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Archive for July 11th, 2013

Intro:  This coming Sunday, 14 June, the Eighth Sunday after Pentecost, the Old Testament reading is Leviticus 18: 1-5, 19: 9-18.  The reflection by James Kushiner, Editor of Touchstone magazine, is on 18:1-5 and then the verses immediately following.  He sends e-mails to subscribers and this one is good commentary on the Leviticus passage as a word of encouragement.   I highly recommend Touchstone magazine.

This morning, dutifully following the St. James Devotional Guide, I turned in Leviticus (ok, not my favorite book), to chapter 18. I was startled by its timely message.

This chapter opens, “And the Lord said to Moses”: “Say to the people of Israel, ‘I am the Lord your God.'”

Then, a prelude introduces the commandments which fill the chapter: “You shall not do as they do in the land of Egypt, where you dwelt, and you shall not do as they do in the land of Canaan, to which I am bringing you. You shall do my ordinances and keep my commandments and walk in them.”

This summary is sealed with, again, “I am the Lord your God.” The chapter ends with, “I am the Lord your God.”

Why the solemn emphasis? What exactly do “they do” in Egypt and Canaan that Israel must never do, “these abominable customs which were practiced before you”?

The chapter forbids certain sexual relations and forms of sexual intercourse. First, the laws prohibiting various degrees of what we call incest are given. Then adultery. Then the killing of one’s children by offering them by fire to Molech–this stands out as the only item not directly about sexual intercourse. (But then, again, one could [and should] note that today Molech devours children by abortion, which is tied directly to the great rise in sexual promiscuity.)

Next, there is a clear prohibition of homosexual relations, followed by a prohibition against bestiality. Today, sexual restraints are now being put aside, bit by bit. The Lord warns: “By all these [practices] all these the nations I am casting out before you defiled themselves.” The result: “the land vomited out the nation.”

Those who argue for a “progressive” modern sexual ethic for Christians neither know history nor the power of God. It closes: “So keep my charge never to practice any of these abominable customs which were practiced before you, and never to defile yourselves by them: I am the Lord your God.”

 We Christians must stand apart from societal standards in these matters. And it may cost us: as reported here, among recent Department of Justice directives to employees is “an order for workers to vocally affirm homosexuality. ‘Don’t judge or remain silent,’ the brochure read. ‘Silence will be interpreted as disapproval.'”

Christians belong to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. We are not free to alter his laws and do with our bodies whatever we please: “As exiles and aliens abstain from the passions of the flesh that wage war against your souls.” (1 Pet. 2:11) “You were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your bodies.” 1 Cor. 6:20) Like Israel of old, we are a people set apart. He is the Lord, not us. The use of our bodies should honor God. Without God, nations will regress to the practices of old Egypt and Canaan.

 That’s what I read in Leviticus this morning. While sobering in view of current societal regress, it is also heartening to be reminded that fidelity is called for–and also possible, through Christ, in whom we are made new. 

Yours for Christ, Creed & Culture,

James Kushiner

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