Questions about following the Mosaic Law as a Christian


#1

I’m in a heated debate with a few Agnostics and Atheists regarding Homosexuality and they’re bringing up the Mosaic Law and how we like to ‘pick and choose’ which laws (of the Old Testament) we follow.

For instance, we follow the Ten Commandments but not laws such as eating shellfish and how mixing wool and cotton is forbidden (Leviticus 19:19).

Can someone help me out with understanding why we follow the Ten Commandments but not the other Mosaic Laws? I understand that Jesus is the New Covenant which makes the Old Covenant laws somewhat ‘obsolete’ but why wouldn’t that include the Ten Commandments or something more serious like Homosexuality?

Thanks!


#2

From my understanding, Jesus fufilled the old covenant. The way I think about it is in terms of a contract being fufilled, so for example if you bought something and you go on a payment plan, and once you have paid the total amount the contract ends, so the same theory applies in the old and new covenants.
And so this also gives an answer to why we needed Jesus, because there was no way for man to keep up with the payment owed to God in the Old Testament, so God himself wiped off the debt, and established a new contract with different terms, and Jesus specifies what laws we are to follow and what ones have changed, such as a Christian can eat pork, because God has made all animals clean. And so with the Holy Spirit guiding the church, the church was also able to discern what laws were to still be followed, and what was no longer nessecary. So the teaching on homosexuality comes from St. Paul’s letter to the Romans, which specifies that it is still immoral in the new covenant, but even there is no teaching in the New Testament on an issue like beastiality, the church, under guidance, teaches us that it is immoral.

But one thing about debating atheists and agnostics on this topic, in my own personal experience, they don’t care what our reasons are, they just want to be correct, and so no matter how it is explained to them they won’t accept our reasons and will keep on harping about the same argument. I hope you have better luck than me.


#3

the ceremonial laws existed to separate the Jews from the Pagans culturally, they weren’t a ban on something inherently evil. The moral laws existed to shed light on a persons sins, which are inherently evil.


#4

Thanks, that was very helpful. Would a ceremonial law include something like what I posted in Leviticus regarding wool?


#5

Yes


#6

[quote="PaulinePresbytr, post:5, topic:311255"]
Yes

[/quote]

Thanks for the concise, to the point post.


#7

[quote="dandingo, post:1, topic:311255"]
I'm in a heated debate with a few Agnostics and Atheists regarding Homosexuality and they're bringing up the Mosaic Law and how we like to 'pick and choose' which laws (of the Old Testament) we follow.

For instance, we follow the Ten Commandments but not laws such as eating shellfish and how mixing wool and cotton is forbidden (Leviticus 19:19).

Can someone help me out with understanding why we follow the Ten Commandments but not the other Mosaic Laws? I understand that Jesus is the New Covenant which makes the Old Covenant laws somewhat 'obsolete' but why wouldn't that include the Ten Commandments or something more serious like Homosexuality?

Thanks!

[/quote]

There are actually three distinct "episodes" that occur in Exodus (chapter 20 and on) regarding how the "Laws" were dispensed.

In summary, Moses went up the mountain and received the moral law (Ten Commandments) directly from God. He came down because the people were in rebellion and fashioned the golden calf. After this, God directed Moses to "write the rules" to govern the hard-hearted people that remained. These were ratified by the people and celebrated by a sacrificial feast to seal the covenant. Following this, the liturgical rules were spelled out by God to Moses on the mountain.

First, the entire event must be understood in the context of covenant. God promised something to the people in return for a certain commitment on their part. The mutual commitment of God to the people and the people to God was the basis of this covenant. The "Mosaic Laws" were a codified statement of this covenant agreement that Moses drafted based upon the Ten Commandments and assented to by the people of Israel.

In Exodus, starting at Chapter 20, there are three "forms" of the law defined.
1) The moral law, which forms the backbone of the Ten Commandments, is non negotiable and applies at all times and places.
2) The Mosaic Law is the codified practical application of the moral law. These "rules of governance" were written by Moses. Events in Exodus, Numbers and Deuteronomy strongly suggest that Moses authored these to "spell out" how the Ten Commandments were to be lived out each day by the Israelites as part of their responsibility for fulfilling the terms of the covenant. That is why this "secondary law" (Deuteronomy means "second law") was necessary. The people, being hard hearted and rule oriented couldn't simply live morally but had to be guided by the law to do so.
3) The Levitical or ritual law guided the liturgical practices, specifically of the priests (Levites) but also of ritual purity of the people. Leviticus is the codified statement of the ritual law.

The problem that most people have is understanding what "fulfillment" of the law entails.

The critical element to understanding this lies in the difference between 1) and 2) above. The only reason that the Mosaic Laws were necessary was because the people didn't have the wherewithal to live out the Ten Commandments "from the heart." They had to be continually reminded about their responsibilities by the specific rules of the Mosaic Law to stay on the straight and narrow.

What Jesus did was to empower a "change of heart" within individuals. After Pentecost, the Spirit of Truth (the Holy Spirit) was sent to transform the "inner heart" of those who accept the "kingship" of God so the requirements of the covenant with God are fulfilled willingly by those who enter into the new covenant relationship with God.

The practical application of moral laws may change over time. What made sense under the Mosaic law depended upon specific external circumstances and may not be practical or reasonable today. For example, capital punishment may have been necessary in a primitive culture to insure the safety of all, but may not be requirement in a more advanced culture where prisons exist to permit the isolation of those who seek to harm others. Obeying traffic rules in modern civilization is crucial to the safety of others, but was not even given a thought by people wandering vast expanses of desert.

The challenge here is to distill the moral law from the other two forms. Both the Levitical and Mosaic laws have been superceded by the new covenant with God through Christ. These expressed the "how" of the covenant and have changed. However, the moral law, being a definition, essentially, of what it means to be "good" human beings did not change because the nature of what it means to be human has not.

Homosexuality pertains to what it means to be human and is a moral issue. How we treat homosexuals is a practical matter that need not follow prescriptions in Leviticus or Deuteronomy. In this we follow Jesus' teachings on mercy and charity, but the nature of moral good has not changed. What was wrong morally then is still wrong morally today. How we handle or deal with moral wrong is another matter.


#8

Christians differentiate between the moral commandments that apply to everyone and the more legalistic commandments such as the dietary laws and laws involving mixing of certain fabrics. Orthodox Jews do not exactly make this distinction, although the preservation of life trumps other commandments, while Reform Jews do differentiate. The Orthodox Jewish position is that the other commandments in Leviticus and Deuteronomy are a more detailed explanation of each of the Ten Commandments, and furthermore they say that practicing so-called “minor” commandments can often have the effect of drawing one closer to G-d’s will. Laws concerning eating, dressing, and so on also serve the function of transforming mundane behaviors into something spiritual and holy. Finally, there are certain commandments that one might not even have thought of if they had not been pointed out in Mosaic Law, such as those dealing with ethics and morality in business practices, as well as kindness to animals, and not displaying unusual dexterity in the presence of disabled people. BTW, strictly speaking, the law against homosexual behavior in the Torah (Mosaic Law) explicitly speaks only of male homosexuality, not female homosexuality.


#9

From my understanding, Jesus fufilled the old covenant. The way I think about it is in terms of a contract being fufilled, so for example if you bought something and you go on a payment plan, and once you have paid the total amount the contract ends, so the same theory applies in the old and new covenants.

An interesting perspective. But have you considered this passage from Matthew 19

16 And, behold, one came and said unto him, Good Master, what good thing shall I do, that I may have eternal life?

17 And he said unto him, Why callest thou me good? there is none good but one, that is, God: but if thou wilt enter into life, keep the commandments.

18 He saith unto him, Which? Jesus said, Thou shalt do no murder, Thou shalt not commit adultery, Thou shalt not steal, Thou shalt not bear false witness,

19 Honour thy father and thy mother: and, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.

Jesus told the youth who asked him that to gain eternal life, he must keep the commandments. That surely tells us that at the least, the Ten Commandments still stand. And if they do, why not the rest of the moral substance of the Mosaic Law. It was after all God’s revelation of good, moral behaviour.


#10

That’s true, what you say, and I agree. As for your question I believed the new covenant laws were mostly established by Jesus himself like you quoted, and the Holy Spirit then being sent to guide the church later on as to what rules we needed to follow we’re revealed, for example, how circumcision had changed through guidance of the Holy Spirit when the apostles came together to discuss it.


#11

That atheists are correct. We - well, the Church - pick and choose which laws (that are not divine or natural) we follow.

Can someone help me out with understanding why we follow the Ten Commandments but not the other Mosaic Laws?

We follow the ten commandments because some of them are required from us by Jesus and the Apostles. The others commandments we follow because the Church says so and because they are natural law.

Can someone help me out with understanding why we follow the Ten Commandments but not the other Mosaic Laws?

Because, Moses’ covenant has been abolished, abrogated, annulled and does not apply to us or anyone else (Galatians 3-5). The law was set “because of transgressions, until the seed (Jesus Christ) would come to whom the promise had been made” (Galatians 3:19).

Paul, Galatians 3:10-11: “[A]ll who rely on works of the law are under a curse”, “no man is justified before God by the law”.

Galatians 5:4: “You are severed from Christ, you who would be justified by the law; you have fallen away from grace.”

Chrysostom, Homily on Romans, 6:12: “Yet surely Paul’s object everywhere is to annul this Law. And with much reason; for it was through a fear and a horror of this that the Jews obstinately opposed grace.”

Homily on Galatians, 3: “And so while no one annuls a man’s covenant, the covenant of God after four hundred and thirty years is annulled; for if not that covenant but another instead of it bestows what is promised, then is it set aside, which is most unreasonable.”

Justin Martyr, Dialogue with Trypho, 11: “Now, law placed against law has abrogated that which is before it, and a covenant which comes after in like manner has put an end to the previous one.”

Cathechism of Trent, 3, the Third Commandment: “[A]fter the abrogation of the Law of Moses, all the Commandments contained in the two tables are observed by Christians, not indeed because their observance is commanded by Moses, but because they are in conformity with nature which dictates obedience to them.”

Cathechism of Trent, 3, Decalogue: “It is most certain that we are not bound to obey the Commandments because they were delivered by Moses, but because they are implanted in the hearts of all, and have been explained and confirmed by Christ our Lord.”

Pope Urban VIII, Profession of Orthodox Faith: “[W]e profess that the legalities of the Old Testament, the ceremonies of the Mosaic Law, the rites, sacrifices, and sacraments have ceased at the coming of Our Lord Jesus Christ; they cannot be observed without sin after the promulgation of the Gospel.”

Pope Piux XII, Mystici Corporis Christi, 29-30: “[T]he New Testament took the place of the Old Law which had been abolished.”

Just to clarify, there are many covenants in the Old Testament, the Mosaic covenant is one of them, and they should not be confused with Abraham’s covenant. The covenant of Abraham has been fulfilled, unlike the other covenants which have been abolished, and has become the new covenant. The confusion between the covenants has sadly led many American Protestants to believe that the Jews are a chosen people, instead of Israel (which is now the Catholic Church).


#12

These are the exact answers that I was looking for when starting this thread. Thank you so much for responding!


#13

I was actually thinking about this as our discussion went on. I don’t, however, believe it means that its OK for women to be homosexual. Im curious, do Jews believe that it is OK?


#14

Orthodox Judaism forbids both male and female homosexual relationships. The latter is forbidden based on inferential interpretation of Scripture. Reform Judaism, and many who practice Conservative Judaism, do not forbid homosexual relationships, but both movements are opposed to promiscuity whether homosexual or heterosexual. Being homosexual in itself is not regarded as sinful according to any form of Judaism, which is the same for Catholicism.


#15

[quote="dandingo, post:1, topic:311255"]
I'm in a heated debate with a few Agnostics and Atheists regarding Homosexuality and they're bringing up the Mosaic Law and how we like to 'pick and choose' which laws (of the Old Testament) we follow.

For instance, we follow the Ten Commandments but not laws such as eating shellfish and how mixing wool and cotton is forbidden (Leviticus 19:19).

[/quote]

The Ten Commandments are God's universal standard of righteousness. The dietary laws and the laws about how to make yarn are not part of the Ten Commandments.

Can someone help me out with understanding why we follow the Ten Commandments but not the other Mosaic Laws?

I think so.

I understand that Jesus is the New Covenant which makes the Old Covenant laws somewhat 'obsolete' but why wouldn't that include the Ten Commandments or something more serious like Homosexuality?

  1. The Ten Commandments are the universal standard of righteousness. God wrote them with His own finger on stone.

Exodus 24:12
And the Lord said unto Moses, Come up to me into the mount, and be there: and I will give thee tables of stone, and a law, and commandments which I have written; that thou mayest teach them.

Exodus 31:17-18
King James Version (KJV)
17 It is a sign between me and the children of Israel for ever: for in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, and on the seventh day he rested, and was refreshed.

18 And he gave unto Moses, when he had made an end of communing with him upon mount Sinai, two tables of testimony, tables of stone, written with the finger of God.

Deuteronomy 4:13
And he declared unto you his covenant, which he commanded you to perform, even ten commandments; and he wrote them upon two tables of stone.

Consider the symbolism here. God wrote the Ten Commandments, the LAW, upon stone.
Hebrews 8:10
For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, saith the Lord; I will put my laws into their mind, and write them in their hearts: and I will be to them a God, and they shall be to me a people:

The Commandments are the law written in all our hearts. The Old Covenant was built on the foundation of the Commandments.

  1. Both Covenants are written on the foundation of the Ten Commandments.

The reason for the addition of the ordinances is to help the Jews keep the Commandments.

Exodus 20:6
And shewing mercy unto thousands of them that love me, and keep my commandments.

The reason for the Sacraments is to help Christians keep the Commandments.

1 Corinthians 7:19
Circumcision is nothing, and uncircumcision is nothing, but the keeping of the commandments of God.

1 John 5:3
For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments: and his commandments are not grievous.

Revelation 22:14
Blessed are they that do his commandments, that they may have right to the tree of life, and may enter in through the gates into the city.

Thanks!

I hope that helps.

Sincerely,

De Maria


#16

Thanks for answering. That’s extremely interesting. So, if I’m understanding correctly, does that mean that since both movements are opposed to promiscuity but do not forbid homosexual relationships, then they support homosexual marriage?

I listen to Dennis Prager daily, who, I believe is a Reformed Jew, and he is adamantly opposed to gay marriage. Please don’t think I’m attacking you. I’m genuinely interested.

I completely understand that being homosexual is not a sin in and of itself but acting on it is.

Thanks again!


#17

Reform Judaism supports homosexual marriage, not actively but it is not opposed to it. Conservative Judaism is half and half on this in that some Conservative rabbis will marry two gay people, while others will not even though they are not vocally in opposition. Is Dennis Prager a Reform Jew? I’m not sure about that. (BTW, it is Reform Judaism, not Reformed.)


#18

=dandingo;10237765]I’m in a heated debate with a few Agnostics and Atheists regarding Homosexuality and they’re bringing up the Mosaic Law and how we like to ‘pick and choose’ which laws (of the Old Testament) we follow.

For instance, we follow the Ten Commandments but not laws such as eating shellfish and how mixing wool and cotton is forbidden (Leviticus 19:19).

Can someone help me out with understanding why we follow the Ten Commandments but not the other Mosaic Laws? I understand that Jesus is the New Covenant which makes the Old Covenant laws somewhat ‘obsolete’ but why wouldn’t that include the Ten Commandments or something more serious like Homosexuality?

Thanks!

we DO! as Christ Commands;

READ Mt. 28:19-20

Then understand that Christ Created a new Covenant in His Blood.

Luke.22; 20 "And likewise the cup after supper, saying, “This cup which is poured out for you is the new covenant in my blood”

This does not obsolete the Old Covenant; BUT it does Overrdie and Supercede it.

Then look at Mt. 19:17 where Christ declairs that we MUST obey ALL of the Commandments of which there are 10 catagorises; not ten sins].

Nowhere can your “friends” point to a pasage were sodomy or gay sex is approved of by God. END of discussion.

They that control the terms CONTROL the debate.

What is wrong is Always wrong.

Sex was given as a opportunity and a command to MULTIPLY:

Gen. 1:26-29 "
"And he said: Let us make man to our image and likeness: and let him have dominion over the fishes of the sea, and the fowls of the air, and the beasts, and the whole earth, and every creeping creature that moveth upon the earth. And God created man to his own image: to the image of God he created him: male and female he created them. And God blessed them, saying: Increase and multiply, and fill the earth, and subdue it, and rule over the fishes of the sea, and the fowls of the air, and all living creatures that move upon the earth

God who Created man instilled the ability of procreation and even regulates its cycles in the female for this precise purpose. Don’t let them BULLY you.:slight_smile:


#19

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