Archives for: June 2012, 26
While most of the old Jewish law of the Old Testament was replaced by the New covenant of Christ, including the allowing of man to eat "unclean" food such as shellfish, the New Testament still admonishes against homosexual acts. See St. Paul's letter to the Romans 1:26-27.
T. Paine, Objection Overruled.
The New Covenant was not new set of rules.
It was a renewal of a violated agreement.
Here is the source of the false claim Christians make:
31 Behold, the days come, saith Jehovah, that I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel, and with the house of Judah:
32 not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day that I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt; which my covenant they brake, although I was a husband unto them, saith Jehovah.
33 But this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, saith Jehovah: I will put my law [Torah] in their inward parts, and in their heart will I write it; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people:
34 and they shall teach no more every man his neighbor, and every man his brother, saying, Know Jehovah; for they shall all know me, from the least of them unto the greatest of them, saith Jehovah: for I will forgive their iniquity, and their sin will I remember no more.
To quote a site I now have misplaced (forgive me author of that site, but overall you spoke a bunch of nonsense. However, you expressed this one thing very well, so I clipped it):
The prophet contrasts the existing covenant made with the fathers when he brought them out of Egypt (see Exod 24:8) with a covenant that God will make with the house of Israel and Judah in the latter days. The new covenant is distinguished from the older covenant in four ways:
Yahweh will write the law in the minds and on the hearts of those in the new covenant.
- Yahweh will be the God of those in the new covenant and they will be his people.
Those in the new covenant will know Yahweh.
- Yahweh will forgive the iniquities and the sins of those in the new covenant.
The new covenant, therefore, has two basic characteristics:
First, it describes an internal spiritual transformation resulting in a new relationship with God and a new possibility of obedience.
- Second, the new covenant results in the forgiveness of sins for those in the covenant made with the fathers.
A covenant was made by God with a prior generation. The descendants of this generation did not know God intimately and they did not honor the agreement their fathers had made. God renewed the covenant with the descendants directly, forgave them, and made Himself more familiar. He promised to forgive the breach of contract and to renew the contract with His current chosen people. He did not promise more. I would think claiming that He promised more in the absence of said promise would be very dangerous. The God I know seems very cantankerous and moody.
Despite the Christian reinvention of God, He did not change His mind about the law. He did not decide that goodness would now be remade and that what was formerly wrong would now be OK. He did not decide that you can now eat whatever you want, ignore the Sabbath whenever you want, forego circumcision at your own discretion, allow babies He dooms to die for the sins of their fathers to be exempt from His wrath.
Anywhere the New Testament deviates from God’s original law, it rejects God’s law, as God is immutable, so far as I know, as is His law.
Nowhere does He offer this. Those who quote Jeremiah claiming God made such an arrangement libel God and better hope that God forgives them merely for accepting a crucified rebel into their hearts. However, nothing about the stated character of God suggests that He will.
T. Paine's reaction is, sadly, the unfortunate misinterpretation of scripture shared by many Christians. Too many condense Paul's letter to the Romans to a single verse.
And I also don’t agree with that.
T. Paine was right about Paul. Paul was trying to reinvent God, but also had to defend himself against the charge, so he claimed to honor the law. However, claiming to honor a law is not honoring it. Honoring it is.
Paul’s hippie faith was nothing like the Spartan reality of New Testament Law. God never endorsed or embraced such a thing, and never would have.
Updating the Update:
I don't think that the "old rules" were arbitrary. At least, the ones I've thought about had a base in practical reasoning.
I agree with Tim. I don't think any of the old rules were arbitrary and most of them had a practical basis, even if we don't know it. I remember studying some of them way back, such as bury your feces (which may have been in the Talmud or elsewhere, I don't remember the exact spot).
The rules were not random.
As for homosexuality, assuming it was always forbidden, something I seriously doubt, obviously it can lead to infection and tears. The body is not well-suited for homosexual sex.
John Myste also writes for his own site, where rules are not random and hippies are free to believe what they want.
Please visit John Myste Responds.
This comes by way of the assiduous research of the great Ta-Nehisi Coates of the Atlantic Monthly:
We did not disfranchise the negroes until 1895. Then we had a constitutional convention convened which took the matter up calmly, deliberately, and avowedly with the purpose of disfranchising as many of them as we could under the fourteenth and fifteenth amendments. We adopted the educational qualification as the only means left to us, and the negro is as contented and as prosperous and as well protected in South Carolina to-day as in any State of the Union south of the Potomac.
He is not meddling with politics, for he found that the more he meddled with them the worse off he got. As to his "rights" -- I will not discuss them now. We of the South have never recognized the right of the negro to govern white men, and we never will.
That was United States Senator Ben Tillman of South Carolina, speaking in 1900, on the floor of the United States Senate.
Well, he was honest about the aims of literacy tests as a qualification for voting. They had nothing to do with literacy, and everything to do with denying the basic right of citizenship to a class of people.
Those who felt that voting rights were primarily about politics, which politician was entitled to receive which votes, are not around to witness the reaction of those of us still curious about our history. Does anyone recall which local officials were elected at the turn of the last century? But we do recall that voting rights, citizenship rights, human rights, were denied to large groups of people for political purposes.
We look back at a century gone, in wonderment at those in that era who lacked even the simplest sense of justice, those who gave no thought at all to the fact that voting rights belong to voters, not politicians.
But that was long ago. Nothing to do with us now. Right?
Consider this litany of accomplishments:
We are focused on making sure that we meet our obligations that we’ve talked about for years.
Pro-Second Amendment? The Castle Doctrine, it’s done.
First pro-life legislation – abortion facility regulations – in 22 years, done.
Voter ID, which is gonna allow Governor Romney to win the state of Pennsylvania, done.
That from last week, words spoken by the Majority Leader of the Pennsylvania House of Representatives, Mike Turzai. He was addressing cheering members of the Republican State Committee.
Well, he is honest about the aims of restrictive Photo ID's as a qualification for voting. They have nothing to do with the integrity of the voting process, and everything to do with denying the basic right of citizenship to a class of people. It is hard to find a fair minded person who honestly believes that the newer more restrictive laws are for any other purpose than to keep completely legitimate voters from casting ballots. Those who have little daily use for Photo IDs are invited to visit obscure offices in areas far away, with often absurd requirements of documentation far exceeding anything reasonable.
In Tennessee, a elderly widow who managed to keep voting, even during the harsh days of Jim Crow, is told she can no longer vote because she has trouble locating a marriage license to her long deceased husband. Is she a threat to the orderly process of government? The most significant part of her story, it seems to me, that most telling incident, is the reaction of a state worker to the woman's continuing efforts to vote.
The worker laughs. Laughs. The laugh comes from the unexpected determination, not to be seen from ordinary working folk. The worker says she cannot understand why anyone would go through that much trouble to vote. She explains that it has never happened before in her experience.
Of course. That is not simply the expectation. It is the objective. It goes beyond the rigging of elections by Republicans.
As it was a century ago, there are those today who believe this second great surge in voter suppression is significant only because one political figure or another will benefit: no thought given to the fact that voting rights belong to voters, not politicians.
Those cynics will be spared the reaction of those curious few, those who will look back a century from now in wonderment at those for whom the simplest sense of justice melted away in the summer heat of aggressive partisan passion.
I don't think that the "old rules" were arbitrary. At least, the ones I've thought about had a base in practical reasoning.
The dietary laws lead you away from things that are tricky to prepare safely. We all know about the dangers of undercooked pork. What is not as widely known is that you can't eat just ANY rabbit that you catch. Likewise, the prohibition against blended fabrics mystifies modern readers, but back in the day, that was important. Different fibers shrunk at different rates, and the very first time such a cloth got wet, it would be ruined.
Here is where Ryan raises an excellent point: it's not the law that's important, but the consequences of violation. We know how to prepare all manner of meats safely, so the dietary laws no longer apply. We can make pre-shrunk fabrics, and/or treat them to shrink uniformly, so cotton/wool blends are perfectly OK. The list goes on.
Some things are still prohibited. But they're not very controversial, for the most part. Murder. Theft. Adultery. The harms were obvious then, and they're obvious now.
One interesting question remains: Why was homosexuality on the list, back in the day? I have my own idea, but I'm curious to see what anyone else comes up with.
"Why was homosexuality on the list, back in the day?"
That depends on what you mean by the question.
Is it: Why would God condemn homosexuality? (Possible answer: God intended only for men and women to be together.)
Is it: What rational reasons could people have had to condemn homosexuality? (Possible answer: People needed to increase their population size.)
Or is it: What were the actual reasons for which people condemned homosexuality? (Possible answer: They were disgusted by it. Disgust has always been a significant force in morality.)
Only if we do assume that God's reasons are non-arbitrary (beneficial to humanity) would the first two questions have the same set of possible answers. The answers to the third question, however, would probably tend to be irrational.
"Different fibers shrunk at different rates, and the very first time such a cloth got wet, it would be ruined."
Is this a sufficient justification for a moral rule? Most people--including Christians--would say that it is not. But perhaps we can make it work by clarifying the harm that it causes:
"Blending fabrics is immoral because it leads to a waste of fabric, which is an important and finite resource."
The harm of blended fabric, then, is in its waste of important, finite resources. If that is the justification for condemning it, then it follows that we should condemn the waste of all other important, finite resources, which would in turn have significant political ramifications for Christians.
But also consider how counter-productive it is to condemn blended fabrics without justification:
The typical reader would conclude that there is something wrong with blended fabric in itself, such that we could never be justified in using them.
Morality becomes apparently arbitrary.
- Other behaviors that should be condemned for the same reason are pursued because there is no explicit rule against them.
God should have either made a much more comprehensive list of rules or offered its moral justifications so that we could figure out what to do on our own. Instead, we have a limited list with some strange contents and little to no explanation.
In fact, some of the contents seem pointless or even immoral.
What are we to make of the Biblical rules concerning animal sacrifice? Are we to believe that the abstract symbolism of offering up the best of one's flock to God (and God's pleasure at the smell) is worth the tangible harm to the animal and the depletion of the flock?
What about the rules concerning slavery? Are God's words to the slave and master intended to preserve the practice? Or are they a strangely pragmatic concession that the practice will continue with or without the Bible--an abandonment of what is actually good in exchange for popularity?
With all of these problems, it is easy to see the appeal in simply loving your neighbor as yourself. But that rule suffers from its own problem: it dictates few to no particular courses of action.
While cautioning against pointless and immoral practices here, Ryan also writes for his own site, where animal sacrifice is not mandated.
Please visit Secular Ethics.