Thou shalt not lie with mankind, as with womankind: it is abomination – Leviticus 18:22
Meaning of Leviticus 18:22
The meaning of the verse, “Thou shalt not lie with mankind, as with womankind: it is abomination” is that God is forbidding human beings from having homosexual relations. The Bible says that God created human sexuality and therefore is setting boundaries on how sexuality is meant to be expressed. The verse is a mandate for men not to lie with men. Its context invites readers to understand if the verse refers to homosexuality. The significant part of Exodus and Leviticus focuses on God’s law for Israel through Moses. Moses’ law contains more than six hundred rules for Israel to follow. Many scholars have proposed different interpretations of this verse one says that it is meant only for the people of Israel, while another says that it applies to only males as the verse only mentions a man. Traditional churches believe that it refers to homosexuality. However, the progressive churches believe that it applies to only the people of Israel or to those particular times. However, many choose to discard the verse entirely as they feel that it doesn’t deliver enough clarity to ponder over.
Interpretations of Leviticus 18:22
The verse of Leviticus 18:22 has been in debate in regard to its context and meaning. The interpretations of this particular verse are countless as Churches to choose to preach it in different contexts. Here are a few examples.
Interpretation #1 God is irrational
The interpretation of the verse, “Thou shalt not lie with mankind, as with womankind: it is abomination” is that God is an unreasonable God. The Bible says that God is a Jealous God in Exodus 34:14. The Bible consists of various situations where the people were not able to stick to the rules set by priests and prophets through God. They expressed that it was impossible to follow the guidelines, and many even turned away from God for the same. Hence, the reader believes that God is very controlling and is not kind of benevolent to understand and accept his children’s wishes and choices. In this version, the reader may choose not to believe in God because of a lack of kindness and acceptance from him.
Interpretation #2 The verse is applied to the Old Testament times
In this version, the reader believes that the verse, “Thou shalt not lie with mankind, as with womankind: it is abomination” applies only to the Old Testament times and not to today’s world. The verse is a part of the book of Leviticus, which is from the Old Testament, a time before Jesus. A lot of progressive Churches today believe that this verse applied to the Christians before Christ came on Earth and the process of crucifixion. The coming of Jesus and being crucified are acts that are known to have canceled the Ten Commandments written and followed in Old Testament. The reason God sent Jesus onto the earth is that humans were not able to follow the harsh rules established by God in the past and hence started to move away from Him. God sent Jesus to reconcile with humans and also abolish every law and rule made by Him. God became more tolerant, accepting, and inclusive since Jesus’ coming and hence accepted his children in every form and way.
Interpretation #3 God expects his children to be pure
The final interpretation of the verse, “Thou shalt not lie with mankind, as with womankind: it is abomination” is that God wants his children to be pure and holy. The reader believes that God’s intent for sexual expression lies within a marriage between a man and a woman. It does not fulfill his intention when it is between two people of the same sex. A homosexual relationship goes against God’s design for humans, both individually and collectively. Additionally, the acts of homosexuality were a part of the idolatrous perversions allowed in Israel at times when it was backsliding. The term “abomination” has been used to refer to something that is abhorrent to God. One also believes that the reason God made so many rules was that he intended his children to remain as pure as him. The preceding and succeeding verses also condemn child sacrifice (moloch worship), incest, and bestiality. The intention of these rules and decrees was God wanted to keep his children holy and pure.
Historical background of Leviticus 18:22
The book of Leviticus is part of the pastoral source of the Pentateuch and not a discrete literary unit. It was set at Mt. Sinai during the thirteenth month of the Israelites’ wilderness journey and is dominated by divine laws delivered to Moses for the Israelite community. The original text of Leviticus 18, like most of the Hebrew Bible, is scripted in Hebrew. The chapter is divided into 30 verses. The chapter focuses on forbidden sexual relationships. Verse 22 has generally been understood as prohibiting some or all homosexual acts, although which specific acts and in which situations is still a matter of ongoing scholarly and church debate.
Literary Devices of Leviticus 18:22
The verse of Leviticus 18:22 is a command for human beings. The verse has some notable literary devices. Here are some examples.
Theme – The verses have used some of the harshest themes from the Old Testament, especially the list of commandments and the punishments for each sin. The themes of Leviticus 18:22 are law and punishment.
Consonance – The verse has good use of consonant sounds. For example, the sound of /t/, the sound of /k/, and the sound of /n/ in ‘Thou shalt not lie with mankind, as with womankind: it is abomination’.
Alliteration: The verse has one example of consonant sound used at the beginning of the word in reputation. For example, the sound of /w/ in ‘as with womankind’.
Assonance – Another sound device used in this verse is the sound of /i/ and /ai/ in ‘Thou shalt not lie with mankind, as with womankind: it is abomination’.
Extended Metaphor – The verse is a possible extended metaphor for homosexuality that leads to sexual immorality and same-sex relationship as mentioned in the Bible.