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Debunking Lies About the Bible (Part 3): ‘The Old Testament Ritual Laws’

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It has become quite popular to maliciously label God’s loving admonitions regarding homosexuality as the Bible’s “clobber passages.” Aside from the fact that Christians categorically reject this pernicious characterization of particular Bible verses, there are ironically many “sucker punches” that the militant “gay” activists and their sympathetic supporters frequently throw like anti-Bible left hooks at the Christian community and the culture at large. They’re hoping that if they sling enough mud, some of it will stick.  

A case in point is the characteristically irreverent and profane Dan Savage. When he’s not busy running his mouth and bullying Christian students at the National High School Journalism Convention in Seattle (April 2012), the self-anointed sex and relationship guru spends his free time espousing his “infinite wisdom” on the so-called “bullsh*t” in the Bible wherever he can manage to scrounge up a gullible audience. In fact, fresh off his expletive-laced tirade in front of the young, impressionable students in Seattle, the easily sidetracked Savage again resumed his crude crusade against Christianity and the Pope at the chapel of Elmhurst College in Illinois by issuing the exact same offensive indictments against the Word of God. 

Then, on August 15, 2012, in response to a debate challenge issued by Brian Brown, the co-founder of the National Organization for Marriage, to Dan Savage, the two of them squared off at Savage’s Seattle home after sharing a friendly supper meal together. Their verbal sparring match was thereafter dubbed the “Dinner Table Debate”. Dan Savage, once again, came out swinging, unapologetically defending his earlier obnoxious assaults on the Bible. The primary hang-up for Savage and others of his ilk seems to be the Old Testament ritual, civil and ceremonial laws. Whenever given the opportunity, they will jump at the chance to rattle off their ready list of talking points about shellfish, pork, menstruation, clothing made with blended fibers, crossbreeding of livestock, and planting fields with two different types of seed. Yet, everything they’re saying has been recycled countless times and/or can be traced back to the “Letter to Dr. Laura” hoax that began circulating on the internet sometime in 2000. The now discredited letter, which succeeded in duping quite a few newspapers into publishing it’s tripe, posed a series of sarcastic questions that were intended to cast the Bible and its homosexual proscriptions in a negative light. Only the biblically illiterate or the theologically ignorant were fooled by this letter and its aspersions. To those of us who know better, however, these criticisms do not stand up to scrutiny.  What follows is an effort to provide some insight into this discussion and to equip believers when (not if) they are confronted by these wickedly weak objections to the Bible. Admittedly, this is a lengthy column and I realize that we live in a reading-averse society, but I strongly believe, if nothing else, what follows will be a valuable resource during any future discussions with the “gay” apologists or anyone who attacks the authority of Scripture for that matter.

One final note before diving in: Although Christianity is borne out of the rich theological tradition of Judaism, it is not, to say the very least, synonymous with Judaism. There are very clear differences and distinctions that are worthy of note, and the entire Old Testament (OT) must be viewed through the theological lens of the New Testament. The Apostle Paul, speaking with this exact idea in mind, wrote the following: “Therefore do not let anyone judge you by what you eat or drink, or with regard to a religious festival, a New Moon celebration or a Sabbath day. These are a shadow of the things that were to come; the reality, however, is found in Christ (Col. 2:16-17)”. Christians, in other words, no longer live under the shadow of the OT ritual code, but instead we bask in the full light of the revelation of the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ. Nevertheless, we will examine these and several similar Mosaic laws one by one and carefully dismantle the associated canards of those who ceaselessly attempt to sow confusion into the hearts of believers and seekers alike.

DIETARY LAWS:

“They are only a matter of food and drink and various ceremonial washings—external regulations applying UNTIL the time of the new order” (Heb. 9:10).  And the very next verse identifies the “new order” as the time “when Christ came” (Heb. 9:11).  Furthermore, there are many other New Testament verses which state that these dietary restrictions no longer apply to Christians.

In Mark 7:19, it states that “Jesus declared all foods clean.”  Jesus also said, “Listen and understand.  What goes into someone’s mouth does not defile them, but what comes out of their mouth, that is what defiles them…Don’t you see that whatever enters the mouth goes into the stomach and then out of the body? But the things that come out of a person’s mouth come from the heart, and these defile them. For out of the heart come evil thoughts—murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false testimony, slander.  These are what defile a person” (Matt. 15:10-11, 17-19).  Regarding dietary concerns, the Apostle Paul likewise declared “nothing (not just certain items which some narrowly define as food, but anything consumed for nourishment) is unclean in itself” (Rom. 14:14) and that “all food is clean” (Rom. 14:20).  Paul further explained, “For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking, but of righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit” (Rom. 14:17), and to lay any lingering doubts to rest, he provided additional instructions to the Corinthian Church, “Eat anything sold in the meat market without raising questions of conscience, for, ‘The earth is the Lord’s, and everything in it.’ If an unbeliever invites you to a meal and you want to go, eat whatever is put before you without raising questions of conscience” (1 Cor. 10:25-27). Most importantly, in Acts 10:15, God definitively declared all foods clean to the Apostle Peter, who in turn, proclaimed this same fact to his fellow believers as well (Acts 11:8-10).  So, God the Father, Jesus, Paul and Peter are all in literal agreement on this subject.  That’s all four of the “big guns” of Christianity so it doesn’t get any more conclusive than that!

Unless properly procured, prepared, and preserved, shellfish, pork, carrion birds, rodents, and bottom-dwelling fish (i.e.:  catfish) can be unhealthy, disease-causing,  and even life-threatening.  For example, not too long ago when livestock feeding practices were different, it was recommended that pork be cooked to an internal temperature of 160° Fahrenheit as a precautionary measure to eradicate the trichinosis parasite.   Likewise, health officials have issued numerous health warnings about the risks associated with eating shellfish, especially when consumed raw.

When the Old Testament was written, people were obviously unaware of such dietary hazards, and useful devices like the thermometer were about three millennia away from being invented. If God had tried to explain parasites and germs (viruses, bacteria, fungi, and protozoa) to them, they would not have understood, and the Bible would have necessarily been considerably longer than it is today.  Therefore, instead of providing them with a voluminous and incomprehensible encyclopedia of health manual, God simply gave them many life-saving and health-enhancing prohibitions against eating such foods. Moreover, the fact that the Moses demonstrated an uncanny ability to identify the exact foods that modern science would later associate with such risks lends further credence to the divine inspiration of Scripture. Either the author was an extremely good guesser or he was divinely guided in what he wrote. The latter seems much more plausible, especially given the limited resources available.

The healthy dietary practices of the nation of Israel also explain why they were so prolific and came to be viewed as threat by Pharaoh during the time described in book of Exodus (Ex. 1:6-10). Likewise, all of the required ceremonial washings proved to be beneficial for enhancing their health and hygiene.  So, as we shall see throughout this article, God’s instructions were good for both the spiritual and physical well-being of His people.  Imagine that — God actually knows what’s best for his people!

Several millennia before scientists fully understood the causation or means by which communicable diseases were spread, the Jewish people had implemented numerous life-saving practices. It would take modern medicine a very long time to catch up with what God had already revealed ages ago in the Bible. Including the above guidelines, the following is an overview of some of God’s health-improving instructions for His people:

  • Precautionary procedures regarding the emission of bodily fluids (saliva, semen, blood, etc.) (Lev. 12, 15)
  • Quarantine protocols for the purpose of disease containment which involved specific directions for identifying, isolating, reexamining and cleansing affected individuals (Lev. 13-14)
  • Dietary restrictions against consuming infectious disease-carrying rodents, bats, animal carcasses, bottom-feeding fish, ground-dwelling creatures, carrion birds and contaminated water (Lev. 11)
  • Mold and mildew remediation instructions (Lev. 13-14)

Oh, yeah, one more thing for those who like to mockingly state that Christians should not touch or play football since it’s made of “pigskin:” It might interest you to know that footballs haven’t been made from pig skin (actually pig bladders) since the late 1800’s. They are currently made of cowhide, which is a kosher animal. Ironically, this is a miserably failed attempt to use a very out-of-date argument to “prove” that the Bible is out-of-date. That amounts to an abysmal fail – or fumble – for the avid adversaries of the Bible! Thanks for the good laugh!

CAPITAL OFFENSES:

The death penalty laws of the Old Testament were only applicable under the theocratic system of ancient Israel, which is no longer in place.  To incontrovertibly demonstrate that such punitive laws are no longer supposed to be a component of our public justice system, we need only to consider the incident recorded in John 8:1-11 (See also Matt. 5:38-42).  In this passage, an adulterous woman, who according to the Mosaic Law deserved to be stoned, was granted a reprieve from her death sentence through the wise and gracious words of Jesus.  As this event remarkably illustrates, in Christ, “Mercy triumphs over judgment” (James 2:13). 

However, it must also be noted that the consequences for moral sin have not been exactly eliminated.  The New Testament still unequivocally states that “the wages of sin is death” (Romans 6:23).  So, the death penalty for sin remains in effect, but Christ offers to take our punishment for us (Isa. 53:3; Rom. 8:1; 1 Pet. 2:24).  If we will receive this gift by faith, then Jesus’ substitutionary death on the cross is considered as payment in full for our sin-debt (Rom. 3:25).  Then, what was said in Rom. 8:2 becomes reality:  “Through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit who gives life has set you free from the law of sin and death.” That’s why Jesus told the adulterous woman to “go now and leave your life of sin” (John 8:11).  Jesus was basically commanding her to repent of (turn away from) her former lifestyle and follow the way of Christ.  We have no way of knowing what choice this particular woman made, but if she ultimately refused to listen to Christ’s command, then she most certainly forfeited the greatest opportunity ever afforded her and eventually experienced eternal death (everlasting separation from God and torment in Hell) at the end of her life.  The question that every person must respond to is this:  Will you allow Christ to die for your sins or will you reject Christ’s gracious proposition and someday die physically, spiritually and eternally for your own sins.  The answer to that question is up to each and every individual to make for themselves, and it will determine the ultimate direction of their lives.  These are the days of grace in which we can turn to Christ and be absolved of our sins and their deadly, eternal consequences, but this “grace period” will not last forever. 

MENSTRUAL GUIDELINES:

Legitimate health concerns are still closely associated with this divine guideline, which forbids sexual intimacy during the time of a woman’s monthly menstrual flow (Lev. 15:24, 18:19). Unlike the individuals living during and after the Torah was divinely imparted to Moses, we now know about many dangerous blood-borne pathogens, and this law would be especially beneficial during Biblical times when modern feminine products and gynecological care were unavailable.  This precautionary proscription banning casual contact with blood is also in keeping with the scriptural understanding of the sacredness of blood to the Jewish people, especially in the light of their sacrificial system for the atonement of sin (Lev. 17:11, 14). 

Along these same lines, the instructions of Leviticus 12 seem to be another example in a long list of bizarre laws found throughout the Bible. For a reason that is not immediately apparent, the Lord specifies that “a woman who becomes pregnant and gives birth to a son will be ceremonially unclean for seven days, just as she is unclean during her monthly period” (v. 2) and that she must wait an additional “thirty-three days to be [completely] purified from her bleeding” (v. 4). This same passage further stipulates a doubling of the required number of days for purification “if she gives birth to a daughter” (v. 5). As a result, many have spuriously attacked the Bible as being discriminatory against those of the female persuasion. They argue that this citation represents clear evidence for the Bible’s devaluation of women by insinuating that baby girls are twice as dirty or defiling as baby boys. A very good explanation for this noticeable disparity between the genders is found in the rabbinical teachings where they explain that tumah, which is typically mistranslated as ‘unclean’ and described as ritual impurity, is better understood as a type of deficit or spiritual void, at least in the case of childbirth.

Since a woman during pregnancy is most similar to God as a co-creator, she is therefore, spiritually speaking, at the peak of her sanctity. The conclusion of her pregnancy, however, results in the woman returning to her natural human state, causing her to temporarily experience both a physical and a metaphysical absence or emptiness (tumah) in her life. Moreover, when a woman is pregnant with a girl, an emerging creator like herself, she achieves the highest degree of holiness possible. The delivery of a daughter therefore translates into a considerably larger void or vacuum (tumah), which requires a longer period of adjustment. Or as others have put it, having been elevated to such a godlike status through the birth of another fellow creator, the duration of her purification must necessarily be lengthened to allow for the additional requisite time to descend/return to her original station in life. To use a popular idiom of our day, she needs more time to “come back down to earth.” This rabbinical teaching discloses that Leviticus 12 actually affords higher honor to a mother who gives birth to a daughter – quite the opposite of what many cynically surmise.

CLOTHING & PLANTING RESTRICTIONS:

First of all, as it has sometimes been erroneously and maliciously stated, nowhere does the Scripture suggest that we should execute family members or anyone for failing to observe the Levitical laws regarding seeding and sewing.  The prohibition against wearing clothing of mixed fibers or planting different crops in the same field were given merely as a symbolic reminder to be pure/holy and to avoid the blending of Judaism and pagan practices (Lev. 19:19).  In fact, this entire section of Scripture begins with the phrase:  ‘Be holy because I, the Lord your God, am holy” (Lev. 19:2), and this is an oft-repeated refrain running throughout the Mosaic Law.  As Christian theologian and author Hank Hanegraaff wisely points out:  “The mixing of different things was associated with the syncretistic pagan practices that Israel was to avoid. Scripture thus provides myriad illustrations to underscore the principle of undivided loyalty. In Deuteronomy, for example, the Israelites were commanded not to plow with an ox and a donkey yoked together (22:10). Paul, writing to the Corinthians, uses this common sense principle to underscore the fact that as a donkey and an ox do not work together synergistically in the process of plowing, so too a believer and an unbeliever do not harmonize well in the process of living. Paul thus says, ‘Do not be yoked together with unbelievers. For what do righteousness and wickedness have in common? Or what fellowship can light have with darkness? What harmony is there between Christ and Belial? What does a believer have in common with an unbeliever?’ (2 Cor. 6:14–15).  Finally, the highly complex nature of the civil, ceremonial, and moral aspects of Mosaic laws can hardly be relegated to simplistic, superficial sound bites. Devoid of context, the twenty-first-century mind can only with great difficulty grasp the significance of biblical illustrations, metaphors, or figures of speech.”  Furthermore, we no longer require external, symbolic cues to evoke memories of God’s timeless decree to live holy lives.  Christians currently have the Holy Spirit as our constantly present and perfect reminder (John 14:26).   

Similarly, in observance of Deut. 6:5-9, the Israelites wore phylacteries on their foreheads and placed mezuzahs on their door frames to remind them of God’s word.   Likewise, this kind of reminder is no longer necessary because we now have God’s commands written “not on tablets of stone, but on tablets of human hearts” (2 Cor. 3:3) (Heb. 8:10-12).  With the outpouring and infilling of the Holy Spirit (Acts 2), the commandments of God were transformed from an external code to an internal set of guiding principles for life.  Once again, the internal consistency of the entire Bible, Old and New Testaments, is impressively demonstrated.

Furthermore, crop rotation has been proven to be the best method for both keeping the soil fertile by replenishing depleted nutrients (i.e. legumes like soybeans add nitrogen to the soil which is a necessary nutrient for corn production) and controlling destructive pests.  Time and time again, we see that God’s commands have both a spiritual and a practical benefit for his people.  It sure sounds to me like our omniscient God knows what’s best, and there is a logical and spiritual explanation for each of God’s laws.   

The command to not mix “wool and linen” (Deut. 22:11) was specifically practiced when it came to the making of the certain priestly garments that were worn during their service inside the windowless, unaircondtioned and stagnant tabernacle compound (Ex. 28:39-42).  This is a very useful guideline since fine linen is greatly valued for its exceptional coolness and superior breathability in hot climates such as the Middle East.  Ezekiel 44:17-18 even mentions that the ministering priests were to exclusively wear linen so that they did “not wear anything that makes them perspire” (v. 18).  Once again, God’s commands have a very practical value.  In fact, many biblical scholars believe that this specific command, about unmixed fibers, may have been solely envisaged for precisely this feature of comfort, but a few others understand it as part of a Levitical purity code.

The fact that the Tabernacle/Temple curtains (Ex. 26:1, 31; 2 Chron. 3:14), particular priestly garments (the breastpiece and the ephod with its belt and robe)(Ex. 28:4-8, 15, 31-33), and the ritual tassels (Hebrew:  tzitzit) (Numb. 15:38) were composed of blended fibers also irrefutably proves that the prohibition against the mixing of fibers was never intended as a transcendent moral absolute, but as a regulation of symbolic significance that was applied in certain instances for a specific purpose.   These exceptions are not inconsistent with Ezekiel’s reference to perspiration-causing attire because the breastpiece, ephod and belt did not cover the entire body, and the linen robe of the ephod only had wool yarn that formed an embroidered pomegranate design around the hem.  However, as for the main clothing items, which covered larger or more vital areas of the body (the tunic, turban, headbands, and undergarments)(Ex. 28:39-42), linen was strictly prescribed and utilized.  So, religious items could be composed of mixed fibers, but unblended materials were required for all other fabrics worn on their person.  The tassels wouldn’t technically be considered clothing, but something more akin to a religious accessory. These unblended clothing items therefore functioned as a visible and constant reminder of the importance of discerning between good and evil, right and wrong.  Thus, as they went about their daily, worldly activities, the average Jewish citizen was tangibly prompted to remain uncontaminated by the sinful and pagan practices that were so prevalent around them.  The Apostle Paul likewise employed similar symbolic terminology in 2 Tim. 2:20-21 in which he utilized everyday household items to illustrate the distinction between the common and the holy, and in the process, he also challenged believers to become instruments of God’s holy purposes.   Finally, since fabric mixtures were permitted in the fashioning of certain ecclesiastical vestments worn by the ministering priests, some commentators have speculated that the laity may have been forbidden from wearing wool-linen clothing to preserve the sacred status of God’s habitation. 

SABBATH REGULATIONS:

As for the Biblical injunction against working on the Sabbath, it was intended as a gift from God, a time to be refreshed and to refocus on faith and family.  However, the ancient rabbinical teachers of the Law turned the Sabbath into an oppressive, legalistic weight around everyone’s neck (Matt. 23:4).  What they refused to understand was the difference between necessary daily activities (John 5:1-15) and exhausting manual labor, and that was one of the main concepts that Jesus repeatedly tried to teach them with regards to divine intent of the 4th Commandment.  First, in Matthew 12:1-8, when criticized for picking heads of grain and eating them, Jesus employed the Old Testament to prove them wrong regarding their legalistic interpretations, and in this same instance, the Lord also said, “The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath” (Mark 2:27).  This definitely verifies that the Sabbath was created to conform to the needs of humanity, and not the other way around.  Second, in the same chapter (Matt. 12:9-14), following Jesus’ Sabbath healing of a man with a withered hand at the temple, he once again clearly illustrated the error of the Pharisaical interpretation:  “He said to them, “If any of you has a sheep and it falls into a pit on the Sabbath, will you not take hold of it and lift it out? How much more valuable is a person than a sheep! Therefore it is lawful to do good on the Sabbath” (v. 11-12).  Third, when the synagogue ruler was indignant about Jesus healing a paralyzed woman, “The Lord answered him, ‘You hypocrites! Doesn’t each of you on the Sabbath untie your ox or donkey from the stall and lead it out to give it water?  Then should not this woman, a daughter of Abraham, whom Satan has kept bound for eighteen long years, be set free on the Sabbath day from what bound her?’” (Luke 13:15-16).  Fourth, Jesus called to mind the fact that the work involved with the regular priestly duties was also permissible on the Sabbath (Matt. 12:5; John 7:22-23).  So, the Sabbath was never supposed to be a 100% ban on any and all activities, especially those that were necessary and beneficial to others.  Instead, it was something to look forward to each week as a blessed time of recuperation, not something to be dreaded.  In fact, if you think about it, this is also the very first recorded labor law that protected all workers including citizens, servants, and even foreigners.  The Sabbath work restriction is the cutting edge predecessor to all modern labor laws, in particular the 40-hour work week.

Therefore, Christians are not selectively picking certain verses to follow or carelessly choosing other verses to ignore.  The NT clearly does all of the picking and choosing for us!  A cursory perusal of the New Testament will clearly demonstrate that fact to anyone who approaches it with even an ounce of sincerity. What many either don’t know or conveniently choose to ignore is that when the New Testament refers to the “law,” it sometimes means the civil/ceremonial/ritualistic law and at other times it means the moral law.   The former laws have been abolished by their actual fulfillment in Christ, but the latter remain binding.  The key to discerning which types of laws are being discussed is the careful consideration of the immediate or the larger literary context of the entire Bible.  With this in mind, the New Testament clearly states that many ritual laws are not binding upon the Christian church.  This includes holy days (Rom. 14:5; Col. 2:15-17), ritualistic cleansings/washings (Matt. 15:2, 20; Mark 7:1-3), circumcision (Acts 15), animal sacrifices (See below), dietary guidelines (Rom. 14:17), and other similar external requirements (Heb. 9:10).  The same is also true for any other ritual laws that the anti-Bible crowd tries to throw in our faces.  However, the moral laws are still completely applicable.  They are universal and timeless.  All throughout the New Testament, they are restated and reaffirmed.  In fact, Jesus himself reasserted and raised the moral “bar” when he carefully expanded on many of the Old Testament guidelines [i.e.:  When he equated adultery with lust in the heart (Matt. 5:28)].

SACRIFICIAL SYSTEM:

According to the New Testament, “It is impossible for the blood of BULLS and goats to take away sins” (Heb. 10:4).  These Old Testament offerings were also “not able to clear the conscience of the worshiper” (Heb. 9:9), but they were merely “external regulations applying UNTIL the time of the new order [the coming of Christ]” (Heb. 9:10-11).  Their sole function was to be a “reminder of sins” (Heb. 10:3).  If such sacrifices had been truly effectual, then there would have been no need to constantly repeat them (Heb. 10:1-2).  Therefore, it was necessary for Jesus to come and be our perfect sacrifice, who through his body “offered FOR ALL TIME ONE (FINAL) SACRIFICE for sins” (Heb. 10:12).  And in the process, he “set aside the first [covenant] to establish the second [covenant]” (Heb. 10:9). For clarity sake, that underscores how no additional sacrifices are necessary, and the entire sacrificial system has become obsolete (Heb. 8:13).     

FINAL COMMENTS:

As for Bible verses such as Matt. 5:17 which refer to Christ fulfilling, and not abolishing, the Law, this means that the Lord has completely met all of the ritualistic requirements of the Mosaic Law on our behalf.  The word “fulfill” indicates that these ceremonial stipulations have been completed/finished.  For example, when Amazon “fulfills” an online order, that indicates they don’t need to ship the same order over and over again.  Once it’s done, it’s done and repetition is unnecessary and redundant.  Or to put it another way, the law is not truly abolished; it’s totally accomplished.  So too the Old Testament civil/ceremonial laws were completed in Christ, and we are no longer required to participate in these repeated rituals.  Notice also in Matt. 5:17 that Jesus speaks in the “first person,” saying “I,” not “we,” will fulfill them, which again verifies that this task remained the Lord’s alone.  From the time of his infancy (Exodus 13:2,12; Lev. 12:8; Luke 2:21-24 — circumcision, purification rites, infant consecration) and all throughout his life [i.e.:  Observing religious holidays (Ex. 12:1-30; Mark 14:12-26; Ex. 23:16; John 7), paying the annual temple tax (Ex. 30:13; Matt. 17:24), following the sacrificial system (Lev. 14:2-32; Matt. 8:4; Deut. 16:2; Mark 14:12], Jesus was vicariously obeying the ritual laws in our stead. And as was the case when Jesus was baptized, he asserted that his actions were deemed “to fulfill all righteousness.” Lastly, we see another very specific way that Jesus is the consummation of the Law through His fulfillment of prophecy.  The Lord explained that “everything must be fulfilled that is written about me in the Law of Moses, the Prophets and the Psalms” (Luke 24:44).  Consequently, we no longer need to do what’s already been done because “Christ is the culmination of the law so that there may be righteousness for everyone who believes” (Rom. 10:4).  

When the book of Romans mentions how we “uphold the law” (Rom. 3:31), the larger context (Rom. 3:27-31) makes it abundantly clear that no one was able to justify themselves by observing every “jot and tittle” of the Mosaic Law.  We all fall short in many ways and on many occasions, but through Christ we are justified and receive forgiveness (Rom. 3:30).  He did for us what we couldn’t do for ourselves; therefore, we “uphold the law” through him.  Again, this emphasizes the idea that Jesus accomplished all of the righteous requirements on our behalf.  Nevertheless, as has already been stated, we are still bound to the moral law.  As an example, Rom. 13:8 and Gal. 5:14 state that we now “fulfill the law” when we love others.  We also “fulfill the law” by carrying one another’s burdens (Gal. 6:2).  As is plain to see, we don’t uphold the external, ritualistic laws, we uphold the greater moral and social aspects of the law.

There is one final point to keep in mind. Although the particulars of the Law have been modified from the old to the new covenant (Heb. 7:12; Rom. 7:1-4), the purpose has always remained the same for God’s people – to be holy and to refrain from intermingling with the wickedness of the world around us (Lev. 19:2; 1 Pet. 1:15-16; 2 Cor. 6:17). Likewise, as parents, we also adjust the guidelines for our children throughout the sequential stages of their lives, but our purpose remains the same – to display our love and do what’s best for the dependent members of our family. When our children are young, as author and apologist Frank Turek explains, we tell them to “stay out of the road,” but during their teen years, we nervously hand them the keys and say, “Drive the car (get on the road) and get a job.” No one would ever characterize such a variation in the rules as an illustration of parental inconsistency or contradictory standards. A fair and accurate understanding of the scriptures requires similar deference and a comparable interpretive approach as well. The Apostle Paul, as a matter of fact, makes almost the exact same analogy in Gal. 4:1-4 when he compares the pre-New Testament world to an underage child living under a more restrictive system of law. So, why do the anti-Christian types repeatedly sidestep even the slightest attempt to present an even-handed estimation of God’s Word? We all know the answer to that question; Rebellion against God is as old as Adam and Eve. Nevertheless, consistency of purpose remains a hallmark of the Bible.

So, next Sunday after church, while you’re still wearing your “Sunday best” polyester/wool blend attire, load up the family, go enjoy a nice meal at Red Lobster, and when you get home, toss the old “pigskin” around with the kids.  Here’s hoping you have a real blast!

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