In a previous post on Acts 10, I mentioned the notion that modern theology acts as an editor of God’s word in some cases which results in problems in our churches today:
The attempt to play editor for God has been made before and will continue to be made until time is done. It actually lays at the root of many of the problems facing the church today.
There are several areas where this problem surfaces, but I want to touch on one particular one today, if only because it is illustrative of the larger picture. That area is the increasing acceptance of homosexuality in the church. This has been a slow but steady creep of “progress” on the part of the homosexual movement, but the roots of its success lie much farther back in the work of theologians who managed to minimize the eternalness of the instructions of God and His commandments (His Torah).
As I mentioned in the discussion on Acts 10, the distinctions between clean and unclean food were not canceled out by God or done away with. These distinctions actually predate the Levitical code (see Gen. 7:2-3), and they haven’t disappeared. It isn’t as though God suddenly said, “I was just kidding before about pigs.” Peter didn’t eat pork. The aforementioned post looked that the way that some theologians have asserted that God “nullified” that section of His Law based on a bad interpretation of the vision given to Peter. This gets combined with a mistake regarding Jesus’ statement in Mark 7:19 (which is addressed by the additional article referenced in the previous blog post) and creates a means by which a small part of God’s eternal ordinances are “edited down” to a more acceptable level. It isn’t even malicious on the part of most of those who do it. It is simply unthinking. This is what we are taught, and most of us never question it.
How does this relate to homosexuality you might ask. Try searching the words “shellfish” and “homosexuality” or the term “gay” together in Google. You might be surprised at what you find. There is a whole niche of people who make an argument for the acceptance of homosexuality, based completely on the fact that most of Christianity doesn’t consider eating shellfish to be wrong (when the Bible says that shellfish are an abomination).
Some Christians have attempted to counter the contention and still hold on to the “parts of the Law are done away with” line of argument, and some of them even do it fairly well, but the argument rings a bit hollow. Notice by the way, that this article brings the Acts 10 passage in to the fray to defend the “all foods clean” position, even though that vision is not speaking about food but about men as we discussed previously (there is also a sloppy handling of Hebrews, but I don’t have time for that now). Where the writer of this article makes his strongest points, is when he highlights all of these parts of the law that we don’t even question are in force today:
Sixth, the same “Holiness Code” that condemns homosexuality also prohibits adultery (Lev. 18:20), child sacrifice (v. 21), and sex with animals (v. 23) and promotes loving your neighbor as yourself (19:18), a law repeated numerous times in the New Testament (Matt 19:19; Mark 12:31; Luke 10:27; Rom 13:9; Gal 5:14; James 2:8). Are the “shellfishers” telling us that adultery, child sacrifice, and sex with animals are now acceptable alternative lifestyle choices that should be protected by law? If his answer is yes, then let them say so. The New Testament promotes the Holiness Code law regarding loving one’s neighbor as well as laws prohibiting homosexual activity (Rom. 1:26–27; 1 Cor. 6:9–10; 1 Tim. 1:8–11). It seems that the New Testament writers do not have problems applying the Holiness Code legislation in the New Covenant.
The ultimate problem however comes back around if we consider a couple of things. Jesus said that the whole Law (all the Law and the prophets) was summed up by the commandments to love God and to love our neighbor (Matthew 22:34-40). Doesn’t all mean well, all? Otherwise, should Jesus have perhaps included an addendum that the “shellfish” bits(if I may make that a category) weren’t summed up by loving God and loving our neighbor? This “Holiness code” that the writer appeals to and identifies at least in part as Leviticus 19, also contains a prescription against wearing mixed fibers, cross-breeding animals and some dietary restrictions that the author conveniently fails to address. Apparently identifying the “Holiness code” is pretty dicey work for an editor of God’s Word to perform correctly. Thus this defense is not help at all and leaves us with others who assert that Christians quote selectively from God’s Word to support their own bias and prejudice. Ultimately, they have a valid point to make if this is the way we intend to treat God’s Word. But this line of cover will not avail in the face of God Himself. His Word and His standard is unchanging. He didn’t lower the bar so that we could come over ourselves. He raised us over the bar through the power of His Spirit and the sacrifice of His Son. He is writing His Law on our hearts to make us into a new creation. That work won’t get finished here, but we haven’t been given permission to edit what He writes either.
“The time is coming,” declares the LORD,
“when I will make a new covenant
with the house of Israel
and with the house of Judah.
It will not be like the covenant
I made with their forefathers
when I took them by the hand
to lead them out of Egypt,
because they broke my covenant,
though I was a husband to them, ”
declares the LORD.
“This is the covenant I will make with the house of Israel
after that time,” declares the LORD.
“I will put my law in their minds
and write it on their hearts.
I will be their God,
and they will be my people.
No longer will a man teach his neighbor,
or a man his brother, saying, ‘Know the LORD,’
because they will all know me,
from the least of them to the greatest,”
declares the LORD.
“For I will forgive their wickedness
and will remember their sins no more.”
-Jeremiah 31:31-34 (emphasis mine)
The Law isn’t changing for the new covenant. The people are changed. God is the same yesterday, today and forever. More of us need to realize that we are not qualified to edit his unchanging Word, rather it must edit and change us (Romans 12:1-2).