Why don’t Christians follow all the Old Testament laws?

No Christian in the world follows all the laws given in the Old Testament. No Christian even attempts to follow all the Old Testament commands. Regardless of how a person views his obligation towards the Old Testament, the keeping of the laws regarding temple worship and sacrifice is impossible in this present day. Very few Christians are concerned about their inability to offer a burnt offering in the temple. Very few Christians attempt to keep other commands. Most Christians are not concerned if their garments contain fibers from different kinds of materials or if the meat they are eating falls into the category of “clean”.

Why Christians do not keep all the Mosaic law? The typical answer given to this question breaks into three categories the laws given to Israel at Mt. Sinai. Ceremonial laws were those which governed the worship of the Israelites. Civil laws were those given to govern the operations of Israel as a nation and her people as citizens. Moral laws were those laws which summarize God’s universal standards of right and wrong (the ten commandments are usually cited as an example of the moral law). The common explanation asserts the ceremonial laws are fulfilled in Jesus, and thus are no longer needed. The civil law is no longer needed because God does not at this time have a self-governing nation as His people on earth. The moral law is the only portion of the Mosaic law which is still binding on people today.

This author prefers a simpler view to the classic one given above. The Christian is under no obligation to obey the law of Moses because Jesus has fulfilled the law of Moses and because the church is not Israel. The law given to Israel was intended for that nation from the time of Moses until the time they finally and fully rejected their Messiah. The law given to Israel was always limited in its scope, purpose and duration. Christians today are under obligation to keep the commands given to believers in the New Testament. Christians have no responsibility to observe a Sabbath because that law was in no way repeated to the church. Instead, Christians are under obligation to do something that is not found at all in the Old Testament- gather together every Sunday with other Christians. When the New Testament repeats an Old Testament command Christians are bound to obey it, but asking Christians why they do not follow all the Old Testament laws is a bit like asking an East Berliner why he doesn’t follow all the laws of Communist Germany.

This does not mean the New Testament Christian disregards the Old Testament. Some of the laws given in the New Testament are summations of Old Testament laws. For example, the New Testament forbids immorality but does not describe what that is. To understand what God defines as immoral sexual behavior one has to read the Old Testament. The Old Testament also gives the historic and moral foundation on which New Testament commands are based. When Jesus was asked about divorce, he pointed to the events of creation recorded in Genesis 1-3. The Christian does not scorn the Old Testament but reads and studies it to learn the character of His God and the nature of the requirements God places on His people.

Because God’s character does not change one would expect significant overlap between the commands given to Israel and the commands given to the church. One would expect similarity between the Law and New Testament commands. One would expect the same basic principles to be at the foundation of God’s commands to His people. One would expect certain unalterable, moral laws to be universally applied to all men. This is exactly what we find when comparing the laws of the Old and New Testament. Christians don’t follow the commands of the Old Testament because God has given in the New Testament the commands which He expects believers of this age to obey.

Does Christianity promote violence and hatred?

The recent upswing of Islamic terrorism has brought violence in the name of Allah to the front of many people’s minds. For some this is also a time to resurrect claims that Christianity is a religion of violence and hatred. Some do this out of a general hatred of all religions asserting that religion is the greatest cause of war and violence. Some do this in an attempt to defend Islam by pointing out that Christianity has some infamous events in its own history. Does Christianity promote hatred and violence? Is the Bible full of hate and genocide?

The Bible does not lack wars, violence, murder and many other despicable evils. However, a description of violence is not the same as a prescription for violence. If this were the case one could argue that history books promote violence and hatred. To argue Christianity causes violence one has to show that Christianity either commands hatred between men, that the commands are based in hatred for people, or that the teachings will inevitably result in hatred. One can not simply point to violent passages in the Bible and say that Christianity is hateful. One must show that the Bible promotes violence. This is no easy claim to make.

The Bible includes many examples of wretched behavior. Even more, throughout Christian history men have done evil things in the name of Christianity. Yet these historic examples do not prove Christianity is hateful. Such examples prove a very different claim. The examples of violence in the Bible and history support a central tenet of Biblical teaching: humanity is hatefilled because man has rebelled against His Creator.

The teaching of the Bible is that the heart of man is the source of all hatred and violence. Titus 3 says, “For we ourselves also were sometimes foolish, disobedient . . . living in malice and envy, hateful and hating one another.” The Bible also teaches the worst wickedness of man is not only the result of his own natural bent toward sin, but it is also the result of rebellion against God. When man rejects the God of the Bible for a god of his own creation, the result is that God lets man go into all manner of great wickedness (Rom 1). The claim of the Bible is that man apart from God turns to great violence and all manner of acts of hatred. Religion is not the root of anger and violence among men. The rejection of the God of the Bible aggravates the violent heart of men.

The Bible teaches an ethic that is contrary to violence. Those who have committed violent acts in the name of God have done son despite clear Bible teaching to the contrary. The Bible commands over and over again to love one another. In the book of Genesis God repeatedly condemns the violence of men. In the law to Israel God commands they are to love one another. The importance of love for one another is a major theme throughout the Old and New Testaments. The moral principles of the Bible are built on the basic principle of love, love for God and love for others. The Bible does not promote war, violence, hatred or racism. All such evils are the result of man’s sinful nature, not the teaching of Scripture.

What does the Bible say about cussing?

Some words are just not good words to say. The FCC restricts what it deems to be obscene and indecent speech from being broadcast on television before 10 pm. Some words cannot be aired on television at all. Movie rates are based in part on a films inclusion of certain restricted terms. Many people view cussing as adult speech, not appropriate for kids but a necessary way of communicating adult thoughts and feelings. Our society certainly has a lot to say about cussing, but what about the Bible. Does the Bible prohibit using cuss words?

How could the Bible forbid the use of certain words that didn’t even exist when it was written? The Bible does not contain a list of words forbidden to be spoken. To confuse the matter a little further, some words deemed profane in one culture are acceptable in others. The word “bloody” is a good example. In America it is a harmless word, rarely used an expletive. In England and Australia, “bloody” has a much stronger connotation and many consider it to be a “mild” cuss word. The obvious conclusion is that certain sounds and combinations of sounds are not sinful by themselves. As with all language, cuss words are given definition based upon context and intent. For example, the word damn can be used as profanity or as a legitimate synonym for condemnation. The Bible does not condemn the uttering of certain words.

What the Bible does say about human language is much more than “don’t say bad words”. The Bible teaches that a person’s speech comes from his heart. What comes out of the mouth has it’s source in who the person really is inside. “Out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh. A good man out of the good treasure of the heart bringeth forth good things: and an evil man out of the evil treasure bringeth forth evil things.” When thinking about the use of cuss words and other profane language, one must recognize the relationship between what a person says and who he truly is.

The Bible forbids all use of words intended to hurt and cut down another. Ephesians 4:29 says, “Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth.” Whether it be “you’re stupid”, “I hate you” or something much stronger, any words that wound or tear down are forbidden by the Bible. “Death and life are in the power of the tongue.” (Provbers 18:21) Every person has the ability to do severe harm or give great help through the words he speaks. The teachings of the Bible about a man’s words leaves no room for cussing. God commands that our words be used to encourage, comfort, strengthen and help others. All hurtful, belittling words are forbidden.

Ephesians 5:3-4 says, “But fornication, and all uncleanness, or covetousness, let it not be once named among you, as becometh saints; neither filthiness, nor foolish talking, nor jesting, which are not convenient: but rather giving of thanks.” Any use of language that is sexually suggestive, provocative, obscene or makes light of sexual sin is forbidden by the Bible. Cuss words serve no purpose in aiding communication, in helping others or in promoting goodness. As a result, the Bible leaves no place for obscenity, profanity and other forms of indecent speech.