Is the Old Testament obsolete? — what to do about “silly laws” in the Bible

Deuteronomy 23-24
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silly bible laws

I recently made a proclamation on Facebook that a lot of ethics that “conservatives” (by default — Christians) subscribe to are considered outdated and archaic.

People that are unfamiliar with the Bible would agree that some of the established moral standards are definitely intact and applicable today:

Don’t pee or take a dump in public (and cover it up, please)

Remarrying your ex-spouse after they married someone else is just weird.

Kidnapping is wrong.

Pay your workers fairly.

Leave stuff for the poor.

But other laws seem completely ridiculous to the casual reader. Why would an emasculated man be disallowed from the assembly? What’s wrong with Moabites?

And nocturnal emissions? Wow.

As usual, context is important.  Isolating verses can make anyone giggle, but God’s Word doesn’t get old, and it is certainly not irrelevant.  At the core, these are the things He is trying to get across (which are a lot more obvious than you think if you read a little more carefully).

Purity.

Some of the more ridiculous laws are very simple to conjugate if you look at them in the context of the Jewish culture of the time.  God is very concerned about keeping the Israelites pure. Likewise, wouldn’t you love to make sure your kids didn’t eat food out of the trash, or keep them from mixing fluids with different people at a party? We have knowledge of what is pure and what isn’t — some of it is more cultural than others (hand sanitizer comes to mind). But purity — whether it’s by reputation or health — is definitely important.

God wants to make sure His kids remain pure in all ways.  So, wash your hands.

Responsibility.

We all have social obligations to hold up.  And so did Israel. They had a fairly strict regimen of sacrifices and rituals to maintain, and it was up to the individual to make sure he followed through.  You couldn’t say it was daddy’s fault, nor could you blame your kids for your irresponsible behavior. Make your sacrifices, pay your taxes, and be nice to your neighbors.

Just because you’re tripping up doesn’t mean you should condemn others or blame the system. The Bible is clear: own up.

Mercy.

Have you sinned?  Well, if you’re stuck on yourself, you probably don’t think so, but everyone knows at the core they’ve done at least one thing to transgress the Lord.  So indeed, we deserve no less than punishment for defying God — and especially so if we’ve done it on purpose. Sin does not belong in heaven — none.  It doesn’t matter how trivial it might be.

But God is merciful. Did you not wake up this morning? Most of you guys were able to find something to eat in the fridge. You’re blessed; God has shown you mercy, even when you didn’t deserve it.

In the same way, the Lord would like us to show mercy upon others.  Don’t charge exorbitant interest. Don’t ruin someone’s livelihood. And give the poor their share.

Ultimately, for Christians, it comes down to emulating the character of Jesus Christ, who, being a Jew, was fully knowledgeable of the Judaic laws as shown in Deuteronomy. He certainly criticized the men who religiously upheld traditions, but He also said we must first seek His kingdom and righteousness, which means obedience.  And this is precisely what Jesus died for — so you might have access to His kingdom and His righteousness, no matter what time period you live in, and no matter how contaminated the land is.

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