Leviticus 21:16–21 (NRSV): 16 The Lord spoke to Moses, saying: 17 Speak to Aaron and say: No one of your offspring throughout their generations who has a blemish may approach to offer the food of his God. 18 For no one who has a blemish shall draw near, one who is blind or lame, or one who has a mutilated face or a limb too long, 19 or one who has a broken foot or a broken hand, 20 or a hunchback, or a dwarf, or a man with a blemish in his eyes or an itching disease or scabs or crushed testicles. 21 No descendant of Aaron the priest who has a blemish shall come near to offer the Lord’s offerings by fire; since he has a blemish, he shall not come near to offer the food of his God.
A passage like this one is hard to embrace in an age when we are trying to include people who have various physical challenges. They are created by God precious, valuable, capable – sometimes as a result of their adaptation to their physical challenge. One ability might be diminished but another enhanced.
Christians often struggle with how literally to follow the directives and commands of scripture. This passage is an example of why we might now always follow the Bible to the letter. Granted, this passage speaks to worship leadership within the temple in Jerusalem, which no longer exists, so our church contexts are different. That said, it’s worth considering application in our churches.
As you can tell, I’m not in favor – for reasons mentioned in the first paragraph. This does not mean I don’t have a high sense of respect for the authority of scripture because I do. But I believe there are times when the cultural ethic of our day is very different from biblical cultural context.
Lord we are grateful for your Word handed to us in the holy scriptures. Give us wisdom to apply that Word as you would have us do. Amen.