- Guidelines as to sell your daughter as a sex-slave
- Kill homosexuals (male; women aren't mentioned, of course)
- Set your Jewish slaves free after seven years (unless you buy them a wife), but keep non-Jewish slaves forever
- Don't wear mixed fabrics
- Don't eat shellfish
- Don't eat pork
- Kill "witches"
- If you get into a fight, and your wife interferes, and grabs the testicles of your opponent, cut your wife's hand off
- Stone unruly children to death
- Cure leprosy by slaughtering pigeons and splashing their blood about
- Menstruating women are "unclean"
- Pregnant women are "unclean"
- Force a rape victim to marry her rapist
- Don't work on Saturday (under pain of death by stoning)
I was going to start a new thread on this topic (Old Testament laws aren't quite on the topic of the dinosaur), but chances are this is the last time I'll be responding for three months. I've got a program I'm involved with for work training, and it will mean I'm heading out in the middle of nowhere for three months (not sure if I'll have time to get on the net, or even what the internet facilities will be like). So I'll respond to your post with my thoughts, but I just wanted you to know that I probably won't be replying any time in the next few months. So with that said:
Guidelines as to sell your daughter as a sex-slave - I find the term "sex-slave" in this comment to be highly misleading. In a society where arranged marriages are the norm the concept of "sex slavery" is illogical. Last year I worked with a woman who came from a country where arranged marriages were still practised. She met her husband only shortly before their marriage, and it was her family and her husband's family who arranged the marriage between them - she was quite happy with her situation in life because she grew up expecting it and not thinking in Western terms of Hollywood-ised love. Can the system be abused so that one or the other partner is abuse (sexually/physically/emotionally/etc)? Of course it can, but it was not the norm and certainly not the intention of the rules governing arranged marriages.
The intentions of this set of rules was to outline a stable family unit which people could model their family on, thus providing stability for the tribe. Since arranged marriages are not the norm in most parts of the world today (some still do, such as the person I referenced earlier) the ideal Christian family should include a mother and a father in lifelong union with the other, raising their children together.
Kill homosexuals (male; women aren't mentioned, of course) - Ah, the good ol' Leviticus 18 and 20 passages. You are aware that the passage is not referring to homosexuals but actually referring to homosexual practises solely in the context of idol worship? I dealt with this in THIS POST (link) a couple of years back, so I’ll let you have a look at that.
As for the intentions of this rule, it was in a society that thrived largely because of a united religious outlook. Worship of other deities destabilised Israelite society, it is a recurring issue that often caused Israel to go astray. In modern society, we are neither destabilised by alternative viewpoints, nor is our way of life endangered by different views, so Christians can take from this a reminder that God is the only God and that we should not pursue worship of other deities, but the actual punishment is no longer valid.
Which brings me to one other point of note – punishments and laws are not the same thing. You’ll see this in a couple of other points – underlying laws remain the same, but the punishments do not. In this case the law is “you shall have no other gods before Yahweh”. The punishment is left up to God, who has set out consequences for not following this.
Set your Jewish slaves free after seven years (unless you buy them a wife), but keep non-Jewish slaves forever – First, slavery no longer exists in most parts of the world, so the question of Jewish and non-Jewish slaves is not of consequence. As to the intention of the law there are two ways to address it:
- The law existed in the first place because Jews (at the time) were God’s chosen people. They had a special relationship with God, thus had different treatment in certain matters
- Non-Jewish slaves were usually a result of prisoners of war. Jewish slaves, in contrast, were usually people who volunteered to serve a master. Setting free a Jewish slave meant that the Jew would either take up as a slave with another master (or remain in service with their master as is), or they may have enough to support themselves. Setting free a non-Jewish slave would lead to one of two possibilities: either 1- if the tribe/nation still existed, the non-Jew would return to their people and once again begin to fight against Israel, or 2- If it no longer existed (destroyed by Israel or another nation) they would have no people to go back to and thus live out their lives as outcasts, which was a virtual death sentence since they had no way to support themselves.
Don’t eat shellfish – Jesus addressed this issue in THIS PASSAGE (link). The rule was originally a simple health law – in those days, it was hard to keep seafood fresh and it would spoil thus causing harm. Even today keeping it fresh is hard and in the case of sickness many doctors will suggest right from kickoff to not eat shellfish (or any of the other foods listed in Leviticus 11).
The intention of the law was (firstly) a health law, but it also served as a reminder that when Israel sat down and ate their meals they would meditate on God's wishes. Jesus gave this a fuller meaning so that whenever we even open our mouths we should meditate on God's wishes.
Don’t eat pork – see above concerning shellfish, same issue.
Kill "witches" – See homosexuality, focusing on the “don’t worship any God but Yahweh” section.
If you get into a fight, and your wife interferes, and grabs the testicles of your opponent, cut your wife's hand off – I’ll have to check the context of this, I’m not certain of the passage you are referring to, if you have one can you provide it (as I said though, I’ll be gone for three months so I probably won’t actually be able to respond, I’ll try though – maybe send a PM if you still actually care about my answer in October, lol).
Stone unruly children to death – As you can probably guess these type of questions turn up fairly often on this site. I answered this question in another thread a while back and you can check the answer I gave HERE (link). Also worth noting is that this is a punishment and not a law. The law (“honour your mother and father”) is still just as valid today as ever.
Cure leprosy by slaughtering pigeons and splashing their blood about – I’d have to check this further, do you have a passage you can reference? As above, if you still care in October I’ll PM you
Menstruating women are "unclean" – This hails from a time when procreation and producing children was an absolute necessity (no children means a tribe dies out). Thus having sex with a woman during her menstruation period was forbidden in order that sex would lead to children. Unless a woman in Hebrew society must walk around with a sign saying "I am unclean right now" a person walking by won't even know she is menstruating. Thus the comments on "touching" a menstruating woman are in the context of husband/wife relations and do not reflect a wider context.
Pregnant women are "unclean" – Does the Bible actually specify this? It does say that a woman is unclean for a period of time after giving birth, but I can't recall the actual pregnancy being unclean. I could be wrong, so if I am let me know (though as already noted I'll have to get back to you much later about a response).
Force a rape victim to marry her rapist – see earlier comment on
Don't work on Saturday (under pain of death by stoning) – The underlying law here is "Remember the Sabbath and keep it holy". That has not changed. But the way in which we understand the Sabbath is different than how the Israelites viewed it. While many Christians labour under the mistaken impression that Sunday is the Sabbath, some Christians understand that originally it was Saturday but contextualise this in terms of Hebrews 4:1-11 (link). In this passage, the author writes of a "Sabbath rest" that we strive to enter and even currently reside in. For us, the Sabbath of the Jews was a foreshadowing of a much greater Rest period - instead of participating in a time of rest once a week we believe that we constantly participate in God's Sabbath rest, first in the present by having the Holy Spirit dwelling in our lives, and secondly in the future when we enter God's kingdom.
That said, there is wisdom in setting aside a "rest day" in our weekly schedule, otherwise we may be susceptible to burnout or other fatigue related problems, but most Christians don't feel it necessary that we do so.
Finally, on the point of "under pain of death by stoning" I once again remind you of the difference between a law and a punishment. The law ("Remember the Sabbath") still remains true. The punishment (death) no longer is relevant in a society that is not striving for tribal unity (a necessity back in ancient times, but today in a global community totally unnecessary).
So, Arb, I hope you have plenty of food for thought here. I know you won't agree with it, but I hope you can at least see my side of things on at least some of the points. Enjoy, feel free to respond if you wish, I'll be interested to see what may or may not come of this. But as noted, I won't be replying until probably October (and by then this thread and the point/s will be dead and I'll probably send you a PM, if you are still interested).
~ Regards, PA