A little while ago, John Stonestreet was criticized for focusing on one sin mentioned in Leviticus, and ignoring the rest of them. His graceful answer was to admit that the guy was right. Stonestreet’s whole article (“The Use and Misuse of the Bible”) is worth quoting, but I won’t… quite!
Of course, he talks about our usual mistake of quoting things out of context.
Jewish philosopher and Rabbi Abraham Heschel once remarked to a group of Christians: “It seems puzzling to me how greatly attached to the Bible you seem to be and yet how much like pagans you handle it. The great challenge to those of us who wish to take the Bible seriously is to let it teach us its own essential categories; and then for us to think with them, instead of just about them.”
As Stonestreet says, we should always keep in mind “the big picture” as we’re reading. “And we should keep in mind what kind of book we are reading: history, theology, poetry, prophecy, proverbs, or letters. A letter shouldn’t be picked apart like a proverb, and history shouldn’t be read as theology. Reading it as it was written, in light of the larger context of redemptive history, will help us learn what God is revealing to us about Himself and the world.”
Which takes us back to Dennis’s comment about Leviticus. Leviticus clarified God’s law for the Israelites. Some of these laws were specific to Israel, to set them apart from the other nations. Other laws reflected God’s created order for everybody — such as the the one-man, one-woman sexual love described in Genesis and later endorsed by Jesus and Paul.
You see, it’s the fact that it was later endorsed by Jesus and Paul… and of course “the tragic results of [any] sexual brokenness are evident not only in the Bible but throughout human history.” (The “any” is inferred within the article.)
(Hmmm… can’t believe I read this over just before starting, and I’m still having trouble…): “
And But now we have been given a brief moment of grace, for the Lord our God has kept allowed the a few of us that remain to survive as a remnant…”? (Ezra 9:8)