• TeMah LoraLee

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The Bible is a book about the history and faith of two religions: Christianity and Judaism. It contains stories, law, censuses, poems, songs, prophecies, and instructions. But is it an ethical guide?


According to Reverend Dr. David Lose―while serving as Senior Pastor of Mount Olivet Lutheran Church in Minneapolis, MN―the answer is “a definitive ‘no.’” In a 2011 HuffPost blog, he wrote how the Bible didn’t provide “direct answers to today's moral questions.” With a “bold but cautious ‘yes,’” he felt the Bible could “lead to useful reflection on the moral life and aid one in making ethical decisions . . . but . . . that guidance often comes to us ‘sideways.’” He believed:


The Bible is most interested in inviting us to understand the meaning of this mysterious life we share by inviting us into relationship with God, a relationship that in turn offers counsel regarding the variety of moral choices before us. So mystery and meaning, I would argue, come before morality on the pages of Scripture.


He came to this conclusion because:


Even a cursory read of the Bible, however, reveals that these confessions, written over more than a thousand years, also display tremendous variety in their portrayals of God. Therefore, readers must exercise both discernment and discretion regarding which testimonies seem most helpful and trustworthy, as these critical decisions decisively shape the way one navigates and negotiates the moral instruction of the Bible. Ultimately, the passages that have been most helpful in describing the character of God fashion the critical lens through which readers make sense of and interpret the various and sundry moral commands contained throughout Scripture.


Do I agree with him? No.


I just don’t see this “variety of portrayals of God” he talks about. I understand how people unfamiliar with the totality of God have labeled the Old Testament as barbaric because of laws like "Anyone who curses his father or mother shall surely be put to death" (Exodus 21:17).


But those of us who believe the Bible is inerrant believe it because we also believe God is more than immutable; he is the very essence of love.


Of course, humans throughout history have misused religion, law, ideas, philosophy—anything really—to behave badly. But what if they’ve all misinterpreted the moral intention?


Instead of a “sideways” glance at the Mosaic law, let’s examine them through the eyes of the one who drafted them. Jesus, God incarnate, told us, "The whole law and the prophets depend on these two commandments" (Matthew 22:40).


"'You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind' [Deuteronomy 6:5]. This is the first and great commandment. A second likewise is this, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself’ [Leviticus 19:18]” (Matthew 22:37–39).


So while I agree with Pastor Lose that we should read the Bible to develop a relationship with God, I disagree that "morality on the pages of Scripture" should be the filter. In fact, the Bible is the best ethical guide to love ever written.


Tell It to Me Straight


KAF

81 My soul faints for your salvation.

I hope in your word.

82 My eyes fail for your word.

I say, “When will you comfort me?”

83 For I have become like a wineskin in the smoke.

I don’t forget your statutes.

84 How many are the days of your servant?

When will you execute judgment on those who persecute me?

85 The proud have dug pits for me,

contrary to your law.

86 All of your commandments are faithful.

They persecute me wrongfully.

Help me!

87 They had almost wiped me from the earth,

but I didn’t forsake your precepts.

88 Preserve my life according to your loving kindness,

so I will obey the statutes of your mouth. (Psalm 119:81–88)


38a “You have heard that it was said (Matthew 5:38a)


22 “If men fight and hurt a pregnant woman so that she gives birth prematurely, and yet no harm follows, he shall be surely fined as much as the woman’s husband demands and the judges allow. 23 But if any harm follows, then you must take life for life, (Exodus 21:22–23)


Exodus 21:24a, Matthew 5:38a


24b hand for hand, foot for foot, 25 burning for burning, wound for wound, and bruise for bruise. (Exodus 21:24b–25)


Matthew 5:39, Luke 6:29a


12 “One who strikes a man so that he dies shall surely be put to death, 13 but not if it is unintentional, but God allows it to happen; then I will appoint you a place where he shall flee. 14 If a man schemes and comes presumptuously on his neighbor to kill him, you shall take him from my altar, that he may die.


15 “Anyone who attacks his father or his mother shall be surely put to death.


16 “Anyone who kidnaps someone and sells him, or if he is found in his hand, he shall surely be put to death.


17 “Anyone who curses his father or his mother shall surely be put to death.


18 “If men quarrel and one strikes the other with a stone, or with his fist, and he doesn’t die, but is confined to bed; 19 if he rises again and walks around with his staff, then he who struck him shall be cleared; only he shall pay for the loss of his time, and shall provide for his healing until he is thoroughly healed.


20 “If a man strikes his servant or his maid with a rod, and he dies under his hand, the man shall surely be punished. 21 Notwithstanding, if his servant gets up after a day or two, he shall not be punished, for the servant is his property. (Exodus 21:12–21)


26 “If a man strikes his servant’s eye, or his maid’s eye, and destroys it, he shall let him go free for his eye’s sake. 27 If he strikes out his male servant’s tooth, or his female servant’s tooth, he shall let the servant go free for his tooth’s sake.


28 “If a bull gores a man or a woman to death, the bull shall surely be stoned, and its meat shall not be eaten; but the owner of the bull shall not be held responsible. 29 But if the bull had a habit of goring in the past, and this has been testified to its owner, and he has not kept it in, but it has killed a man or a woman, the bull shall be stoned, and its owner shall also be put to death. 30 If a ransom is imposed on him, then he shall give for the redemption of his life whatever is imposed. (Exodus 21:26–30)


Matthew 5:40, Luke 6:29b


41 Whoever compels you to go one mile, go with him two. (Matthew 5:41)


31 Whether it has gored a son or has gored a daughter, according to this judgment it shall be done to him. 32 If the bull gores a male servant or a female servant, thirty shekels of silver shall be given to their master, and the ox shall be stoned.


33 “If a man opens a pit, or if a man digs a pit and doesn’t cover it, and a bull or a donkey falls into it, 34 the owner of the pit shall make it good. He shall give money to its owner, and the dead animal shall be his.


35 “If one man’s bull injures another’s, so that it dies, then they shall sell the live bull, and divide its price; and they shall also divide the dead animal. 36 Or if it is known that the bull was in the habit of goring in the past, and its owner has not kept it in, he shall surely pay bull for bull, and the dead animal shall be his own. (Exodus 21:31–36)

Matthew 5:42, Luke 6:30


31 “As you would like people to do to you, do exactly so to them. (Luke 6:31)


Meditation Moment


Dear God,


I need Your moral code of love. I accept that every Scripture is God-breathed and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for instruction in righteousness, and that as a person who belongs to God, I can be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work (2 Timothy 3:16-17). Help me not lean on my own understanding, but in all my ways to acknowledge You. Please make my paths straight (Proverbs 3:5–6). Help me treat all the people I come in contact with as I'd like them to treat me (Luke 6:31).


Amen.


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  • TeMah LoraLee

Updated: 2 days ago


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One thing I’ve loved most about working on The Mosaic Bible Experience has been the discoveries I’ve made along the way. It’s why I recommend that when you finish this read-through, you find another and another. The more times you read the Bible in various translations, the more you will discover and the less likely you will be deceived by false doctrine.


Point in fact, I had a completely different post already written for this blog based on the often quoted Malachi 2:16 “‘For I hate divorce!’ says the Lord, the God of Israel. ‘To divorce your wife is to overwhelm her with cruelty,’ says the Lord of Heaven’s Armies.” (NLT)


Then I pulled the verses from the WEB (which I’ve chosen for this journey), and to my surprise, Malachi 2:16 changes the subject of hate from God to man. “‘One who hates and divorces,’ says Yahweh, the God of Israel, ‘covers his garment with violence!’ says Yahweh of Armies.”


So what happened here? Should we throw away one translation as untrustworthy? I don’t think so. In an earlier blog, “Can I Trust the Bible? Y1.T1.D2” I wrote about how more modern translations have access to the latest archeological findings. If you’re interested in the language path Malachi 2:16 has taken read this excellent article from a website dedicated to spousal abuse.


So how does God feel about divorce? Does he hate it?


Let’s consider a passage, regardless of which translation you read, has remained the same, Proverbs 6:16–19, which contains a list of the seven things God does hate:

  • arrogant eyes

  • a lying tongue

  • hands that shed innocent blood

  • a heart that devises wicked schemes

  • feet that are swift in running to mischief

  • a false witness who utters lies

  • he who sows discord among brothers


Therefore, if arrogance, lies, bloodshed, scheming, mischief, etc is a man or woman’s motive for divorce, then you can be sure, God hates it.


If you are the spouse being mistreated, abandoned, or neglected, know God hates that, as well.


God's feelings about divorce are better summed up in Malachi 2:13. This verse tells how God responds to those who inflict trauma: “You cover Yahweh’s altar with tears, with weeping, and with sighing, because he doesn’t regard the offering any more, neither receives it with good will at your hand” (WEB).


And in case you are wondering, the NLT agrees: “You cover the Lord’s altar with tears, weeping and groaning because he pays no attention to your offerings and doesn’t accept them with pleasure.”


When we mistreat the people we’ve promised God we will love, respect, and support, the Almighty doesn’t regard our prayers or offerings. A mature Christian understands God’s greatest commands. To love him with all we have, and to love others like we love ourselves.


If you’re experiencing the pain of divorce in your family, you can place all of your grievances on the altar. You can find fellowship with friends. You can meet with a professional. What none of us should do is enable our pain to send someone else to God’s altar in tears.


God Hates Actions that Hurt


31 “It was also said, ‘Whoever shall put away his wife, let him give her a writing of divorce,’ (Matthew 5:31)


1 When a man takes a wife and marries her, then it shall be, if she finds no favor in his eyes because he has found some unseemly thing in her, that he shall write her a certificate of divorce, put it in her hand, and send her out of his house. 2 When she has departed out of his house, she may go and be another man’s wife. 3 If the latter husband hates her, and write her a certificate of divorce, puts it in her hand, and sends her out of his house; or if the latter husband dies, who took her to be his wife; 4 her former husband, who sent her away, may not take her again to be his wife after she is defiled; for that would be an abomination to Yahweh. You shall not cause the land to sin, which Yahweh your God gives you for an inheritance. 5 When a man takes a new wife, he shall not go out in the army, neither shall he be assigned any business. He shall be free at home one year, and shall cheer his wife whom he has taken. (Deuteronomy 24:1–5)


Matthew 5:32, Luke 16:18


13 This again you do: you cover Yahweh’s altar with tears, with weeping, and with sighing, because he doesn’t regard the offering any more, neither receives it with good will at your hand. 14 Yet you say, ‘Why?’ Because Yahweh has been witness between you and the wife of your youth, against whom you have dealt treacherously, though she is your companion, and the wife of your covenant. 15 Did he not make you one, although he had the residue of the Spirit? Why one? He sought godly offspring. Therefore take heed to your spirit, and let no one deal treacherously against the wife of his youth. 16 One who hates and divorces”, says Yahweh, the God of Israel, “covers his garment with violence!” says Yahweh of Armies. “Therefore pay attention to your spirit, that you don’t be unfaithful. (Malachi 2:13–16)


1 “‘If anyone sins, in that he hears a public adjuration to testify, he being a witness, whether he has seen or known, if he doesn’t report it, then he shall bear his iniquity.


2 “‘Or if anyone touches any unclean thing, whether it is the carcass of an unclean animal, or the carcass of unclean livestock, or the carcass of unclean creeping things, and it is hidden from him, and he is unclean, then he shall be guilty.


3 “‘Or if he touches the uncleanness of man, whatever his uncleanness is with which he is unclean, and it is hidden from him; when he knows of it, then he shall be guilty.


4 “‘Or if anyone swears rashly with his lips to do evil or to do good—whatever it is that a man might utter rashly with an oath, and it is hidden from him—when he knows of it, then he will be guilty of one of these. 5 It shall be, when he is guilty of one of these, he shall confess that in which he has sinned; 6 and he shall bring his trespass offering to Yahweh for his sin which he has sinned: a female from the flock, a lamb or a goat, for a sin offering; and the priest shall make atonement for him concerning his sin.


7 “‘If he can’t afford a lamb, then he shall bring his trespass offering for that in which he has sinned, two turtledoves, or two young pigeons, to Yahweh; one for a sin offering, and the other for a burnt offering. 8 He shall bring them to the priest, who shall first offer the one which is for the sin offering. He shall wring off its head from its neck, but shall not sever it completely. 9 He shall sprinkle some of the blood of the sin offering on the side of the altar; and the rest of the blood shall be drained out at the base of the altar. It is a sin offering. 10 He shall offer the second for a burnt offering, according to the ordinance; and the priest shall make atonement for him concerning his sin which he has sinned, and he shall be forgiven.


11 “‘But if he can’t afford two turtledoves or two young pigeons, then he shall bring as his offering for that in which he has sinned, one tenth of an ephah[a] of fine flour for a sin offering. He shall put no oil on it, and he shall not put any frankincense on it, for it is a sin offering. 12 He shall bring it to the priest, and the priest shall take his handful of it as the memorial portion, and burn it on the altar, on the offerings of Yahweh made by fire. It is a sin offering. 13 The priest shall make atonement for him concerning his sin that he has sinned in any of these things, and he will be forgiven; and the rest shall be the priest’s, as the meal offering.’”


14 Yahweh spoke to Moses, saying, 15 “If anyone commits a trespass, and sins unwittingly regarding Yahweh’s holy things, then he shall bring his trespass offering to Yahweh: a ram without defect from the flock, according to your estimation in silver by shekels, according to the shekel of the sanctuary, for a trespass offering. 16 He shall make restitution for that which he has done wrong regarding the holy thing, and shall add a fifth part to it, and give it to the priest; and the priest shall make atonement for him with the ram of the trespass offering, and he will be forgiven.


17 “If anyone sins, doing any of the things which Yahweh has commanded not to be done, though he didn’t know it, he is still guilty, and shall bear his iniquity. 18 He shall bring a ram without defect from of the flock, according to your estimation, for a trespass offering, to the priest; and the priest shall make atonement for him concerning the thing in which he sinned and didn’t know it, and he will be forgiven. 19 It is a trespass offering. He is certainly guilty before Yahweh.” (Leviticus 5:1–19)


33 “Again you have heard that it was said to the ancient ones, ‘You shall not make false vows, but shall perform to the Lord your vows, 34 but I tell you, don’t swear at all: neither by heaven, for it is the throne of God; 35 nor by the earth, for it is the footstool of his feet; nor by Jerusalem, for it is the city of the great King. 36 Neither shall you swear by your head, for you can’t make one hair white or black. 37 But let your ‘Yes’ be ‘Yes’ and your ‘No’ be ‘No.’ Whatever is more than these is of the evil one. (Matthew 5:33–37)


12 A worthless person, a man of iniquity,

is he who walks with a perverse mouth,

13 who winks with his eyes, who signals with his feet,

who motions with his fingers,

14 in whose heart is perverseness,

who devises evil continually,

who always sows discord.

15 Therefore his calamity will come suddenly.

He will be broken suddenly, and that without remedy.


16 There are six things which Yahweh hates;

yes, seven which are an abomination to him:

17 arrogant eyes, a lying tongue,

hands that shed innocent blood,

18 a heart that devises wicked schemes,

feet that are swift in running to mischief,

19 a false witness who utters lies,

and he who sows discord among brothers. (Proverbs 6:12–19)


Meditation Moment


Dear God,


Help me closely examine my life. Remove from me any tendency toward the seven things You hate. Search me, God, and know my heart. Try me, and know my thoughts. See if there is any wicked way in me, and lead me in the everlasting way (Psalm 139:23–24). And where I have been wounded, Lord, help me forgive others in the same way I want to be forgiven (Matthew 6:14–15). And as much as is possible help me live peaceably with all men (Romans 12:18).


Amen.


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  • TeMah LoraLee

Updated: 5 days ago


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For two years, I was blessed to be able to teach Christian Seminary to junior-high and high-school students. And one question I repeated got was, "Does God hate sex?"


My answer was, "Absolutely not. He created it and all the beauty that can be found within it."


"So why does he have so many laws against it?"


"Because God knows our heart and never wants to see it broken."


I shared with them an article I'd read about how "The people who have the most sex and are happiest with their sex lives are monogamous couples." This research from the University of Chicago had been published in popular magazines at the time.


As someone who'd experienced sex both inside and outside of marriage, I explained how much better it was within a relationship bound by a covenant of trust. This is the reason God has very specific boundaries surrounding it, and we should seek to keep those promises because we love him (John 14:15).


I also warned them to not misrepresent God’s view on sex when it relates to others. Too many religious leaders take the boundaries the Lord gave to believers and use them to condemn non-believers, something Jesus would never do. His love for the broken didn’t exclude the sexually immoral. He deals with heart issues at the individual level.


His guidance wasn’t meant to turn us into finger-pointers, but to examine ourselves. He told his followers, “Don’t judge, so that you won’t be judged. For with whatever judgment you judge, you will be judged; and with whatever measure you measure, it will be measured to you.” (Matthew 7:1–2)


God doesn’t hate sex and he doesn’t hate the sexually immoral. But God does ask his believers to keep the marriage bed pure (Hebrews 13:4). And as you read all the Levitical laws relating to sex, remember, Jesus told us all the law is summed up in loving God with all we have and loving our neighbor with the same grace we hope to be loved with (Matthew 22:37–40).


Teach Me, Lord


1 Yahweh said to Moses, 2 “Speak to the children of Israel, and say to them, ‘I am Yahweh your God. 3 You shall not do as they do in the land of Egypt, where you lived. You shall not do as they do in the land of Canaan, where I am bringing you. You shall not follow their statutes. 4 You shall do my ordinances. You shall keep my statutes and walk in them. I am Yahweh your God. 5 You shall therefore keep my statutes and my ordinances, which if a man does, he shall live in them. I am Yahweh.


6 “‘None of you shall approach any close relatives, to uncover their nakedness: I am Yahweh.


7 “‘You shall not uncover the nakedness of your father, nor the nakedness of your mother: she is your mother. You shall not uncover her nakedness.


8 “‘You shall not uncover the nakedness of your father’s wife. It is your father’s nakedness.


9 “‘You shall not uncover the nakedness of your sister, the daughter of your father, or the daughter of your mother, whether born at home or born abroad.


10 “‘You shall not uncover the nakedness of your son’s daughter, or of your daughter’s daughter, even their nakedness; for theirs is your own nakedness.


11 “‘You shall not uncover the nakedness of your father’s wife’s daughter, conceived by your father, since she is your sister.


12 “‘You shall not uncover the nakedness of your father’s sister. She is your father’s near kinswoman.


13 “‘You shall not uncover the nakedness of your mother’s sister, for she is your mother’s near kinswoman.


14 “‘You shall not uncover the nakedness of your father’s brother. You shall not approach his wife. She is your aunt.


15 “‘You shall not uncover the nakedness of your daughter-in-law. She is your son’s wife. You shall not uncover her nakedness.


16 “‘You shall not uncover the nakedness of your brother’s wife. It is your brother’s nakedness.


17 “‘You shall not uncover the nakedness of a woman and her daughter. You shall not take her son’s daughter, or her daughter’s daughter, to uncover her nakedness. They are near kinswomen. It is wickedness. (Leviticus 18:1–17)


19 “‘You shall not approach a woman to uncover her nakedness, as long as she is impure by her uncleanness.


20 “‘You shall not lie carnally with your neighbor’s wife, and defile yourself with her. (Leviticus 18:19–20)


22 “‘You shall not lie with a man as with a woman. That is detestable.


23 “‘You shall not lie with any animal to defile yourself with it. No woman may give herself to an animal, to lie down with it: it is a perversion.


24 “‘Don’t defile yourselves in any of these things; for in all these the nations which I am casting out before you were defiled. 25 The land was defiled. Therefore I punished its iniquity, and the land vomited out her inhabitants. 26 You therefore shall keep my statutes and my ordinances, and shall not do any of these abominations; neither the native-born, nor the stranger who lives as a foreigner among you 27 (for the men of the land that were before you had done all these abominations, and the land became defiled), 28 that the land not vomit you out also, when you defile it, as it vomited out the nation that was before you.


29 “‘For whoever shall do any of these abominations, even the souls that do them shall be cut off from among their people. 30 Therefore you shall keep my requirements, that you do not practice any of these abominable customs which were practiced before you, and that you do not defile yourselves with them. I am Yahweh your God.’” (Leviticus 18:22–30)


11 “‘The man who lies with his father’s wife has uncovered his father’s nakedness. Both of them shall surely be put to death. Their blood shall be upon themselves.


12 “‘If a man lies with his daughter-in-law, both of them shall surely be put to death. They have committed a perversion. Their blood shall be upon themselves.


13 “‘If a man lies with a male, as with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination. They shall surely be put to death. Their blood shall be upon themselves.


14 “‘If a man takes a wife and her mother, it is wickedness. They shall be burned with fire, both he and they, that there may be no wickedness among you.


15 “‘If a man lies with an animal, he shall surely be put to death; and you shall kill the animal.


16 “‘If a woman approaches any animal and lies with it, you shall kill the woman and the animal. They shall surely be put to death. Their blood shall be upon them.


17 “‘If a man takes his sister—his father’s daughter, or his mother’s daughter—and sees her nakedness, and she sees his nakedness, it is a shameful thing. They shall be cut off in the sight of the children of their people. He has uncovered his sister’s nakedness. He shall bear his iniquity.


18 “‘If a man lies with a woman having her monthly period, and uncovers her nakedness, he has made her fountain naked, and she has uncovered the fountain of her blood. Both of them shall be cut off from among their people.


19 “‘You shall not uncover the nakedness of your mother’s sister, nor of your father’s sister, for he has made his close relative naked. They shall bear their iniquity. 20 If a man lies with his uncle’s wife, he has uncovered his uncle’s nakedness. They shall bear their sin. They shall die childless. (Leviticus 20:11–20)


27 “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery;’ 28 but I tell you that everyone who gazes at a woman to lust after her has committed adultery with her already in his heart. 29 If your right eye causes you to stumble, pluck it out and throw it away from you. For it is more profitable for you that one of your members should perish than for your whole body to be cast into Gehenna. 30 If your right hand causes you to stumble, cut it off, and throw it away from you. For it is more profitable for you that one of your members should perish, than for your whole body to be cast into Gehenna (Matthew 5:27–30)

Meditation Moment


Dear God,


Thank You for Your grace. I’m as guilty of sexual sin as every other human. I also know You have forgiven me of those sins. And You desire to do the same for my friends. Help me reject the lust the world encourages me towards because the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life isn’t the Father’s will but is passing away (1 John 2:15–17). Thank You for inspiring me to act justly, love mercy, and walk humbly with you every day. (Micah 6:8).


Amen.


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