What is sexually appropriate? There are lots of opinions about the answer to that question. Is there an unbiased outside perspective that can help us answer this question? Those of a Judeo-Christian way of thinking point to the Hebrew and Christian Bible as the authoritative source of understanding God’s heart on the issue. Of course, even Jews and Christians have many internal disagreements about how to interpret their Scriptures. But let’s try to examine one passage that might help us answer the question. In our study this week through Ezekiel 24, we first heard the Parable of the Cooking Pot. At the conclusion of the Parable of the Cooking Pot, God speaks directly to the people. No more cryptic stories. This is straight truth from God. Read Ezekiel 24, verses 13-14.
Did you notice what God says to the people? In the parable he was focused on their murderous ways. Now he mentions their lewdness. Their impurity. There are two words there. Impurity is ceremonial uncleanness. The Jews had all sorts of cleanliness laws, and God said that their ceremonial uncleanness is specifically lewdness. What is lewdness?
Lewdness is shameful behavior that likely refers to incest and fornication. Incest is when family members have sexual relations with one another. Fornication is when sexual relations outside of marriage between one man and one woman. God is being very clear here. Israel’s impurity included sexual deviancy. The expression of sexuality, God says, is to be reserved for marriage.
God says he tried to help them get clean, but they wouldn’t have it. So now he is allowing them to face destruction. Some people have used these kinds of passages to proclaim God’s judgment against nations in our day. My guess is that you’ve heard that too. Some people claim that just as God allowed Israel to be judged and punished for their sexual deviancy, God is going to judge the USA because we also have so much sexual deviancy. But that interpretation and application of this passage is mistaken because it assumes that God has the same covenant with America that he did with ancient Israel. He does not. God has no covenant with the USA. God does have a new covenant, but it is not with any country. Who is God’s new covenant with? The church! And it is a covenant based on grace, not on law. Very different. Totally different. Let’s not extrapolate inappropriately, making it seem like God’s relationship with ancient Israel is the same as with any country or nation in our day.
Though a contemporary nation doesn’t have a covenant with God, we can still learn something important from this passage. In this section of Ezekiel we clearly learn about God’s heart, that it is a heart for holiness. God wants his people to pursue purity. Likewise, we, his church, should pursue holiness and purity. That’s not a legalistic pursuit. Instead it is a pursuit of living like Jesus lived. It is a pursuit of walking in step with the Holy Spirit so that the fruit of the spirit flow from us. We should be known as people who are kind, joyful, forgiving, honest, self-controlled, gracious, loving. We should be committed to the idea of keeping sexual expression inside the marriage relationship. We’ll talk about that further this week, but for now let’s consider what the real life events the parable of the cooking pot symbolized likely felt like for the Jews.
On this day that God says Babylon has laid siege to Jerusalem because of the people’s actions of bloodshed and lewdness. The result will be total destruction, and that will be awful.
To further illustrate that, God’s next prophecy is perhaps one of the most shocking things you will read in the entire Bible. We’ll talk about that in the next post.