Blowing up the System on Menstruation and Uncleanliness

DeYoung, Restless, and Reformed

So neither he who plants nor he who waters is anything, but only God who gives the growth

A Sermon on Leviticus 18:1-30 (Part 1)

By Kevin DeYoung

This is part 1 of 4 from my sermon on Leviticus 18. For the introduction to the series where I talk about homosexuality and the Reformed Church in America go here.


Third, God prohibits whatever makes you unclean (19). This is the one verse that people reference when they want to throw out the rest of the chapter. “How can you say homosexuality is a sin? What about the part about not having sex during menstruation? Clearly, these are just cultural laws and we don’t have to follow them anymore.”

The first thing to say in response is “maybe we shouldn’t ignore this command.” I don’t think this command is still binding, but I think you can make a much, much better case for following every law in this passage than for following none of them. Jesus said he didn’t come to abolish the law and the prophets, but to fulfill them. So we better have a good explanation for how Jesus fulfills a particular law before we decide not follow it anymore.

In this case, the key phrase in verse 19 is “menstrual uncleanness.” Husbands should not have sex with their wives in their menstrual uncleanness. So the question is whether menstruation still makes a woman unclean. Menstruation was not a sin. Rather, the loss of blood made a woman (and any man who touched her) ritually unclean. But with the coming of Christ, the sacrificial system is gone, the need for a temple/tabernacle is gone, and the priesthood is gone. The whole system which required ritual cleanness is gone. Therefore, menstruation doesn’t make a woman unclean anymore, because the whole system has been blown up.

Cleanness still matters in the New Testament, but it becomes a moral category instead of a ritual one. Cleanness refers to those acts that are morally pure in God’s eyes. So the abiding principle here is that whatever sexual activity makes you unclean is unfit for God’s people. But blood loss no longer makes one unclean.

Comment from Leslie

Guess, I will sleep better tonight. 

Blowing up the system – sounds pretty radical to me – JC could have been any number of activists that are trying to blow up a system that has committed sins against it own people.


Author: Leslie Carol Botha

Author, publisher, radio talk show host and internationally recognized expert on women's hormone cycles. Social/political activist on Gardasil the HPV vaccine for adolescent girls. Co-author of "Understanding Your Mood, Mind and Hormone Cycle." Honorary advisory board member for the Foundation for the Study of Cycles and member of the Society for Menstrual Cycle Research.