Don’t you love it when non-Christians, atheists, gay-rights activists, etc. reference the Bible and tell you that you’re reading it wrong? “Most of the Old Testament was negated and set straight by Jesus” and “You go out and stone a bunch of people, I’ll be living to please Jesus in the meantime” are on the list of things I’ve been told. I was told “the Old Testament pretty much doesn’t matter anymore” and the evidence for this claim was Jesus responding to the question about the greatest commandment. Kudos for knowing Jesus’ answer to that question; Love the Lord you God with all your heart, soul, mind and strength. A second is just like it, love your neighbor as yourself. This was an example of Jesus setting things straight.
The problem is that Jesus responded by quoting the Old Testament. Love the Lord your God with heart, soul, mind, strength is Deuteronomy 6:5 and love your neighbor as yourself is Leviticus 19:9. Jesus has fulfilled the Law and the Prophets and not done away with anything. It is not uncommon for people to suggest I read the Bible for myself and quit believing everything I’m told, or that quoting the Bible doesn’t make me a Christian. The fact that I need to “move forward” and/or “progress” into the 21st century seems to get repeated. Just like after a few Facebook comments I’m going to reexamine my Christian life and suddenly realize the past 26 years have been a waste and that progression (agreeing with changing social norms) is the most important thing. “Have you even read the Bible?” No, I somehow manage to accumulate 21 years in youth ministry, teach every age level of Sunday School, be ordained first as a deacon then as a minister without having read the Bible. My blog is filled with pages and pages of theology, apologetics and sermons that I don’t know anything about whatsoever.
Okay, I’m gonna slow down my roll and share a graphic. A little knowledge can be a dangerous thing, but follow a few paths on this flowchart which started the dialog I’m getting all lathered up over.
1) The response to “the Old Testament says so” is to bring up food and clothing laws. Those regulations were specifically about being Jewish. Those things are kosher. Moral law is carried forward into the New Testament.
2) The response “the New Testament says so” is explained away by telling us the N.T. doesn’t really say homosexuality is wrong, unless we happen to be reading the Apostle Paul, who wrote MOST of the New Testament. And since he said a woman should not assume authority over a man we can ignore everything he said about homosexuality in Romans 1. According to this chart.
3) God ordained marriage in the Garden of Eden when Eve was made for Adam. The earth is populated today in a way that it was not in Eden or after the flood so reproduction is no longer a basis for choosing sexual partners. According to the chart anyway. And everything Paul said about marriage, couples, raising children etc. we are ignoring because of a couple of other things he said that we don’t like.
4) The Bible definition of marriage + Jesus said so. “I’d like to quote what Jesus said about gay marriage, but he never said anything.” That is a lie if one has ever been told.
Jesus repeated what Moses said in Genesis: “Have you not read that he who created them from the beginning made them male and female, and said, ‘Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh’? (Matthew 19:4-5 ESV) Those are Old Testament words, spoken by Jesus to a New Testament audience. It is the biblical definition of marriage, found in both Testaments and confirmed by Jesus Christ.
But here’s the thing…
When Satan tempted Jesus he quoted some scripture as well, although perhaps somewhat misguided. The Pharisees had studied and memorized the Law, but still missed the point. Jesus said they kept the letter of the Law but not the spirit of the Law. When Jesus quoted scripture some marveled at his understanding and others wanted to kill him. Eventually they did. Jesus was the Word made flesh and they accused him of blasphemy. Jesus never committed a sin but was accused of breaking the Sabbath, eating with unwashed hands, lying, and being possessed with demons!
They will misquote scripture, interpret scripture wrongly, and tell followers of Jesus they don’t know anything about Jesus. They will demean the Christian faith, all religion and even Jesus himself. We are commanded to love them; but they sure do make it hard sometimes. “Those people” we are arguing with? They’re the mission field.
As Jesus was nailed to the cross, he prayed for those crucifying him. Of the Jewish leaders and Roman soldiers, he prayed “Father forgive them for they know not what they do.” We are told in Philippians to have the same mind in us that Christ had. That is our mission and the only way to please God is to accept it.