Husband and sister-in-law None Compare the first prohibition, verse 7 mother and son , with the last prohibition, verse 18 husband and sister-in-law. A mother and son relationship is much closer emotionally and physically than a husband and sister-in-law.
There was no closer verifiable blood relationship in the ancient world than a mother and the children she bore. Notice, then, that as you go down the list, the relationships become less and less close. Why is this list different from similar lists in other ancient cultures? For example, verse 18 prohibits a man from marrying his sister-in-law.
There is no genetic reason for this I am assuming a culture permitting multiple wives. This restriction continues to be obvious even in our own day. For this verse to say anything different than verse 7, it must mean a wife other than your mother. I would suggest that this is so because of the certainty of blood relatedness through the mother.
With the father, this is not always the case. This question could legitimately arise if your son and his wife were killed and you began caring for their children. This is the inverse of verse 8 which prohibits the son from marrying his stepmother.
Until the son marries a girl, it would be possible for the father to marry her. Once the son has married her, the two are one flesh.
There is an important exception to this stated in Deuteronomy The first son she bears shall carry the name of the dead brother so that his name shall not be blotted out from Israel.
If you marry a woman who has children by a previous marriage, you may not marry her daughter or her granddaughter. The kind of distress that can occur is illustrated by the competition between Leah and Rachel, who were sisters married to the patriarch Jacob.
I want to pause here before continuing on, in order to present some other observations and some reflections. Second, nowhere in the Bible is compatibility ever a criterion for a relationship. This is somewhat off the main subject of the text, but it is illustrated by the fact, mentioned earlier, that Israel had no such thing as premarital sex.
Once you had sexual relations with someone, he or she became your spouse. In the illustration of Isaac and Rebekah, Abraham sent his servant off to find a wife for Isaac. Isaac had no choice in the matter. He was expected to marry Rebekah and live with her and love her. This was an obligation that they were to fulfill whether they liked each other or not. The Lord expects us to get along with each other, and to compensate in love for differences and conflicts. I have already mentioned that these laws also pertain to more secretive violations, but I will defer this once more until later.
The Middle Boundary of Godly Sexuality Verses 19 and 20 limit when you may have sexual intercourse with your wife, and they also prohibit adultery. Obedience to this law relates specifically to holy living within the Mosaic covenant. There are two ways a man can violate this: The issue here is fundamentally one of holiness.
The Lord has said the woman is ceremonially unclean and to purposely come in contact with an unclean woman was to violate the holiness of God. Therefore, it was strictly forbidden. The change is this: Adultery divorces sexual intercourse from marriage and elevates it to an independent status. It focuses on sexual fulfillment as a goal rather than a byproduct of a relationship.
It is important to also note that children, produced by an adulterous union, are quite frankly a grievous nuisance. Verse 20 is transitional. If a society has established the inner, middle, and outer boundaries of godly sexuality, it is this portion of the middle boundary that collapses first in society.
Once the middle boundary has collapsed, the outer and inner boundaries collapse soon afterward. I bring this up now before I discuss the outer boundary, because the outer boundary is best understood from the viewpoint of the collapse of the middle boundary and its effect on society and the land. I understand, of course, that individuals within that culture may have disregarded them, but both our laws and popular consensus supported them.
This was even higher than the Jewish marriage because it included one wife. The ancient practice of polygamy was abandoned through the teaching of Jesus and the effective ministry of the Holy Spirit in the lives of men. Towards the beginning of the century our nation, following the lead of Europe, adopted the doctrines of higher criticism that began to tear away at the Bible.
Science embraced the theory of evolution and turned away from God. The church, caught by surprise, retreated and disconnected itself from our culture. It was no longer an active force. People were set free from God, and shortly thereafter, sexual intercourse was set free from marriage.
Sex became autonomous and recreational. Somewhere, someone got the idea that romantic attraction was the proper foundation for a lasting relationship and sold it to us.
The movie entertainers and artists, the purveyors of this message, were the first to suffer a string of divorces and remarriages, but we ignored the evidence, and we accepted the lie.
The middle boundary began to collapse. The sexual revolution of the s marked the near total destruction of the middle boundary of godly sexuality. Sex became completely autonomous. People began to live together without long-term commitment. Masters and Johnson studied human sexual response using the real thing as well as some artificial machines to let them observe what otherwise could not be observed.
Marriages began to fail by the score. Unwed teenagers became pregnant. Children became a nuisance. Then The Joy of Sex appeared in the bookstores. Sex became so explicit, so open, such a good seller of merchandise, that society maintained a constant low-level state of sexual arousal.
The outer and inner boundaries began to fall. As the middle boundary crumbled, grandfathers, fathers, uncles, and brothers sexually molested family members. I do not know a single person who is not personally aware of an incident. Putting a stop to this, however, is very difficult.
In the middle of Leviticus 18 is a verse that is seemingly out of place. What could this possibly have to do in the context of unlawful sexual unions? I think this is the first phase of the destruction of the outer boundary of godly sexuality. It means that children are no longer safe when the middle boundary falls.
In , the Supreme Court handed down its Roe v. Hear it, instead, from someone who views it from a pro-abortion position. Could it be natural for humans, too—a trait inherited from our primate ancestors? When we hear that some mother has killed her own baby, we are horrified and assume she must be deranged. Some killers, of course, are sick. For different reasons and different conclusions, Barbara Burke does not believe there is much difference either.
As the outer boundary began to crumble with the destruction of children, as sex became autonomous, sexual experience between members of the same sex was an unavoidable next step. Consequently, many homosexuals are begging for us to be compassionate and accepting. What follows is an extended quote from Dr. Bauman, a prominent Methodist television minister, I was prepared for trouble, but the intensity of the storm took me completely by surprise. As the time for the TV taping approached, however, I began to prepare, working hard to make up for lost time.
The preparation included covering the books on a long reading list and talking with numerous individuals—straights and gays, medical doctors and psychiatrists, ministers and members of their congregation, men and women, young and old, Christians and Jews.
I prayed and meditated, and began to share some of my ideas with other members of the Christian community. Then I presented the TV program and preached the sermon, suggesting among other things that we need to express compassion and acceptance toward the homosexuals among us.
The intensity of the anger I encountered almost swept me off my feet! The deep primal feelings many of us have on the subject have been so repressed that when we are confronted with them, they break out like a pent up storm. Bauman is talking about is part of the outer boundary. We must remember that once upon a time our culture had deep primal feelings concerning adultery, premarital sex, divorce, and abortion too.
This verse marks the current line in our culture today. We are not there yet in a widespread way, although bestiality occurs frequently in pornographic books. If our nation accepts homosexuality as it has accepted adultery and abortion, bestiality will be next. Perhaps it will have mythic overtones, such as Zeus in the form of a bull. This should be sobering to a lust-filled society. This is not Israel violating its covenant with God. This is God looking at Gentile Canaan, seeing how it has defiled the land and is casting Gentile Canaan out.
This is a universal principle, not a covenant principle. God judges all nations alike.