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Holiness laws in Leviticus

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  • Holiness laws in Leviticus

    Be warned, this is really a question about sexual relations.

    I was reading Leviticus 19 and 20 this morning. This section includes lots of laws regarding holiness.

    Starting in Lev 20:10 through verse 21, there is a whole list of laws regarding sexual immorality. Don't sleep with another man's wife, don't sleep with your father's wife, don't have sex with animals, etc.

    But I was troubled by verse 18: "If a man lies with a woman during her monthly period and has sexual relations with her, he has exposed the source of her flow, and she has also uncovered it. Both of them must be cut off from their people." (NIV)

    Can anyone explain the intention behind this verse?

    I understand that lots of the laws in these chapters were for the Israelite's own health and protection, some seem to be extensions of the 10 commandments, and some were "merely" to make the Israelites visibly separate from the surrounding culture. Some of these laws we still follow (like avoiding adultery and inbreeding), but others we don't follow now (like 19:27, which says not to trim your sideburns).

    I'm trying to figure out whether verse 18 is still literally applicable now, on this side of the cross.

    Really I'm asking if my husband and I have not kept our marriage holy.

  • #2
    But I was troubled by verse 18: "If a man lies with a woman during her monthly period and has sexual relations with her, he has exposed the source of her flow, and she has also uncovered it. Both of them must be cut off from their people." (NIV)
    you can see it in
    Lev 15: 24.

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    • #3
      Originally posted by Instrument View Post
      you can see it in
      Lev 15: 24.
      But it still doesn't answer the question 'why'....was there a hygenic reason?

      Comment


      • #4
        Originally posted by Esperanza32 View Post
        Be warned, this is really a question about sexual relations.

        I was reading Leviticus 19 and 20 this morning. This section includes lots of laws regarding holiness.

        Starting in Lev 20:10 through verse 21, there is a whole list of laws regarding sexual immorality. Don't sleep with another man's wife, don't sleep with your father's wife, don't have sex with animals, etc.

        But I was troubled by verse 18: "If a man lies with a woman during her monthly period and has sexual relations with her, he has exposed the source of her flow, and she has also uncovered it. Both of them must be cut off from their people." (NIV)

        Can anyone explain the intention behind this verse?

        I understand that lots of the laws in these chapters were for the Israelite's own health and protection, some seem to be extensions of the 10 commandments, and some were "merely" to make the Israelites visibly separate from the surrounding culture. Some of these laws we still follow (like avoiding adultery and inbreeding), but others we don't follow now (like 19:27, which says not to trim your sideburns).

        I'm trying to figure out whether verse 18 is still literally applicable now, on this side of the cross.

        Really I'm asking if my husband and I have not kept our marriage holy.

        What you must remember is that although we are created in God's image, we are in fact not God. God is the Creator of everything, and when we procreate we resemble His power to create. (Ergo the stem from which we actually get "procreate.")

        What is at stake here in Leviticus is not health issues, and in 19:18 specifically is not even about moral issues. It is about how we are to see ourselves in relation to God. When we recognize our reproductive abilities (menstrual blood in women, ejaculate in men) we are reminded of our procreative purpose in fulfilling God's command to "fill the whole earth." But we are the creation and not the Creator! We must remember this always. Leaving the community of believers for a time period is a way of acknowledging that we are unworthy of being in the midst of God in this way. We are unworthy because He is the Creator of all creation.

        As well I think there is a parallel example of uncleanness in men in Lev. 15:16ff. The issue is against semen. But the reason why men are unclean for a less amount of time than women is because of the duration and quantity of the thing that makes each respectively unclean. For women the menstrual period lasts several days; for men the ejaculation lasts a few seconds. The menstrual period contains large amounts of fluid; the ejaculate contains relatively a much lesser amount. Both are unclean because of their sexual emmission, but the women moreso because of the added responsibilities that come with childbirth.

        As to how this applies today, I think we must lay back on this attitude and not on the actual words of Scripture at this point. After all if we take into account the historical context of this Scripture, there was a single community of God's people. They traveled as nomads, and God dwelt within the center of them in the Tabernacle. But now God has Tabernacled among us in the form of Christ. By implanting His Spirit in us we are transformed into His temple. There is no escaping His presence to show our humility. So we must show our humility by how we think of sex and these issues. We must take them seriously because we understand just what our role is compared to God's role (we are created creatures who procreate, while God is the ultimate Creator).

        If the literal text is to be followed, it must be from this attitude as well. It may be that it is best not to have sex with a woman during her menstrual flow. This is based upon what the flow represents, i.e., the lose of the procreative chance. To have sex during the menstrual flow is to bring shame upon one's head because they diminish the egg which was given for a baby and the blood which was given for growth. Diminishing life like this goes directly against the above attitude of reverence towards sex and procreation.
        ~Clay

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        • #5
          In addition to my post above I would like to add a couple other thoughts. A good meal and some time taken to listen to Beethovan's Ninth Symphony always prove to give better insight.

          The real issue worth dealing with when we Christians today look at books like Leviticus is that we must keep in mind that these issues (esp. the one at hand) are foremost issues of purity. At this level the community is being indwelt by God's presence. Any state of impurity is a taint on the community since it is uncleanness in the midst of God.

          We are called to be two images: God's holy people and God's Temple. Neither of which can be found any impurity. This is why there is such an emphasis on removing evil ones from your midsts, as found throughout Deuteronomy (13:5, 17:7,12; 19:19; 21:21; 22:22,24; 24:7). This command is explicitly picked up by Paul in 1 Cor 5:13 to show that community of believer's how they should act towards those that live against God's commandments. They are not apart of God's chosen people because they are not holy, nor are they God's temple because they have made their bodies filthy with immorality. We should acknowledge this as our continued earning to be transformed into the image of Christ and embrace the new creation that we are. We are not to associate with these people because what does the new creation (believers) have to do with the old creation (unbelievers)? 2 Corinthians makes it clear that we are not to yoke ourselves together with unbelievers, but this is just another way of saying that we are not to associate with immorality. We are called to be pure, and this is a high calling indeed. It is by the grace of God that we are able to be considered pure, and it is that which we should be most thankful.
          ~Clay

          Comment


          • #6
            Wow that's a lot to think about!

            Thanks so much for sharing your insight. It makes a lot of sense to me.

            I've been digesting this all day, and I'm not done digesting yet....meaty stuff. I shall have to think and pray more.

            Comment


            • #7
              Originally posted by Esperanza32 View Post
              I shall have to think and pray more.
              I went for about 10 years not cutting my beard because of that thing you mentioned earlier. I had come up with a little philosophy that asks why someone could not find the easiest law to keep, out of the whole Bible, and just keep it. The rationale was that if you just ignore the simplest rule, how good of a person does that make you. As the years went by, I expanded my philosophy to relate it to how the farmers were not to harvest the corners of their fields and how the Israelites were to wear fringes on their clothing, as a sign. All that seemed good and I could feel ok about myself, until I finally got to where I could not stand wearing the thing and shaved it off. So much for my philosophy.
              My opinion about the verse you are concerned with, is you should think about how you would eat a nice steak that you bought at the store. Would you soak it in water overnight before you ate it, to get rid of any remaining blood that might be in it?
              If your answer is no, then treat that disturbing verse in the same way. We do not treat blood the same way, as an instrument of ritual and we have a different understandint of the meaning to all that sacrificial business.

              Comment


              • #8
                The consecration of the flesh was an integral part of the ceremonial laws given to Israel when animal sacrifice was the means for atonement.

                In the NT however we are told that the marriage bed is undefiled:

                (Heb 13:4) Marriage is honourable in all, and the bed undefiled: but whoremongers and adulterers God will judge.

                A menstruating woman is not unclean in God's sight under the new covenant. However during her period the contact with blood which is a type of death, does put both the husband and wife at risk. Her risk is that her womb is open during her flow and by allowing seminal fluid inside while the lining of the uterus is shedding, cannot prevent contamination to her. The wearing of a diaphram or condom would probably avert this risk.

                So the issue for us is one that concerns the health of our flesh - not sin or the law which was about sanctifiying the flesh before one approached the holy God. Our holy standing before the Lord is not found thru our flesh at all but thru our spirit. You could be covered in dung and still approach the Lord in prayer and He would hear you.

                A husband and wife enjoying their connubial bliss are not under a law at all. Adulterers and fornicators however, will be judged for their willful sin, because infidelity can defile the inner man.

                The major difference between the administration of the old covenant and the new, is that our flesh has already been reckoned dead thru our faith in the crucifixion of Christ. The new spirit-man in us is made holy in His sight by His blood and the washing of the water of the word; and so it is the heart that the Lord looks upon. That is why you need to be fully convinced in your own mind, because if you think this is a sin - it will be. Because whatever is not of faith is sin.

                By faith we know it is the Lord who has sanctified us and set us free from the law which pertains to sin and death in the body. Sin has already been removed from us and the flesh cannot stand in the way of our peace with God or take away from our joy of being in His presence. Which is why the marriage bed is sanctified as well because it emulates this union we have in Christ in our spirit, and in that our flesh rejoices too!
                Robin

                Truth is so obscure in these times and falsehood so established that, unless one loves the truth, he cannot know it. - Blaise Pascal
                And Jesus saith unto him [Thomas], I am the way the truth and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me. - John 14:6
                Discernment is not needed in things that differ, but in things that appear to be the same. - Miles Sanford
                Those who compromise with Christís enemies may be reckoned with them. - C.H. Spurgeon

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                • #9
                  Originally posted by Ethnikos View Post
                  My opinion about the verse you are concerned with, is you should think about how you would eat a nice steak that you bought at the store. Would you soak it in water overnight before you ate it, to get rid of any remaining blood that might be in it?.

                  Try soaking it in salt for a few hours. Not only does it draw out much of the blood, the flavor is incredible. Just remember to rinse the salt off before cooking.

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