Are the Torah’s laws against homosexual activity applicable today?

Editor’s note: This post originally appeared on Tabernacle of David considers this ministry trustworthy and Biblically sound.

Author: David Wilber

One of the most controversial verses in the Torah—really, the entire Bible—is the ban on homosexual activity found in Leviticus:

You shall not lie with a male as with a woman; it is an abomination. (Leviticus 18:22)

Just like other commandments in the Torah restricting sexual behavior, such as the laws against adultery and incest, this commandment is pretty straightforward. Recently, however, liberal Christians have attempted to find ways to undermine the Torah’s authority in this regard.

A typical response is that this commandment has been done away with in light of the New Covenant inaugurated by Yeshua’s resurrection. However, Yeshua is clear in Matthew 5:17-20 that He did not abolish the Torah but affirmed its ongoing authority in the lives of His followers. Furthermore, homosexual behavior is condemned explicitly in New Testament passages such as Romans 1:26-27 and 1 Corinthians 6:9-11.

Noticing the weakness of their position, liberal Christians have attempted to take another route. Some have suggested, for instance, that the laws against homosexual behavior were unique purity laws given only to Israel and not intended to be morally binding on all believers for all time.

However, this argument falls short, and it’s easy to see why. First, as we’ve already established, Yeshua affirmed the authority of every command of the Torah in Matthew 5:17-20. He later told His disciples, in Matthew 28:19-20, to make disciples of “all nations” and teach them “all” that He commanded them. Obviously, that entailed teaching non-Jews all the laws of the Torah, which Yeshua affirmed, including the laws against homosexual behavior. And again, the Torah’s ban on homosexual activity is affirmed directly in Romans 1:26-27 and 1 Corinthians 6:9-11.

But wait! There’s more! It’s evident even in the very passage of Leviticus 18 that these laws were not intended only for Israel. After God gives the list of forbidden sexual relationships, including homosexuality, He says this:

Do not make yourselves unclean by any of these things, for by all these the nations I am driving out before you have become unclean, and the land became unclean, so that I punished its iniquity, and the land vomited out its inhabitants. But you shall keep my statutes and my rules and do none of these abominations, either the native or the stranger who sojourns among you. (Leviticus 18:24-26)

Right here, God warns Israel not to commit these sexual sins, or else they will be judged just as the nations were judged for these sexual sins. That entails that these commandments have a broader application; otherwise, why would God judge non-Israelites for transgressing them? Judging other nations for these sins wouldn’t make sense if these laws were intended only for Israel.

Moreover, remember that Israel was to be a kingdom of priests (Exodus 19:6). They were to be like priests to the nations, teaching the nations about God and bringing them into a relationship with the God of Israel. In fact, the passage says that these laws apply both to the native and the stranger (Leviticus 18:26). Every person who enters into a covenant relationship with the God of Israel is expected to keep His laws.

Now, we all understand that the unbelieving world is going to do what the unbelieving world does. As the apostle Paul says, “For what have I to do with judging outsiders? Is it not those inside the church whom you are to judge?” (1 Corinthians 5:12) So, this message is for everyone who claims to follow the God of Israel: we are to submit to His commandments, including the commandment against homosexual behavior. That doesn’t mean we should be unloving toward people engaged in that lifestyle—God forbid! But we cannot compromise God’s standards for His people.

God demands that we be holy in our conduct, including sex, which, according to the Bible, is only to be enjoyed within the boundaries of a covenant marriage. And marriage, by definition, is a heterosexual union.

This article was adapted from a video teaching I wrote for 119 Ministries called “Parashah Points: Acharei Mot – The Torah and Inappropriate Relationships.”

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About David Wilber


David is first and foremost a passionate follower of Yeshua the Messiah. He is also a writer, speaker, and teacher.

David’s heart is to minister to God’s people by helping them rediscover the validity and blessing of God’s Torah and help prepare them to give an answer to anyone who asks about the hope within them (1 Peter 3:15)…

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