Leviticus 20:9 (HCSB)
9 “If anyone curses his father or mother, he must be put to death. He has cursed his father or mother; his blood is on his own hands.
Many of the commands in this passage are a repeat of those in Leviticus 18. Where Leviticus 18 seemed to be primarily to show how the Israelites were to be different, and not follow the perverse and unholy practices of the Canaanites, the people He is to drive out ahead of them, Leviticus 20 is primarily concerned with expressing the punishments for doing so.
There is a lot of death in this passage. As usual, there are many who will “object” to a loving God commanding the death of someone, especially when concerned with some of the sexual activities described. It’s not that any of them are something that is considered “normal”, even in our ever more perverse culture, but death might be considered extreme for at least some of these. But, we must remember, the real issue here is sin against God, which carries death as the punishment. (Romans 6:23) Certainly the acts themselves are detestable on their own merit as well, lest we think they are not worthy of some form of punishment and discouragement.
Also, we must remember that God will be purging the land of Canaan in order to bring His people into the Promised Land. He is not purging them because they are following Him faithfully… they are being removed because they are opposed to God, and deserve all judgement they might receive. These commands and associated penalties are just as much a safeguard to keep the Israelites holy, free from the same sin, the same depraved behaviors, as it is anything else.
In fact, the phrase “blood on his own hands”, or something similar, occurs five times in the passage. This, it would seem, is to reassure us, and the Israelites, that this punishment is not on the hands of those carrying it out, but on those who have sinned in these ways. Nor can we blame God for their death, because He has made known the expectation and penalty… if one chooses to defy God and sin in these ways, it is their own choice and doing!
Lord, thank You for being a fair and just God. When we might think otherwise, we ought to check our hearts and see if it is because of some sinful desire, something we want to do that opposes You. I pray that we would seek You and Your ways, rather than our own. Help us to recognize punishment for our sin as just that, and not blame You. And most importantly, thank You for going to the cross and paying the price that we never could, and saving us. Amen.