Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Leviticus--Sexual Sin and a Vomitting Land

My habit is to read my Bible every night in bed before I go to sleep and sometimes before I get up in the morning. Currently I’m in Leviticus and I find myself struck by several things.

In chapter 18, God gives a list of sexual prohibitions. (I find it interesting that the only prohibition specifically addressed to woman is that she “must not present herself to an animal to have sexual relations with it,”v.23 though it seems logical that the same prohibitions given to man applies to woman as well.) At the end of the chapter God makes a link between sexual sin and defilement of the very land:
Do not defile yourselves in any of these ways, because this is how the nations that I am going to drive out before you become defiled. Even the land was defiled; so I punished it for its sin, and the land vomited out its inhabitants. But you...must not do any of these detestable things, for all these things were done by the people who lived in the land before you, and the land became defiled. And if you defile the land, it will vomit you out as it vomited out the nations that were before you. v. 24-28
If I ask if this applies to today, I have to say yes because the defilement wasn’t caused (or potentially caused) by God’s chosen people alone but by other nations as well. Where in the world today is sexual sin not rampant? How does sexual sin defile the land? What about the land becomes defiled? Might there be a relationship between our global sexual immorality and the global concerns about environmental damage? Is the pollution of our lakes and rivers, the loss of forests, the encroachment of desert and global warming somehow connected to our disregard for God’s laws about sex? Might the solution to the defilement of land and water across the world not lie in laws about water purification but in turning back to God’s laws about sexual purity?

It’s a sobering question to consider.

God, I know how attractive, alluring and enjoyable sexual sin is. I have given in far too often in the past. You have given me freedom from the power of such temptations but the temptation rarely ends. It is always there, inviting me to its pleasure. Sometimes I want it so badly, but I have chosen to follow you and you have been gracious enough to give me the ability to resist. Thank you.

You want us, your people, to walk in sexual purity but so many of us don’t. Far too many of us have embraced these sinful ways of fulfilling our longings and have invented means to justify them. How then can we fault those who make no claim to following you? We have no grounds on which we can condemn them without condemning ourselves.

But you, God, are merciful. There are so many places in the Bible where you promise to heal the land if only those living there would turn their hearts back to you. Forgive us our sin! Turn our hearts back to you! Help us to keep holy and undefiled these bodies of ours that you say are your temple and as we do, please heal our land. Keep us from being the vomit of a sickened land!

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