Larry Nassar held an important role as team doctor for USA Gymnastics. But in 2017, Nassar fell from grace when he was convicted of abusing hundreds of children and young women under his care. He is currently serving a 175-year prison sentence. One of the elements that make his actions so reprehensible is that he was in a trusted position of authority.
In ancient Israel, male heads of households were in a position of authority and power. Back then, households were structured differently than they are today. It was not uncommon for four or more generations to live together in close proximity with members of one’s extended family. In a world before police officers or social workers, the head of house was responsible for the well-being of everyone in his family.
With such big responsibility comes the potential for abuse. And today’s reading provides a series of prohibitions directed at a male head of household. Most of the commands clarify for the head of house who in his family is sexually off-limits—everyone but his wife. Family members needed to feel safe from abuse while living and working together.
These commands are given twice in the chapter for emphasis; Israel was to be different from other nations (vv. 1–2, 30). God judged Canaan because of the abusive sexual practices and custom of child sacrifice (v. 21). God held the nations accountable for these practices, which included adultery and homosexuality (vv. 20–22).
God created sexuality to be enjoyed in the right context: a committed marriage relationship. Outside of this context, it can be abusive and destructive. Part of what it means to be holy is to follow God’s direction in this area (Col. 3:5).
>> God’s directions about sexuality were countercultural for Israel, as well as for us today. The book of Leviticus reminds us that God wants the best for us in every aspect of our lives. He has provided specific guidelines for sexuality and cares deeply about the abused and vulnerable.
There are so many ways to abuse or misuse our sexuality. However, You created it for good! Single or married, regardless of our past, help us move forward by honoring You with our bodies.