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Milt Hankins: What should we do with Old Testament laws?

May. 17, 2013 @ 12:15 AM

If I am to believe the Bible is inerrant, without any errors, mistakes, or contradictions, "God-breathed," and to be obeyed to the letter -- that is with no "picking and choosing" -- then I have a few, sincere questions about laws found in the Old Testament.

According to Leviticus 18:4, God said, "You are to perform my judgments and keep my statutes, to live in accord with them; I am the Lord your God." So, if God is the same yesterday, today and forever, as I was taught, these laws should be as applicable today as they were centuries ago.

Leviticus 19:27-28 states clearly that "You shall not round off the side-growth of your heads, nor harm the edges of your beard. You shall not make any cuts in your body for the dead, nor make any tattoo marks on yourselves: I am the Lord." Am I to understand the "military-style" haircut for men is forbidden by God?

Leviticus 19:33-34 reads, "The stranger who resides with you shall be to you as the native among you, and you shall love him as yourself; for you were aliens in the land of Egypt; I am the Lord your God." Shouldn't this be the guideline as to how we treat immigrants in our country?

Have we forgotten that God commanded the death by stoning of a man for merely gathering wood on the Sabbath? (Numbers 15:32-36)

Deuteronomy 23:2 clearly states that "No one of illegitimate birth shall enter the assembly of the Lord; none of his descendants, even to the tenth generation, shall enter the assembly of the Lord?"

Are the Old Testament laws no longer applicable to Christians? If so, what about the Ten Commandments, which appear in Exodus 20:1-17?

I note that people who are homophobic frequently quote Leviticus 18:22: "You shall not lie with a male as one lies with a female; it is an abomination." I suppose my question is: If we are obliged to keep the laws that are in the Bible because God said so, then how do we justify ignoring those laws we wish to ignore while, at the same time, insisting upon those we wish to enforce on others?

Yes, I am a retired minister with several theological degrees, and I am reasonably certain I know the answers to my questions. But, I would like to hear the responses from those people who practice and preach a harsh, judgmental kind of religion.

How do people who go around with "military-style" haircuts and tattoos and think we should ship all "illegal" immigrants back to where they came from (forgetting, of course, that the land we inhabit belongs to the Lord!) justify ignoring all of the other laws in the Old Testament?

Am I not correct in assuming that we are obliged to obey all of them or none of them? We cannot "cherry-pick!"

Maybe we ought to just give the Old Testament back to the Jews, huh?

Milt Hankins of Ashland, Ky., is a retired minister, theologian and freelance writer.

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