You need to read what John Piper has to say about the proposed Minnesota marriage amendment, which would define marriage as the union of one man and one woman. Piper’s article would be helpful not only to Minnesotans, but also to anyone interested in understanding how Christians should think through the intersection of public policy and sexual ethics. Here’s an excerpt:
“It is wise that our laws define marriage as between a man and a woman.
“This is not because homosexual practice or same-sex relationships should be legally stopped. Rather, it’s because they should not be legally sanctioned. The issue is not whether same-sex unions are permitted, but whether they are institutionalized. The issue is not whether we tolerate same-sex relationships, but whether we build on them as a foundation for society. The issue is not whether we forbid a particular sin, but whether we mandate social approval of that sin. The issue is not whether we block a sinful behavior, but whether we imbed it in our laws.
“I am not making a case for the legal prosecution of homosexual practice. Nor would I advocate the legal prosecution of heterosexual fornication. But I would make a case against the institutionalization of fornication, or making it a building block of society, or mandating its approval, or imbedding it in our laws. It is one thing to tolerate sin. It is another to build society on it.”
Read the rest here.
(HT: Justin Taylor)
I read this earlier and shared it on FB. Piper did a great job of framing the issue. Families are the foundation of society and as that erodes, society erodes.
This would be a great thing for the people of Minnesota. The sad part is the number of chrisitans who will decry this as “hateful” and “bigoted”.
Agreed. However, note that Piper is using an “outdated” definition of the word “tolerance.” Many people who would support legislation that sanctions same-sex unions would call THAT “tolerance.” But it’s really much more than tolerance. It’s the state actively blessing it.
I read this earlier today. I also thought the article he linked on his churches position on homosexuality was extremely well done.
Or Piper could just sum it up and say, “The issue is whether we can get laws passed that force people to comply with our personal religious views, even if they don’t share our religious beliefs.” This is no different than if a large group of muslims were able to have a law passed in the US requiring women to wear a burka in public.
Piper states: “I am not making a case for the legal prosecution of homosexual practice. Nor would I advocate the legal prosecution of heterosexual fornication.”
Why isn’t he? What does the Bible tell us?
If a man has sexual relations with a man as one does with a woman, both of them have done what is detestable. They are to be put to death“ – Leviticus 20:13
“If a man commits adultery with another manâ€™s wifeâ€”with the wife of his neighborâ€”both the adulterer and the adulteress are to be put to death.” – Leviticus 20:10
I’m just assuming that you are joking RD…..giving you the benefit of the doubt.
RD, if you’re trying to “catch” people by saying, “Ha! You’re not the biblical literalists you thought you were,” it doesn’t work to do it with passages from the Old Testament and the old covenant.
What do you mean? Why is what God states emphatically to be his will in the OT different from what his will in the NT would be??
It is stated emphatically in the New Testament that the old covenant has been replaced with a new one. This means that the rules God laid down to Moses are not necessarily rules Christians should be bound by. Of course that doesn’t mean we should just throw out the Ten Commandments. Those were obviously unique. But the stuff about executing adulteresses, eating kosher, and everything in between is all stuff we don’t need to think ourselves tied to.
Of course it’s all stuff we don’t need to think ourselves tied to, because we know it would be flat out wrong to follow some of these commands today. I think the obvious point gets missed. It should trouble us that these commands were EVER given in the first place, rather than missing this point and simply trying to come up with reasons why God no longer requires us to follow all of the OT commands today.
It’s all guess-work, there’s nothing solid in scripture that clarifies which commands in the Old Testament are still applicable and which are not. It comes down to personal preference, follow the OT commands you like and ignore the commands you don’t.
And I apologize for getting way off topic from the original post!
How are we to determine which scriptures in the OT are no longer to be specifically followed now? What criteria are we to use when we try to determine which scriptures God intends for us to follow for all time, and which scriptures were to be followed only during the days of the Old Covenant?
Just for the record, we affirm the validity of the 10 commandments in the New Covenant because they are all reaffirmed in the New Testament. The only one of the 10 commandments that is not fully reaffirmed is the Sabbath law, though the principle behind the Sabbath is still in effect.
We have to put the 10 commandments in a different category than the laws surrounding diet, government, judicial system, custom, dates, because of how Jesus and the apostles treated them.
God’s covenants do not go away.
Jesus and the 12 apostles and Paul were all Torah-observant Jews, so they treated all the laws in the Tanakh like Torah-observant Jews.
Better worded, God’s covenants do not go away until heaven and earth pass away.
Donald, We’ve had this discussion before. If memory serves, you hold to a view that Jews were obliged to continue following the Mosaic Law and Gentiles had the option to choose. I hold to the much more common belief that neither Jew or Gentile are bound by Mosaic Law or the sacrificial system or to the laws that governed the 12 tribes of Israel. The primary purpose of the Old Covenant was to prepare Israel for Christ. Christ did not abolish the Old Covenant, he fulfilled it. Now we do not look to God through the lens and vehicle of the Old Covenant, we look to Christ, the Living Priest who tore the veil, which previously prevented people from being able to approach and see the fullest expression of God in the person of Christ.
Donald, Derek, YGG-
So, I ask again, what criteria are we to use when we try to determine which scriptures God intends for us to follow for all time, and which scriptures were to be followed only during the days of the Old Covenant?
I do not think think ANY believer in Jesus needs to keep anything in the Mosaic covenant, but think any can choose to keep some or even all that are possible to keep. If the latter, then they tend to think of themselves as Torah-Observant Messianic Jews; if the former then perhaps just partial Torah Observant Messianic Jews.
On interpretation issues, you are reading the Scriptures written by Jewish thinkers as if they were written by Greek thinkers; one can do this but will make mistakes. To figure out the original intent, one needs to try one’s best to hear them as the original audience would have. In this specific case, “fulfill” to a Jew would mean “correctly interpret so as not to break”.
There is no criteria, just subjective opinions on why some laws are still applicable and others are not. There isn’t one single verse in the NT telling us which laws still apply. One can argue that only the 10 commandments apply today because they were reaffirmed in the NT. But Jesus also said in Matt 5:19, â€œWhoever then annuls one of the least of these commandments, and teaches others to do the same, shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but whoever keeps and teaches them, he shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven.”
So the argument works both ways, but in the end it boils down to personal preference. We know it would ridiculous to put people to death for homosexuality, withcraft, or talking back their parents. And it would be absurd to pass laws against wearing clothing made of certain materials, or forbidding people from ministry because of a physical defect they were born with. So the answer to this problem? Come up with a subjective interpretation that gets us off the hook, and then act like it’s clearly spelled out in scripture for all to see.
Entire books have been written about this topic, of course. But I have personally come to the conclusions largely on the basis of passages such as Acts 10 and 15, the book of Galatians (which centers on a major controversy between Paul and the Judaizers regarding the practice of circumcision) and the book of Hebrews. Acts 15 took place in AD 49 and descibes a very significant event in the early church and I do believe that the decision reached has implications on all NT believers, including ethnic Jews.
But when and how do we decide which sins of the law are still sin today? Piper is certain that what God spoke in the OT about homosexuality is still what God intends for us today, doesn’t he? I assume, though, that he no longer thinks it’s a sin for a man with crushed genitals to enter a place of worship.
The sexual ethics of the OT are reaffirmed in the NT. Not only that, but homosexuality is explicitly condemned more often in the NT than the OT.
Ephesians 5 says that there must not be even a hint of sexual immorality in the life of a believer. If a person chooses a path of homosexuality, they are walking in direct contradiction to what God has revealed for us in both the Old and New Testament. Therefore, to ignore and contradict them is to play a very dangerous game and to establish your own desires over that of God’s revealed Word. You are in essence saying, I know what the Bible says, but I am follow a more enlightened source than the Bible.
How do you know you are reading Acts 10,15, Hebrews and Galatians as intended by the author?
There is a distinct difference between committed homosexual relationships and sexually immoral homosexuality, just as there is for committed heterosexual relationships and sexually immoral heterosexuality. It seems that we tend to pick and choose which sins are still appropriately sinful. Paul says that women shouldn’t preach so we enforce that forever. Paul also says that women shouldn’t enter worship with their head uncovered but most churches I know don’t enforce that one.
There was absolutely no understanding in the 1st century AD regarding sexual orientation. We are now learning more and more about the actual biological markers that account for sexual orientation. In light of this understanding, are we to continue to respond within a 1st century AD context. 1st century AD Biblical responses to mental illness, leprosy and other conditions are no longer appropriate in light of “enlightenment” that God has given us in the years since.
Paul says neither of those things.
Donald, I don’t beleive it is sufficient for you to accuse me of rendering the text as only a Greek would without substantiating that accusation. I’ve studied these texts from a number of angles, relied on multiple study resources, I’ve debated them with others and frankly, my conclusions are pretty standard. I have a friend who actually does practice many aspects of the Mosaic Law, including those governing the Sabbath and diet. He takes this topic very seriously and as a result I studied this topic at pretty good length. I also sat under the teaching of Dr. Michael Rydelnik, a Jewish studies professor and excellent theologian. That doesn’t make me an expert, but I’m not unfamiliar with the importance of bringing a truly Jewish perspective into our interpretation of Scripture. That said, I don’t really see how you can use this reasoning as a basis to attack my perspective, since many if not most credible theologians do this and come to the same conclusions I do about these passages and their meaning.
I should have mentioned that my friend is a Christian and ethnically, a Gentile. He practices the Mosaic Law not as a means to salvation, but as an expression of faith in Christ. He doesn’t believe that ethnicity or the New Covenant has any bearing on our responsibility to follow Mosaic Law, with the exception of the sacrificial system, of course.
Derek, is he one of those “Jews for Jesus?”
I know for a fact that “Jew Jews,” the religious Jews who still haven’t accepted Christ, hate the Jews for Jesus with a passion. It’s rather scary. It makes you wonder what the Jewish leaders looked like when they were conspiring against Paul.
On the 10 Commandments, I put them in the category that I see/believe that the Bible puts them, which is a summary/high level index for people in the Mosaic covenants (then called Israelites, now called Jews); that is, they are not directly relevant to gentiles, altho many of the commands are repeated elsewhere, as you note. Keeping the Sabbath is the sign of being in the Mosaic covenants. It was/is never a way of salvation to be in the Mosaic covenants, but they do point to Christ, as do the other covenants.
You say you have studied the Jewish meaning of Scripture. On these verses: Mat 5:17 “Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them.
Mat 5:18 For truly, I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not an iota, not a dot, will pass from the Law until all is accomplished.
do you agree that “fulfill” in v. 17 means “correctly interpret so as not to break” or something else?
Do you agree that Jesus was a Torah-observant Jew?
If you have Jesus inside you, do you agree that you have a Torah-observant Jew living inside you?
I do not claim that any believer must keep Torah, but they are allowed to do so if they choose. This is contra some early church councils that forbade such actions.
” I do not claim that any believer must keep Torah, but they are allowed to do so if they choose. ”
I just want to insert the word – attempt to – instead of allowed to.
Only Christ was able to keep the law fully.
” There is a distinct difference between committed homosexual relationships and sexually immoral homosexuality, just as there is for committed heterosexual relationships and sexually immoral heterosexuality. It seems that we tend to pick and choose which sins are still appropriately sinful. ”
What is God’s model for our relationships?
A committed heterosexual relationship, if it’s not a marriage, is also sin by definition. If it’s not a marriage, there is no commitment.
Since Jesus Himself said that it isn’t what you eat that makes you unclean, and since this was reaffirmed by Peter as recorded in Acts, I feel no obligation to eat kosher. Since Jesus Himself paid the price for our sins, I feel no obligation to sacrifice lambs. Since Jesus Himself is our temple, I feel no obligation to perform worship rituals as outlined in the Old Covenant. BUT – since Jesus spoke of marriage in the context of one man, one woman for life, and since the Old Covenant moral codes are reinforced in the NT, I am obliged to observe them. I cannot even imagine going back to my pre-Christian lifestyle and calling that good.
“If itâ€™s not a marriage, there is no commitment.”
A blanket statement that assumes something you simply cannot know. Some couples simply don’t think marriage is necessary. Does this mean they aren’t committed to each? Absolutely not. It’s blanket statements like this that close off any possibility of discussion.
Yes, they are allowed to try to do their best to keep Torah. That is what I meant, but did not say. Thanks for the clarification.
I agree with the four statements you made, Donald. However, I also agree with other scholars who perceive a major and critical change in our relationship to Mosaic Law, following the council in Jerusalem in AD 49.
Regarding Matthew 5:17, I agree with your interpretation but believe that there is an array of effects that were put into motion by Christ’s complete obedience to the Torah. For instance, you and I would agree, certainly, that in line with Hebrews 5:9, 10 and other passages, that the sacrificial system ended when Christ fulfilled the sacrificial demands within the Torah. So the question is not whether Christ fulfilled demands that no one else was able to fulfill, but to the extent/degree with which we are obliged to follow the Mosaic Law. That is admittedly a more difficult question, but suffice to say that Christ not only obeyed and observed the Torah, but also fulfilled it’s chief end, i.e. the rending of the curtain in the Temple, which symbolized our freedom to approach the Father via Christ rather than via the Mosaic Law.
No, he isn’t part of Jews for Jesus. The movement my friend is a part of doesn’t seem as oriented on outreach and evangelism as Jews for Jesus is. That’s actually part of my concern about his interpretation and where their group’s focus is.
The Mosaic sacrifice system did not end until the temple was destroyed in 70 AD/CE. Until then Peter, Paul, etc. participated in the temple including the sacrifices. One can see this as Peter in Acts 21 asks Paul to PAY FOR the costs of 4 others completing a Nazirite vow, which included animal sacrifice, per Torah of Moses. Once the (physical) temple did not exist, there was no way to do sacrifices according to the Torah of Moses, so they ended.
On the council of Jerusalem, the question was very narrowly focused on gentiles, and since it was so narrow had no effect on what the Jews following Jesus did, as I see it.
I didn’t mean to imply that every type of animal sacrifice ended, nor that they were prohibited, after Christ’s death and resurrection. Also note that the Nazirite vow was voluntary and was not specifically a sin offering. It symbolized and sealed a voluntary vow.
But the fact remains that in rending the veil and then in allowing for the destruction of the Temple, God was saying something very significant and decisive about the sacrificial system. I believe, as do most other scholars, that God was effectively ending it.
Gabe said “A blanket statement that assumes something you simply cannot know. Some couples simply donâ€™t think marriage is necessary. Does this mean they arenâ€™t committed to each? Absolutely not. Itâ€™s blanket statements like this that close off any possibility of discussion.”
Why wouldn’t marriage be necessary to seal a commitment? The whole idea behind co-habitation was that each party’s assets would be kept separate and that if something happened to one of them, the other had no claim. Back in the 1960s and 1970s when this lifestyle choice started to become popular, the whole basis for it was all the “benefits” of marriage without the responsibilities. Marriage gives people legal protections and legal responsibilities that co-habitation does not. Thinking about these aspects certainly should not close off the possibility of discussion; it wasn’t my intention, anyway.
Sinful things sanctioned in the US:
* Worshipping Allah
* Carving Buddah statues
* Movies that celebrate every kind of immorality (including misusing the name of God)
* Breaking the Sabbath, wether in principle or otherwise
Other than abortion, I don’t see John Piper being all that concerned about those things above (from a legal standpoint).
Good point Nathan
Last night was a pretty bumpy ride through TN. Just wanted to take a minute and hope and pray that no one was in the path of the storms that rolled through AR, IN, KY and TN last night. It looked as if Louisville was going to get a pretty hard round of storms. Praying for everyone’s safety!
Allah is the word for God in Arabic. Arabic-speaking Christians worship Allah.
If you had used a Hindu “god” as an idol that would be a better example.
On abortion, there are some sad cases where the choice is whether both mother and baby die, or just the baby. At least in those cases, I do not think abortion is a sin, altho it is still very sad.
Divorce is not always a sin, there are Biblical reasons for divorce. It is true that sin is always involved, but that is different.
With abortion, I make no exceptions. An attempt to save both mother and child which results in two deaths is a tragedy. Directly killing one of those people to try to save the other is murder.
Do you think killing someone in self-defense is murder?
US law says no.
Well, that’s a warped way to think of it…
YGG and Donald’s exchange is a great representation of how all of us approach our ideologies and worldviews. They both oppose abortion but can’t agree on whether there is a case for “just” abortion. It’s similar to the debate over war. Christians who take Jesus literally when he says to turn the other cheek and to love those who persecute you are political pacifists. Other Christians believe wholeheartedly in “just” war. We can’t help but let political views, psychological views, cultural upbringing, etc etc filter how we interpret scripture.
YGG, you oppose killing an unborn child to save a mother’s life. Are our soldiers murderers when they kill innocents in order to defend the United States?
My take is that we live in a broken world and sometimes one should take the least worst decision, as there are no good ones. And one principle is to do one’s best to preserve life in these sad cases.
Apart from an unborn child there are no innocents and even an unborn child inherits sin.
RD, I believe that the deliberate taking of an innocent human life is murder under any circumstances. For that reason, I oppose actions such as the Hiroshima and Nagasaki bombings. The end does not justify the means.
However, I believe that if every effort is made to wage just war and innocent lives are still lost in the process, but through no deliberate targeting action, that is not murder. That is a tragedy. There is a difference.
So the Seal that shot Bin Laden committed the sin of murder?
I’m not being snarky with this question. I know many who feel that his killing was morally wrong (sin). Others think it was justice served.
No. That was justice served, because Bin Laden was not an innocent human life.
This is why those people who wonder why pro-lifers endorse capital punishment drive me out of my tree. “Well we’re just looking for consistency” they say. Have our moral compasses become so warped that people can no longer distinguish between “guilty” and “innocent”?
“You have heard that it was said, ‘An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth.’ But I tell you, do not resist an evil person. If someone strikes you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also. And if someone wants to sue you and take your tunic, let him have your cloak as well. If someone forces you to go one mile, go with him two miles. Give to the one who asks you, and do not turn away from the one who wants to borrow from you.” â€” Matthew 5:38-42
It seems here that Jesus is telling us it’s not our place to exact justice (at least that’s what Christian pacifists believe). How do we directly go against Jesus in this verse even if we’re dealing with Osama Bin Laden?
These folks obsessed with CONSISTENCY…
Do they always speak the same sentence?
Do they always go the same place?
Do they always eat the same meal?
Do they always take the same action?
OR — gasp! — are they INCONSISTENT?
No truly Christian defense of marriage is going to concentrate solely on excluding gay marriage. We need to take the hard line on divorce and extramarital sex, too. If you think that the Christian view of marriage should be legally enforced (which I do not), you shouldnâ€™t, IMO, leave out these other problems. It is silly to me to be concerned about the 2% (max) of the population that will supposedly violate your idea of marriage when 30% or more are already doing that. Your finger is in the dike, but youâ€™re already under water.
I donâ€™t think that gay marriages will undermine marriage at all. That would be like me saying that those practicing Buddhism in America are undermining my religion. People in America need the freedom to live according to their own conscience.
I think that for me, my family and my church, we need to stick by the biblical definition of marriage as closely as possible. We need to serve and honor God with our lives. For my town, my state and my country, I think that we need to allow people the freedom to live peaceably in accordance with oneâ€™s own conscience. An American freedom allows citizens to do just that with something EVEN MORE BASIC than marriage â€“ the deity one serves. So it seems silly to me to create the proposed limitation based on John Piper’s premise when he would have to accept that his premise is also true for just about everything non-Christians do.
I think government should get out of the business of trying to define marriage, they should define voluntary contracts and be a part of enforcing them thru the courts.
And if some church wants to define a special type of contract as a marriage and another church has a different definition of marriage, from a government point of view it becomes a so what.
Because the way things are going, I really do NOT want a state to define marriage one way and a different state in another way.
It seems here that Jesus is telling us itâ€™s not our place to exact justice (at least thatâ€™s what Christian pacifists believe). How do we directly go against Jesus in this verse even if weâ€™re dealing with Osama Bin Laden?
RD, Governments are specifically instituted by God to deal with the wicked or enforce the law (Rom 13). So there is nothing unchristian or unbiblical about having a police force or taking out Bin Laden. The Bible also condemns those in power (i.e. rulers) who see an injustice and do nothing. So if you are in a position of authority and allow injustice to occur, then you are sinning. So it is perfectly Christian to turn the other cheek when someone wrongs you, however if you see an injustice happen and “turn the other cheek” by doing nothing, then you are in the wrong.
We dont want our police turning the other cheek when they see someone being robbed or beaten. It is their duty and the right thing to do to intercede.
There is a distinct difference between committed homosexual relationships and sexually immoral homosexuality
Is there a distinct difference between a committed incestuous relationship and a sexually immoral incestuous relationship?
There is no difference between committed and non-committal immorality other than one’s dedication to it.