Tuesday, February 8, 2011

But What About...

When I taught Bible and Christian thought north of Dallas, I developed a close friendship with one of the high school English teachers.  He was, and continues to be, a great guy.  One evening he and I were laughing about strange passages in the Bible, and of course Leviticus 18 came up.  To put it lightly, Leviticus 18 is thorough.  God is very clear about how you can and can't have sex with, although the chapter is almost entirely a list of who you cannot have sex with.  My friend shared how he couldn't read the chapter without picturing someone in the crowd repeatedly raising his hand and asking, "But what about..."

I can't help but wonder if this is always what happens when we try to legalize character.  In other words, when we focus on cans and can'ts, rather then the type of people we are forming ourselves into, I wonder if we've already missed the point.  Rules are good and necessary; they establish boundaries for our own protection, but how sad is it that it takes an entire chapter to answer the question of who someone can't sleep with rather than the one sentence, "I'm going to be the type of person who is faithful to my spouse and not objectify women."  However, that last statement assumes some character formation has already happened.  What do you do if no formation has yet occurred?  Leviticus 18, that's what.  You set the boundaries so that formation may occur.

Anyhow, Leviticus 18...a strange, funny, sad chapter....

Stopping point: Leviticus 23

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