"And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying, Again, thou shalt say to the children of Israel, Whosoever he be of the children of Israel, or of the strangers that sojourn in Israel, that giveth any of his seed unto Molech; he shall surely be put to death: the people of the land shall stone him with stones. And I will set my face against that man, and will cut him off from among his people; because he hath given of his seed unto Molech, to defile my sanctuary, and to profane my holy name.
And if the people of the land do any ways hide their eyes from the man, when he giveth of his seed unto Molech, and kill him not: Then I will set my face against that man, and against his family, and will cut him off, and all that go a whoring after him, to commit whoredom with Molech, from among their people.” (Leviticus 20:1-5)
By sacrificing his children to Molech to accomplish his goals, a person profaned the name of God, implying he was not able or willing to provide, and defiling the sanctuary by pretending to worship God. The people were responsible to execute the person who did so, removing him from among them, whether he was Jew or one of the other groups. If they refused to take the responsibility, God would isolate him and his family from the people, by death if necessary, as well as any who followed his example.
“And the soul that turneth after such as have familiar spirits, and after wizards, to go a whoring after them, I will even set my face against that soul, and will cut him off from among his people.” (Leviticus 20:6)
Anyone who consulted a wizard or medium would be isolated from the nation of Israel. Deuteronomy 18:10-12 warns, “There shall not be found among you any one that maketh his son or his daughter to pass through the fire, or that useth divination, or an observer of times, or an enchanter, or a witch, Or a charmer, or a consulter with familiar spirits, or a wizard, or a necromancer. For all that do these things are an abomination unto the LORD: and because of these abominations the LORD thy God doth drive them out from before thee.” God would literally force participants in these activities out of the land.
“Sanctify yourselves therefore, and be ye holy: for I am the LORD your God. And ye shall keep my statutes, and do them: I am the LORD which sanctify you.” (Leviticus 20:7-8)
Israel was to sanctify or make themselves free from sin because God was their God and it him who had consecrated or set them apart for himself. To do so would require keeping and obeying God’s laws.
“For every one that curseth his father or his mother shall be surely put to death: he hath cursed his father or his mother; his blood shall be upon him.” (Leviticus 20:9)
Disrespecting the parents God gave a person by cursing them was an insult to the god who gave them and was to be punished by the execution of the son or daughter, regardless whether the parents were good or bad.
“And the man that committeth adultery with another man's wife, even he that committeth adultery with his neighbour's wife, the adulterer and the adulteress shall surely be put to death.” (Leviticus 20:10)
Throughout history, societies have blamed and punished the woman while excusing the man. God said both were responsible and both were to be executed, freeing their partners to remarry if they chose. Jesus’ statement in Matthew 5:32 is based on this teaching and implies that adultery effectively ends the marriage. “But I say unto you, That whosoever shall put away his wife, saving for the cause of fornication, causeth her to commit adultery: and whosoever shall marry her that is divorced committeth adultery.” The Jews were not consistent in enforcing this law in his day, as shown by the story in John 8:3-9. The woman had been caught in the very act, yet they were only concerned with punishing her, and had let the man go free. They were breaking this law themselves, which is why Jesus’ statement that the one who was without sin should cast the first stone had such an impact.
“And the man that lieth with his father's wife hath uncovered his father's nakedness: both of them shall surely be put to death; their blood shall be upon them.
And if a man lie with his daughter in law, both of them shall surely be put to death: they have wrought confusion; their blood shall be upon them.” (Leviticus 20:11-12)
In I Corinthians 5, Paul instructed the church to put a man who was guilty of this sin out of the church, to allow God to destroy the flesh in hopes of turning him from his sin. Under the law, both parties were to be executed. The guilt for their death was on them rather than on those who killed them. The same penalty applied if the roles were switched.
“If a man also lie with mankind, as he lieth with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination: they shall surely be put to death; their blood shall be upon them.” (Leviticus 20:13)
Homosexuals were to be executed, and any guilt for their death was to be credited by God to their own choices.
“And if a man take a wife and her mother, it is wickedness: they shall be burnt with fire, both he and they; that there be no wickedness among you.” (Leviticus 20:14)
Sexual relations with a woman and her own daughter required the death of all three. They were to be burned to destroy any remembrance of what they had done.
“And if a man lie with a beast, he shall surely be put to death: and ye shall slay the beast. And if a woman approach unto any beast, and lie down thereto, thou shalt kill the woman, and the beast: they shall surely be put to death; their blood shall be upon them.” (Leviticus 20:15-16)
Beastiality required the death of both the person and the animal, whether it involved man or woman. They were responsible for their own death.
These were mandatory sentences. They were not recommended guidelines, and no alternative was provided. The physical, emotional and psychological effects of the sins were irreversible, so there could be no restitution or correction. All of them involved deliberate rejection of God’s design or authority. No means of atonement for these sins was offered under the law, but under grace even they can be forgiven.