Leviticus 19:16 – “You shall not profit by the blood of your neighbor” (NRSV)
I am reading through the book of Leviticus this season. When people read through the Bible, they often skip this technical and seemingly repetitive book. It is chapter after chapter of laws, technical notes, instructions on sacrifice, and rules for ancient practices of hygiene and healthcare. But I don’t know why we skip it: It’s a wonderful book because it shows us God’s attributes and love for us just as much as any other book in the Bible.
For one, it shows us that God cares about the details of our life. God wants the best for us, and what comes off as technical rules are really specific points of care and concern for health, well-being, and righteous living. The entire book has love in mind: This is how we love God and how we are to love our neighbors because we are God’s people! No life is left without God’s hedge of protection, from immigrants and convicts, to animals and the fields of the earth (read, for instance, Lev. 19).
Second, it shows just how much God values life. For as long as I have followed Christ, I have been staunchly pro-life. But why am I pro-life? Because God is pro-life. God makes boundaries that establish justice, reparations, and ways of reconciliation for every circumstance in which death occurs. There are rules even for people who accidentally take the life of another, knowing that a person who takes another person’s life no matter the circumstance will suffer trauma and guilt.
God provides avenues of repentance and of reparations so that justice, not tribal retaliation, determines the ethical fabric of God’s pro-life movement. Even rejoicing over the taking of a life—even at the hands of what society might deem a hero—is not to be celebrated or rewarded because each life is made in God’s image. Life and all of life’s details are precious, and the taking of a life has life-long consequences that affect both the oppressed and the oppressors.