Leviticus 18:1-3: “The Lord said to Moses, “Speak to the Israelites and say to them: ‘I am the Lord your God. You must not do as they do in Egypt, where you used to live, and you must not do as they do in the land of Canaan, where I am bringing you. Do not follow their practices. You must obey my laws and be careful to follow my decrees.”
Little A and I have had a few preliminary birds and bees talks, we’ve gone through 2 books together, there have been a few questions and some giggles, I’ve learned a 3rd grader’s terms for certain, ahem, parts, and, and being new to this education thing, I’m not quite sure if we’ve got to the right level of information for this stage, but at least we’re trying…This was a little more than I got as a kid. Somewhere around junior high, I was handed Preparing for Adolescence and given the instructions, “Let me know if you have any questions!”
<Record scratches somewhere in the distance, music stops abruptly.>
Awkward with a capital A.
Contrast this to my mid-20’s niece who got married a few months ago. I can remember saying to her before she was engaged that she knew a gazillion more things than I ever did at her age about relationships–even after I got married. Not shocking, tell-all stuff, just wise, discerning things that are helpful for every woman to know going in to a life-long relationship. She surrounded herself with godly women, she learned, I know that she and my sister-in-law must have had discussions. She went into things wide-open, and she’s told me that she is learning even now.
I like to assume that my daughter has always known stuff like saying “thank you” when someone gives her something, or holds the door for her, but, no, she didn’t know it instinctively. She had to learn by instruction and she had to learn by yielding her heart to the process. Sometimes, more than other times, this is immensely hard. I don’t need instruction, I’ve got this. Easy as pie. No worries. <Splat> That’s the sound of me falling flat on my face in mud.
Saying “thank you” is a bigger piece of the pie, really. It’s about manners, about doing the right thing at the right time and it’s about treating others how you would want to be treated. Little steps. And in the beginning of Leviticus, God started off with the “little” instructions, like how the Israelites were to assemble their camp in the dessert (centrally around the tabernacle) or what to do when something became moldy, or what to do when someone had a wasting skin disease, all seemingly tedious details, but they were all important. God wanted them to live orderly, healthy lives. And so, as we graduate from how we plant our crops in chapter 19, we move on to how we use our bodies.
Just as we see in the verses above, the Israelites needed an all-‘round rewiring. They needed someone to say, “What you grew up watching, witnessing all around you, that was wrong. It was hurtful and will bring you nothing but trouble.” If God was calling his people apart to be holy, just as he was holy (Lev. 20:7), well, then he had to show them how. Laws like:
1) not having sexual relations with a relative: not your mother, stepmother, aunt, niece, sister-in-law, daughter-in-law, or your neighbor’s wife…
2) no homosexuality
3) no bestiality (Lev. 20:10-21)
God uses strong language here: “Keep all my decrees and laws and follow them, so that the land where I am bringing you to live may not vomit you out.” Lev. 20:22
These are all rules that God continues to want us live by. Over and over again, we see that God is a jealous God. Why shouldn’t he be? He is our Maker, our Husband. He wants all of our affections and attentions, and living in a fallen world, these affections are usually right in our face. Even the things don’t look bright and happy and appealing and attractive, they are there too, Little A and I had a discussion about bad words in school yesterday…sometimes it feels overwhelming.
And so we pray, the Lord’s prayer: “Lead us not into temptation, for THINE is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever and ever. Amen.
Be assured, we are not doing this alone, it is God who strengthens us to stand, and so do other believers, by their testimonies and how they live their lives. For we are: “a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light. Once you were not a people, but now you are God’s people, once you had not received mercy but now you have received mercy. ” I Peter 2:9-12.
Let us carry this with us, as we know little acts of obedience yield big results.