Why this long list? Lets plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.
Leviticus 18 seems really repetitive. The writer, speaking for God, goes through and lists a number of people one-by-one for the most part, tells who they are, and then says to not try to have sex with them. Many a reader could get confused by all of this. Wouldn’t it just make sense to say “Only have sex with your spouse.”?
One of the reasons I think this is done this way is because to say sex is the great obsession of our society is an understatement. However, our society is not the exception in this. I remember hearing before that we have even found cave drawings of women with exaggerated proportions. An early form of pornography perhaps?
There’s no reason to think Hebrew society was any different and especially if you have 70 people go to Egypt and then a few hundred years later even with high child mortality rates there’s a great number of them, we can easily guess how they spent their free time. Not only that, but after the wilderness wanderings and when they get settled in the land, promiscuous behavior is a problem. Heck. While they’re in the wilderness, promiscuous behavior is a problem.
This is a problem of human nature.
As a divorced man now, I realize that for the time being for me, sexual activity is off the table. Is that hard? Yep. Do I like it? Not a bit. Is it a temptation for me to want to break the rules? Yes. That can include anything with a woman in person or just watching pornography at home. I still abstain from all of those and sometimes, there can be strong temptations. I have already set up hard rules when I start dating again for how I will behave in certain scenarios.
This is a hard path to follow. I have no doubt that some people are non-Christians today because they do not want to follow Christianity’s sexual ethic. I am not saying at all that’s right. I will say it makes sense. We all to some extent love sin. That’s why we do it so often.
Notice something. It’s easy to look at this list and see all the negatives. No list is needed for the positives. God nowhere has to tell the listener “Go and have sex with the wife of your youth.” That doesn’t need to be said at all. There are no restrictions put on the married couple together.
He’s not opposed to that. He created the system. He designed all the parts. He made all of it to work together. Christians have a status of being seen as anti-sex when we should be seen as the most pro-sex people of all. Unfortunately, we have developed a reputation of being seen as prudes.
Sex is not evil. The body is not evil. Both of these are good things and God designed them to work the way they do and in a marital unit, to be able to enjoy the gift of sexual intimacy. We should mind the negative rules, but let’s not forget the positives that don’t have to be said here.
(And I affirm the virgin birth)