I have heard some progressive Christians claim that Leviticus 18:22 was only condemning homosexual activities for idolatrous rituals. I know that 1 Corinthians 6:9 and 1 Timothy 1:10 was using the word "arsenokoitai" which came from Leviticus 18:22 and Leviticus 20:13.

In Leviticus 18:2-3 it says: “Speak to the people of Israel and say to them, I am the Lord your God. You shall not do as they do in the land of Egypt, where you lived, and you shall not do as they do in the land of Canaan, to which I am bringing you. You shall not walk in their statutes."

There are some people who say that because of these verses, it was condemning the idolatrous practices in Egypt and Canaan which included homosexual sex. Therefore, in this context, it is only referring to homosexual activity that has idolatrous rituals involved. God was only prohibiting the rituals they did in Egypt and Canaan.

We also see in Leviticus 18:21, the verse before, it says: "You shall not give any of your children to offer them to Molech, and so profane the name of your God: I am the Lord."

Some have suggested that because of the context, Leviticus 18:22 is not prohibiting loving same-sex relationships but only ones that relate to pagan rituals. Is this true? If not, why?

  • 3
    No the Bible is explicit in condemning sexual immorality. Only allowing sexual relations between one man and one woman within a marriage.
    – user 14
    Apr 11, 2021 at 16:19

2 Answers 2


There are argumentations that support the sense that this prohibition is to be seen in the context of Canaanite practice, probably first discussed by John E. Hartley.

An exhaustive discussion supporting this theses is published by Luis Quinones-Roman.

This interpretation is embedded into a higher sense (citation from above)

It is not foreseeable to believe that YHWH abominates individuals that are homosexuals. I take the stand that homosexuality is not an abomination because both heterosexuals and homosexuals were created equal before God. Both deserve the natural and divine right to love whoever they want.

The higher sense is actually the motivation for reviewing the interdiction of homosexuality in modern Jewish and Christian communities; it is not based on the re-interpretation of the law.

It is possible that the interdiction refers somehow to contrast to pagan practice of worship. The interpretation that the interdiction only applied to pagan practice of worship is however rather constructed and not supported by the majority of Christian and Jewish theologists.


This argument that these prohibitions are only contextualized to temple worship and is otherwise permitted, is shown to be absurd to the highest degree when the same argument is applied to the surrounding verses. For example, let's see what happens when we apply the logic to just the next verse in the immediate context:

Leviticus 18:23 And you shall not lie with any animal and so make yourself unclean with it, neither shall any woman give herself to an animal to lie with it: it is perversion.

Really? You're permitted to lie with any animal or give yourself to an animal as long as it's not in the context of temple worship? The logic just doesn't hold. That said. The prohibition is against homosexual sex and not feelings and thoughts short of volitionally setting your heart to obtain or engage in things that are explicitly sinful.

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .