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Bestiality – What does the Bible say? Is bestiality sinful?

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Bestiality is the grotesque practice of a person having sexual relations with an animal. The Bible mentions bestiality in four specific places, condemning it each time.

First, Exodus 22:19 states, "Whoever lies with an animal shall be put to death." Under the Law of Moses, the death penalty was given to any person guilty of bestiality.

Second, Leviticus 18:23 commands, "And you shall not lie with any animal and so make yourself unclean with it, neither shall any woman give herself to an animal to lie with it: it is perversion." Here, a reason is given for the command, calling bestiality a perversion. The command is also explicitly stated to include both men and women in this passage.

Third, Leviticus 20:15-16, found in a list of punishments for various forms of sexual immorality in the Law of Moses, records, "If a man lies with an animal, he shall surely be put to death, and you shall kill the animal. If a woman approaches any animal and lies with it, you shall kill the woman and the animal; they shall surely be put to death; their blood is upon them." The only addition in this passage is that the animal was also to be put to death in such situations.

Fourth, Deuteronomy 27:21, considered a "second telling" of the Law of Moses, notes, "'Cursed be anyone who lies with any kind of animal.' And all the people shall say, 'Amen.'" The addition of a curse is the one area of new information added in this passage. A look at the Law of Moses on this issue shows that it viewed bestiality as a perversion, those involved were to be put to death, the animal was to be put to death, and the person committing the offense was considered cursed.

The New Testament does not specifically mention bestiality, but this silence certainly does not indicate that Jesus or early Christians condoned the practice. In contrast, New Testament teachings often speak about avoiding sexual immorality, which included any sexual relationships outside of the context of marriage between a man and woman (Matthew 19:3-12).

Finally, a word can be added regarding God's care for animals. Proverbs 12:10 notes, "Whoever is righteous has regard for the life of his beast, but the mercy of the wicked is cruel." Bestiality is both a sexual sin and a form of mistreatment toward animal life. God's desire is for people to worship Him, to avoid all forms of sexual immorality, as well as to treat animals with compassion.

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