A friend of mine asked a really hard question. It seems like honor killings are condoned in the Bible. What does this mean for Christians? Below is the Facebook conversation with my response at the end:
######## (My Friend Posted this Question)
We are horrified by honor killings. How barbaric they seem. How anathema these Middle Eastern customs are to our civilized Western ways.
20 But if this thing be true, and the tokens of virginity be not found for the damsel:
21 Then they shall bring out the damsel to the door of her father’s house, and the men of her city shall stone her with stones that she die: because she hath wrought folly in Israel, to play the whore in her father’s house: so shalt thou put evil away from among you.
####### Oh, so the stoning wasn’t just delivered through Prophet Mohammed, it came from the Bible. Interesting.
###### Although, Jesus Christ did refute this rather directly (“whoever be without sin among you, let him throw the first stone”)… but, yeah.
Also, honour killings are disgusting, and they don’t just happen in the Middle East / at the hands of Muslims.
####### The relationship between Jesus and OT law is very confusing to me. Does His action mean we only disregard this particular instruction? Ought we disregard all OT laws? Are we to parse His words, in search of its bearing on some specific subset of said laws?
####### Maybe ask Christopher Lim? =D
######### no because “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. 18 I tell you the truth, until heaven and earth disappear, not the smallest letter, not the least stroke of a pen, will by any means disappear from the Law until everything is accomplished.
19 Anyone who breaks one of the least of these commandments and teaches others to do the same will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever practices and teaches these commands will be called great in the kingdom of heaven. 20 For I tell you that unless your righteousness surpasses that of the Pharisees and the teachers of the law, you will certainly not enter the kingdom of heaven.”
So, we should still stone adulterers?
There’s quite a bit of confusion that must be resolved if you are to give a full answer: http://www.skepticsannotatedbible.com/contra/otlaw.html
Contradictions -By Name -By Number -By Book -A short List -Contradictions Forum -In the Quran -In the Book of Mormon
######## You know, the parsimonious explanation is outrageously obvious: the Bible is inconsistent because it is not divinely inspired, and its major claims are false. But surely this notion is unacceptable to most Americans? How does religion escape that standard criterion (which has proved itself through the whole of human history to be by far the most reliable) for evaluating the plausibility of a claim, parsimony?
########, why don’t you ask your neighbor? 😉
Here is one reference I would point you to: http://www.desiringgod.org/resource-library/taste-see-articles/how-christ-fulfilled-and-ended-the-old-testament-regime
Let’s synthesize the points you guys have laid out:
1. The law says the penalty for a man who falsely accuses a family of giving him a non-virgin wife is 100 lashes and the penalty for a woman who is misrepresented as a virgin to a man when she has actually already fornicated while under her father’s authority is death by stoning in order to purge the outrageous evil from the community
2. Jesus Christ fully supports the law, upholding it as just and abiding and explaining that an even greater righteousness than the scrupulous pharisees could keep was required to enter his Kingdom
3. In at least one account, Jesus Christ declares that the one who is without sin may cast the first stone of judgement against the adulteress. (in this context, Jesus was being put to the test since only the Romans had the authority to execute a person and so Jesus was being tested for his allegiance to the Jewish Law or the Roman Law)
Five statements that summarize the magnificent relationship of Jesus Christ to every part of the Scriptures.
######## 4. In our modern society, killing a woman for committing adultery seems outrageous compared with the fact that in the time of Moses (and in many Middle Eastern societies today), a woman committing adultery while under her father’s authority was outrageous. This is interesting because while western society judges Middle Eastern society as cruel and harsh, Middle Eastern society judges Western society as immoral and dishonorable.
######## Given these observations, we can see that the modern worldview and value system is inconsistent with the ancient Jewish one, the modern Middle Eastern one, and Jesus’ position. However, we can also see that the use of the law in Jesus’ day (and one might suggest the modern Middle Eastern worldview) is also inconsistent with Jesus’ position (because of the mercy he shows the woman). So let’s get to the main question: how does Jesus use the Old Testament and what are his intentions for the present day? He obviously believes his use of it is correct and that the Jews of his day were misusing it. His use of it includes upholding it at every point while also extending mercy to sinners. So if we take the argument of parsimony, we do not need to apply it to the entire Bible, but only to a single book, a single account of the person and work of Jesus. You are suggesting that Jesus himself is inconsistent. He obviously does not think so.
######### There are many views on this, so let me simply summarize my understanding. How can Jesus uphold the law while forgiving sinners? Is he inconsistent? First, we have to realize that he really does uphold the law, if we disagree with him, there is an inconsistency between us and him. Second, we have to realize that he really does forgive sinners (which the Jews of his day found blasphemous) and if we disagree with him, there is another inconsistency between us and him. He does not condone adultery, but he does forgive adulterers.
I believe that he is able to do this because he has the authority to do this–he is God, the one who gave the law in the first place and created humanity. But as it says in Romans 3, it seems that if God forgives sinners than he is unjust and inconsistent! Not quite. Jesus himself fulfills the law on every point and exchanges his righteousness for the sins of everyone who trusts in him. Then because he has their sins, he can suffer the just penalty of the law in their place and because they have his righteousness, they can be forgiven and live and receive his rewards. So Jesus can uphold the law and forgive the adulteress by being “stoned” for the outrage she committed and giving her his righteousness. Note that those who believe in Jesus do not simply engage in a transaction (trade sins for righteousness), but they are united to Christ so that when he dies on the Cross, they are in him and die with him and their sins are judged in him and so that when he raises from the dead they are raised with him and his eternal life is effected in them.
So what does this imply for moral norms in the present day?
According to the website Igor pointed out Deuteronomy 4 itself proclaims the laws of Israel as wise and good and this is reaffirmed throughout the entire Scriptures. A society that seeks to be just and good could adopt the principles and precepts of the law given to Israel (many of the ordinances were also very specific to the agrarian ancient culture, like rules about farm animals, but the New Testament writers like Paul’s use the principles of the law in teaching for example that preachers of the gospel should be paid for their work).
######### Even so, the it is not necessary to create a theocratic system of government. The whole new testament is full of the story of how the Kingdom and Government of God is to dwell in and coexist with the Kingdom and Governments of this present world order. And it quite clearly is not by theocratic rule. Jesus came to establish his Kingdom and he fully believed that one day he would return to judge the Kingdom of this World, but he did not give that judgment to his people yet. Rather, his people are to submit to the governing authorities as submitting to him until he returns and fix their hope fully on the grace they will receive when he returns (1 Peter) (all this to say that Jesus did not send his disciples on a quest to make every government follow the laws of Israel)
However, within the church should we follow the laws of Israel? Not quite. Jesus has fulfilled the law and set us free from being under the law (Romans 3-6). He establishes a royal law of love (Love your neighbor as you love yourself). Since he has done away with sins and paid the penalty for them once and for all, the Christian community (church) no longer stones adulteresses. The state has that power, but the church is about proclaiming to sinners that they can be forgiven by God through faith in Jesus Christ. The church proclaims that the day of judgment is coming when everyone will be “stoned” because they have all sinned against God either in the adulteress’ way of immorality or in the pharisee’s way of self-righteous pride, but that God is calling all people everywhere of any background to repent (change their mind and their ways) and trust in Christ for salvation from this judgment, for citizenship in God’s kingdom where righteousness and peace dwell.
So what happens when people in the church break God’s law? They are disciplined, but not punished. The discipline is intended to restore them, so that they will not be swept away on the judgment day, but to bring them to remember God’s kindness so that they will repent, and delight once more in God instead of falling away.
What happens when people outside the church break God’s law? We have our civil authorities and our democratic political systems by which we as a community decide on our laws. Christians are just one group of citizens at the table who influence the process. Can they promote ancient Jewish laws? Yes it is permissible. Should they? Maybe not (for many different reasons, some of which I hope emerge from the writings above). Christians should certainly embody and promote the royal law of love instituted by Christ (love God with all your heart, soul, mind and strength and your neighbor as yourself), which is the fundamental principle behind the entire old testament law. In a sense, the whole OT Law is an expression and explication of it in one particular cultural context.