I would not call Biblical rules arbitrary. I am not privy to the reasoning of the beings who wrote them, whether they were mortal or otherwise. I assume that there was some reason--some motivation--to do so, but moral foundations range from the rational (fear of disease) to the irrational (simple disgust).
I raised the question of arbitrary rules to lead into my point that, if these rules are backed by some kind of reasoning, then the rules are only worth preserving as long as that reasoning is valid. If that is the case, then God's rules are not absolute, but were temporary measures designed to protect people at that time. And if God's rules are not absolute, then Christians are obligated to reconsider what constitutes "good" and "evil" in 2012.
Now, a Christian could argue that, since we cannot be certain that we know the purpose of Biblical rules, we cannot be certain that it is now acceptable to violate them. Therefore, we ought to follow them just in case. However, this argument takes us to my other point: without explicit justification, morality seems arbitrary; we become attached to rules for their own sake; and we are less capable of determining the other behaviors, if any, that are bad. These results have counter-productive and even harmful effects.
In my book, that's bad. But what do I know? God has sold more copies of his.
While Ryan frequently contributes here, he also writes for his own site, where reason is the best insurance against arbitrary rules, not matter the volume of volumes sold.
Please visit Secular Ethics.
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