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DominicX's avatar

Leviticus: Does it apply to the modern day?

Asked by DominicX (28706 points ) August 14th, 2010

Many people, including dedicated Christians, have a problem with the draconian laws in the Book of Leviticus. Many Christians also choose some of these laws to support their agenda (Leviticus 18:22 is the “bible” of the anti-gay movement), yet ignore others that ban the eating of shellfish and the wearing of clothing of mixed fibers.

Some people think the laws of Leviticus were intended for the ancient Israelites and no longer apply today. Other people still follow [some of] them. Even if Leviticus no longer applies, these commands to stone people to death for small crimes were divinely inspired, no? The same God who said “love one other” also told us to stone disobedient children to death. I just think about that sometimes…

So, what’s the deal with Leviticus? I’m addressing anyone, but I’m curious to know what Christians here think because I honestly don’t know and I know it’s open to interpretation.

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26 Answers

the100thmonkey's avatar

IANAC.

But I thought the whole deal with Jesus was a new covenant….

However, I’m not a Christian, so I’m surely wrong.

Hawaii_Jake's avatar

I can only answer simply that thankfully, no, it does not apply to the modern day.

Seek's avatar

Speaking as a former representative of a fundamental Christian cult…

Yes, the Old Testament counts – God is the same yesterday, today and forever. Fortunately Jesus has this whole “follow the laws of the land” thing, which prevents them from stoning their non-virgin brides, slaying witches, and selling their daughters into slavery.

Doesn’t stop them from using modern law to persecute the people they would otherwise stone, though!

Oh, the food thing – Paul (or was it Peter? I always mix them up) said that God said “what I have made clean, call ye not unclean” – so that’s supposed to mean we’re allowed to eat bacon as long as we ask God to cleanse it first. Or something.

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DominicX's avatar

@Seek_Kolinahr

It’s Galatians 3:24–25 that I thought of when I wrote this question:

“Therefore the Law has become our tutor to lead us to Christ, so that we may be justified by faith. But now that faith has come, we are no longer under a tutor.”

filmfann's avatar

the old testament prepared the ground for the foundation of Christianity. It is not the foundation, but the set-up for the foundation. The foundation is Jesus Christ.

Seek's avatar

@DominicX

Ah, chalk it up to yet another Biblical inconsistency. God is the same, but God changed his mind. God is loving, but God is a jealous mass-murderer. Whatever.

Dr_Lawrence's avatar

I choose to decline to offer a truthful answer to this question.

valdasta's avatar

The book is instructional – geared towards the Levites (who served in the tabernacle).The laws are also divers (ceremonial, dietary, civil, and moral). Ceremonial and dietary laws were not intended for the gentiles, but for the Jew. However, moral laws are constant.

DominicX's avatar

@valdasta

However, moral laws are constant.

Where do you get that from? Do the parts about putting to death people who breach certain moral laws still apply? This is the part I’m trying to find out: how we know what to follow and what not to follow.

And okay, I get it, a lot of people don’t want to answer this question. If you don’t want to, then don’t, m’kay? M’kay.

iWitch's avatar

I personally think it’s all a crock of shit. I don’t think it’s appropriate for people to pick and chose what they believe in when they’re telling me that their god told them everything in this leather bound book is true. So if they’re going to march outside my school with their evil little signs because we have a GSA then I better not ever catch those mother effers eating shellfish. I’m reluctant to believe that books from the fifties are relateable to me, so you can imagine how frustrating to me biblical text is.

I mean, honestly. Women weren’t even allowed to wear pants back then. How could cultural teachings from that time be relateable to people of ours?

Seek's avatar

@iWitch

There are Christian groups today that don’t allow their women to wear pants. Or cut their hair. Or wear makeup. Or live outside their parents’ house until they’re married to a member of the church…

soarwing11's avatar

The New Testament is worse than the Old. At least in the Old Testament, when you died or were killed, that was it…. you were dead. It isn’t until the New testament that we have Jesus droning on and on about how you’re going to suffer for an eternity after you are dead. The New Testament is also very clear that women should never speak in church, and that they should only learn from their husbands at home.There is no place for Leviticus (or most of the Bible) as a “guide” for living in a thinking person’s mind.

iWitch's avatar

@Seek_Kolinahr However, that is definitely not the average social spectrum of today’s culture. In the general, women wear pants all over the world.

And really, I know it wasn’t what you asked, but I think everything about religion is a crock of shit, so arguing about which parts of it are valid is kind of over my head.

filmfann's avatar

It also says men should not cut their beards. I don’t see a lot of Christian men sporting a beard like Osama…

brotherhume's avatar

Back in the day there were these guys called Pharisees who followed the law to the exact letter. The expression “bleeding pharisee” is based on how they would walk with their heads down to avoid looking at women. Well you can say that these guys would be considered the perfect Christians but then Jesus came along and healed some crippled guy on a Sunday; the Pharisees got mad because it went against the law. It’s an example of how people were so focused on the law that that they just followed it blindly (literally) that they ended up hurting others. This definitely applies to modern Christians who blindly rage in a hateful manner. It would be different if Christians disagreed respectfully. I digress…

In terms of legalism (which is the term I hear a lot when Christians discuss this topic), I was told that God made all these laws and the intent was for everyone to be happy. Then this thing called sin came along (because there is such a thing as free will) and the laws have become IMPOSSIBLE to follow because humanity sucks at not fighting and hurting everything. So now the laws are mostly there to show how humans suck and are not worthy in the presence of God. Even though mankind chose to give a huge middle finger to God, he still gives us a chance to be saved. Even if you do not believe this at all, I still think that it is the most beautiful example of forgiveness that all can learn from. Forgive me for this long answer :)

jaytkay's avatar

Leviticus says a lot of things like don’t eat shrimp and priests can’t be near-sighted.

Most people who oppose behaviors on “religious” grounds have not read the bible.

valdasta's avatar

In the Old Testament we have the “law” (which is summed up in the general ten commandments). The law accomplished two things: It teaches us God’s Holiness. It also shows us man’s sinfulness – no one can keep all the laws in the O.T. let alone the ten.

In the New Testament we have “grace”. Jesus came to pay the price for our sin that we could never pay when he shed his blood on the cross.

Jesus never condoned sin, but was a friend to sinners.

I go to a church that is gracious to anyone who comes in the door. We do believe what the bible says to be sin is sin (this would include homosexuality). As far as putting people to death – we follow the judicial system of our day. If we went by the old standard of procedure I would have been dead a long time ago. I don’t appreciate the so-called Christians that picket gay people’s funerals and such like…that is pretty ugly, disrespectful, wicked, and down-right ignorant. I can think of more productive ways to spend my time. And if the goal is to reach people – that isn’t the way to do it. The bottom line: The bible says we are all sinners (that includes me) so I (nor any other Christian) have no room to think or pretend that I am superior to anybody – we are all formed out of the same heap of clay.

Ron_C's avatar

The best course of action is to ignore all the laws referenced in the bible. Sure there are some things like “thou shall not kill” but if read in context, it means “thou shall not kill Jews” In fact, it gives examples where accidental killing of Jews while attacking Gentiles, might be forgiven.

It is best that if you want to learn about law you consult a legal library. We certainly do not want to start deciding what is right or wrong based on religious screeds. Besides, I like lobster, it’s not my fault that god doesn’t like them.

iamthemob's avatar

@Ron_C

I thought the translation has been interpreted to be “Thou Shall Not Murder,” killing outside the realm of the law and the command of god.

Seek's avatar

@iamthemob

And if the law and command of God says “wipe those filthy Gentiles out of the land I want to give you”, it wouldn’t be “murder”.

iamthemob's avatar

@Seek_Kolinahr

It wasn’t then, that’s for sure.

Ron_C's avatar

@Seek_Kolinahr that’s it. God gave the Jews the promised land despite the fact that other people lived there. What a convenient god!

Nullo's avatar

Yes and no. Sacrifices are no longer valid currency, but the gist of the moral functions (as opposed to the civil and ceremonial functions, which are the bowl and spoon to the morals’ ice cream) will give you an idea of what kinds of things God approves of. The modern function is to show us how badly we fall short of the glory of God, and therefore why we need the grace that is salvation.
Ultimately, God judges according to the Law. If you’re saved, then Jesus (who is without sin) is judged in your place. If you’re not, you get judged yourself.

@Ron_C IIRC, the Promised Land was taken from the inhabitants for their miserably unrighteous practices. Sort of like when Israel was taken over by the Babylonians.

Ron_C's avatar

@Nullo“Promised Land was taken from the inhabitants for their miserably unrighteous practices.” not buying that. It is just history written by the victor.

Nullo's avatar

@Ron_C * shrugs * Truth doesn’t need your approval to be true.

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