Abominations

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[Update 10/24 3:54 pm: I'm removing my clarifications from the original update to this post and working the clarification into the text. See this post for why; there's a slight update to my thinking on this in that post as well.]

This post started as a response to the comments on Wink's Legislating Morality post, so if you haven't read that then you might want to glimpse at it for the context. I intend this to be a self-contained post, however, so that's not absolutely required reading. I predict right now that this post will get me in big trouble.

The issue at hand is what to make of Leviticus 18:22: "You shall not lie with a man as a man lies with a woman; it is an abomination." In the aforementioned comments thread, William mentioned this as a reason to think we should regard with utmost caution anything called an abomination. Very few things are called such a strong term. Rocky responded that eating shellfish is described by the same term. William replies that God and Peter dealt with the eating of shellfish, while no other abomination in scripture loses that status. I assume that's about Peter's vision sent to him for the purpose of accepting Gentiles into the gathering of new covenant believers, which wasn't really so much about the food as it was about what it symbolized. Jesus did declare all foods clean, however, so the point remains.

Jesus declared them clean, just as he declared clean the man with the skin condition, unclean by the Torah's standards. That must mean that whatever ritual significance they had was only temporary. It could be removed by divine fiat. After all, it was stipulated in the Torah by divine fiat. William is suggesting that when Jesus declares something clean it is clean, even if the Torah said otherwise, meaning the Torah had temporary jurisdiction over that item. Do other things declared unclean by the Torah remain unclean then if Jesus didn't declare them clean? Does it mean those things are inherently evil and not just ritually unclean? I say not necessarily, and one possibility that occurred to me sounds really weird but seems consistent with the entire biblical record, especially once you consider some biblical-theological themes across scripture.

Jesus' declaration of an abomination (shellfish) to be clean must mean that whatever an abomination is it's the sort of thing that can in principle be declared clean. Something's being an abomination doesn't mean it's inherently unclean. There may be some abominations that are inherently unclean but not in virtue of being abominations, or shellfish couldn't be declared clean. That doesn't mean that all abominations not declared clean by Jesus or elsewhere in the NT are permanently unclean. The only way we should conclude that is if we think of the NT as superceding the OT, as if it somehow vetoes or cancels it. Some have artificially tried to fit the Torah into their little organizational box, saying that some parts of the Torah, i.e. the civil and ceremonial parts, are canceled, while the moral law stays. Theonomists modify this by keeping the civl as well. Both view use categories not in scripture and oversimplify the OT-NT relation for the sake of a coherent and comprehensive system. All Jesus says is that he came to fulfill the law, not one iota of which will pass away. Nothing is canceled. All is fulfilled. It's just that some aspects are fulfilled in different ways. It would take forever to say more than that, but I don't want to assume that any part of the Torah is canceled.

William's view, presumably, when put into this way of thinking, is that parts of the Torah that are explicitly fulfilled in some symbolic manner are no longer applicable in our setting, while parts that aren't explicitly fulfilled in some symbolic manner must still be applicable in our setting. Is that so? What about the festivals? There's no explicit discussion in the NT of how the festivals are fulfilled in Christ. They clearly are; Paul does use the word 'jubilee' once somewhere, though I don't remember offhand where it is. Still, there's no discussion of how each feast symbolizes different elements of the gospel. There's not even a clear discussion for most of the feasts (or for that matter the various types of sacrifice) what they symbolized in the immediate context for the ancient Hebrews. Leviticus generally just tells what to do and when, occasionally saying why for some things. So there's no grid in which to fit various Torah commands or statements so that we can see which ones are fulfilled in which ways. There's no immediately obvious answer whether something declared unclean in the Torah is unclean in our setting.

I say the same might be so for abominations. I'm not going to look carefully at every item called an abomination, but I will say one thing about the two items under discussion now, eating shellfish and a man lying with a man as a man lies with a woman. What I want to say is quite surprising even to me, but I think it's correct. These two things have something in common that I was amazed to realize. After careful study over a number of years, I have remained confident that same-sex sexual acts remain in the category of sin in the New Testament. I think the texts require that. Yet I now have to concede that this is as temporary and symbolic a command as that of not eating shellfish. Once the biblical-theological framework is in place, that's going to be clear.

The word translated as 'abomination' really just means repugnant, detestable, or abhorrent. Apparently in most of these laws it's God's disgust and not the disgust of humans and is probably so here. Why would God declare something abhorrent and then declare it clean? Christians generally take the food laws to be pointing toward Christ, and therefore violating them means rejecting God's way of having his people illustrate timeless truths in a particular historical situation. Those timeless truths are about spiritual cleanness and uncleanness, spiritual holiness and commonness. These categories were necessary for understanding the relational aspects of the effect of sin, particular bin our relationship with God. The Jewish mindset at the time of Jesus was ripe for understanding that aspect of the gospel message because of their background in Torah categories of holy, common, clean, and unclean.

So sacrificial and ritual laws really find their fulfillment in the gospel events themselves, in Jesus' bringing us into restoration with the community of the faithful and most importantly with God. Those not in that restored relationship are genuine outsiders, and someone is one or the other, with no middle ground. People might be in the camp but be unclean, but the spiritual category is the important one, spiritually speaking. Then when the ritual categories were no longer useful for illustrating that, when the mystery hidden throughout the ages was revealed in Christ Jesus, he declared all foods clean, and Paul was able to say in a couple places that everything God created is good.

Nothing like that seems to be true of homosexuality. That's William's point. It's still an abomination because there's no reason to say that the new covenant has fulfilled the purpose of the Torah statements about it. I think there's something to that, in that I don't see any removal of the statement that homosexual sex is sin. In fact, there are a few clear statements by Paul that homosexual sex is not only sin but one that violates the very nature of God's creation. He doesn't explore why he thinks that there (Romans 1:18ff.), but other things he says give a good sense of what he's getting at, particularly his statements in I Corinthians 11, Ephesians 5, and other places about male-female relations. He compares the husband-wife relationship to that of Christ and the church, and he also compares it to that of the Father and the Son within the Godhead. Those are eternal relationships, so one might think that the male-female relationship reflecting them is eternal. However, our relationship with God is eternal, and the food regulations representing it aren't eternal. They're temporary. The difference is that food regulations were part of the old covenant looking forward to the new. The marriage relation is older than the old covenant and continues to the consummation of the bridegroom (Christ) and his bride (the gathered faithful around the throne of God in heaven). That is still yet to come.

However, it will come, which means the reason behind the command against homosexual sex will be fulfilled. Marriage looks forward to the consummation of Christ and his bride the church. When that happens, marriage will no longer exist. The only reason I've ever been able to make sense of why gay sex is bad is because it's between two men and thus can't represent what sex and marriage are supposed to look forward to. That will be done by the time of the resurrection, which is why there won't be any marriage.

Sexual relations may or may not be part of the resurrection. There will be none that involve giving and taking in marriage. Jesus doesn't say there won't be sex or anything like it, though he also doesn't say there will be something like it. I don't know what this would look like, but apparently C.S. Lewis' Space Triology, which I've never read but Sam has, speculated a bit about a fictional kind of spiritual relation that transcends sex. I can't rule that out. On the other hand, maybe there won't be sex or anything like it. If there is something like sex, it won't be limited to husband-wife relations, since there won't be any. It may not even be limited to male-female relations, because I don't even know if sex distinctions will remain in the resurrection. I don't know if there won't be something analogous to sex but that will be practiced by all of us with all of us, in complete intimacy as a united people of God with no sin coming between any of us. Who knows? God does, but his scriptures don't seem to me to have made it entirely clear what we should expect. This is complete speculation at this point, and it's useless to speculate on such things other than to realize that we don't know. I mention the possibilities only to recognize that I can't really rule them out for sure. I think the proper attitude toward any of this is humility, which means not having any views about how things have to be.

Both cases (eating shellfish and men having sex with other men) are abominations in that God is repelled by human behavior that violates how he has stipulated for us to live in the setting the command applies to. In the case of shellfish, it applies to the Mosaic covenant, which is fulfilled in Christ and in this element of it not applicable to us today as a command to us in our setting. In the case of male-male sex, it applies to the entire period between creation and the consummation, when it (as a negative statement about what not to do) will be fulfilled in its representation of what the relationship between Christ and the church is not and what the relationship between Father and Son in the Trinity is not. So in the end I say it's not clear that same-sex sex is absolutely prohibited for all time, but I do think the scriptures are clear that it's wrong for the entire time between creation and Christ's return. The reason it's wrong, indeed the reason it's an abomination, is exactly the same as the reason eating shellfish was wrong and indeed an abomination for the ancient Hebrew. That reason is that God had commanded a structure for his people to represent something eternal, something wonderful, and blatant disregard for the structure set up by God is rejection of God's lordship. In one case that structure was built into creation (and may or may not be in the new creation), while in the other it was merely part of the particular covenant it's stated within. Both are abominations for the same reason, and both are very bad in their relevant context. We're just still in the context of one of them and not in the context of the other. That's why it sounds silly to us to call eating shellfish an abomination, which tempts us to say homosexual sex must not be so bad. That misunderstands the reason why both are said to be abominations.

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Christian Carnival #34 is up at Proverbial Wife. Enjoy the great entries this week! Jeremy Pierce has a particularly interesting post up about shellfish and homosexuality.... Read More

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Sometimes the points of continuity and discontinuity between the Old and New Covenants can get confusing. In a theologically heavy post, Jeremy Pierce tries to draw a distinction between the abomination of eating shellfish and the abomination of homo... Read More

41 Comments

1. Clean and unclean meats were defined that way before the Mosaic covenant, as the animals were designated that way during Noah's ark journey. I think it is safe to say that the animals were made clean and unclean at the time of creation.
2. Show me in the KJV where Jesus declared unclean animals clean. Rev 18:2 says that some animals are still unclean in the future and Isa 66:17 speaks of meats and abominations in the future.
3. I don't see your assumed correlation between abomination and uncleanness in the scriptures. Uncleanness is a state, abomination is a characterization.
4. My point in the previous posts comments to William was that we couldn't use what is an abomination as a reason to make laws. Or else we would have to legislate the eating of shellfish.

However, I believe once an abomination, always an abomination. I see no justification in scriptures for us assuming that God has changed His mind in His characterization of what He abhors. Things abominable is also spoken of in the NT (Tit 1:16, Rev 21:27), so how can something once declared abomination, be no longer so. (before the Lord's return at least)
(aside: I say all that I have said here, without mentioning the Law, so if any choose to reply, please don't say we are not under the law, etc. as that is not on point)

Since I started this mess, let me put in a qualification. A key thought in your argument is "Why would God declare something abhorrent and then declare it clean?" and then applying that to food and homsexuality.

Simple, one is action against the nature of human creation (man - woman) itself, the very nature of being human, and the other is a dietary law that had public health concerns. They are radically different categories.

While it is possible to set aside a dietary law based on a category of animals without changing the nature of mankind's relationship to creation itself, which includes his own nature, that is not possible with the perversion of the male - female aspect of humanity as its fundamental expression of the nature of God's image and relationship to man (Christ-Chruch - Ephesians 5). We do argue that Adamic creation was perfect and what the second Adam redeems us back to, don't we?

To get a very well developed argument that deals with the perversion of human creation position I suggest you read the works of Rev. John C. Rankin, President, Theological Education Institute (http://www.teihartford.com/).

Just a few thoughts from the rim...

William writes :

Simple, one is action against the nature of human creation (man - woman) itself, the very nature of being human, and the other is a dietary law that had public health concerns. They are radically different categories.

I've heard this "health" argument before, but haven't been able to find any scripture which really supports it. If you(or anyone) have any references you could point me to, I'd really like to take a look at it. A private e-mail would be fine as well if you don't want to stray from the main topic of the thread. Thanks.

Oops. Forgot MT doesn't display e-mail. It's sozo[at]reasonswhy.org

I don't see anywhere in the Torah that says clean and unclean have anything to do with health. Gordon Wenham's commentary on Leviticus has the best discussion of this I've read. He concludes that they symbolize a deeper spiritual notion of purity and impurity, and some of the regulations are simply to create distance between the practices of the Hebrews and the surrounding nations. There's no need to assume a health reason for most of the laws, in fact, even those regarding contagious skin diseases. They certainly have an effect related to health, but the primary purpose is to illustrate the spiritual consequences of spiritual sickness by providing a structure to serve as an image of that. The dietary restrictions are similar.

The KJV mistranslates Mark 7:19. Mark says Jesus thus declared all foods clean, not just all animals. Wink and I have argued against using the KJV as a primary translation in other posts (see this search page for a list of them), so if you want to get into that issue we can do so there.
Almost every Mark commentator and translator today sees that expression as a parenthetical statement by Mark about Jesus's statement, and that view goes back to the church fathers, long before the KJV (Origen and Chrysostom are among its proponents).

There are many things to respond to here that I'll have to get to later. I need to go teach now.

I've always seen the joining of the male/female into one flesh (i.e. marriage and sex) as an analogy of our being joined with Christ in the ressurection. The bible clearly states that this is so as far as concerning marriage. It also clearly states that the physical union of one flesh is to be only in marriage (i.e. no fornication or adultery). Further, marriage is clearly defined as one man and one woman because that's the way God designed us and that's the way God designed marriage (from the beginning of creation, not from the old law or even the covenant with Abraham). Clearly physical union was not willy-nilly with anyone at any time, but reserved for the marriage partner. Equally clearly, ultimate union with our God and Creator will not be for everyone, but only for the church and those in it. Considering how much pleasure we get from merely physical union with our merely human spouse, what might that say about the joy/pleasure of our ultimate union with God in the ressurection.

Rocky, what's this distinction between a characterization and a state supposed to amount to? In other words, is it a distinction without a relevant difference? If not, why not? I never correlated uncleanness with abominations. I did discuss Jesus' declaring any abomination clean, which has to have some relevance to what an abomination is. If we shouldn't worry about doing what was formerly declared by God to be an abomination, then it's not an abomination for us to do it even though it was for them then. That's my point, and it doesn't rely on correlating abominations with unclean things.

Your fourth point is what I was arguing against. If the reason I gave that it's not an abomination to eat shellfish is correct, then it's not an abomination for us now. Therefore, we wouldn't have to legislate against it.

As for foods being clean, Paul says they're not just all good but are made holy in I Tim 4:1-5. There was a division in the old covenant between the holy things and the common things and then among the common between the clean things and the unclean things. What's happened in the new covenant is not that the holy things are no longer holy, as if Jerusalem, the temple mount, etc. are not as holy as they once were. When Jesus expanded worship from that mountain he was saying that holiness has expanded into every sphere, including that of what had been declared unclean in the old covenant, so that even unclean things could be declared holy in Christ. There's no more distinction between holy food, days, places, etc. (Gal 4:9-10; Rom 14:1-12; Col
2:16-17) not because those foods, places, and days aren't holy but because all foods, places, and days can be holy for the one who receives them in faith.

So I think we have to be able to say that there were things that violated the structures of the old covenant and thus were abhorrent to God that now do not do so. Unwillingness to have a lamb killed when overcoming a skin disease is no longer abhorrent to God.

William, I don't think we can say that the new creation just brings us back to the original created state. One reason is that the resurrection won't have giving and being given in marriage. That's immediately relevant and the reason I'm not sure if sex distinctions will even exist in the resurrection. Another reason is that we will be a community of restoration, of grace. It's one thing to have peace with God because of never having sinned. It's quite another to have peace with God because of being given it back after having been his enemies. That's something unique about God's restored people that isn't true of the created order or of the angelic order, which longs to look into these things. If the resurrection bodies will be like angels in not giving and being given in marriage, the restoration community will not be like angels in that it's a community of grace.

My point is that I don't agree with you that Jesus declared abominations to not be abomination. Yes he healed an unclean man and made him clean, but that has nothing to do with abominations.

In Mark 7, you assert that Jesus here declared unclean meats, clean. Leaving aside your assertion that this is mistranslated, a few points can be made as to why this is not what Jesus was saying:
1. Jesus said he was talking about eating with unwashed hands defiling a man (mt 5:20), not unclean meats in any way defiling a man. (and, what, they have to go thru our belly to be made clean?)
2. Peter, who was right there when Jesus taught this, doesn't agree with your assertion. 10+ years later when God gave him the vision of the sheet, he said that he never had eaten anything that was unclean. If Peter had been taught like you assert, why was he so taken aback at the thought of eating the unclean?
3. The scribes and Pharisees didn't call Jesus on this at the time or at any time during the gospels. A small point, but just something to note. Another small point, nowhere in the NT is there an instance of people eating unclean animals.
4. There is a good argument to be made that when the bible speaks of foods, it doesn't include those things that are not food, like rocks, dirt, and unclean animals. If unclean animals were not meant to be food, we would assume that when the bible talks about food, they are not included.

I am not some Pharisee or weirdo on this. And I am not convinced 100% on this either, as it is fairly recent that I started wondering about all this. But I lean toward the side of unclean meats being in effect for today. There had to be a reason that God declared some animals not fit to eat, and I think it was because they were made for other purposes, not for human consumption. Based on this, I would contend that there would have to have been a miraculous physical transformation of animals from unclean to clean for us to eat them today. Otherwise, if it was ok to eat these animals all along, what, God arbitrarily chose some animals and said don't eat these. Sounds almost like a weird petty punishment.

I want to say something about the notion of cleanness and uncleanness going back before Moses. There does seem to be a general distinction as ancient near-eastern categories. It's not as if Israel was the only nation with such concepts. The other nations didn't have exactly the same breakdown, but they had similar ideas. If the Bible is authoritative on these matters, as I believe it is, then we have to see some kind of notion of cleanness and uncleanness going back at least to the time of Noah. I don't think we have reason to believe Noah had a list of clean and unclean animals like what Moses had. Maybe God did give him that exact list, but the text doesn't say. There may just have been a cultural view of what clean and unclean amounted to. The clean ones were the ones they ate and sacrificed, and the unclean were the ones they didn't. So it's not as if all of this was introduced first in the Mosaic law. It was already there in the Genesis materials that Moses inherited.

One other issue might be worth noticing, but I'm not sure what to make of it. Genesis doesn't use the word for unclean to describe the animals that aren't clean in Genesis 7:2. It simply negates the word for clean. There's another Hebrew word that occurs in the Leviticus accounts of Mosaically unclean and clean. Whether something is Noahically clean and not clean may or may not amount to the same thing. Whatever you say about the Genesis issue, it doesn't modify my conclusion much. It would mean the issue of eating shellfish would be from creation to Christ rather than Moses to Christ. I already said that the homosexual sex issue is creation to resurrection, so extending shellfish eating back to creation doesn't change much in my overall position that these two things are structurally similar, temporary, and in their exact context of application true abominations.

I didn't say anything about Peter being taught that all foods had been made clean. He didn't realize that until later, and when he was guiding Mark in writing this gospel he told Mark what Jesus meant by that expression, and Mark recorded that Jesus had by saying this declared that all foods are clean. It's similar to when John tells us parenthetically that Jesus' prediction of the temple being destroyed and rebuilt in three days was really about his body. John tells us that about Jesus' statement, and Mark tells us something about Jesus' statement here. That doesn't mean those present at the time knew that about the statement at the time. Peter needed the Holy Spirit and a theology of Christ's work and mission to see that.

The point about the scribes and Pharisees is defeated for the same reason. They didn't understand what Jesus was really saying any more than Peter or the disciples did. Mark is certainly known for his characterization of people, including the Pharisees and disciples, as not understanding what Jesus really meant by something. Romans 14, particularly v.20, speaks to this issue as well. I Corinthians 8-10 deals with the issue of meat having been sacrificed to idols, while Romans 14-15 deals with Jewish laws and whether Gentile believers have to follow them.

I think the assumption is that these foods that are called unclean are foods but are unclean foods. The reason is that poisonous plants aren't listed. It's only things that people might eat that are unclean that make the list. This also tells against the idea that this is for health purposes. It's not mainly about hygiene, though some of the laws do have a good hygienic effect. Besides, there's nothing unhealthy about eating cooked pork, since it kills the trichinosis. It doesn't occur in free-range pigs either.

I mentioned Gordon Wenham's commentary, and I'll say a little more about what he says on this. He focuses on those who have looked at symbolic understandings of the restrictions based on things in the text rather than modern speculation about modern concerns like hygiene. One issue was mixedness of marriages, crops, clothing, etc. Another is wholeness, as in no missing body parts, proper functionality of sexual organs, skin that shields from disease rather than carrying it or at least displaying signs of being modified from its natural form. There's a sense of division in the created world: flying things, things moving on the land, and swimming things. Particular traits were identified as typical for each, and something not fitting that type was not seen as representative of its kind. Land animals typically chew the cud and lack cloven feet, so these are examples of atypicality. These are norms of perfection, not that God made a mistake in creating pigs and camels as he did but that the norm (in the non-normative sense, pun intended) was for animals not to be like that.

So wholeness, typicality, proper functioning, and non-mixedness all symbolized purity in the old covenant. These categories of clean and unclean symbolized the distinction between Jews and Gentiles as God's holy people and those not in covenant with God (who had broken the creation covenant). One thing Wenham mentions in connection with the New Testament is that the Jew-Gentile distinction breaks down in the new covenant. The abolition of the food laws thus makes perfect sense.

So that Rocky doesn't look like a fool for responding to something that isn't there, I will report that I have deleted a comment from someone who insinuated that I know nothing of Christ based on one statement in this post. He linked back to a blog that I would not hesitate to call hateful. Normally I might not delete such a link, but I think deleting and banning is appropriate given the spirit of divisiveness and unwillingness to seek to understand what I meant by what I said along with absolute presumption of guilt over a statement that I preceded with the highly certain term 'maybe' and then ended by calling it pure speculation about which only God has any real idea. If something so tentative can justify saying something is poison and not of Christ, then I suggest the poison and unChristlikeness is already present in the reader.

Anyone who can make such harsh comments about someone who presumably is a fellow believer will be banned on this blog (and the 'presumably' here is because I'm not sure myself this fellow is a fellow believer but unlike him I'm not willing to doubt it without better evidence than hateful language and childish comments, which is merely a warning sign). I believe in the right to free speech, and Pieter can say what he wants on his own blog. I'm not having any of that here.

Hi there...seeing you were mentioned on Marla's blog this time! Nothing to add to this discussion other than, even if God does not punish us for eating unclean meat...it still can do a number on our bodies! It is wiser to refrain from eating those unclean meats as they do tend to go straight to the kidneys and if you have weak ones, as I do...it is not a problem to refrain! This has nothing to do with what you have written about however.

I do agree with the first commenter....once an abomination, always an abomination. That is part of what has gotten our churches, our society and our country into so much trouble!
Elizabeth

So I take it you think shellfish are still an abomination? Do you also think the reason for not eating shellfish has to do with health? I think both claims are demonstrably false, the first from scripture itself and the second from scientific study. The view I've been outlining explains why they would be false.

One other comment, to do with pork. A friend of mine has SEVERE disfiguring arthritis...it overtook her in a very short time...she is under constant care for it. Recently, her doctor told her that recent research shows a link between the kind of arthritis she has and pork eating. (That, in spite of the fact that undoubtedly pork is raised in much better ways now, than in the time the scripture was written). By the way, to my knowledge, this doctor has no religious reason for what he told her...do not think he claims any faith.

If I remember correctly you are still pretty young. When we were young, we got away with eating many things that trouble us today. My husband had been avoiding eating pork for some time, then we went away for a weekend conference and since there was little a diabetic could eat, he did eat some bacon (which we both LOVE, by the way)...and within hours the arthritis in his neck began to hurt badly again...and has only abated now about 2 weeks later. Coincidence...maybe. But maybe not... He used to eat shrimp like crazy whenever we went out...for years...then consistantly he would get sick every time he did.

The older we are, the more we see the reasons behind the instructions God gave. And like with sin...often the consequences will not show up for a long time. We have not found anything God instructed yet, that we have examined in depth, to be out of line with what is good for us. Had doctors always washed (as Jews knew to do and would have) between examining patients...many more people would have survived before the time doctors began to do this (wasn't that in the late 1800's sometime?)

Acts 10:17 would seem to indicate that Peter got the message sent in his vision from God...also verses 34-35 seem to make it clear that he was to associate with the nonJews. And I see you see that too. (As Kay Arthur would say, CONTEXT, CONTEXT!!) People seem to forget how unclean the gentiles were in that time and it is most understandable why any good Jew would want to avoid eating with them...we are talking here, eating with the fingers. In fact, today, we have hesitation about eating out much...or where there are smorgesbord salad bars, etc. We are accepting others' not only eating habits, but to be frank...bathroom habits as well(or lack thereof...I notice that here anyway, maybe even 50% of women do not wash...ICK!!! Hubby says it is more like 75% to 85% of men!!!!) Perhaps we ought to be more careful. I will say, the one way I see it as ok to interpret this passage as to eating any meat...there are probably times we might be able to expect God to protect us from eating unclean meats, in order to not offend the hostess. It takes more faith for some of us than for others. I do observe this, knowing I will likely pay for it later as I have many food allergies...my faith does not extend to 2 foods that have nearly taken my life however...that being lettuce and cilantro...weird I know. (God lets us experience these things to be more understanding to others suffering as well I think.)

And by the way, I see your point in what you write here...and would agree with most of it...though that still does not make me right or you right...right? I do think God helps those who want to know His way...and will keep on searching...never thinking they have arrived. The scriptures are so amazing...one never stops finding out more! And no, we are not Jews so far as we know...and belong to no "group"...just simply trying to live our lives out with God's instructions in view. Our love of Him demands it.
Elizabeth

I'm not saying that following the dietary and ritual laws of ancient Israel wouldn't increase sanitation and hygiene or that it wouldn't help avoid certain diseases or disorders. I'm saying that the Torah never says that this is the purpose for these things. I'm also saying that because in certain circumsances some of these practices lead to better health doesn't mean they always will and doesn't mean that, e.g., moderation in eating pork isn't perfectly healthy. For most people, moderate consumption of pork is perfectly healthy. For almost everyone, weekly eating of shrimp is even healthy and not just not harmful. There are also many foods that are harmful to people that aren't unclean, e.g. dairy products to the lactose intolerant, wheat to those who can't handle gluten.

I don't think the issue of eating with Gentiles was that they didn't think the Gentiles were healthy or hygienic. It's that the Gentiles ate things and in ways that were viewed by them as horrific. Eating with your fingers doesn't come up anywhere I know of, though. The primary issue was what the Gentiles ate and that they didn't follow Torah rituals when they came into conditions described in the law as unclean, which is far more vast than eating. Is there something contagious or unhealthy about a woman who gave birth six days ago or a piece of cloth that has two different types of plant sewn together?

In Deut 7:15 it speaks of if you follow the torah, these sicknesses and diseases will not come upon you. And there is evidence that shows orthodox jewish women, who follow the torah teachings regarding when to have and not have sexual relations, have a much, much lower rate of cervical and other "women" cancers, than the normal population. Personally speaking, since I started wondering about unclean foods, and started avoiding them, everytime I do eat something like pork or shrimp, I have noticed a huge rejection by my body, manifesting in 24 hours of upset stomach and diarrhea.

I'm not sure the Dt 7:15 statement is anything more than the more general blessings and curses of Lev 26 and Dt 27-28. That just confirms my statement that things will tend to go well when you follow something that God has commanded in a given setting. That doesn't mean there's anything permanent about those commdands any more than it means sickness won't ever come if you do them and health won't occur without them.

Vegetarians have the same bodily response to meat if they resume eating it at any point. There's a biological explanation for that, but I don't know what it is. I do know that it happens with clean food as well as unclean. I've never heard about this cancer thing. Our first doctor since we were married told us otherwise.

Jeremy,
I think you need to go back and reread the passages about meat being sacrificed to idols, and meditate on it again.

- Raj

What am I supposed to be looking for? I didn't think the meat sacrificed to idols was immediately relevant to this because it was about idolatry and the non-existence of gods. The Romans passage is more likely to relevant here, but that's primarily about Jewish regulations.

In reading through Romans 14:1-15:13, I noticed this:

I know and am persuaded that nothing is unclean in itself, but it is unclean for anyone who thinks it unclean.... Everything is indeed clean, but it is wrong for anyone to make another stumble by what he eats. (Rom 14:14, 26b, ESV)

Is that what you had in mind, Raj? I Cor 8-10 didn't suggest anything to me other than what I'd already either said or assumed (except for 9:9-10, which raised some puzzling questions for me, but not for the first time and not directly related to this).

Jeremy, try as I might, I'm having trouble connecting all the dots here. Maybe it's the kids distracting me or I'm too tired, I don't know, so please help :-) What is your ultimate point?

How does what is unclean, or an abomination, relate to morality? Does it matter, as far as morality in the here & now goes, whether or not the ban against homosexuality is eternal? I would tend to think it is eternal, because the passage in Mark, corresponding to Matthew 15, seems to be making a statement about the heart, which chooses to be either with God, or not. Maybe that's what you mean by "spiritual cleanness & uncleanness." Since homosexuality is a heart issue (or maybe I'm misinterpreting "sexual immorality" and "fornication" -- the words used in two translations I have -- but the offense against God (evil) implicit here seems to correspond with Romans 1:18-32) I would think that its moral implication is eternal.

I can't imagine a sexual free-for-all upon Christ's return for this reason. I also can't imagine sexuality of any kind at this time, since the "dimension" of existence will be a "new creation" (Rev. 21). When we are finally with God, what need will there be for sex? Abomination will also meet its ultimate fate at this time, as evidenced by vs. 8.

The ultimate point was just to provide some background information to the few posts prior to this. Since people started bringing in the issue of homosexuality's being an abomination, I decided to see what that amounted to. I was surprised by the results, actually, but the main reason initially was to show that whatever the Hebrew word translated as 'abomination' means it can't be something permanently and innately evil. Maybe some of the things called that are, but not everything, so the word doesn't mean that.

I didn't say what I think about the permanence of moral issues of homosexuality other than the only argument I can see against it in scripture seems to have a time limit. If, as many complementarians believe, gender distinctions in the Bible have to do with symbolic divine commands not representing anything about male and female nature, then those are in the same boat. None of this means there will be anything like sex in the resurrection. I just don't have any good argument that there won't be anything like it. There may well be something remotely analogous to it that will occur between all of us.

Sorry for joining the conversation so late here. I haven't had a good read of the revised version of your article nor have I read all the new comments. I do want to make a few comments though.

I like your treatment of the temporality of abominations. You make a very strong case, and I think it does have some currency.

However, I would like to know why you restricted your discussion to only two of the many abominations in the OT. There were also other abominations. One might argue that the whole of Lev 18 lists all sorts of abominations, however it might be difficult to interpret what is meant by "uncover the nakedness" (is it looking at the nakedness, or is it something more sexual?) Then there is the passage about men wearing women's attire and vice versa. That too is abomination. To fully understand "abominations" I would think require a treatment of all these other abominations. I am not sure if it would change the main thrust of your argument though. Perhaps it doesn't but it definitely needs to be considered, methinks.

Further, to Rocky's comment about clean and unclean animals. In Acts 10, it seems hermeneutically correct to infer that all animals have been declared clean. Rev 18:2, in context refers not to dietary uncleanness but to some other form of unclean - the evil kind.

Just some thoughts for the moment... (Sorry if these questions were already answered. As I said, I joined in the discussion late and I did not read everything).

This came out of a discussion that involved gay marriage. Someone mentioned eating shellfish as another example of an abomination, and I decided to look at those two examples and what they reveal about what sort of thing abominations can and can't be. I didn't intend it to be a comprehensive study of abominations. I intended it to be a comparison of those two things.

For what it's worth, the examples you gave both involve sex/gender, so I think they would fall under the considerations I've already dealt with. I don't know offhand of an abomination in the Torah that doesn't involve sexual sin, sex/gender differences, or dietary restrictions.

I disagree with you about Acts 10. The vision is about clean and unclean animals, and within the vision God has declared them all clean, which means they're not even common (the term including both clean and unclean that's in contrast to being holy). Outside the vision, it's pretty clear from the passage that it's a symbol for clean Jews and unclean Gentiles, and unclean Gentiles who have been made clean by God are not just clean but holy. I don't see anything in the passage that requires taking the symbolism of the foods to be true outside the vision anymore than a vision about eating coal has anything to do with putting hot carbon in our mouths. I think the conclusion is correct, and given what other passages say it seems to me that it may well be part of what's going on here, but if you just look at this passage alone I don't think you can clearly derive that without committing an exegetical fallacy.

Jeremy - abominations include a wide swath of activities, much more than sex/gender issues and dietary laws. The other ones involve:

  • Eating flesh offered as a sacrifice on the third day
  • idols and worshipping other gods
  • sacrificing animals with blemishes to the LORD
  • child sacrifice and sorcery
  • bringing whores or dogs into the temple
  • using false weights
  • making graven images of god

Just so you know.

Jeremy, I think you are right about the Acts 10 passage. I spoke/wrote too quickly.

Yet, I still think the Rev 18:2 passage refers to a different kind of "unclean" - more holy/unholy kind as opposed to the dietary clean/unclean laws.

Wink, wasn't there an abomination against foreigners as well?

Interesting thing about whores. Are they beyond redemption? Or is this a reference to the temple prostitutes that were so prevalent in the religions of the culture of the day?

On the surface though it looks as if the general thrust of the article will still be true on all these different categories (that abominations are temporal).

I'm not sure why you think I said something different about Rev 18:2. You've twice now said that as if it counters something I said, but I can't figure out what I said that it's supposed to be in response to. I don't think it's at odds with anything I remember saying.

Part of the problem in this discussion is that people seem to assume that the Hebrew word translated "abomination" in the OT is the same each time.

There are two Hebrew words translated "abomination".

The word in relation to shellfish seems to have been used to indicate cultic significance. (You will often see in these cases that "it is an abomination unto you".) They would make one ritually unclean - who knows why - God said so. In the NT, followers of Christ have been freed from the cultic food laws, and so do not have to worry about shellfish.

The word used in relation to homosexuality seems to be used in ways that indicate more of an inherent unethical nature or sinfulness. There is something wrong with a man having sex with a man that is wrong (or displeasing to God) aside from strict cultic significance. It is a "straight up" abomination - to God or anyone else. Paul says as much in Rom, 1 Cor, and 1 Tim. Homosexuality, aside from considerations of following the Law, is sinful in the eyes of God. Thus, it is still bad.

I am not a Hebrew expert, so there may be further nuances that I am missing. But based on HALOT definitions and the uses of each I have explored, this is my working understanding of the various ways "abomination" is used.

Stumbled back here after someone stumbled over to me. One further thought. All animals were once considered food for man and there was no division between clean and unclean (hence no abomination) - see Genesis 9:3. It was added for Israel, hence it could be reversed to its original state in Acts. Homosexual activity was never clean, nada, not ever.

That's only partially true. This is after the ark. Before he got on the ark, Noah already had a distinction between clean and unclean animals, as some of the comments above pointed out. We don't know if he ate them or not, but there was a distinction. Adam, as far as we know, had no such distinction, but we also don't know if he ate animals at all. We don't have any description of God giving animals to be eaten until after the flood. So the chronology doesn't quite fit with everything you're saying.

I've just been researching links of disease with unclean meats for an article I'm writing for a web site that is currently under construction. I can tell you that having traced every English word for "food" "meat" and "flesh" in the New Testament back to the Greek, there is not ONE that substantiates the changing of the dietary instruction given in the Torah. (Torah doesn't mean "law"; it means "teaching" and "instruction." The Greek had no equivalent of the meaning Torah in their language and thus translated it "nomos" from which our translators got "law.")

Jesus was not talking about clean or unclean food in the passage in Mark 7:1-19 (also found in Matthew 15:1-20) in which some translations include the paranthetical clause (And thus Jesus declared all foods clean). He was discussing the issue of ceremonial washing of hands, a TRADITION, not a commandment and rebuked the Pharisees for holding to the traditions of men and not to the commandments of God. Since the issue was washing hands, it is obvious that this paranthetical statement was inserted at some point but has nothing to do with the events described in the passage and thus Jesus did NOT declare all foods clean since this wasn't even in the context of the debate! He was talking to Pharisees to whom eating unclean meat would have been unthinkable.

Any good Bible scholar will tell you that the Word of God interprets itself and this holds true in this case. Peter TELLS us what the vision meant when he went to Cornelius' house:

28) And he said to them, �You yourselves know how unlawful it is for a man who is a Jew to associate with a foreigner or to visit him; and yet God has shown me that I should not call ANY MAN unholy or unclean." (Acts 10:28)

So, again this passage has zip to do with food and everything to do with non-Jews accepting the Jewish Messiah and being "grafted in."

In 1 Timothy 4:1-5, the word used for "food" that supposedly gives us the "right" to eat whatever we want is "broma" which is: Food = Strong�s #1033, broma, bro�-mah; food (lit. or fig.), espec. certain allowed or forbidden by the Jewish law.

Once again, this does not validate the common church teaching that we are no longer under the dietary instructions. In fact, it proves the exact opposite. This passage is saying that in the latter days men will come who will tell you not to eat salmon or chicken; meats that are clean according to the Torah. The word "broma" up holds eating according to the Torah directives.

We seem to forget what God said:

�For I, the Lord thy God do not change;� Malachi 3:6

�Jesus the Messiah is the same yesterday and today, yes and forever.� Hebrews 13:8

If Jesus did away with the Torah instructions and we are "no longer under the law but under grace" then why did He say,

�Do not think that I came to abolish (make obsolete) the Torah or the Prophets; I did not come to abolish but to fulfill (rightly interpret).
For truly I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not the smallest letter or stoke shall pass away from the Torah until all is accomplished.� (Matthew 5:17-18)

Since heaven and earth still exist, then the Torah ("law") also is still in existance. We don't have to guess about this, we just have to choose to believe what the Messiah clearly said.

This leads us back to the next passage that confuses people which is found in Romans 14. Paul begins this passage by saying we are to accept those who are weak in faith and the weaker in faith eat only vegetables while the stronger in faith may eat all things. In light of what Messiah said in Matthew 5 quoted above and what we�ve seen that Paul wrote to Timothy in 1 Timothy 4, is Paul advocating eating �anything� as part of eating �all things�? It can mean that only if you are comfortable with the Word of God contradicting itself. He cannot be saying one thing in one place and contradict that in another.

So, how do we know that this isn�t what Paul is saying in this chapter? Because he explicitly tells us later in the chapter:

15) For if because of food (broma) your brother is hurt, you are no longer walking according to love. Do not destroy with your food (broma) him for whom Christ died.
16) Therefore do not let what is for you a good thing be spoken of as evil;

20) Do not tear down the work of God for the sake of food (broma). All things (broma) are indeed clean, but they are evil for the man who eats and gives offense.
21) It is good not to eat meat (kreas) or to drink wine, or to do anything by which your brother stumbles.

Paul clearly tells us that the food to which he is referring is BROMA: clean according to the Torah. The meat Paul recommends not eating, kreas, (Strong�s #2907) is the Greek word noting meat sacrificed to idols. Paul also sums up the point of the entire chapter: DO NOT DO ANYTHING BY WHICH YOUR BROTHER STUMBLES. If your brother can only handle eating vegetables, then do NOT eat something that offends him or causes him to stumble when in his presence, even if it is clean.

IF God has said in Scripture that we can now eat pork, shellfish, catfish, shark, etc. and that�s okay with Him, then why aren�t we eating rats, bats, and turkey buzzards? �YUCK!� you say, they carry disease! How about armadillo? They�ve been documented to give people leprosy! Why not maggots if �everything is clean� and we are not �under the law�? Why not add them to your plate? You see, once we begin to take this thinking to its logical conclusion, it is easy to see the fallacy of this stance and see that it couldn�t possibly be what God was saying. He has already told us that He is always the same; do you really think He changed His thoughts on what we eat and not specifically told us?

The instructions of �the Word� (Jesus) have not changed from ancient times, and WILL be kept in the future. So what makes us think that we are exempt from the requirements He has placed upon men at these other times? Isaiah 65-66 is a prophetic passage of Scripture. In it, God clearly tells us how He will feel in the end of days about this subject:

2) I have spread out My hands all the day long to a rebellious people, who walk in a way that is not good, after their own thoughts
3) A people who provoke Me to My face continually, sacrificing [to idols] in gardens and burning incense upon bricks [instead of at God�s prescribed altar];
4) Who sit among the graves [trying to talk to the dead] and lodge among the secret places [or caves where familiar spirits were thought to dwell]; who eat swine�s flesh, and the broth of abominable and loathsome things is in their vessels;
5) Who say, Keep to you yourself; do not come near me, for I am set apart from you. These are smoke in My nostrils, a fire that burns all the day. (Isaiah 65, AMP)

3) [The acts of the hypocrite�s worship are as abominable to God as if they were offered to idols.] He who kills an ox [then] will be guilty as if he slew and sacrificed a man; he who sacrifices a lamb or a kid, as if he broke a dog�s neck and sacrificed him; he who offers a cereal offering, as if he offered swine�s blood; he who burns incense [to God], as if he blessed an idol. [Such people] have chosen their own ways, and they delight in their abominations; (Isaiah 66, AMP)

This should give us a good clue that God hasn't changed His mind about what is acceptable to Him and what is not. He felt this way when He gave Moses the Torah, He's going to feel this way at the end of days. Why do we think He feels differently now?

In fact, having gone through every New Testament word for �food� and �meat� in the Strong�s Concordance, I can tell you that there is not ONE word that gives us permission to do away with or ignore the dietary instructions given in the Torah. Other than broma (Strong�s number 1033) and food sacrificed to idols (kreas #2907) at which we�ve already looked, the other words used in the New Testament for food, meat or flesh are:

FOOD:
5160, trophe = nourishment; by impl. rations (wages)
1304, diatribe = to wear through (time), i.e. remain,
(as in �having food and raiment, let us be content.� 1 Timothy 6:8)
1035, brosis = eating (lit. or fig.); by extens. (concr.) food (lit. or fig.), the act of eating

MEAT:
5315, phago = to eat (lit. or fig.)
4620, sitometron = a grain-measure, i.e. (by impl.) ration (allowance of food); portion of
meat
1034, brosimos = eatable, used only 1 time in Luke 24:41 referring to broiled fish and
honeycomb
4371, prosphagion = something eaten in addition to bread; i.e. a relish
5132, trapeza = a table or stool (as being four-legged), usually for food (fig. a meal);

FLESH
4561, sarx = flesh (as stripped of the skin), i.e. (strictly) the meat of an animal (as food),
or (by extens.) the body (as opposed to the sould [or spirit], or as the symbol of
what is external, or as the means of kindred), or (by impl.) human nature (with its
frailties [phys. Or mor.] and passions), or (spec.) a human being (as such)

Examples of 4561 (sarx):

The spirit is willing but the flesh is weak. Matthew 26:41

And the two shall become one flesh. Mark 10:8

All flesh shall see the salvation of God. Luke 3:6

And the Word was made flesh and dwelt among us. John 1:14

That which is born of the flesh is flesh� John 3:6

�I will pour out of my Spirit upon all flesh; Acts 2:17

�no flesh shall be justified in His sight�Romans 3:20

�and make no provision for the flesh� Romans 13:14

�not many wise men after the flesh, not many might�1 Cor. 1:26

�if we walked according to the flesh�2 Corinthians 10:2-3

�he who was born of the bondwoman was born after the flesh: Gal 4:23

For we wrestle not against flesh and blood�Eph. 6:12

�have no confidence in the flesh. Phil. 3:3

For though I be absent in the flesh�Col. 2:5

As far as I can tell from investigating every listing of this word in the Strong�s, no example of this word in the entire New Testament is in relation to what is eaten.

If God has exempted us from the dietary instructions in the Torah, then He has been grossly unjust to not exempt us from the penalty of disobeying them. The penalty of disobeying His teaching and instruction are the diseases that come from eating these unclean items; a link that medical science has more than proven, such as the following diseases linked to shellfish: hepatitis A, yersiniosis, shigella, V. parahaemolyticus, poisoning and even death from V. vulnificus; and from eating pork: toxoplasmosis, taeniasis or cysticercosis, trichinosis and cirrhosis of the liver. The penalty of disobedience to God�s Torah is clearly stated in Deuteronomy 28:58-62. It�s interesting to note that there is no disease listed under the first part of this chapter (Deuteronomy 28: 1-14) when obedience to God�s Torah is followed. The only diseases listed (Deuteronomy 28:15, 20-22, 27-28, 35) are from NOT obeying what God instructed us to do.

If God was going to change His instructions and teachings (Torah), don�t you think He�d have specifically told us? And, don�t you think He�d have given us a living example of this through Jesus and/or His disciples? Yet, there is NO Biblical record of them ever eating ANYTHING unclean.

I will end this by telling you what God told me when I questioned Him about this. I said to Him, �Father, people get so MAD when you talk to them about this! They �put up their dukes� with me (I teach a seminar on Biblical nutrition) when I talk about this. What do you want me to tell them?� To which He replied, �Tell them that Jesus� death on the cross did not clean up or change the physical makeup of pork.� You know what, He is right.

I intend to respond to this at some point. I have too much grading even to think about it right now. Anyone reading this who wants to comment should feel free. Please don't wait for me. I do intend to get to it at some point, though.

I'll reply to Beth. Right on!!! She is absolutely right. If God declared all animals to be clean and therefor food for man, He would have removed the diseases that come from eating their flesh! If you eat armadillo chances are you will contract leprosy! The diseases posted as being associated with shellfish and pork are accurate. If you consume unclean flesh you run the risk on developing those diseases. However, clean animals that are fed the diet that they would naturally eat do not give you diseases. (Please don't mention mad cow disease. Cows contract that from being given an unnatural diet.)
What do you consider to be food? A big dish of fried scorpions? Steamed maggots? How about some sauteed rat? Most of us do not consider those items to be food but in some cultures they are.
Jesus and the disciples were good Jewish boys, they would never have considered pig, shellfish, etc. to be food.
Despite what many people believe God is not in the habit of changing His mind. He said, "I change not," therefore He ether told us the truth or He lied. If He lied then this dialogue is futile. If He told the truth then He doesn't change. Therefore, if He is consistent it must be OUR UNDERSTANDING of what He said that is in error. The bible does not contradict itself, if we believe it does it is our misunderstanding, not His.

God must be very mean, then, for allowing all those clean animals that you can get so sick from, e.g. chicken, cow, fish, goat, sheep. I see two choices. I can accept your principle that dietary restrictions are about which animals are more harmful. If I bring that to the text, then I get your view, but taking it to its logical conclusion requires saying that God didn't know how to tell which animals were truly harmful. Lots of harmful animals aren't listed, and any animal when not cooked enough can cause disease. On the other hand, the animals that are listed are perfectly safe when handled properly and cooked well. I've gotten sick far more often from chicken and beef than from pork or clams.

I prefer to discard that a priori assumption brought to the text (that I've never seen written in it) than to say God must have been very bad at figuring out which things go in the categories he came up with. I'll respond in due course. The more arguments you add, the longer my reply is going to be.

Oh, and please don't shout in here. It's considered rude.

Beth and Brigette, what is your opinion about Paul's and Peter's actions (in Acts, Romans, and a few other places) concerning those who insisted that the gentile converts follow all of the jewish laws and customs? I'd appreciate it if you could be concise.

I've finally gotten a few minutes to begin responding to this stuff. Some of your points will not be addressed in this comment. I plan to come back to them. I'll mention which those are here, though.

1. You claim that Jesus' declaration of foods as unclean was inserted, and Jesus didn't mean it that way, as Mark says he did (Mark 7:1-19). Of course it was inserted, but by whom? It's a narrator's theological statement, and the issue isn't whether Jesus said it in so many words but whether the inspired author said it about Jesus because Jesus included that in what he was saying but just not explicitly. The inspired author says all sorts of things Jesus didn't say about Jesus. I do think we have good reason to think this is one of them, but it depends on the textual issue, which I think I want to save and deal with in a later comment. I'll respond to your argument that Jesus' statement doesn't fit with Mark's at the same time.

2. As I've already said more than once, I don't think the Acts passage by itself says anything directly about this issue. It's about acceptance of Gentiles. Of course, one of the things it does is move beyond explicit Torah commands about that issue, which undermines much of what you've said. It also reflects a general tendency in the NT to remove certain Torah commandments that are fulfilled in Christ, e.g. the Sabbath and festival observance of special days, the ritual sacrifices, anything related to the historical identity of Israel as a nation that isn't true of the church.

3. I'll come back to I Tim 4:1-5 and Romans 14 later on. I can only do so much in one sitting.

4. You have a good point about God not changing. Some people make interpretive blunders when they think God really allows something as ok at one time and then gives a moral injunction against it as intrinsically wrong at another time. That's not what I've done, however. It's inconsistent to say that something is morally ok in one setting but in itself morally wrong in another, but it's not inconsistent to say that something is morally ok in itself but wrong in a setting because of that setting, which in this case is the old covenant, something fulfilled in the new covenant.

If you want to take this argument to its logical conclusion, we better continue the Torah sacrifices. If God doesn't change, and God's not changing means we need to continue every command God ever uttered, then we better insult the sacrifice of Christ by continuing to make needless sacrifices. Your argument about the Torah still existing leads to the same result. If the sacrifices Paul, Hebrews, and others tell us would be immoral to continue need to continue, then it's simply not Christianity. The kind of fulfillment of the Torah Jesus is talking about cannot mean that. Since there are plenty of other ways to take this fulfillment, your charge that it's contradictory to take it the way I've said Jesus meant it is just wrong. It's a contradiction only if fulfillment means every requirement in the old covenant context needs to be obeyed in the new covenant context. That's not fulfillment, though. It's simply remaining in the old covenant.

5. You take 'fulfill' in Matthew 5 to mean "rightly interpret". This is an extremely controversial interpretation of what Jesus says there, and it's one that I think we have good reason to think is false, but this is something I want to take up later on while dealing with the more general points now.

6. Isaiah 65-66 is much like what prophets regularly do. As with other particular passages, I'll leave this one for later. I'll say just that prophets often will frame general truths in the particular terms of their covenant setting in a way that if we apply it to ourselves in those terms we'd be engaging in inappropriate hermeneutics. I can give numerous examples, but I'll get these general points out of the way first.

7. There's an easy explanation why 'sarx' isn't used. It's most often used of the idea the NIV translates as the sinful nature and/or in opposition to the spirit or the Spirit. Maybe there's more going on here, and I'll say no more pending further study, but I can't see how the lack of the use of this word signifies much.

8. Disease isn't the penalty. It's a natural result in a strictly causal manner. In many cases it's no longer even relevant, but in no cases was it ever declared as the reason for dietary restrictions in the first place, and there's therefore no biblical warrant to see disease as a penalty. Disease in Dt 28 is for covenant violation in general, not for dietary restrictions in particular, and it's included with other penalties like not being blessed in childbearing, in crop raising, and in keeping Israel's enemies at bay. These are all general penalties that will tend to come when people don't follow God. There's no tying of particular commands with particular penalties, so there's no exegetical warrant for assuming these penalties are for the particular commands you have in mind for them. The text simply doesn't say that.

This is all nonsense anyway, because all clean foods can carry disease. The clean animals tend to be perfectly safe when handled well but might not be, particularly if the animal itself was already sick. And guess what -- the same is true of animals that under the old covenant symbolized spiritual uncleanness. When handled well, they tend to be perfectly safe but can carry diseases if not handled right, and in the end most of the sickness comes from not handling it right or from the animal's already being sick.

9. I'm not one to question whether God speaks to you or anyone, but I've known of enough cases when people have violated scripture because they believed God had spoken to them to do so. Scripture takes priority, and we're to test the spirits according to scripture. In this case, I think what you believe God spoke to you goes against what all Christians believe God spoke, his word.

10. The aesthetic argument has no force. What we take to be good food is because of our cultural sensitivities. The reason we don't take certain things to be good food is because people don't eat them around here. If they're safe, they're ok. That should be applied to what under the old covenant was clean, and so the fact that it should be applied to what under the old covenant was unclean says nothing about whether it's in principle wrong to eat it. God never said it's in principle wrong. He said that the people of his covenant would not eat it, and that covenant is no longer in effect in the way it was in effect. The new covenant has fulfilled it.

You all have gotten off your topic on your discussion of Homosexuality and how anyone could believe that Gays will go to Heaven.

Beth packed a Powerful message there.
But, Jeremy still reflects the argument of "if" OT Laws don't apply today because of Christ's sacrifice, then naturally if a person decides not to honor the Sabbath or Tithe or has sex with their wife even if she is considered
'unclean' by OT standards...
Then "WHY" would it be a problem to be Gay and Still not be entitled to be covered by the Blood that Christ shed for all?

This debate will ultimately go back and forth unless you can come to a conclusion.

And that answer can be found in the Bible,
and Yes, we will find our CURRENT answers in the New Testament also where we are told what Homosexuals end shall Truly be;

Your body belongs to God 1Corinthians 6:15-20
You were created in His image Genesis 1:26-27

Homosexuality is a sin

Old Testament Leviticus 18:22

Sodomy is considered to be any sexual practice of a nature other than normal sexual intercourse between a man and a woman;
covers lesbianism as well as homosexuality and bestiality; also covers heterosexual practices that fall outside the parameters of "normal"

Sodom was destroyed because of sexual perversion
Genesis 18:20-21; 19:25-25

Isaiah's warning Isaiah 3:8-9

Fornication is ANY [other] sexual relationship outside the marriage relationship between a husband and wife, [woman],including adultery and incest Hebrews 13:4

From the Greek word arsenokoites, meaning one guilty of unnatural offenses; sodomite; homosexual; sexual pervert 1Timothy 1:9-10

"Do you not know that the unrighteous will NOT inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived. Neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor homosexuals, nor sodomites . . . will inherit the kingdom of God. (I Corinthians 6:9-10)

Homosexuality was condemned by God, centuries before the giving of the law (e.g., Gen. 19).
It is explicitly condemned by God�s law
(Lev. 18:22, 20:13).
As shown, Homosexuality Is also CLEARLY CONDEMNED in the New Testament.

The New Testament agrees with and confirms the Old Testament�s condemnation of homosexuality.

Could any passage of Scripture be more clear in its condemnation of homosexuality than Paul�s statement found in the first chapter of Romans:
�Therefore God also gave them up to uncleanness, in the lusts of their hearts, to dishonor their bodies among themselves, who exchanged the truth of God for the lie, and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever. Amen.
For this reason God gave them up to vile passions. For even their women exchanged the natural use for what is against nature.
Likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust for one another, men with men committing what is shameful, and receiving in themselves the penalty of their error which was due.
And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a debased mind, to do those things which are not
fitting;
...who, knowing the righteous judgment of God, that those who practice such things are deserving of death, not only do the same but also approve of those who practice them� (Rom. 1:24-28, 32

Homosexuals will end up in the Lake of Fire to burn in Torment for ALL Eternity;

Revelation 21:8 states that God will sentence the sexually immoral to the Lake of Fire, right along with murderers, idolaters, liars, and other unrepentant sinners.

Debate Over.

It is Crystal Clear that Homosexuality "is" still an Abomination to God and "if" they "choose" "not" to Repent from this sin that separates them from the Most Holy God, they "will" spend All of Eternity being Tormented in the Lake of Fire.

The topic was never whether gays can go to heaven. The answer to that is obviously yes. You can't read very far in your New Testament before you discover that the gospel is an offer to all. What started this had nothing to do with that. What started this was whether it's ok to legislate morality.

I have no reason to disagree with all you've said about homosexual acts being sin. The New Testament is clear on that. That doesn't mean homosexuality is a sin. That's a category mistake. Homosexuality is a condition caused by sin in the same way autism, Alzheimer's disease, being disposed toward impatience, or having genetic predispositions to be less likely to believe in God are conditions caused by sin that will often lead to sin but are not themselves sin. Romans 1 in fact says this quite clearly. People sinned. It led to a bad situation, which included people's desires to have sex with people of their own sex. That's given as evidence of how bad our plight is.

By the way, you conveniently edited the Romans 1 list of those who are worthy of hell, which gives the false impression that homosexual sex stands out as something especially grave. Here is the whole list:

And since they did not see fit to acknowledge God, God gave them up to a debased mind to do what ought not to be done. They were filled with all manner of unrighteousness, evil, covetousness, malice. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, maliciousness. They are gossips, slanderers, haters of God, insolent, haughty, boastful, inventors of evil, disobedient to parents, foolish, faithless, heartless, ruthless. Though they know God's decree that those who practice such things deserve to die, they not only do them but give approval to those who practice them. [Romans 1:28-31, ESV]

This modern American idea that homosexuality is something special, that homosexual sin is in some category of its own, is just not in the Bible. It's listed alonside sins that we emphasize as terrible and sins that we consider incredibly lame and light. It keeps company in this list with those who disobey their parents, those who tell stories about other people's problems without permission and for no uplifting reason, those who desire things their friends have and aren't content with what God gives them, and those who speak of what they have achieved as if they should take credit for it. These things are all treated on par with homosexual sex, and they're all treated on par with murder and with hateful rejection of God's grace, because indeed that's what they all stem from. You also left out the greedy, drunkards, revilers, and swindlers from I Cor 6, giving the same false impression.

As for Sodom, some question whether the homosexual element in the account is important at all, and I think that goes too far, but it's pretty clear from the passage itself and from how scripture treats it that the gay sex element is not the most important feature. Here are guests to their city, and they're asking Lot to let them rape them. Why does the homosexual element come out so much more strongly in contemporary Americans' treatment of this passage than how they treat their guests? Why does it come out more strongly than rape? Also, Ezekiel explains why Sodom was destroyed:

Behold, this was the guilt of your sister Sodom: she and her daughters had pride, excess of food, and prosperous ease, but did not aid the poor and needy. [Ezekiel 16:49, ESV]

That says nothing of homosexuality, so even if that was part of the reason (Jude, for instances, does give it as a reason for their destruction) there were others that were sufficient on their own, and Ezekiel's emphasis is on the sort of thing many of the conservatives in the U.S. who are opposing what they call the gay agenda are happily tolerating without much fuss.

I happened upon an online version of Gordon Wenham's "The Theology of Unclean Food", which deals with lots of the issues in the above discussion. Wenham is one of the most important biblical scholars on Genesis in the last few decades.

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