Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Homosexuality, Tattoos, and Ceremonial Laws

From Twitter:

Tattoo of Leviticus 18:22 forbidding homosexuality: £200. Not knowing that Leviticus 19:28 forbids tattoos: Priceless.
The world is full of people who choose to misunderstand the moral claims that Christians make.  However, it is also full of Christians who come by their ethical views through faulty methodology.  Christians do not (or at least should not) believe that homosexual activity is wrong primarily because of the fact that it was forbidden in Leviticus.  We believe it is wrong, first, because of the Scriptures' positive teachings on what is good, what is right, and how God created human beings to live.  This goes back to the original good creation before the fall when God instituted marriage and created a woman specifically for the man and called it good.  Jesus affirmed the goodness of the original creation and the goodness of marriage in Matthew 19:5 when he stated what marriage is: "He who created them from the beginning made them male and female and said, 'Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.' "

The Christian ethical position on homosexual behavior (which has been unwaveringly consistent) is rooted first in God's will, it is evident to all via the natural law and then further confirmed by what we find in the Scriptures, but these are things which have been so from the beginning.  The question of what place Leviticus 19:28 still holds in terms of the moral law and whether it is part of the moral law or the ceremonial law is a worthwhile discussion, but even if Leviticus 18:22 is in the same book as other laws which are no longer binding is not debatable.  It absolutely is.  However, the basis of the belief that the ceremonial laws and laws of uncleanness have been revoked is, in part, Acts 11, where Peter received the revelation of God which separated the Jewish and Gentile Christians by the ceremonial laws of cleanness and uncleanness.  There are reasons why Christians can eat cheeseburgers and orthodox Jews won't get near the stuff.

There is no doubt that many laws in the OT were revoked, and it could very well be that tattoos are part of that.  Either case, I congratulate King Cogidubnus on a well-placed punch.  That's funny stuff.  I love irony as much as the next fella, which is why I try to always read Romans 12:1 while eating a Baconator.


  1. There is also the question of whether a 1st century Jew like Jesus or Paul would have recognize the distinction between moral law and ceremonial law that we make today. Paul Maier's work on Jesus suggest that they wouldn't make such a distinction.

  2. I hope you'll follow up, Mike, because I'm curious. If Jesus and Paul would not have recognized a distinction between moral and ceremonial laws, then how did Jesus envision the Gentiles being brought into the church? And also, then, on what grounds would Peter in Acts 11 have received the revelation about the change in eating unclean foods?


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