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Most mainstream Christian denominations teach that the Ceremonial Law has become obsolete, but consider homosexuality to be a sin that one should not do after becoming a Christian. There are quite a few prohibitions in Leviticus 18 besides homosexuality, such as sleeping with one's sister, and also sleeping with a menstruating woman.

However I haven't heard Christians put nearly the same kind of emphasis on abstinence from sex during a woman's period that they do on sex between a man and a man. My question is, how do they treat the subject? Are Christians actively discouraged from this practice? Both practices are condemned and carry the death penalty. Since Jesus did not mention either one, by what principle do Christians decide how to treat these two activities?

References:

https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Leviticus+15 https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Leviticus+18

closed as primarily opinion-based by curiousdannii, bruised reed, Matt Gutting, fredsbend, David Stratton Jan 5 '15 at 2:13

Many good questions generate some degree of opinion based on expert experience, but answers to this question will tend to be almost entirely based on opinions, rather than facts, references, or specific expertise. If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

  • I cannot conceive of any reason why any church would think these two issues should be dealt with in the same way. – curiousdannii Jan 4 '15 at 6:17
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    Well here is a reason: they are found in the same chapters in the OT, which is where the prohibitions come from. You may not agree with a reason, but that doesn't make it not a reason. – Gregory Magarshak Jan 4 '15 at 8:27
  • @curiousdannii I think it's pretty clear this is one of those cases where Christians cherry pick the OT Law's they like and disregard the rest. With that said, this is primarily opinion based. Different Christians will say different things. Reference: Types of questions that are within community guidelines – fredsbend Jan 4 '15 at 19:04
  • @fredsbend Cherry picking isn't what I'd call it. Many Christians have logical and reasonable biblical theologies. The OP makes it sound like the only thing which would influence how a Christian uses the law is what Jesus said in the gospels, which is not how almost all Christians think. – curiousdannii Jan 4 '15 at 22:03
  • @curiousdannii As already noted, the two commands are in the same chapter! It's pretty hard to reason that one breath of God was serious and the other was not. We can chat about this further if you like. Ping me there. – fredsbend Jan 4 '15 at 23:18
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Regarding having sex with a woman during her menstrual period, the topic is not addressed directly in the New Testament, and so the conclusion one draws about the matter depends largely on the method one uses to interpret the Old Testament.

The Law of Moses

There is not universal agreement about how to treat the Law of Moses. Some groups claim that it must be followed (except where impossible or instances where it is superceded—like offering animal sacrifices, because Jesus was/is our atoning sacrifice). Others attempt to distinguish between laws that don't apply and laws that do. The third major camp says that the old law is not binding on Christians, that it was for Jews, i.e. Christians aren't compelled to obey anything in the law.1

A seemingly unstated premise of your question is that Christians read passages from the Law of Moses (like the ones to which you've referred) as being commandments they ought to follow (but don't).

The prohibition of homosexual behavior doesn't come exclusively from the Law of Moses (e.g. Lev 15, 18). It's stated explicitly there, but that is not necessarily the best argument for the idea. English translations of the Bible have New Testament authors prohibiting homosexual behavior (e.g. 1 Co 6:9, 1 Tim 1:10). This is much less ambiguous regarding the source and applicability of the commandment. There is some debate about shades of meaning of the Greek words involved, but it's a more logical place to begin the assertion that homosexual behavior is bad.

Principles for Deciding

In general, the principle by which Christians decide (among those who decide, and not those who automatically accept the conclusion of ordained clergy) goes something like this:

  • Is the matter (or a related principle) addressed in the New Testament?
  • Is the matter (or a related principle) addressed in the Old Testament?
  • Is there some historical (Christian) precedent that addresses the matter?
  • Is there a logical answer that does not conflict with the New or Old Testaments?

Some groups place less/no emphasis on history/tradition, but nearly all groups place emphasis on the New Testament over the Old (where there might be two mutually exclusive rules—animal sacrifices are one example), and Scripture over history/tradition. Generally, Scripture is the authoritative source, followed by historical precedent. Finally, logical reasoning is fine in the absence of (or to make specific use of) related principles in the Scripture or applicable historical precedent or tradition.


1 This doesn't mean the rule is bad or that it's OK to do what the law prohibits. It's just that because it's in the Law of Moses is not a compelling reason to follow it—just like people in Armenia don't have to obey the laws of Mexico because those laws apply to people in Mexico. Murder is against the law in Mexico, but that's not why Armenians aren't allowed to murder. Murder is illegal in Armenia—and that's why the Armenians aren't permitted to do so.

  • Yeah I think I understand most of that answer. I'm still a bit fuzzy on what Christian "law" is based on. It seems like whatever Paul teaches is what Christians follow. Since Paul only said "porneia" and didn't specify what that was, therefore sleeping with a menstruating woman isn't clearly prohibited. But since Paul did in fact speak badly of homosexuals, therefore Christianity follows Paul. Am I mostly right? As for the Christian precedents, many churches began by completely rebelling against those precedents, so by what rule do they care about precedents in these matters and not others? – Gregory Magarshak Jan 4 '15 at 8:31
  • I mean Paul didn't mention incest specifically and yet the Church considers that to be prohibited. So why not sex with a menstruating woman? – Gregory Magarshak Jan 4 '15 at 9:43
  • @Gregory you may want to begin by defining "the Church". – Matt Gutting Jan 4 '15 at 14:47
  • @GregoryMagarshak Christians wouldn't say that they "follow Paul." Rather, they would say that Paul knew the truth and taught it. They would expect that every other apostle to have been in agreement with Paul. – mojo Jan 5 '15 at 4:18
  • There is some (though, not serious, IMO) debate about the precise meaning of μαλακός ("effeminate") and ἀρσενοκοίτης ("homosexuals") and whether they are interrelated and refer to idolatrous practices. πόρνος ("fornication") refers to any unsanctioned form of sex. I don't think it would include menstruating women. – mojo Jan 5 '15 at 4:23

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