~ by Randy Bushey
For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh? So they are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate (Matthew 19:5,6).
The third book of the Pentateuch can be a tough read.
Page after page, Leviticus contains seemingly interminable and minutely detailed explanations on the sacrificial system, regulations for skin diseases and bodily discharges, the treatment of mildew, forbidden food, a list of capital crimes, and Hebrew holy day observances.
But tucked into the narrative is a somewhat enigmatic story involving the sons of the high priest Aaron.
Leviticus 10 suggests that almost immediately after being ordained to their tabernacle duties of offering sacrifices to the Lord, Nadab and Abihu deliberately messed with the formula, intentionally changing its composition by adding incense to the fire in their holy censers.
The King James Version of the Bible called it “strange fire”. But rather than the Lord viewing this pointless distortion of His precisely thorough instructions as an act of progressive creativity, the text is clear: it was a desecration of the holy work to which God had called the priests.
Moses, the uncle of Aaron’s sons, records the event with simple facts and seemingly without pathos.
[T]hey offered unauthorized fire before the Lord, contrary to His command. So fire came out from the presence of the Lord and consumed them, and they died before the Lord (Leviticus 10:1,2).
A principle was established: any alteration of God’s purposeful design is profane, belying an irreverent attitude to His holiness.
It was blasphemous. It dishonoured His glory.
The LORD’s summary explanation: Among those who approach Me I will be proved holy; in the sight of all the people I will be honored (Leviticus 10:3).
Fast forward 35 centuries to our current culture. In out Messy Grace* video series at Bethel, we’ve been developing a biblical position on holy sexuality.
The divergence is obvious: Scripture’s unambiguous sexual standard for every era and every culture is in stark contrast – at odds with – the rapidly-changing moral framework of our day.
The declaration of the Lord Jesus in Matthew 19 (above) is crystal clear. He appeals not to the changing values of culture, or even the evolving standards of human law.
Rather, He reaches back to creation order for the original template.
Christ explained: God designed sexuality as a significant component of the “one flesh” intimacy reserved for marriage. And marriage is between one man and one woman, intended to be concluded only through death.
Anything else – any other sexual expression – although increasingly accepted and even condoned in our culture, is profane, a desecration to His holiness, a dishonouring of His glory.
That’s a position that’s considered out-dated, uneducated, and even bigoted in the sexually permissive culture of western society.
However, it is also the clear teaching of the Word of God.
But there’s a further biblical principle, without which our understanding of holy sexuality is incomplete.
The Apostle Paul was commissioned by Christ. He discharged his apostolic duties with the authority of the Lord Jesus.
Writing in Ephesians 5 under the Holy Spirit’s guidance, Paul pushed the concept of the “one-flesh” sexual union further by explaining that God-ordained marriage represents theologically the mystical union between Christ and His church…and the two will become one flesh. This is a profound mystery — but I am talking about Christ and the church (Ephesians 5:31,32).
Holy sexuality is a symbol of eternal significance in the Gospel.
Takeaway: think about the extremely high value God places on marriage and the exclusive sexual union within. We must be encouraging each other to honour God by upholding His sexual ethic.
God’s holiness and glory are at stake.
The eternal truth of the Gospel of Christ is at stake.
Among those who approach Me I will be proved holy; in the sight of all the people I will be honored (Leviticus 10:3).
May His people have the courage to declare – and the commitment to live out – holy sexuality in this, the God-ordained model.
*Messy Grace, Caleb Kaltenbach, City on a Hill Studio
– graphic by Miroslav Sárička, freeimages.com