Sex in Leviticus

Claude Mariottini
Emeritus Professor
of Old Testament
Northern Baptist Seminary

The July-August cover story of Christianity Today deals with the topic “Grappling with the God of Two Testaments.” One of the articles in the issue is by Christopher J. H. Wright titled “Learning to Love Leviticus.” The article contains a sidebar in which Wright deals with sex in Leviticus.

Below is an excerpt from the article:

The law in Leviticus prohibiting sexual intercourse between men (18:22) comes in the same book that contains laws prohibiting foods that Israelites were to consider unclean (chapter 11). We eat shellfish today without any moral problems, so why should we treat this sex law as morally binding? Haven’t we outgrown all of that Levitical law anyway? Christians who insist on the sexual laws of the Bible are being inconsistent in not keeping all the other laws too. So goes one line of argument in modern debates about homosexuality. To this, three things must be said.

The three things Wright discusses about the law dealing with sexual intercourse between men is very relevant to the proper interpretation and the application of the laws of Leviticus to today’s society. The article is worth reading and I encourage you to read it by visiting Christianity Today online.

Claude Mariottini
Emeritus Professor of Old Testament
Northern Baptist Seminary

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2 Responses to Sex in Leviticus

  1. I do believe that the food prohibition in Leviticus is binding today. His argument is completely logical if you follow it all the way through. If we dismiss the prohibition on food, of which there is no refute of anywhere in scripture, then logically we have to follow his reasoning.

    However, this is left incomplete because it disregards Paul’s explanation of the origin of same-sex sex. Any discussion on same sex can’t be left without considerations from both testaments.

    I’m going to read the article to get his full take on it.


    • Claude Mariottini says:


      Christians are not bound by the food requirements of Leviticus. If you read 1 Corinthians, Paul clearly says that Christians are bound bound by these laws (see also Peter and Cornelius). Read my post on Christians and the Laws of the Old Testament.

      I believe that the moral laws of the Old Testament teach principles that are relevant to Christians today.

      Claude Mariottini


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