Here, we have a graphic chapter to think about graphic things – things that have to do with sex. But for the most part, this chapter isn’t describing sex in its proper sense. The conditions described in Leviticus 15 are derivatives of sex, the unsavory offshoots of sex – bodily discharges connected to the reproductive organs in our bodies.
Sex is a very earthly and physical thing. It is not bad or evil. God gives it as a blessing for husbands and wives. And it’s really important for the idea of being fruitful and multiplying! Sex is a gift. That’s an important thing to remember about this chapter.
But, again, sex is something of this earth and this life. Sex was not to be brought into the holy sanctuary of God. Keep in mind that some of the pagan religions believed otherwise – and God’s people were to be set apart from that sensual mindset.
Notice the chiasm that forms this chapter – first a discussion of unusual bodily discharges in men followed by one about the (relatively usual) emission of semen in men, and then a discussion of the (usual) menstrual cycle in women followed one about unusual bodily discharges in women.
Cleansing sacrifices were required in some cases, and mere washing was required in other cases.
Nothing about these conditions is holy. God wanted the people to know that. They could not enter into the sanctuary services while in such a state. They were not whole in the sense that everything was operating normally in their bodies.
People afflicted with these conditions – and I assume every healthy man and woman would be afflicted with something described in Leviticus 15 at some point in their lives – were not considered in these text to be sinners. That is, these conditions weren’t necessarily brought on by sin. They just were in an unclean or common state as a result of their reproductive processes.
And God was holy. His long-term plan is to bring us, finally and completely, out of that unclean state and into his perfection. The common will become holy, forever.
He does this by grace. And we believe he will do it in faith (Matthew 9:20-22).
So how do we apply this text today to our lives, where these rules no longer are in place and now that we know the blood of Jesus cleanses us from all impurities?
I suppose we recognize that reproduction is meant for this life. And major problems or small quirks in our reproductive processes also are temporary. They will not last forever. God has a better future in store for us, when these problems will be healed and cleansed by God himself.
We understand that God is holy, and he is drawing us into his holiness even now. This is a reason for hope.