Objections to the Bible: Christians don't follow the Law

by Kyle
published October 17, 2015


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There are a lot of rules in the Bible I don’t like. I find them inconvenient because they prohibit me from doing exactly what I want to do. Fortunately, some of those rules do not apply to me. For instance, Ephesians 6:1 commands, “Children, obey your parents.” Because I am no longer a child, that rule no longer applies tome.

This is not unique to the rules, commands and injunctions in the Bible. Our own secular law is similar. Off-duty policemen, district attorneys and judges have a different set of rules for carrying concealedfirearms than other citizens do. As a clergy person, I have a different and greater legal obligation to report abuse, neglect and threats of harm to self or others than other citizens do.

A common objection to the trustworthiness of scripture, however, is that those who claim its reliability do not follow all of its rules. As a Christian, I work on Sunday (and most Saturdays), I wear fabrics made from two different kinds of material, I eat bacon and shellfish and I do not present my clothes toa priest when I discover mildew on them. Some who argue against the reliability of the Bible because even I, who claim that the Bible is the inspired word of God, do not even make an effort to follow many of its rules.

So here, I would like to defend my practice as actually logically consistent with what Scripture reveals. First, the law does not apply to me as a gentile. Rules prohibiting boiling a goat in its mother’s milk or reaping crops from the edges of my fields do not apply to me because I am not descended from Jacobnor do I live within the boundaries of Israel. The first five books of the Bible — the Torah— define the way God wants descendants of Jacob and those living among them inside Israel’s borders to conduct their lives. Consistently in the law, God dictates rules with the word, “you.” The immediate context indicates that “you” was the Israelites, not Gentiles. God specifically commands that unclean animals may be eaten in Acts 11, and in Acts 15:24-29, the church leaders in Jerusalem— all of whom were Jewish men — specifically repudiated the claim that gentile believers must, “keep the law of Moses” (Acts 15:5). The same way adults are not required to obey their parents by the Bible and policemen are not required to check their guns at the doors of a school, gentiles are not required to follow the specific statutes in the first five books of the Bible.

The skeptic at this point would then question why the law is included in the Bible if it does not apply to gentile believers. I believe that it serves three purposes.

To protect: Several of the laws in the Bible make good physical sense. Quarantining infection fungi as Leviticus 13 commands makes good sense, even in modern times. Avoiding foods that commonly host parasites that are dangerous to people if improperly cooked (such as pork) also makes sense. Much of the law is different from other historically comparable legislation in that it limits the severity of punishment in ways other bodies of law from the same time do not. Deuteronomy 10:13 reveals that the law was for the good of Israel— spiritual, emotional and even physical good.

To separate: God’s desire for Israel was that it would be holy and different from other nations. In Exodus 19, he said, “You shall be toMe a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.” God consistently forbids the practices of the nations that lived in Canaan before Israel’s occupation. For instance, Exodus 23:19 and Exodus 34:26 both command, “The first of the firstfruits of your land you shall bring into the house of the Lord your God. You shall not boil a young goat in its mother’s milk.” Boiling a goat in is mother’s milk was a religious practice of ancient Baal worshippers. Baal was an agricultural fertility god. The point is that agricultural fertility would come from honoring the God of Israel alone. Israel was to separate itself from every other kind of worship.

To demonstrate: Through his law, God demonstrated two things: his own holiness and humankind’s lack thereof. Even in the attempt to keep the whole law, no one can. Jesus, in Matthew 5, even raised the bar for the law. The standard of holiness is so high, one can keep it but God alone. The law was never intended to save anyone. It only communicates the standard that no one can meet.

In the same breath as demonstrating God’s holiness, the law demonstrates our own sinfulness. Romans 7:7 says, “What shall we say then? Is the law sin? Certainly not! On the contrary, I would not have known sin except through the law.”

So while valid truth about God is communicated through the law, statutes for Israel are not applied to gentile believers. However, that does not mean that certain prohibitions in the Old Testament are not affirmed for the believer. Murder isn’t OK just because it is prohibited by the Old Testament and I’m a gentile. Neither is any form of sexual immorality (fornication, adultery and homosexuality, all equally so). Neither is anger, greed or covetousness. Old Testament law and God’s higher moral law agree because they were written by the same God.

The better question is why so many Christians violate that higher moral law. Because “All have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23). But because of Jesus’ death on the cross asasubstitute for the punishment we all deserve and his resurrection from the dead to provide eternal life with God, all people have the opportunity to experience forgiveness and to have Jesus’ own righteousness for themselves.

Even if I am completely wrong, I know for sure that where I failed to uphold the law — both the Old Testament law and God’s higher moral law — Jesus upheld it for me. Jesus came to fulfill the law(Matthew 5:17) and he did so perfectly (Hebrews 4:15). By my faith alone in Jesus alone, God credits the righteousness of Jesus to me (2 Corinthians 5:21). God offers the same thing to you.

What do you think?

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