by Stan Smith
Whenever Christians trot out the Scriptures that say things like "A man shall not lie with a man as with a woman", there is almost a collective response. "Oh, yeah? What about shellfish?" Okay, it may not be shellfish. It may be "What about the prohibition to cut your beard?" or "What about the command not to mix threads?" or things like this. The assumption appears to be that if there is something in God's Law that is clearly not applicable, then neither is "A man shall not lie with a man as with a woman." I'd like to look at that theory from two angles.
First, it is, quite simply, irrational. If we're going to say that the presence of a law that is not applicable nullifies this one, then we're going to have to do so rationally. That is, if it nullifies "A man shall not lie with a man as with a woman", it will also nullify prohibitions of rape, incest, adultery, murder, theft, and child sacrifice laws. Since this particular law is not tucked in amongst the shellfish and thread stuff, nullifying one from the other is nullifying all. And I'm not at all sure you're ready to do that ... are you? So, while it sounds like a reasoned argument to say, "Well, God prohibits touching pig skin, so are you going to rule out football?", it's actually, well, pretty stupid to choose instead to dismantle all of God's instructions.
The second angle is generally missed. I think it is important. As I've demonstrated in the past, it is necessary to evaluate the text and context of what any Scripture is saying and to compare it with the rest of Scripture. We know, for instance, that while the Old Testament forbids certain foods, Jesus "declared all foods clean" (Mark 7:19). So comparing Scripture to Scripture, there is reason to question whether or not we still need to be concerned about eating pork, as an example. But the concern I have is this idea that seems to say, "How much of God's Law can we nullify?" The intent, it seems, is to minimize God's instructions. So we'll try to find ways to eliminate "mixed threads" or "cutting hair" or even "a man lying with a man as with a woman". We don't seem to be working very hard toward the goal of "How much more can I do to please God?", but rather, "How little can I do and get away with it?" Along these lines, we tend to bring our skills of reasoning and evaluation to try to make Scripture align with what we know and believe rather than to try to figure out what it says. "There is information in the Bible about slavery. We know that can't be right, so let's set that aside." We lay down any sort of objectivity in favor of personal preference. What we need to do is approach God's Word as the final say. We already know that the heart is deceitful and desperately wicked. We already know that Natural Man is futile in his thinking. We already know that our first condition is a blinding by the god of this world. We already know that we have a seared conscience in the sins that we have practiced. So why are we expecting to be able to define reality (read "God's view of things") by our natural means?
Here's what should happen. We should ask the Holy Spirit for guidance. Then we should read the text and figure out what it says. Next we should read the context and see how it colors what the text says. We should see where else in Scripture this is discussed and see what that says. It is a large effort here, but God's Word is worth it. But, in the final analysis, what we need to determine in advance and all along the way is "If God's Word says it, I'll agree" rather than "I don't see it, so God's Word likely didn't say it." We may think that eating shellfish or mixing cloth is pointless, but that's the wrong starting point. If, after prayer, careful reading, and evaluation of context and comparison with the rest of Scripture we conclude, "Yep, this passage is saying that we should not cut our beards", then we should not cut our beards. It's as simple as that.
It's God's Word we're talking about here. His ways are not our ways. And we are sinners at the core, in need of renewal. If it turned out that God thought just like we do, that would be a problem. I would suggest, then, that we agree with Paul when he said, "Let God be true, but every man a liar" (Romans 3:4). God doesn't suffer from a deceitful heart or a futile mind. Perhaps we ought to be more concerned about seeing things His way rather than attempting to see His Word our way.
"Bible verse and quote" from
Bible and Quote - September 10-14Read Article »
I'm married with four grown children and (currently) four grandchildren. My wife and I live in sunny Phoenix by choice. I hope to encourage people with my words and to share with others what God has shared with me.
For more writings you can see my blog at birdsoftheair.blogspot.com.
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