How long has it been since you read Leviticus 18? Really, you must read it. It’s incredible. It reads like a laundry list of things not to do if you want to avoid being a guest on Dr. Phil. It’s mainly about sex. Just for kicks, let’s chronicle the list here.
In Leviticus 18, God says, "Men of Israel, please do not have sex with..."
- Any close relative
- Your mother
- Your stepmother
- Your sister
- Your granddaughter
- Your stepsister
- Your aunt
- Your uncle’s wife
- Your daughter-in-law
- Your sister-in-law
- A woman and her daughter
- A woman and her granddaughter
- A "rival wife"
- A woman during her period
- Your neighbor’s wife
- Another man
- An animal
Wow! It sounds like God cares very much about what happens in the bedroom. Can you imagine even having to say these things to people? Who would have to be told not to have sex with their granddaughter? Or with animals?
This is yet another indication of the depravity Israel had been exposed to in Egypt — and, no doubt, in their own heads. Our sin-riddled natures don’t need very much help in the pursuit of the revolting. In Egypt, sex and religion were intimately (pun intended!) linked. Egyptians considered the orgasm to be the key to eternal life. In their spiritual myths, their "creator god" birthed all the other gods during an act of self-pleasure. Egyptians embraced promiscuity, incest, adultery, homosexuality, prostitution, masturbation, and necrophilia. Abortion was also a widely-accepted practice.
Yikes! God had an awful lot (emphasis on the awful) to contend with!
But the thing I find most highly interesting about this chapter is verse 21: "Do not give any of your children to be sacrificed to Molech, for you must not profane the name of your God. I am the Lord." The whole rest of the chapter is about sexual deviancy, but stuck right in the middle is this verse about child sacrifice. What in the world is that doing there? Was it a random thought? Don’t sleep with this person, don’t sleep with that person, and, oh by the way, don’t kill your children... Or is there a connection?
I remember my mother telling me about an interview she saw some years back about abortion in America. One of the arguments for abortion in the past has been the idea that children shouldn’t be born into situations where they’re unwanted. Unwanted children, after all, are likely targets for child abuse since they enter situations where they aren’t cherished. Sounds reasonable, yet — given all the abortions of unwanted children in the last 40 years — wouldn’t we expect child abuse rates to have gone down? On the contrary, child abuse rates have skyrocketed.
Is it such an intellectual bombshell? The more we devalue life, the more it is devalued. As it becomes acceptable to throw children away with abortion, they become easier to neglect and abuse. Yes, this verse about child sacrifice nestled into Leviticus 18 is no accident. I believe God intentionally meant to link sexual depravity with child endangerment.
Why would those two things be connected? I would like to offer this suggestion: God created us to be creators of little people in our image. These little people were designed to result from the intimate, loving act of a man and a woman in a marital relationship. And as this act of intimate love is disrespected and abused, the products of that act are necessarily devalued in the process. As we lose the meaning and purpose of our sexuality and squander that priceless jewel in the meaningless pursuit of selfish pleasure, we will become so blind that we will even end up destroying our children.
God included the prohibition against child sacrifice in this chapter because it was a reality in the world at the time. People were burning their children in ritual sacrifice to the god Molech. However, it also continues to serve as a warning to future generations and civilizations. Instead of a warning like "Swim at your own risk," it becomes "Dabble with sexual immorality at your children’s risk."
The idea of a "moral police" isn’t something we like, especially in our society. Especially in our bedrooms! But God is a morality policeman to the extent that He is a champion and protector of children. The two are linked, and by pleading with the fathers to curb their sins, He’s hoping to spare the children to the third and fourth generations.