Let’s Talk About Sex (Leviticus 18)


How did your parents talk to you about sex when you were younger? Did they hem and haw and speak in analogies before hurriedly bringing the conversation to a close? Did they go into so much detail and explanations that you began to hope you would never have sex? Or did they just never bring up the subject at all? Everyone knows it’s uncomfortable to talk about sex, but that effect is compounded among Christians. For some reason, the belief that sex is for marriage leads a lot of us to think that the only people who should ever mention sex are married people.

Obviously, God was nowhere near as reticent about the sex talk with His people. In this chapter He speaks frankly about what kind of sex is sinful – specifically, who you should not be having sex with. God outlawed sex with family members, including aunts, sisters, mothers, stepmothers, sisters-in-law, grandchildren, and step-sisters (and, naturally, the vice versa; uncles, brothers, etc.). You can’t have sex with another person’s spouse. Homosexual sex is outlawed. And it was wrong to have sex with a woman on her period. Straightforward, blunt, and to the point.

The Treasures Within:

A Divine Sex Talk

If you’re underwhelmed by this “sex talk”, maybe it’s because most of the rules in this chapter are things that you don’t need to be told. No one really has to be reminded not to sleep with their brother or their cousin or their aunt – no one wants to in the first place! From our point of view, this is a bad sex talk, awkward and unhelpful and strange.

But in verse 3 God tells Moses to tell the Israelites that they “must not do as they do in Egypt” and they “must not do as they do in the land of Canaan, where I am bringing you”. As troubling as it sounds, there were people in those days having sex with siblings and relatives and animals (verse 23). God was speaking to the issues of the Israelites’ time. He knew what they were struggling with and what they would be tempted by and He addressed it, just like a loving, caring parent should.

None Of Your Business

But still, that was the Israelites. Thank goodness we know better nowadays! Chances are, though, that if God was going to give us a sex talk these days, His words would be a little different. Today, just about any sex is considered good sex as long as it’s consensual. And why not? No one has any right to tell you or I what to do in our private lives – why should God? What’s so bad about experiencing some pleasure and doing what feels good?

Maybe the Israelites had some of the same questions. And in this chapter they, just like us, had to come face to face with the fact that not only does God care about what kind of sex we’re having, He knows what kind of sex we should be having. He created us. That means He knows exactly what we need to be happy. He created sex. That means He knows how best to have it. He loves us. That means He wants us to have good sex. But for some reason that’s hard for us to accept. It’s a little cringy to think about God being a part of our sex lives – telling us what we should and should not do. But that’s where trust comes in. Five times in this chapter, God repeats the words “I am the Lord”. “I am the Lord”. It’s essentially saying that these laws go with Him. Either He is the Lord and this kind of sex is sinful, or He is not the Lord and everything goes. Either both things are true or neither of those things are true. We can’t pick and choose. So the question falls to us: is God sovereign over all of our lives, even our sex lives? Or is He not God at all?

God’s Message To Us:

“I want you to live life abundantly.” Let’s be real. If there are two things that are complete opposites from each other, “sex” and “God” seem like those two things. If anything, it seems like all God does is ruin the fun to be had with sex. But what if that’s not true? What if the God who created the very neurological and chemical pathways that make sex enjoyable actually knows what He’s talking about? What if the God who knit our bodies together in the womb knows the best way to have sex? What if we’ve been missing out? What if we’ve been wrong all this time? There’s only one way to find out.

What do you think? Do you let God into your sex life? What message did God write for you in this chapter?

There Are Always Questions:

  1. Verse 19 explains that sex with a woman who is on her period is sinful. Why? Did this law about sex have something to do with the times the Israelites lived in or the practices of the nations around them, or does it still apply today?


One thought on “Let’s Talk About Sex (Leviticus 18)

  1. Interesting question about sex with a woman on her period. This may be an unhealthful practice, because God has a reason for everything He prohibits. Also, notice that this requires self-control.


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