Tag Archives: scripture

Biblical Cleanliness Laws

I’ve been thinking about the laws of the Torah. Cleanliness is the motive for many of the laws. Is the focus on cleanliness something Moses learned about in Egypt with Pharaoh? Think about it. The Egyptians were around ruling a large empire for a long time. Could they have not done it with out cleanliness and the resulting lack of disease? Moses might have learned from them and modified his knowledge for the people that God would lead out of bondage (picture Carleton Heston, “Out of bondage”).

Another alternative is that, even before the modern understanding of germs and the necessity for cleanliness to diminish their numbers was made known, God used these previously unknown facts to keep the Israelites living in the desert when they were in close quarters. God was with them on their journey to the “promised land”.

Circumcision helped the people multiply to keep their population strong. Not eating pigs kept down disease. Making sure dairy and meat were eaten separately ensured that the cooks knew were the germs (or evil things) were. Stoning let people be killed without touching them and contacting whatever disease they had. Staying away from foreigners kept their diseases from infecting them (unlike the Native Americans interacting with the European colonists which almost wiped the former out due to new disease transmission with the latter).

Again, all this is just speculation, and since we’ll never be in the past empirical domain, we’ll never really know the answer with 100% certainty.

There is a caveat of the above thought pattern. Perhaps, in Jesus’ perfect fulfillment of the law, He is able to excuse us from following some of the Mosaic laws, including the cleanliness laws (just as Jesus said that Moses made up the divorce law “due to the harness of your hearts”, but God didn’t make it so). Perhaps Jesus knew that Moses inserted some of the cleanliness laws into the laws given by God found in the Torah. I don’t know, maybe I’m just way off base.

What do you think?

Wherefor Original Sin?

Thinking about baptism and salvation, a question occurred to me. Why does the Church teach the doctrine of original sin? Where did it come from? I’ve always thought the following bit of Scripture, written long before Christ’s salvific work, directly contradicted this doctrine.

“The soul that sins shall die. The son shall not suffer for the iniquity of the father, nor the father suffer for the iniquity of the son; the righteousness of the righteous shall be upon himself, and the wickedness of the wicked shall be upon himself.” – Ezekiel 18:20

Are we not all sons of Adam (whether it be literally or figuratively), who committed the first – the original – sin? Why are we held accountable for his sin?

My impression is that the Eastern Orthodox don’t hold the same beliefs as Catholics regarding the Fall and original sin. What are their beliefs? How do they differ? Why do they differ? Would these doctrines interfere with future reunification?

OK, those questions are more than enough for now. Discuss. 🙂

A Reminder About Proper Christian Behavior

Some recent unpleasant interactions between Christians have been weighing on my conscience. As I sat in eucharistic adoration this morning, I asked God what I should have done/be doing. Just before leaving the chapel, I prayed morning prayer of the divine office and the scripture reading was this:

“Let no evil talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for edifying, as fits the occasion, that it may impart grace to those who hear. And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, in whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, with all malice, and be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.” – Ephesians 4:29-32

I think God wanted me to remind myself and others of this teaching. While I’m on the subject, I’ll throw in the following for good measure.

“[T]he whole law is fulfilled in one word, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ But if you bite and devour one another take heed that you are not consumed by one another…If we live by the Spirit, let us also walk by the Spirit. Let us have no self-conceit, no provoking of one another, no envy of one another.” – Galatians 5:15,25-26

False Doctrines: Sola Lexio Torta Mea Scripturae

Rob of UnSpace asks:

There’s a popular doctrine in the churches today, although it is rejected by the leadership of most churches. This doctrine is based on falsehoods, causes non-Christians to reject Christianity, Christians to lose their faith, and causes its followers to lie? Judging by the fruits of this doctrine, would you say this is of God or of something else?

The particular doctrine he’s asking about is Creationism. What are your thoughts?

“This Saying is Hard”

This past Sunday, the Twenty-first Sunday in Ordinary Time, we read the feminists’ favorite passage from Ephesians 5 (the full version).

Brothers and sisters:
Be subordinate to one another out of reverence for Christ.
Wives should be subordinate to their husbands as to the Lord.
For the husband is head of his wife
just as Christ is head of the church,
he himself the savior of the body.
As the church is subordinate to Christ,
so wives should be subordinate to their husbands in everything [see my note below].
Husbands, love your wives,
even as Christ loved the church
and handed himself over for her to sanctify her,
cleansing her by the bath of water with the word,
that he might present to himself the church in splendor,
without spot or wrinkle or any such thing,
that she might be holy and without blemish.
So also husbands should love their wives as their own bodies.
He who loves his wife loves himself.
For no one hates his own flesh
but rather nourishes and cherishes it,
even as Christ does the church,
because we are members of his body.
For this reason a man shall leave his father and his mother
and be joined to his wife,
and the two shall become one flesh.
This is a great mystery,
but I speak in reference to Christ and the church.

To satisfy my curiosity, I have some questions for the Catholics who went to church this last Sunday. 1. Was the short or long version of the above read? 2. Did your homilist talk about it? 3. If yes, what did he say? 4. Did the homilist make light of the reading?

The homilist at my mass explicitly avoided talking about it. At the beginning of the homily he said, “I’m not even going to touch the second [epistle] reading.” Some of the congregation chuckled. He went on.

He said the readings talked about creeds. The Israelites after Moses’ death had to reaffirm their faith in God as the Apostles had to reaffirm their faith in Jesus. Many of the children of Israel left and served other gods and some of Jesus’ disciples left him.

Joshua, Moses’ successor, said, “As for me and my household, we will serve the LORD.” While Peter said, “Master, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. We [the Apostles] have come to believe and are convinced that you are the Holy One of God.”

By leaving out the second reading from Ephesians, it left out a deep dimension of God’s Love. In Jesus’ future act on the cross (alluded to in the Gospel reading today and explicitly the last few weeks), He gave himself up for His bride the Church to make Her holy. In a similar way, the married bridegroom gives himself up.

Should we, the Church, Holy Bride of Christ, be offended that we are to serve the Bridegroom? He gave himself, his life for us. Does that diminish our freedom or worth or relationships? Does that mean that Christ is our master and we are His slaves? He is our Brother and Friend.

No one has greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. You are my friends if you do what I command you. I no longer call you slaves, because a slave does not know what his master is doing. I have called you friends, because I have told you everything I have heard from my Father. –John 15:13-15

A bride is not a slave; she is the first friend of her bridegroom. We are to be "subordinate to one another under Christ." Friends do things for each other out of Love. We should try to do everything for Love [note: everything].

This is a very personal topic since I try as hard as I can to base my marriage on Ephesians 5, and my wife and I had it read at our wedding (by a dear, married sister in Christ). (I also referred to it in my post on the homosexual Bible study.)

What do you think?