Day 31--Bodily Fluid Day!!--"Approaching God" Lev 15-18
January 31, 2021, 6:32 AM

Day 31 Leviticus 15-18

Oh yay! It’s bodily fluid day! I always wait for this reading in Leviticus, and I remember the first time I read it with my 21st century eyes—how archaic! How outdated! A woman was UNCLEAN during her period? But these verses also talk about a lengthier difficulty, a woman who has a physical problem that causes excessive bleeding, such as the woman with the issue of blood in Matthew 9:20–22, Mark 5:25–34, or Luke 8:43–48.

Reality: blood=life. There weren’t doctors or scientists around at the time, and a cyclical flow of blood was somehow dangerous, and quite literally, unclean. I won’t horrify all of you by going into detail, but image how people had to do laundry in those days—no washers or dryers, no convenient sanitary products. I’ll end there. Ok, one more—in the desert for 40 years—no dependable baths or showers either, but a strong dependence on water as a cleansing agent for all types of sin. I’m never sure where they were able to get all that water, but I’m sure God must have provided in some way.

But the greater concern was the creation of life itself. The discharge from a man mentioned in 15:2 most likely refers to a venereal disease of some sort, but the emission of semen sounds like a normal part of a married relationship. These are all ‘life fluids’, mysterious and essential for procreation—the making of more humans—and this was an important job for the Israeli people. This was the sign of the fulfilling of the covenant between Abraham and God—descendants as numerous as the stars.

But note that these all feed into a discussion about Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement, and Azazel—the scapegoat. Cross the word Azazel out of your bible and just write scapegoat so you are clear about what the chapter refers to. God is ALWAYS concerned about a right relationship with him, and with each other. That’s the basis of the entire list of the Ten Commandments. One writer said this: “Uncleanness is what we call being "out of fellowship." It means to revert somehow for the moment from rest and dependence upon the Spirit of God to a momentary manifestation of the flesh, the old life, the old nature.” As I wrote yesterday, it’s not about being ‘dirty’ but it is about being somehow more separated from God.

So let me jump into the oft-debated verses about sexual relations at the very end. From my perspective it is, once again, about life and not about sex. And yet sex has a lot to do with life, and it always has. Sex is the method by which life is created, and God planned it. It IS good. But we know all too well that sex has a power all its own and that this powerful feeling has led people astray in many, many ways. But let’s bring it back to relationships that fulfill God’s edict to Adam and Eve “Be fruitful and multiply.” That is the purpose of sex from God’s viewpoint, but he created it so that it provides joy and pleasure and intimacy all wrapped up with the purpose of making more humans, or co-creating with God. So to uncover someone’s nakedness that was your relative suggests that the person doing the uncovering is probably interested in someone sexually, but it is a relationship that can put us out of fellowship with God because it breaks or fractures family relationships as well. If my husband ‘uncovers’ my sister, then my primary relationship with him is threatened, and my relationship with her is challenged as well.

Yet we know this happens. A lot. What it seems to me that God is saying, and oh, I can get in all kinds of discussions here, is that sex is not purely for pleasure. Sex has a plan and a reason for existing and God doesn’t want us to misuse that purpose or forget that purpose.

Yes, we do live in a different time and place and with a different set of standards, but I am dismayed with our hyper-sexualized society, with the ready availability of porn, or the knowledge that teenagers are wresting with the dilemma of whether to ‘sext’ each other or not. My heart breaks because they are traveling far from the foundations of what sex is supposed to be, and it can profane what God has created as a beautiful gift. Oh dear, now I sound like a Sunday School teacher, but I don’t mean to. I remember a Seinfeld episode where George was caught…having some private time with himself…when his mother barged in. And she yelled, in that inimitable voice “George! Your body is not a playground!” I think, and note, I am being tentative here, I think that’s what God is getting at in these verses.

And I am now wandering out on a limb here when I should just cling to the trunk of the tree and stay there, but I think the lone verse about homosexuality in Leviticus has to do with the fact that it is not life-generating, but would be perceived as purely for pleasure. I believe that the verse is important so we hear ALL that God has to say, but I also believe it needs to be seen in the full context of the chapter where it appears, and that it is only one part of a long chapter. (I know we will hear verses like this again as we read, and I want to be sure that we touch on them when we do.) I don’t hear people talking about uncovering people’s nakedness as much, and I promise you, there’s a whole lot of ‘uncovering’ going on in our culture today!!--so perhaps that’s the essential part of the lesson—look at the wholeness of sexuality, the purpose of sexuality and God’s place for sexuality.  The ordinance of God from the beginning has been to create life, and sex is a central part of that co-creation.

We are all blushed and blessed to be part of that plan, but we would be remiss to say that we did not sometimes wrestle with sexuality, misuse it or think about it in ways that would make us uncomfortable, but in these passages,  God is working with his community again, and trying to ensure the healthy growth of his chosen people.

I’m going to leave comments off on this one, but feel free to email me:

Be blessed, and be a blessing to others,