Wintery Knight

…integrating Christian faith and knowledge in the public square

Are Christians inconsistent when deciding which Old Testament moral rules apply?

UPDATE: The link was down, but I chastised Jonathan and he fixed it.

Jonathan M. writes an analysis of the applicability of Old Testament laws that’s a must-read for Christians.

First, the summary:

I recently posted an article on this blog wherein I outlined my viewpoint with regards same sex marriage and some of my reasons for holding to that position. Now, my views on this issue fall into two categories — theological and sociological. While I think that there are good sociological arguments against the institution of same sex marriage (the focus of my previous post), I also hold that homosexual behaviour is immoral for theological reasons. The Biblical basis for this view comes from a number of Scriptural passages. Among them, is Leviticus 18, a chapter concerned exclusively with sexual sin. Verse 22 commands, “Do not have sexual relations with a man as one does with a woman; that is detestable.” Mention of this passage routinely raises the objection, “But aren’t you cherry picking the Bible? After all, you don’t follow all those laws in Leviticus either. Do you refrain from wearing clothing woven from two kinds of material as prohibited in Leviticus 19:19? And do you obey the dietary laws outlined in Leviticus 11?” I get this objection put to me so often that I felt compelled to write a blog post addressing it. I trust that those who make this kind of objection will find this post informative.

Here’s his argument:

In his Summa Theologica, the theologian Thomas Aquinas (1225-1274) writes,

“We must therefore distinguish three kinds of precept in the Old Law; viz. ‘moral’ precepts, which are dictated by the natural law; ‘ceremonial’ precepts, which are determinations of the Divine worship; and ‘judicial’ precepts, which are determinations of the justice to be maintained among men.”

[...]Only God’s moral law is applicable to us today. The ceremonial and judicial laws of ancient Israel are not. Galatians 2:1-3; 5:1-11; 6:11-16; 1 Corinthians 7:17-20; Colossians 2:8-12; Phillipians 3:1-3 all indicate that the covenant of circumcision has now been done away with. What counts now is, in a manner of speaking, a circumcision of heart — which takes the form of faith in Christ and repentance from our sin.

I think his argument squares with Jesus’ constant dismissing of ceremonial laws and customs, and his focus instead on moral obligations.

Here’s an example from Matthew 15:10-20:

10 Jesus called the crowd to him and said, “Listen and understand.

11 What goes into someone’s mouth does not defile them, but what comes out of their mouth, that is what defiles them.”

12 Then the disciples came to him and asked, “Do you know that the Pharisees were offended when they heard this?”

13 He replied, “Every plant that my heavenly Father has not planted will be pulled up by the roots.

14 Leave them; they are blind guides. If the blind lead the blind, both will fall into a pit.”

15 Peter said, “Explain the parable to us.”

16 “Are you still so dull?” Jesus asked them.

17 “Don’t you see that whatever enters the mouth goes into the stomach and then out of the body?

18 But the things that come out of a person’s mouth come from the heart, and these defile them.

19 For out of the heart come evil thoughts—murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false testimony, slander.

20 These are what defile a person; but eating with unwashed hands does not defile them.”

It’s important for Christians to be familiar with these categories.

Filed under: Polemics, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

3 Responses

  1. Mike Singer says:

    Great Blog – the answer is yes.

    There are a whole bunch of scriptures including the parables that are intentionally misunderstood as so to permit turning the grace of our God into lasciviousness (Jude 1:4)

    Many Christians do not understand the New Covenant as mentioned in Hebrews and honestly think there is no law but the “law of love” ( whatever that means).

    As WK pointed out the moral laws of God of the OT Toarh( ie His eternal nature) are still in existence and have have “transcended”( ie become harder) while the some parts of Torah have been dismissed.

    Here are the scriptures.

    Under the law of the Spirt of Life Roman 8:1-2
    There is no condemnation..in Christ Jesus… the “law of the Spirit of life” has set you free in Christ Jesus

    Transcended (couple of examples)
    Matt 5:28 …everyone who looks at a woman with lustful intent
    ….whoever says, ‘You fool!’ will be liable to the hell of fire.
    48You therefore must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect

    The seven Jewish feasts etc (Pentecost, Atonement, Pentecost etc)

    Circumcision Col 2:11 and others. There are more but this should suffice.

    Done away with such as the kosher laws (Acts 10)

    Many of Pauls writings and other scriptures are severely and INTENTIONALLY MISUNDERSTOOD.

    This in 2 Peter 3…brother Paul also wrote to you…he does in all his letters.. of these matters. …some things in them are hard to understand, which the ignorant, unstable twist to their own destruction, as they do the other Scriptures.

    Allow me to state – the Christian nations of the west are in sever apostasy that has never been seen before. God doesn’t take to abortion / sexual immorality of HIS PEOPLE and brings His Judgement ( this is stated very clearly in the OT).

    Btw, in regards to the two different types of fabric – God nature is that he doesn’t like “mixture” (Here are a couple examples). That is seen throughout the Torah (clothes, farming, marriage) and seen in the NT comparing the righteous and the wicked.

  2. It seems to me that, whether applying all, some, or none, people seem to take the Torah as a list of laws written directly to us without fully taking the socio-historical context into account.

    • Mike Singer says:

      I couldn’t agree anymore.
      Interesting enough American law is based on English law which is based on Judeo-Christian principles.

      If the Christians reject Judeo-Christian principles then why shouldn’t the secular ?

      There was a really interesting readUK article earlier this year on a “UK Judge Says Judeo-Christian Values Are Obsolete” at http://www.thetrumpet.com/?q=7863.6478.0.0

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