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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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Oh God
You surround me with your love,
with memories
of who you are
of what you've done
of promises you've made
of who I want to be
of who I am because of you.

You give me hope and joy,
peace and gratitude.
You convict me
and teach me
encourage me
and remind me
of what it means to follow you.

You listen to my prayers
and grant my requests
in your time.
You give me insight
and knowledge
and words to write
to share your presence
your goodness
your love
your admonition
with others.

You expand my love
to pray for friend and foe
near and far
family and stranger
people as pins on maps
clustered and scattered
who know you and reject you
for those in need
and those too full to need.

You draw me close
and then release me
to bring you close to others
to serve
and love
and give
all I have received.

You fill my heart with joy
that warms
and glows
and bursts
into laughter,
and even dance.

You wrap me in your arms
and tell me
"You are mine"
with intensity that burns
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