Mixing Kinds?

Lev 19 19 b

Q. Most of the OT laws are moral, but there are a few which are not e.g.
Lev 19:19 ‘Keep my decrees. Do not mate different kinds of animals. Do not plant your field with two kinds of seed. Do not wear clothing woven of two kinds of material.’ Do these apply today?

A. In general there are three types of OT laws:

1. Moral laws based on God’s character – these are valid for all times and still binding today. For example, the 10 commandments except the Sabbath were all affirmed in the NT and just as binding today as in ancient times.
2. Civil laws that regulate social justice – these are valid in principle, but the application may need to be brought up-to-date. (See yesterday’s post)
3. Ceremonial laws that point to Christ – these have been fulfilled by our Lord and are no longer needed e.g. animal sacrifices.

But there are some that do not fall neatly into these three categories, of which Lev 19:19 is an example. How should we treat them? In this case there are clues. The prohibition is on mixing two different kinds, be they animal, plant, or material, as God wants the kinds to be separate and pure. When God created living things, He made vegetation, sea creatures, land animals each according to their kind:

Gen 1:11-12 Then God said, “Let the land produce vegetation: seed-bearing plants and trees on the land that bear fruit with seed in it, according to their various kinds.” And it was so. The land produced vegetation: plants bearing seed according to their kinds and trees bearing fruit with seed in it according to their kinds. And God saw that it was good.
• Gen 1:21 So God created the great creatures of the sea and every living thing with which the water teems and that moves about in it, according to their kinds, and every winged bird according to its kind. And God saw that it was good.
• Gen 1:24-25 And God said, “Let the land produce living creatures according to their kinds: the livestock, the creatures that move along the ground, and the wild animals, each according to its kind.” And it was so. God made the wild animals according to their kinds, the livestock according to their kinds, and all the creatures that move along the ground according to their kinds. And God saw that it was good.

The reasons for not allowing mixing are not given, but could include:

1. Physical – when you mix different kinds, you get harmful results. For example, if you cross-breed a horse and a donkey to produce a mule, generally the mule is sterile and cannot reproduce. If you plant wheat and oats together, the wheat would be injured and the oats ruined. That’s why farmers practice crop rotation, not mixing. If you weave wool and linen together (Deut 22:11), they shrink differently and the cloth is ruined.
2. Spiritual – to separate themselves from pagan practices. In ancient times the heathen believed that you can get magical powers by mixing kinds. This is superstitious idolatry which must be avoided, and is an object lesson to teach the Israelites to obey even when they did not fully understand why.

Do these laws still apply? On the spiritual side, mixing kinds is not a prevalent pagan practice today, so this reason for prohibiting them is no longer relevant. On the physical side, although the offspring of mating different kinds of animals is still infertile, and planting mixed seeds still result in inferior products, clothing woven of two kinds of material is common nowadays (e.g. cotton-acrylic, cotton-polyester). Some would therefore argue that these laws are no longer binding today.

There is merit in this argument, but I think the more important issue is the principle behind the application, not the specific applications which had changed with culture over time. The principle is in 2 Co 6:17 Therefore, “Come out from them and be separate, says the Lord. Touch no unclean thing, and I will receive you.” The current confusion is over gender, the mixing of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender. LGBT is detestable before God, Lev 18:22 Do not have sexual relations with a man as one does with a woman; that is detestable. Here we must keep God’s decrees and do not cross the boundaries. To do so is to invite God’s wrath.

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