Look at the Virgin Wearing Mixed Fabric and Eating Shrimp

laws

The Bible has some very clear definitions of right and wrong and sets standards for morality. Increasingly those standards and morality are not in alignment with western culture. For example sex and intimate relationships outside of marriage or before marriage should not be acceptable to a Christian that wants to be in right standing with God and the Church. Alignment with the Biblical text will place one outside the popular culture anything goes sexual worldview. Christians are attacked as hypocritical for wanting to maintain a moral standard when it comes to sex because they ignore other rules from the Old Testament like mixing fabric or eating shrimp. Here are a few quotes that I have seen attacking Christianity along these lines…

Why do Christians wear clothing of mixed fabrics when the Bible said not to? (Deuteronomy 22:11)

Why do Christians eat shrimp when it’s an abomination, according to Leviticus 11:9-12 and Deuteronomy 14:9-10

Any time spent on twitter or in the comments section of publications will turn up these arguments and others like them as a way to discredit the Christian worldview. For those that like to use this line of attack please take a few moments to see this response. For the Christian that does not know how to respond please dig in, ask questions, and be prepared to provide reasoned answers to the problems and challenges of the day.

When looking at the laws and rules of the Biblical literature there are some ordinances and laws in the Old Testament that do not apply to Christians living in the western world. These scriptures are not mistakes or part of selective adherence by the contemporary believer. These rules within context are not applicable and it becomes obvious when one reads and understands the context. Essentially there are three different types of laws, rules, or expectations communicated by God in the Old Testament and only one of these three still apply to the contemporary Christian.
1. Laws of the Nation State of Israel in antiquity. For example Leviticus 20:10 NIV states “If a man commits adultery with another man’s wife–with the wife of his neighbor–both the adulterer and the adulteress are to be put to death.” So why do I not demand the local police arrest my neighbor if he or she commits adultery? In America adultery in not illegal let alone qualified for a death penalty. In America capital punishment is carried out in some states and only within a very specific set of procedures for certain crimes. This verse in Leviticus does not apply to the contemporary American because the contemporary person does not live in the nation of Israel as organized at that time. Taken in context this verse is part of civil law and part of the function of organized governance that has no authority over the modern reader.
2. Ceremonial laws that governed how the worshipers of Jehovah were to live before their God. I love the Jewish people, but I am not Jewish, and I do not practice Judaism. Christ when He died on the Cross as the perfect lamb sacrifice ended the ceremonial rules needed to approach God. Christians do not need to sacrifice animals in Jerusalem and they do not need to keep the ceremonial laws intended to make Hebrews holy and presentable to God. Jesus fulfilled all those rules on the behalf of His followers as the perfect and final sacrifice. The ordinances that were put in place to separate and distinguish God’s people are not applicable to the contemporary Christian. What kind of food one eats, how one cuts their hair, or what clothes they wear are part of that ceremonial law and do not apply today.

For by one sacrifice he has made perfect forever those who are being made holy. Hebrews 10:14 NIV

3. Moral laws that are true for all people, in all places, at all times. Finally the question everyone wants to know… why then do we need or follow anything written in the Old Testament and the answer is the moral character of God is revealed there and that character applies to all people who are created in God’s image (every person regardless of color, gender, or culture is created in God’s image). That moral law as seen in the Ten Commandments like do not murder and do not lie are behaviors that are wrong in all places, at all times, and are true for all people.

While adultery may not be against the law or a capital offence in America that does not mean that adultery is acceptable to God. Jesus demonstrated this truth when challenged to pronounce a death sentence over an actual adulterous woman. “Then neither do I condemn you,” Jesus declared. “Go now and leave your life of sin.” John 8:11 NIV. Jesus did not uphold the defunct Jewish Civil law as the Pharisees wanted (if he had he would have violated Roman law the true government authority at that time) but he did uphold the moral law by asking her to stop the life of adultery. While there may be no dress code in western culture that does not mean that people should abandon modesty in public. While one could be a less than truthful salesman and stay within the bounds of the law there is still a moral law about honesty that applies to interactions with other people. The freedom that comes from Christ also holds a responsibility to seek the morally correct path because that path aligns with the nature and character of God. Here is Paul’s warning on this newfound freedom for followers of Christ…

All things are lawful,” but not all things are helpful. “All things are lawful,” but not all things build up. 1 Corinthians 10:23 ESV

The Christian can be free to eat meat or be vegetarian and still be in right standing before God. The Christian however can be in broken fellowship with God for continually overeating. The same approach applies to sexual relationships. God has a defined standard for sex and living a life outside of that moral standard is living outside of God’s moral character as confirmed even in the New Testament scriptures. Sex is a moral issue between God, the Church, and the follower of Christ. And that is why many lifestyles promoted by society at large may not be honored by God who has set the standards of right and wrong.

John 8: I am not here to Judge

no condemnation

John 8 opens with the Pharisees bringing before Jesus a woman “caught” in adultery. The Pharisees came to trap Jesus trying to find some way to condemn him. They would bring him questions or situations that would force him to choose between the “law” and the government of Rome. Or the “law” and what the people wanted. The situations were no win in the area of politics. Whatever his answer the goal was to have some charge that could be used against Jesus either with the people who loved him or with Rome itself.

3 The scribes and the Pharisees brought a woman who had been caught in adultery, and placing her in the midst 4 they said to him, “Teacher, this woman has been caught in the act of adultery. 5 Now in the Law Moses commanded us to stone such women. So what do you say?” John 1:3-5 ESV

Jesus always responded with the truth from God which frustrated and angered the Pharisees because the political game was not part of his agenda. In this case they wanted Jesus to condemn this woman to death upholding the Jewish law but then in turn violating the Roman authority.

10 “If a man commits adultery with the wife of his neighbor, both the adulterer and the adulteress shall surely be put to death. Leviticus 20:10 ESV

The Pharisees brought a show and Jesus did not respond. Obviously the Pharisees were violating their own laws. They said the woman had been caught in the act but where was the man that was with her? Famously Jesus does not respond to the challenge but writes on the ground. What Jesus wrote in the ground is unknown to us but the net effect is that no one could stand in judgement. Only Jesus has that right. So they walked away.

10 Jesus stood up and said to her, “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?” 11 She said, “No one, Lord.” And Jesus said, “Neither do I condemn you; go, and from now on sin no more.” John 8:10 ESV

Neither do I condemn you. Jesus did not come to the world to judge it. Jesus came to save the world. Today right now is the time of grace where he wants everyone to repent of sin and find mercy and grace. Now is the season of mercy cling to it now before that season is ends.

17 For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him. John 3:17 ESV

In a second act of John 8 the Pharisees come back to Jesus listening to him speak in order to challenge what he says. Jesus claims to be the light of the world. “I am” he says and it drives these religious men crazy because by making that statement Jesus puts himself on equal footing with God.

12 Again Jesus spoke to them, saying, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” 13 So the Pharisees said to him, “You are bearing witness about yourself; your testimony is not true.” John 8:12-13 ESV

It is interesting that this encounter is listed right after the encounter with the adulterous woman. Because these hateful men bring up the testimony of two for something to be accepted. It makes me wonder if what Jesus wrote or how Jesus found no one willing to condemn the adulterous woman had something to do with the number of people needed to witness the sin.

30 “If anyone kills a person, the murderer shall be put to death on the evidence of witnesses. But no person shall be put to death on the testimony of one witness. Numbers 35:30 ESV

Jesus challenges them on their own judgment. His judgment would be perfect and would fulfill the law. Jesus states that his judgment is true because there are two witnesses both him and the father.

15 You judge according to the flesh; I judge no one. 16 Yet even if I do judge, my judgment is true, for it is not I alone who judge, but I and the Father who sent me. 17 In your Law it is written that the testimony of two people is true. 18 I am the one who bears witness about myself, and the Father who sent me bears witness about me.” John 8:15-18 ESV

Jesus is the perfect witness because he and the Father testify to what they have seen in us. Our judgment should be condemnation but Jesus is not here at this time to judge. He is here to save and in him and his prefect record will find us innocent. What an act of grace and mercy. What other way would be more fitting for God to reconcile himself to sinners and rebellious children? Repent and accept his grace for now is the time.