Tuesday, January 03, 2012

How not to read the Bible...Why the West Wing President Got it Wrong

Facebook has allowed yet another YouTube video to go viral.  But if you would indulge me, I would like to show what the West Wing's President Jed Bartlet got right and wrong. Try not to be blown away by the video's rhetoric and cinematic effects to shame someone who holds an unpopular conviction:

What Jed got right:
* In Exodus-Deuteronomy, God did lay down the laws mentioned. But, these laws were written to the people of Israel and for that particular nation for a particular time. Israel was to be a theocracy (a nation led by God), and as such, God would not allow any deviation away from holiness unto the Lord.

What Jed left out:
* President Jed seemed to leave out the purpose behind the laws...Israel was to be a model nation to the world, a people dedicated and consecrated to God. They were supposed to be a living object lesson. Many of the seemingly arbitrary laws were to show that distinctions should be made in the moral world. Thus, certain foods were clean and unclean. Certain days were holy days. Certain practices (like not mixing seeds or clothing) were to show that mixing between pure and impure was not acceptable. Then, like today, I'm guessing people thought the laws were foolish and over-the-top...but then, like today, no one wants to be considered unholy, immoral, and unacceptable to God.

* Also, President Jed left out that much of this Old Covenant was fulfilled in Jesus Christ (see the book of Hebrews in the Bible). No longer are people under this Old Covenant. Religious practices like wearing certain clothes, offering certain sacrifices, etc. are all no longer binding because Jesus Christ came and fulfilled the Law of God.

* But, Jed, forgot to mention that God's moral demands are still applicable today. Yes, certain foods, days, and practices no longer apply, but we shouldn't throw out the entire Old Covenant, should we??? Is it ok to murder and commit adultery and steal and lie? How do we decide?

What Jed doesn't get right:
*President Jed Bartlet seems to be unaware that over 2,000 years of theologians have figured out a way of reading the Old Testament. The solution is letting the New Testament reveal what is no longer valid and what is still valid. The New Testament clearly shows that the customs and practices of the Old Testament no longer apply. But, several moral demands, including the immorality of homosexuality, is upheld in the New Testament.

For example, in 1 Corinthians 6:9-11 we read, "Or do you not know that wrongdoers will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor men who have sex with men[a] 10 nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God." NOTE: The words men who have sex with men translate two Greek words that refer to the passive and active participants in homosexual acts (as explained by the Committee on Bible Translation, see margin of the 2011 New International Version).

So too 1 Timothy 1:8-11 8 We know that the law is good if one uses it properly. 9 We also know that the law is made not for the righteous but for lawbreakers and rebels, the ungodly and sinful, the unholy and irreligious, for those who kill their fathers or mothers, for murderers, 10 for the sexually immoral, for those practicing homosexuality, for slave traders and liars and perjurers—and for whatever else is contrary to the sound doctrine 11 that conforms to the gospel concerning the glory of the blessed God, which he entrusted to me. All of these behaviors are contrary to the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

Moreover, the argument that Jesus didn't condemn homosexuality is foolish. He upheld marriage as created to be between male and female and scorned anyone who tried to circumvent that. Just because Jesus didn't mention a certain sin, doesn't make it ok. He also didn't forbid rape, child molestation, or spouse beating, but these would be an anathema to him, just as they are to us.

The Apostle Paul (in Romans 1:18ff.) suggests that because humans are unwilling to worship, honor, and serve their Creator, God has allowed humans to go onto shameful activities (including homosexuality, but also envy, murder, strife, deceit and malice. They are gossips, 30 slanderers, God-haters, insolent, arrogant and boastful; they invent ways of doing evil; they disobey their parents; 31 they have no understanding, no fidelity, no love, no mercy.). We are all dead in our sin, deserving of death, and yet we revel in our shame. That Christians speak of homosexuality as a sin is not designed to be a cruel attack on someone's personhood. I'm just as guilty and broken as anyone. Each of us need to quit blinding ourselves with lies, deception, and false ideas of tolerance. We just may be tolerating one another's sin on a path to hell. We all need a Savior. We need His holiness and His power to live transformed lives. Thanks be to God, he sent Jesus Christ to live the life we should have lived and to die the death we should have died. Have you trusted in Him?

See a Previous Post regarding homosexuality:

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