24 July 2015

Why we are not bound by everything in the old law

I did not write this. This article was written by Jim Blackburn.
The Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance ask on their Web site (religioustolerance.org), "If we hold to Leviticus’ statements as being a blanket condemnation of homosexuality, do we then also obey the rest of the old law?"
They go on to explain with examples:
  • "If a man has recently married, he must not be sent to war or have any other duty laid on him. For one year he is to be free to stay at home and bring happiness to the wife he has married." (Deut. 24:5). Does ANYONE keep this law? Could you manage a whole year without a paycheck?
  • "Do not hate your brother in your heart." (Lev. 19:17). Don’t hate your siblings, even while growing up, or else you have broken the entirety of the law.
  • "Do not cut the hair at the sides of your head or clip off the edges of your beard." (Lev. 19:27). Don’t shave! Ever!
It seems that the Ontario Consultants wish to make the following point: Since Christians do not follow to the letter every one of the 613 laws found in the Old Testament, we should not expect those who suffer from same-sex attraction to observe Old Testament laws on homosexuality.
Meanwhile . . .
On another front, the Eternal Gospel Church in West Palm Beach, Florida (a Seventh-day Adventist group) takes out full-page ads in newspapers around the country condemning Sunday worship in favor of Saturday worship. One such ad reports, "Church officials met . . . to establish Sunday as the official religion throughout all of Christianity, and to excommunicate and persecute those who kept the seventh-day Sabbath."
This action is then pitted against Exodus 20:10, which requires keeping holy the Sabbath day—Saturday—not Sunday, the church says.
It seems that the Eternal Gospel Church believes that the early Church had no authority to designate Sunday as a Christian day of worship when God so clearly had already set aside Saturday for that purpose. Their stance, in contrast to the Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance, apparently, is that at least some Old Testament laws are binding on Christians.
With all this confusion what are we to do? Scrap all Old Testament laws? Observe all of them? Pick and choose?
Jesus, the Law’s Fulfillment
The answer is: none of the above. Old Testament law, as such, is not binding on Christians. It never has been. In fact, it was only ever binding on those to whom it was delivered—the Jews (Israelites). That said, some of that law contains elements of a law that is binding on all people of every place and time. Jesus and Paul provide evidence of this in the New Testament.
Matthew’s Gospel enlightens us to Jesus’ teaching concerning Old Testament law:
[A Pharisee lawyer] asked him a question, to test him. "Teacher, which is the great commandment in the law?" And he said to him, "You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it, You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments depend all the law and the prophets." (Matt. 22:34-40)
In saying this, Jesus declared the breadth of the new law of his new covenant which brings to perfection the old law. He explained further to his disciples:
"Think not that I have come to abolish the law and the prophets; I have come not to abolish them but to fulfill them. For truly, I say to you, till heaven and earth pass away, not an iota, not a dot, will pass from the law until all is accomplished. Whoever then relaxes one of the least of these commandments and teaches men so, shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but he who does them and teaches them shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven." (Matt. 5:17-19)
How could Jesus fulfill the Old Testament law without relaxing it? The Catechism of the Catholic Church states, "The Law has not been abolished, but rather man is invited to rediscover it in the person of his Master who is its perfect fulfillment" (CCC 2053).
A Catholic Commentary on Holy Scripture explains,
The solemnity of our Lord’s opening pronouncements and his clear intention of inaugurating a new religious movement make it necessary for him to explain his position with regard to the [Old Testament law]. He has not come to abrogate but to bring it to perfection, i.e. to reveal the full intention of the divine legislator. The sense of this "fulfilling" . . . is the total expression of God’s will in the old order . . . Far from dying . . . the old moral order is to rise to a new life, infused with a new spirit. (861)
How Jesus Perfects OT Law
Old Testament law included many dietary regulations which were instituted as a preparation for his teaching on the moral law. Jesus discussed these laws:
"Hear me, all of you, and understand: there is nothing outside a man which by going into him can defile him; but the things which come out of a man are what defile him." And when he had entered the house, and left the people, his disciples asked him about the parable. And he said to them, "Then are you also without understanding? Do you not see that whatever goes into a man from outside cannot defile him, since it enters, not his heart but his stomach, and so passes on?" (Thus he declared all foods clean.) (Mark 7:14-19)
The Catechism explains, "Jesus perfects the dietary law, so important in Jewish daily life, by revealing its pedagogical meaning through a divine interpretation . . . What comes out of a man is what defiles a man. For from within, out of the heart of man, come evil thoughts . . ." (CCC 582). Paul taught similarly concerning other Old Testament law:
[L]et no one pass judgment on you in questions of food and drink or with regard to a festival or a new moon . . . These are only a shadow of what is to come; but the substance belongs to Christ . . . Why do you submit to regulations, "Do not handle, Do not taste, Do not touch" (referring to things which all perish as they are used), according to human precepts and doctrines? These have indeed an appearance of wisdom in promoting rigor of devotion and self-abasement and severity to the body, but they are of no value in checking the indulgence of the flesh. (Col. 2:16-17; 20-23)
In this passage we can see that Paul recognized that much of the Old Testament law was instituted to set the stage for the new law that Christ would usher in. Much of the old law’s value could be viewed in this regard.
Jesus’ teaching about the Sabbath indicates similar value in part of the Old Testament regulation of the Sabbath:
Jesus went through the grainfields on the Sabbath; his disciples were hungry, and they began to pluck heads of grain and to eat. But when the Pharisees saw it, they said to him, "Look, your disciples are doing what is not lawful to do on the Sabbath." He said to them, "Have you not read what David did, when he was hungry, and those who were with him: how he entered the house of God and ate the bread of the Presence, which it was not lawful for him to eat nor for those who were with him, but only for the priests? Or have you not read in the law how on the Sabbath the priests in the temple profane the Sabbath, and are guiltless? I tell you, something greater than the temple is here. And if you had known what this means, ‘I desire mercy, and not sacrifice,’ you would not have condemned the guiltless. For the Son of man is lord of the Sabbath." (Matt. 12:1-8)
Clearly, Jesus indicated that he—not the Old Testament—had authority over the Sabbath, and its regulation was not as rigid as the Pharisees thought. In fact, once Jesus would endow the hierarchy of his Church with his own authority (Matt. 16:19; 18:18), regulation of worship would become the domain of the Church.
The Law That’s Rooted in Reason
It is important to point our here that the obligation to worship is something all people of every place and time can know simply through the use of reason. It is knowledge built into the human conscience as part of what is called the "natural law." Paul makes note of such law when discussing those of his own time who were never bound by Old Testament law: "When Gentiles who have not the law do by nature what the law requires, they are a law to themselves, even though they do not have the law. They show that what the law requires is written on their hearts . . ." (Rom. 2:14-15a).
The Ten Commandments are often cited as examples of the natural law. Christians are obliged to follow the laws cited in the Ten Commandments not because they are cited in the Ten Commandments—part of Old Testament law—but because they are part of the natural law—for the most part.
Certainly we can know by reason alone that certain actions are immoral—e.g., to kill the innocent, to take what does not belong to us, to cheat on our spouses, etc.
Similarly, we can know by reason alone that we are obliged to worship our Creator. But can we really know in the same way that such worship should take place on Saturday every week? Of course not! That part of the Sabbath commandment is not part of the natural law at all but was simply a law imposed upon the Jews for the discipline of their nation. Other people had the authority to choose for themselves the time they set aside for worship. For Christians now, it makes sense to do this on Sunday.
The Catechism of the Catholic Church explains,
The celebration of Sunday observes the moral commandment inscribed by nature in the human heart to render to God an outward, visible, public, and regular worship as a sign of his universal beneficence to all. Sunday worship fulfills the moral command of the Old Covenant, taking up its rhythm and spirit in the weekly celebration of the Creator and Redeemer of his people. (CCC 2176)
Old Testament law required, as a discipline, that the Jews worship on Saturday. Similarly, the Church obliges Catholics to worship on Sunday, the day of the Lord’s Resurrection.
Like the majority of the law found in the Ten Commandments, the Church’s teaching on the immorality of homosexual activity is part of the natural law. People of every time and place can know this through reason alone and are bound by it even without explicit teaching on it. It wasn’t absolutely necessary for God to include such teaching in Old Testament law, nor was it absolutely necessary to include it in the New Testament. Even so, the New Testament contains ample teaching in this regard. (For a fuller treatment of this issue, see "Homosexuality," This Rock, April 2006.)
The Law That Binds
So, to answer the Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance and the Eternal Gospel Church, Christians are bound to the law of Christ which, of course, includes the natural law.
Old Testament law contains elements of natural law—e.g., the condemnation of homosexual activity—to which Christians are bound for that reason, not because of their inclusion in the Old Testament. Christians do not have liberty on these issues.
Also, Christians are not and have never been bound by Old Testament law for its own sake, and those elements of Old Testament law which are not part of the natural law—e.g., the obligation to worship on Saturday —were only ever binding on the Jews. Christians do have liberty on those issues.

Jim Blackburn is a cradle Catholic who was born and raised in Illinois. After graduating from Southern Illinois University, Jim ran his own brokerage firm for twelve years. During that time, he studied Catholicism and other faiths, eventually becoming an apologist for Catholic Answers. In...

The depth of our hypocrisy

There are a lot of Christians out there demonizing same sex marriage. I can't say that i blame them. But i do question their hypocrisy. Catholics, as a whole, believe that divorce is sinful. A divorced person cannot get married in the Catholic church unless they can prove that their first marriage was not sacramental. This is the annulment process.

The protestant religions however do not have a problem with divorce. I know from personal experience that the local Baptist church has many members that have been divorced and remarried. Why is it that these protestants will take a stand against same sex marriage but will not take a stand against divorce?

Since we know the Levitical laws where created to set apart the nation of Israel. It is not for the Gentiles to follow these rules, being a true believer in Jesus Christ fulfills the purpose of these laws. So we take the Old Testament out of the equation. Let's focus on just the New Testament:

Luke 16:18
“Everyone who divorces his wife and marries another commits adultery, and he who marries a woman divorced from her husband commits adultery."
Corinthians 7:10-11
"To the married I give this charge (not I, but the Lord): the wife should not separate from her husband (but if she does, she should remain unmarried or else be reconciled to her husband), and the husband should not divorce his wife."
Matthew 5:32
"But I say to you that everyone who divorces his wife, except on the ground of sexual immorality, makes her commit adultery, and whoever marries a divorced woman commits adultery."
Mark 10:12
"And if she divorces her husband and marries another, she commits adultery.”
Corinthians 7:10-17
To the married I give this charge (not I, but the Lord): the wife should not separate from her husband (but if she does, she should remain unmarried or else be reconciled to her husband), and the husband should not divorce his wife. To the rest I say (I, not the Lord) that if any brother has a wife who is an unbeliever, and she consents to live with him, he should not divorce her. If any woman has a husband who is an unbeliever, and he consents to live with her, she should not divorce him. For the unbelieving husband is made holy because of his wife, and the unbelieving wife is made holy because of her husband. Otherwise your children would be unclean, but as it is, they are holy.

Mathew 5:17 states that he did not come to abolish the old laws but to fullfill them. Does this mean we should take the Old Testament out of the equation?

It's pretty clear that under the New Testament divorce is not an option. These Christians that are opposing gay marriage but embracing divorce are giving all of us a bad rap. I wish they would start following the whole New Testament and stop cherry picking.

14 July 2015

What I have failed to do.....

Any Catholic who reads this post will recognize the following prayer. We pray this prayer before we start every Mass. It is part of the Penitential Act.

I confess to almighty God
and to you, my brothers and sisters,
that I have

greatly sinned

in my thoughts and in my words,
in what I have done
and in what I have failed to do,

through my fault,

through my fault,
through my most grievous fault

therefore I ask blessed Mary ever-Virgin,

all the Angels and Saints,
and you, my brothers and sisters,
to pray for me to the Lord our God.

We confess that our sins are of thought and word, of omission and commission. Jesus never had an evil thought, never spoke an evil word (not even when He was chastising the Pharisees for their blindness), never did anything wrong, and never failed to do the right thing. It’s a tough act to follow, but with the grace of God – which comes to us especially through frequent sacramental Confession and reception of Holy Communion – we can be built up “to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ.” (Eph. 4:13)

Sins of omission, what i have failed to do? This, to me, is a very scary part of the prayer. We are asking forgiveness for what we failed to do. In order to ask for forgiveness, we must admit that we have failed to do something. The question is, what have i failed to do?

This leads me to the question, how much is too much? My Priest once told me that we as a Church do not do enough to stop abortion in our community. I pointed out all that our Church does in the community and he said "As long as abortion exist, we do not do enough".

As long as there are people going hungry in our community, are we sinning in our failure to prevent hunger if we are overweight?

As long as there are poor among us that cannot pay there bills, are we sinning by living in opulence? Are we sinning if after the end of the month we have funds left over and we do not give to those less fortunate than us? Is giving 10% of our first fruits enough to keep us from failing to do?

I like to think of myself as a decent guy who goes to church regularly, i give my money and my time to my church. I am involved in community projects to help the poor, hungry, and less fortunate. I thought i was doing the right thing up until the other day i decided i wanted a new wrist watch.

I was driving back from Abilene and as i looked at my watch i thought to myself, maybe it is time to get a new watch. I rolled the idea around in my head for several miles and decided i wanted to buy a Rolex. Not the jewel encrusted type, just a nice simple Rolex.

Granted, a Timex keeps the same time as a Rolex but a Rolex is a status symbol. To me, it was going to be a symbol that "I Made It". I could afford to wear a $5K watch simply because i could.

Now the question keeps popping into my head, what have i failed to do? Is buying a Rolex too much? How much food could be bought with that $5K i was going to spend? Am i failing to do?

I don't think it is sinful to own nice things. We go to work everyday to provide for our family and ourselves. For example, I need a truck that can pull a big trailer. I am pretty much limited to a one ton pickup truck. I do not think it is sinful to pay a little more to get an upgraded package as opposed to the base model. After all, I earned it. Or did I?

Is it wrong to have a bigger or nicer house than what we need? Do we need tile showers when fiberglass will work? Do we need granite counter tops when Formica will work? Do we need to buy a dog with a pedigree when there are so many dogs in shelters?

I don't know the answers to all of these questions. I sure wish i did. I do know that i will not buy that Rolex.

Hopefully someone can give my some insight. I look forward to hearing from you.

13 July 2015

Of wives and concubines

All over facebook people are posting what traditional Christian marriage was like some 5,000 years ago. They are posting how men from the Old Testament and many wives and concubines. Basically they are trying to mock Christian values.

We as Christians know that marriage has evolved over time and we must be able to explain this. This evolution begs the question:

Why did God allow polygamy in the Old Testament? The Bible does not specifically say why God allowed polygamy. As we speculate about God’s silence, there are a few key factors to consider. First, while there are slightly more male babies than female babies, due to women having longer lifespans, there have always been more women in the world than men. Current statistics show that approximately 50.5 percent of the world population are women. Assuming the same percentages in ancient times, and multiplied by millions of people, there would be tens of thousands more women than men. Second, warfare in ancient times was especially brutal, with an incredibly high rate of fatality. This would have resulted in an even greater percentage of women to men. Third, due to patriarchal societies, it was nearly impossible for an unmarried woman to provide for herself. Women were often uneducated and untrained. Women relied on their fathers, brothers, and husbands for provision and protection. Unmarried women were often subjected to prostitution and slavery. The significant difference between the number of women and men would have left many, many women in an undesirable situation.

So, it seems that God may have allowed polygamy to protect and provide for the women who could not find a husband otherwise. A man would take multiple wives and serve as the provider and protector of all of them. While definitely not ideal, living in a polygamist household was far better than the alternatives: prostitution, slavery, or starvation. In addition to the protection/provision factor, polygamy enabled a much faster expansion of humanity, fulfilling God’s command to “be fruitful and increase in number; multiply on the earth” (Genesis 9:7). Men are capable of impregnating multiple women in the same time period, causing humanity to grow much faster than if each man was only producing one child each year.

2) How does God view polygamy today? Even while allowing polygamy, the Bible presents monogamy as the plan which conforms most closely to God’s ideal for marriage. The Bible says that God’s original intention was for one man to be married to only one woman: “For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife [not wives], and they will become one flesh [not fleshes]” (Genesis 2:24). While Genesis 2:24 is describing what marriage is, rather than how many people are involved, the consistent use of the singular should be noted. In Deuteronomy 17:14-20, God says that the kings were not supposed to multiply wives (or horses or gold). While this cannot be interpreted as a command that the kings must be monogamous, it can be understood as declaring that having multiple wives causes problems. This can be clearly seen in the life of Solomon (1 Kings 11:3-4).
So when people tell you that traditional marriage used to be multiple wives, agree with them and say that marriage has evolved over time. But always remind them that marriage, although it has evolved, has ALWAYS been between opposite sexes. It has NEVER been between same sexes.

30 June 2015

Right in my own backyard

Here is an article from the local paper. I truly do not understand how a Christian Church can condone same sex marriage. Do they not read the same Bible as everyone else? I know that interpretation of the Bible has lead to many thousand factions of Christianity, but it seems to me that this topic is CLEARLY explained.

Gay couples seeking to marry in Midland churches may face minimal barriers to finding a wedding altar. Many local churches are enthusiastic to offer their ministerial services. Others are exercising their religious freedom to preclude same-sex ceremonies.
The recently passed “pastor protection act,” which was signed into law earlier this month, redoubles First Amendment rights by creating extra protection of religious freedom for churches in Texas. The law, along with nearly 20 other bills filed during the last legislative session seeking to regulate LGBT and gay affairs, was filed in anticipation that the U.S. Supreme Court would lift gay marriage bans.In effect, the bill allows any church or clergy in Texas to deny marrying same-sex couples.
But even in conservative Midland, congregations are choosing the more inclusive option. The Unitarian Universalist Church of Midland will be marrying same-sex couples, and temporarily will offer free use of its facilities and services. That service will begin Monday and continue until Aug. 22.
“This is not a controversial thing for us. We’ve been supporting LGBTQ rights since the ’70s,” said the Rev. Thomas Schmidt.
The church’s board unanimously passed the initiative, he said.
“Both in our theology and our stand on social issues, I’d say we’re among the most progressive,” Schmidt said.
And while Episcopal churches across the region await the Northwest Texas clergy to issue a decision on whether Episcopal churches in the region will bestow their graces to same-sex couples, at least one local parish is hopeful.
“We hope to be (marrying same-sex couples),” said the Rev. Dave Huxley of St. Nicholas’ Episcopal Church. “When we hear from (the bishop) we’ll know one way or another, but we’re working in that direction.”
The Episcopalian clergy of the region currently are attending the 78th General Convention in Salt Lake City where they are discussing the issue of same-sex marriage. But according to a recent statement, a decision in line with the Supreme Court’s seems favorable.
“We are satisfied at today’s Supreme Court ruling on same-sex marriage,” the Rt. Rev. Scott Mayer, the bishop of Northwest Texas diocese, said in a statement last Friday. “As we write this, the Episcopal Church is in discernment about what this means for our church life.
“We are aware of the rich diversity of opinions held on this topic. We are also aware that for many this is not an ‘issue,’ but something that touches directly on their lives and their faithfulness in love,” the statement read.
But as the opinion was handed down from the high court on Friday, other churches assumed postures against marrying same-sex couples. Hours after history was made, Bishop Michael Sis of the Diocese of San Angelo, issued the Catholic Church’s response:
“The redefinition of marriage according to civil law does not change the understanding of marriage in our faith tradition,” Sis wrote. “The position of our Church is that marriage is a natural institution that predates any government.”
And on Monday morning, Msgr. James Bridges, pastor of St. Stephen’s Catholic Church, penned his own measured response.
“We may wish everybody held our view of marriage but our beloved country is pluralistic with an emphasis on separation of Church and State for the sake of religious freedom,” he wrote.
“Every Sunday parents of gay children and gay adults occupy our pews. I beg gentleness as we voice our opposition to the legalization of same-sex marriage. Sexual orientation is not a choice, it is who we are. Our choice is how we manage it. … When it happens to us personally it becomes our challenge to manage our desired according to what we know is right or wrong.”

Read more: Churches provide options for same-sex marriage ceremonies - MRT.com: Local http://www.mrt.com/news/local/article_1f2ac0dc-1ebe-11e5-aad9-4ba861982308.html#ixzz3eYHaQhik
Under Creative Commons License: Attribution

And God created Texas

God was missing for six days. Eventually, Michael, the archangel, found him, resting on the seventh day.
He inquired, "Where have y...ou been?"
God smiled deeply and proudly pointed downwards through the clouds,
"Look, Michael. Look what I've made."
Archangel Michael looked puzzled, and said, "What is it?"
"It's a planet," replied God, and I've put life on it. I'm going to call it Earth and it's going to be a place to test Balance."
"Balance?" inquired Michael, "I'm still confused."
God explained, pointing to different parts of Earth. "For example, northern Europe will be a place of great opportunity and wealth, while southern Europe is going to be poor.
Over here I've placed a continent of white people, and over there is a continent of black people. Balance in all things."
God continued pointing to different countries. "This one will be extremely hot, while this one will be very cold and covered in ice."
The Archangel, impressed by God's work, then pointed to a land area and said, "What's that one?"
"That's Texas, the most glorious place on earth. There are beautiful mountains, rivers and streams, lakes, forests, hills, and plains. The people from Texas are going to be handsome, modest, intelligent, humorous, but proud and they are going to travel the world. They will be extremely sociable, hardworking, high achieving, carriers of peace, and producers of good things."
Michael gasped in wonder and admiration, but then asked, "But what about balance, God? You said there would be balance."
God smiled, "I will create Washington, DC. Wait
till you see the fools I put there."

4th of July, what it cost some people.

Have you ever wondered what happened to the 56 men who signed the Declaration of Independence?
Their story. . Five signers were captured by the British as traitors, and tortured before they died.
Twelve had their homes ransacked and burned. Two lost their sons serving in the Revolutionary ...
Army; another had two sons captured. Nine of the 56 fought and died from wounds or hardships of the Revolutionary War. They signed and they pledged their lives, their fortunes, and their sacred honor.
What kind of men were they? Twenty-four were lawyers and jurists. Eleven were merchants. Nine were farmers and plantation (farmers)owners; men of means, well educated. But they signed the Declaration of Independence
knowing full well that the penalty would be death if they were captured. Carter Braxton of Virginia, a planter and
trader, saw his ships swept from the seas by the British Navy. He sold his home and properties to pay his debts,and died in rags. Thomas McKeam was so hounded by the British that he was forced to move his family almost constantly. He served in the Congress without pay, and his family was kept in hiding. His possessions were
taken from him, and poverty was his reward. Vandals or soldiers looted the properties of Dillery, Hall, Clymer, Walton, Gwinnett, Heyward, Ruttledge, and Middleton. At the battle of Yorktown, Thomas Nelson, Jr., noted that the British General Cornwallis had taken over the Nelson home for his headquarters. He quietly urged General George Washington to open fire. The home was destroyed, and Nelson died bankrupt. Francis Lewis had his home and properties destroyed. The enemy jailed his wife, and she was tortured and died within a few months. John Hart was driven from his wife's bedside as she was dying. Their 13 children fled for their lives. His fields and his gristmill were laid to waste. For more than a year he lived in forests and caves, returning home to find his wife dead and his children vanished. So, take a few minutes while enjoying your 4th of July holiday and silently thank these great patriots. It's not much to ask for the price they paid. Remember: freedom is never free!