Dear Associates, Students and Friends:
There are two articles this month. The first is timely with regard to the recent news of so-called “gay marriage” (which is really an oxymoron). It is titled, “Homosexuality and the Bible” from 1983. The second article is about one part of the Old Testament Law that you can keep successfully, if you would wish to go to the trouble — or so some people think. This article is titled, “The Dietary Laws of the Bible” from 1974, expanded with additional material.
Homosexuals of the same gender cannot marry, according to all primary dictionary definitions, some of which are,
Oxford English Dictionary: “The formal union of a man and a woman, by which they become husband and wife.”
Cambridge English Dictionary: “a legally accepted relationship between a man and a woman in which they live as husband and wife.”
American Heritage Dictionary: “The legal union of a man and woman as husband and wife.”
There are people in the United States and presumably worldwide who would like to change this definition. If this definition changes to also mean that men and women of the same gender could “marry,” the result would be that an important word in our vocabularies would become essentially meaningless. This in fact may be the agenda.
Of course, the reason this problem has arisen is that governments (local, state and federal in the U.S.) have increasingly become involved in personal affairs such as marriage. Originally no governments had any say (or any monetary interest) regarding marriage. Only in the last 150 years have marriages even been recorded. Before that time marriages were recorded by families, churches or other groups. Land ownership, taxation, and inheritance made government take a financial interest in what constituted a legal marriage. The camel’s nose is under the tent, so to speak.
The issue today is money. Gay and lesbian couples that desire to be “married” (unless they seek a political agenda) want legal recognition so they can obtain monetary privileges and benefits that government has given to traditionally married couples. Whereas in the past gay and lesbians wanted to be left alone, then they wanted “acceptance” of their lifestyles. Now they want privileges and benefits. Society will determine whether they succeed. But God is not to be ignored in this discussion. He has very definite things to say about marriage, not the least is the honorability of marriage expressed in the wide-ranging approbation in the New Testament,
“Marriage is honorable in all, and the bed undefiled: but whoremongers and adulterers God will judge.”
While this scripture makes plain that most anything married couples wish to do in their marriage bed is “honorable” and “undefiled,” God also takes a dim view of sexual immorality outside of marriage. 1 That includes sexual immorality between two people of the same gender. On the other hand God has many positive things to say about marriage. But those marriages were always between a man and a woman. 2 What Dr. Martin wrote in this short 1979 article still holds true today (not just because we believe it, but because it is the only biblical and realistic way to consider social issues):
“It is not our intention to be unkind to anyone, nor to tell anyone what he or she should do in a religious sense. After all, that is none of our business. We only endeavor to show what the biblical revelation has to say in its various subjects.”
Ernest Martin, “Check Points for Lawkeepers” 3
I know that many who read ASK publications believe they should (and can) keep the food laws of the Bible, or so they mistakenly believe in their heart and conscience. They “pick and choose” which parts of God’s Dietary Laws they feel obligated to obey. This month’s article will explain. Dr. Martin wrote:
“Most ‘lawkeepers’ insist that the ‘clean food laws of the Bible’ are to be observed today. Those laws are found in Leviticus chapter 11. The laws are simply stated and they are possible of being kept by any human who wishes to take them up. Interestingly, there is nothing ambiguous about these food laws.”
Ernest Martin, “Check Points for Lawkeepers”
The material in this article is combined with additional information from “Checkpoints for Lawkeepers.” In many ways food laws are no different than the other laws that God gave to Israel, if you break them in one point, you have broken them all. Take the Sabbath as an example, it is directly related to diet because of the cooking restrictions on the Sabbath.
Almost all Christian “lawkeepers” see a need to observe the weekly Sabbath. After all, the command is found in the Ten Commandments. So, from Friday sunset until Saturday sunset, it is felt that one is to avoid work and to rest on the Sabbath. God the Father did not keep the Sabbath when Jesus was on earth. Jesus regularly broke the Sabbath when it suited Him. Neither He, or God the Father, keep the Sabbath at present. 5
“And therefore did the Jews persecute Jesus, and sought to slay him, because he had done these things [Jesus healed] on the Sabbath day. But Jesus answered them, ‘My Father works hitherto, and I work.’”
The fact is, I have never met a Christian Sabbath “keeper” yet who has ever kept the biblical Sabbath — except possibly when he or she was home sick in bed all day. They think nothing about disobeying the simple precepts concerning Sabbath observance. How is this? Let us see. The command for Sabbath keepers is that no “work” should be done on the day. The question, however, is the same one that most Jews of the past have always asked themselves: just what is “work”? Only the Bible can tell us the answers — and it does in the clearest of terms. It takes the prohibition seriously:
“Whosoever does work therein shall be put to death. You shall kindle no fire throughout your habitations upon the Sabbath day.”
If one lights a fire on a stove to prepare food on the Sabbath, this is considered “work” by biblical standards.
“Tomorrow is the rest of the holy Sabbath ‘unto the Lord: bake that which you will bake today, and seethe that you will seethe; and that which remains over lay up for you to be kept until the morning.”
In other words, no cooking of any kind was allowed on the Sabbath day. It was this kind of “work” that, among other things, could not be performed.
Yet look at almost all Christian “lawkeepers” today! They think not one thing about lighting a fire on their stoves and cooking eggs for breakfast on Sabbath morning. What is their excuse for doing this transgression? It is simple: no one likes to eat cold fried eggs on Sabbath. So, they conveniently disobey those plain scriptures about not lighting a fire and go merrily on their way.
One is not allowed even to pick up sticks for kindling on the Sabbath (Numbers 15:32–36). The Bible considers such activity as “work.” But such a thing does not usually bother Christian “lawkeepers” today. If a few sticks were blown in their path on a windy Friday night, most would think nothing about picking them up and putting them aside.
Further, one is commanded not to do one’s own pleasure (or business) on the Sabbath (Isaiah 58:13), but most “lawkeepers” do business by buying food at restaurants on the Sabbath, or maybe they turn on TV to watch an “educational” show, though it is clearly a part of their own “pleasure” which the Bible prohibits. No personal pleasure or business is allowed for those who claim to keep the Sabbath.
One is not permitted to carry even a small burden out of the house on the Sabbath day (Jeremiah 17:22). Carrying out the garbage would be included in the biblical prohibition! But people nowadays think nothing about carrying briefcases, spoons, blankets, books, and many other things out of their own homes. They are in complete rebellion to the plain teachings of the Scripture when they do so, but the overt transgressions mean little to them.
How is it that they assuage their consciences on such things? They have an interesting way to disobey the Sabbath laws and yet feel they can legitimately do it in the eyes of God. They say God did not intend for the Sabbath laws to be so strict for Christians. Where is the proof for such teaching? There is none. What they usually do, however, is cite what Christ allowed His disciples to do on the Sabbath day as an allowance for them. True enough, what Christ permitted ought to be allowed for Christians today.
When the apostles were going within the wheat fields and plucking the grain to eat, they were disobeying the Sabbath laws, NOT KEEPING THEM! Christ’s reason for His disciples to disobey the Sabbath was David’s example of disobeying the law of the shewbread (Matthew 12:3–4), and He also said the priests profane the Sabbath (did not keep it) when they worked twice as hard offering the animal sacrifices on the Sabbath than on an ordinary day (verse 5).
Why did Christ allow His apostles to disobey the plain laws of the Bible about Sabbath observance? It is made clear by Christ when He said that He was Lord of the Sabbath day (verse 8). He was the One who made it, owned it, and He governed it, and since He was Lord, He could allow His disciples to disobey it if He wished! This example shows a disregard of Sabbath laws, not how to keep them. It has been made abundantly clear that Christians today, by this example, and many other scriptures, do not have to observe the Sabbath laws of the Old Testament. Jesus worked on the Sabbath (John 5:8–18). 6
“Therefore did the Jews persecute Jesus, and sought to slay him, because he had done these things on the Sabbath day. But Jesus answered them, ‘My Father works hitherto, and I work.’”
If one wishes to keep the Sabbath today, he should do it the Bible way. There is not the slightest New Testament authority for relaxing the strict laws of the Old Testament in regard to the Sabbath. One has to keep the Sabbath the way God said to do it in His written revelation, or not keep it at all. Of course, the Christian does not have to observe it at all — and this is what Paul, John, and Christ Himself showed in the New Testament. For those, however, who say they keep the Sabbath, why do they not do it the Bible way rather than disobeying it outright, and then say they observe it?
Christian “lawkeepers” also disregard other clear laws of the Bible. They wear mixed clothing and think nothing of it by calling the law a ritual (Leviticus 19:19). The Bible is plain that a man is not to have relations with his wife for 7 days from the start of her menstrual cycle (Leviticus 15:19), but most “lawkeepers” that I know, so they tell me, resume activity even 4 or 5 days after the start of the cycle if they think things are back to “normal.” They avoid a strict application of the law (for the whole 7 day period) by conveniently calling it a “ritual.” Many other laws are also called rituals.
As we said before, it is not our business to tell a person he should or should not keep the biblical injunctions. If one wishes to call the laws of the Bible “rituals” in one place and “eternal laws” in another, then so be it. We wish him luck in his beliefs. He will need it. 7
“People are free to disobey as much of the Bible as they wish as long as the laws of fair play to others are maintained. But it is evident that many who say they are “lawkeepers” do not keep laws. This practice is almost universally accepted as proper for those who profess to be Christian “lawkeepers.” Let us look at some biblical laws that many “lawkeepers” say should be kept by Christians today. We will see that those laws are disobeyed wholesale and without the slightest bit of shamefacedness. I hate to say this, but it is an absolute fact which none can deny.” ELM
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David W. Sielaff
2 See Genesis 2:22–24; Matthew 19:5–6; 1 Corinthians 7:2–5, 33–34, 11:3; Ephesians 5:22–24, 33; Colossians 3:18; Titus 2:3–5; and 1 Peter 3:1–6. See Dr. Martin’s highly relevant articles that bring out the biblical understanding,
3 This 1979 article is not available. Most of it is incorporated here and in the article on “Dietary Laws of the Bible.” DWS
4 This section is also from “Check Points for Lawkeepers.”
5 Think this through. From what point on earth would God keep the Sabbath? If God does keep the Sabbath, according to what “time zone” or what calendar does he use? If you think God the Father or Christ Jesus keeps the Sabbath, does He do so according to Jerusalem time or Greenwich Mean Time or according to the International Date Line? All are arbitrary human calculations.
If one wishes to say that observing the Sabbath is according to the rising of the sun, when do people who live above the Arctic Circle start the Sabbath? These are not trivial matters. The burden of proof is on the part of those who say the Sabbath must be kept, and can be kept. They better keep it as God intended! Jesus Christ kept the Sabbath in a manner, and so completely, that you cannot keep it better than He did or does. He kept the Sabbath for you.
6 Either Jesus Christ fulfilled all the requirements of the Sabbath or He did not. We do know that Christ Jesus works at the present time and at all times. Further, there is the consideration — or the problem if you wish — as to “when” God or Christ Jesus would keep the Sabbath in heaven. Would it be according to the Jerusalem time zone? Such speculation is ridiculous. God will reinstitute some of the ritual practices in the Millennium. See the article “Why Practice the Old Covenant in the Millennium?” at http://www.askelm.com/news/n020620.htm.
7 If you would like to know your responsibilities and Christ’s responsibilities regarding salvation read the articles: “By Grace are Ye Saved” at http://askelm.com/doctrine/d960501.htm and “What Is Justification?” at http://askelm.com/doctrine/d960802.htm.
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