Troublesome Topic: Why Were Semen and Blood Unclean?

Lesson 4 of 7

Lev 15:18 says, “Now when a woman lies down with a man and [there is] an emission of semen, then they must bathe in water and be unclean until evening.” The word “woman” can mean “wife” and the word “man” can mean “husband.” It appears that God is talking about healthy sexual activity between a husband and wife. Nothing is said about it being sinful; it is the emission of semen that is the focal point here.

Many people do not realize this is in the Bible, but when they find out, they will probably respond by saying something like: ”Wait! What?  Why would something God created to be a beautiful act of closeness and intimacy make them “polluted” in some way? I don’t get it!”

Remember, the Law was intended to instruct, not to save. Every regulation of the Law given through Moses had at least one spiritual principle that was being taught through it.

Although it seems strange to us, there are several lessons that were taught by this regulation:

Semen was the word “seed” and seeds are important. Seeds for the field were treated in ancient times with the level of care they deserved.  Our “seed” produces babies, making it a big deal. It is capable of producing some powerful consequences. Treat it like a big deal. Virility was seen in ancient times as a sign of a man’s strength. God was saying, “Treat this as something important, not just something small or insignificant. Sexual activity is not just fun and games, it is serious business.” When God spoke to them from the mountain of Sinai, He ordered them to abstain from sexual relations for three days in order to be prepared to meet with God. There were other times as well that they were to abstain in this way. I believe that refraining from giving away their “strength” was a way of giving God their full attention, giving their best “strength” to God.In regard to the semen produced during sexual relations between a husband and wife, the use of “unclean (isolated)” was simply to make them realize that this stuff that comes out of man needs to be treated with special considerations. God chose not to call it holy, probably because all males have it and can use it in ways that are definitely not holy. So he made the people of Israel consider it “unclean (isolated),” not in a polluting kind of way, but in a way that said, “This is powerful stuff, stop and think before you do this.”

I am convinced that God established this regulation about sexual intercourse causing the participants to become “unclean (isolated)” because there were lessons that could be learned from it. As odd as it may seem, it was God’s way of showing the importance of semen (“seed”). I am also convinced that for us today, the term “isolated” is quite possibly the best way to communicate what was behind the biblical word “unclean.” Whereas the term “unclean” sound like it is always bad, it should be obvious that “isolation” can be caused by either good or bad things. God is an excellent teacher and in the Former Covenant, He used things and activities that were a regular part of their lives to teach lessons in ways they would not easily forget.

It is similar to the regulations about not touching blood. Blood and semen are both good things that God made and placed within us. In fact blood is given a very high position of value in the Bible. The regulations about these two fluids were intended to shine a spotlight on them and say, “Treat this stuff special because it is special.” Something could be isolated for a variety of reasons; these two things were to be isolated because they were important, not because they were dangerous.

The next lesson in all three series on Covenants is: God Alone Determines What Is Normal for His Kingdom

The next lesson in Why is that in the Bible? is: God Alone Determines What Is Normal for His Kingdom