fellow Israelite in your heart. Rebuke your neighbor frankly so you will not share in their guilt.

18 “‘Do not seek revenge or bear a grudge against anyone among your people, but love your neighbor as yourself. I am the Lord.”

All of these applied only to priests? That includes lying and stealing and loving your neighbor as yourself?

19:29 ““‘Do not degrade your daughter by making her a prostitute, or the land will turn to prostitution and be filled with wickedness.”

Only priests could not make their daughters prostitutes?

I hope the point is clear.

In fact, it is when we get to chapter 21 that we have a start with “Speak to the priests.” Before that, there is no reason to think the verses do not apply to the common man. In fact, since the end of chapters 18 and 20 tell of how the people in the land practiced these activities and thus were being cast out, it would follow that those people should have known that these behaviors were wrong.

Now could it be God is being more forward in holiness standards from 18 on? Sure. Let me also be clear Douglas makes no argument herself that the moral rules no longer apply that I saw, nor did the person who emailed me the information make any such statement.

If someone still disagrees, they’ll have to give reasons why only homosexuality should be excepted from the list. So far, the cases have just been special pleading.

Also, keep in mind that the argument is not “The Bible says so, therefore it’s true.” It’s just getting clear what the Bible says. (Although I do agree with it.) For the sake of argument, the Bible could be wrong on what it says, but let us be clear we are not wrong on what it is saying.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

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