- outlaw the eating of blood? (Leviticus 17.10-12)
- condemn homosexuality? (Leviticus 18.22)
- teach that it’s a sin to have a shirt with two different kinds of thread in it? (Leviticus 19.19)
- condemn the boiling of a young goat in its mother’s milk? (Exodus 23.19)
- give the death penalty to people who work on Saturdays? (Exodus 31.14)
- give the death penalty to one who blasphemes the name of the Lord? (Numbers 24.16)
- condemn tattoos? (Leviticus 19.28)
If you look up those verses, you will find they do, indeed, teach all those things listed above. Many folks like to find these laws which seem weird, alien, and random to basically sweep away all the Bible teaches. “See?” they say, “the Bible is backwards and outdated. Why would we listen to that book any more?”
A base principle of Bible study is this: If God the Creator has spoken, then what He has to say trumps any feeling or thinking that I may have. In other words, it’s pretty silly of me to claim that a law is outdated just because I don’t agree with it or it doesn’t fit with my understanding of morality. Much of Bible study challenges my sense of right and wrong.
But another principle when studying any book is this: understand the context. Did God actually say those things? Yes. But to whom did He say them and when? Did God intend those laws for all mankind and for all time?
You will notice all the laws mentioned above are embedded in what is called the Law of Moses, the laws which Moses delivered to Israel at Mount Sinai. God covenanted with the Israelites, and the covenant comprised these laws plus hundreds of others. So the law given to Israel was for Israel and not for any other nation. The New Testament teaches that Jesus Christ fulfilled that law and abolished it, so God’s people today need no longer submit to all of those rules and regulations (Galatians 3.19-26; Hebrews 10.1-18).
However, some of God’s rules and regulations under the old covenant may actually apply to all mankind for all time. Here is where a full context of the Bible comes in handy. Especially in the context of moral law, we should pay close attention.
For instance, take list item number one (above): The Bible outlaws the eating of blood. We find this them running throughout Scripture:
- God outlawed the eating of blood before the Law of Moses (Genesis 9.4)
- God outlawed the eating of blood during the Law of Moses (Leviticus 17.10)
- God outlawed the eating of blood after the Law of Moses (Acts 15.28-29)
So we find a consistent theme throughout the Bible on this moral principle: do not eat an animal with its blood. This moral principle transcends any specific law code, nation, or time period.
- God judged Sodom in part for their homosexuality before the Law of Moses (Genesis 19.4-8)
- God outlawed homosexuality as an abomination during the Law of Moses (Leviticus 20.13)
- God condemned homosexuality as unnatural and indecent after the Law of Moses (Romans 1.26-27)
This consistent theme remains for homosexuality: it’s wickedness and sin before the Lord–always has been and always will be.
God set some laws in place for a specific period of time, intended them for a specific nation, and did not mean to apply them to everyone or for all time. But other laws, in the moral sphere, apply to all men no matter when or where they happen to live.
The bottom line is that God has all authority to tell His creation what is right and wrong. We often don’t like certain things God says…but obedience is not simply submitting to things we like! God’s character–who He is–determines morality. Those who reject what God says on the matter reject God Himself and show they do not know Him.