Leviticus 20:13

As the clamor continues to increase among the gay and lesbian community and their supporters, the Scripture passages condemning the behavior are becoming more and more confusing to a lot of folks.

Case in point: someone wrote to the editorial section of my local newspaper opposing homosexual marriage. In the commentary, the writer sited Leviticus 20:13 but said only that God considers homosexuality to be an abomination. A few days later, a counter commentary appeared stating that the previous opinion failed to identify the remainder of Lev. 20:13 affirming the punishment for the sin, which is death! The implication being that if one uses this verse to condemn homosexuality, then one must also adhere to the notion that homosexuals should be put to death. The rebuttal is a classical “gotcha” response. Its purpose is to confuse Christians by forcing us to choose whether we accept or reject the law of God as divinely instituted.

The Law of God is indeed divine and righteous. Under the Law, homosexuality is condemned and punishable by death, so too is adultery and several other immoral acts. But does this mean that Christians believe death as a punishment for such sins should be carried out? Consider this:

In His sermon on the mount, Jesus taught mercy with regards to the strict judgment of the Law. Many of the religious leaders in Israel, who believed His message was blasphemous, purposed to entrap Him by contrasting His teachings with the Law whenever the opportunity arose. One such opportunity happened when certain Pharisees saw His disciples plucking grain and eating it on the Sabbath as they passed through a field.

The Pharisees accused Jesus of breaking the Law by letting His disciples do this. The tradition of the Jews had strictly prohibited any work on the Sabbath, even if that work was a work of necessity. The disciples were hungry and in need of nourishment, but the tradition of the Pharisees showed no mercy. Jesus reminded them that when King David and his men were hungry, David entered the temple and ate the showbread, which was not lawful for him to do.

Jesus then asked them, “Have ye not read in the law, how that on the Sabbath days the priests in the temple profane the Sabbath, and are blameless?” (Mat. 12:5) The priests worked on the Sabbath day to present the offerings before God for the sins of His people, yet the Law prohibited work on the Sabbath. But the work of the priests was the work God; therefore, it is lawful to do good on the Sabbath. Mercy and kindness are the works of God; so Jesus told them, “If ye had known what this means, I will have mercy, and not sacrifice, ye would not have condemned the guiltless.” (v7)

The mercy of God was also exemplified when the Pharisees once again found an opportunity to trap Jesus by the Law. They had found a woman who was caught in the act of adultery and brought her before Jesus. They took up stones in their hands and challenged Jesus by reciting the Law that stated she should be stoned. Believing the Law to be explicit in its judgment, they asked Jesus what He had to say concerning this. When Jesus looked up, He simply said, “He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her.” (John 8:7) Unexpectedly faced with the reality that they themselves were guilty of the same Law that condemned the woman, one by one they dropped their stones and walked away. Jesus approached the woman and asked her, “Woman, where are your accusers? Has no man condemned you?” The woman replied, “No man, Lord.” So Jesus told her, “Neither do I condemn you: go, and sin no more.

Understanding the Law of Moses from the perspective of God’s love and mercy enables us to understand that God did provide mercy in the Law. The punishment for immoral acts listed in Leviticus did not have to be carried out had the religious leaders showed mercy. The Law did not exclude opportunity for repentance, and it provided provision for the shortcomings of His people, for His people were weak and none were righteous according to the Law.

All the judgments of the Law have been executed upon Christ who is the fulfillment of the Law. God’s mercy was exhibited through the sacrifice of His righteous Son upon whom the sins of the world may be imputed for all who repent and believe. God did not condemn us before we believed, but waited on us patiently. How, therefore, can we do anything but show to others that same mercy, compassion and patients we received? If the Spirit of Christ is not shown through us, how can we expect others be drawn to His grace and goodness? If they hate us for our opposition, though we show mercy, praise God; if they repent and come to Christ, praise Him even more!

9 Responses to Leviticus 20:13

  1. Deb says:

    You present an interesting point of view. Yout blog was an automatically generated related post to the “ransgender Day of Remembrance” post at my blog, “MsQueer.”

    I am an interfaith Minister and have been out as a Lesbian for over 38 years. Although I don’t necessarily agree with your entire line of logic in the final paragraph, I do agree that we as members of the human family, regardless of our religious, cultural, social, or philosophical bacgrounds, cannot afford to practice judgement of one another.

    To judge and condemn another fellow human being is to practice “separation.” We are here on this planet at this time to heal the separation that exists amongst us as the Human Family. I believe that was a large part of the message delivered by Jeshua ben Joseph, whom some call Jesus, The Christ. If we go to the Principle that Jesus, the man, is representative of, i.e. “The Christos” then we find the loftier concepts that you are expounding upon here in your post.

    The Principle of The Christos, is Unconditional Love. How do we condemn those different from ourselves and claim to be “good Christians?” If we are indeed “followers of The Christ (The Principle) then we must practice being Christ-like. That would mean emanating the Love He taught.

    For every passage that some zealot points out to me as God’s condemnation of Gays, I can point out how that is being interpreted to one’s desired outcome for the sake of arguement. Too often modern translations have been cited because in the translations that were closer to the original Hebrew and Greek, meanings were much different.

    For those who believe that the Bible was Divinely Inspired, that it is the Word of God, must rememeber one thing: it was transcribed by humans, who, we all know see, hear, speak, smell, and yes, record those experiences through their “filters” – the social-cultural, ethnic, religious and political influences of their respective time which formulated and influenced the manner in which they will interpret any data they receive and process.

    Getting back to the Gay issue. There was a time when Christians found justifications in the Bible to condemn Afro-Americans, Jews, Buddhists, etc. To those of you who feel that Gays are an abomination, consider this: If we are all Children of God, who falls outside that circle? If Jesus has encouraged us to love one another as He has loved us, where do we draw the line that, “Oh, well, no He didn’t really mean to love THEM.” Those who practice hatred are not acting Christ-like. They are the antithesis of what Christ’s teachings were all about. They are the argument to His message.

    To the author: I deeply appreciate the thoroughness which which you have evaluated the passages and events you have cited here. I believe yuo and I, even though we have some differences, have a vital commen ground from which we could build an alliance. That is what’s needed in the world today. That is why we are here – to build bridges, to find allies, and to eliminate the illusion of separation that prevents us from realizing our full potential as Children of God.

    I applaud this post. I’m sure you catch opposition when you express your ideas in “Christian circles.” Take courage, my friend. Stay strong and know that you are on the right course.


  2. onefold says:

    “But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name: who were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.” (John 1:12-13)

    I do not know where the notion that we are all children of God comes from, but I am sure of where it does not come from, the Holy Bible. Jesus did not come to build bridges, as if to condone immoral acts; He came to call sinners to repentance, and He did it with love and compassion.

    “Do not think that I came to bring peace on earth. I did not come to bring peace but a sword.” (Mat. 10:34)

    What better peace and love can one bestow to another than to point them to the Light of the world? Peace is not found in acceptance of sin, it is found in knowing Christ our Lord. We all have our cross to bear, and if we love God we will be willing to bear it and follow Christ.

    My post was meant to be a message to homosexuals and a reminder to Christians that Christ reached out to sinners (a group from whence we all came) in love and compassion. When Jesus approached the adulterous woman He did not condone her sin nor did he condemn her; He told her to go and sin no more. Jesus did not come to judge anyone nor or we to judge anyone. We are called to be light and salt to the world; to show the love and compassion Christ showed. But we do, as Christ did, stand opposed to sin which separates us from God.

    “I have come as a light into the world, that whoever believes in Me should not abide in darkness. And if anyone hears My words and does not keep them, I do not judge him; for I did not come to judge the world but to save the world. He who rejects Me, and does not receive My words, has that which judges him–the word that I have spoken will judge him in the last day.” (John 12:46-48)

  3. So you are one more radical bigot who manipulates the Bible to justify their own prejudices. I apparently misread you. How sad for you. May you some day know The Christ, because you obviously have no clues at the moment. I will pray for you and your kind. -MsQ

  4. onefold says:

    Is homosexuality a sin or not? If you believe it is not, then please give a biblical explanation as to why you believe as you do.

    You can call me whatever you like, but truth is truth. If you are not willing to back up your assertions, your words are of no worth.

  5. jmjorat says:

    Let’s assume homosexuality is a sin. I can go either way on this argument. Now, what possible explanation is there for homosexuality in nature? Did God make a mistake? Surely not, right? Is God keeping us amused by his gay animal creations? I would hope not.

  6. onefold says:

    I am probably going to regret this, but can you elaborate on your “gay animal creation” please?

  7. jmjorat says:


    You won’t regret it :-)

    It has been observed in nature that some (admittedly very, very, very few) animals prefer the company and, at times, sexual gratifications of the same sex. I don’t think you can label them as freaks of nature because God creates everything. And these animals do not watch MSNBC or the liberal media. A mistake accommodates the possibility of evolution. I’m interested in your opinion.

    BTW, watching two male bonobos at a zoo a few years ago give each other pleasure was fairly uncomfortable for me!

  8. onefold says:


    I don’t think there is anything in what you said that suggests those animals are homosexual. They are animals doing what animals do. They still procreate and their species lives on.

    If I understand you right, you think God created the world just as you observe it. The fact is, God created a perfect world (no mistakes), sin made it into the world you and I now observe. Fortunately God also gave us hope in this fallen world through Jesus Christ who took upon Himself the sins of the world. We have an incredible gift offered to us and the first step to reconciliation with God is to simply accept it.

    If you want another biblical perspective on the issue of homosexuality, see my article “Response to an LGBT Bible Study” on this blog.

  9. jmjorat says:


    You said “I don’t think there is anything in what you said that suggests those animals are homosexual. They are animals doing what animals do. They still procreate and their species lives on.”


    Two male penguins showing no interest in the opposite sex and rearing a baby penguin together is not similar to two male humans doing the same thing? Two male bonobos in the zoo giving each other pleasure is not the same as two male humans doing the same thing? And yet, despite all the homosexuality in the human race, humans still procreate and our species lives on – exactly as you claim it happens in the animal world. We may have a lot more in common with animals than you may think.

    Your assertion that God created a perfect world and sin made it into the world that we observe today is puzzling because you presented it in the context of animal homosexuality – at least that’s what we were debating. Are you suggesting that because Adam sinned, some animals turned gay? Or should I say because Adam sinned, we somehow perceive some gay animals? In other words, there are no gay animals, it’s just in our imagination because we live in a fallen world.

    I’ll read your “Response to an LGBT Bible Study” tomorrow.

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