Why Don’t You Follow ALL of Leviticus?

Posted: December 19, 2012 by Dillon in Lifestyle
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Why do Christians seem to pick and choose which Old Testament laws to follow?  If you’re going to follow the laws about homosexuality, why not the ones about slavery as well? Doesn’t it seem ridiculous to follow a law code that tells us to stone adulterers?    Aren’t Christians just trying to twist the text to manipulate people?

These are all very common objections and, sadly, not enough Christians can provide a meaningful explanation.  But with enough digging, it’s possible to uncover the logic behind this seeming problem.  Let’s start!

The Old Testament laws are categorized into three groups:

  • Civil
  • Priestly
  • Moral

So there’s different kinds of laws concerning different actions.  Make sense?  Ok, let’s continue.

Civil: The civil laws must be understood in correct context of a theocracy.  Even though the Jewish nation was often led by a king, it was still a theocratic system that used scripture to guide the nation.  Even further, some laws are only directed at Jews.  If we take a look at Leviticus 11:2, “Speak to the sons of Israel, saying ‘These are the creatures which you may eat from all the animals that are on the earth…’”  This is clearly illustrating that only Jews were required to uphold the dietary laws, as well as specific other ones.

Expired: The civil laws expired with the demise of the Jewish civil government.

Ok, but there’s still hundreds of laws left.  How do we account for those?  Keep going.

Priestly: The priestly laws dealt regulations regarding Aaronic priesthood (Aaron, Moses’ friend, was in charge of the priesthood.  Later on the Levites took over, but they were still bound by Aaron’s laws).  These laws concerned sacrificial duties necessary as propitiation for sins.  These laws are lengthy and require a great deal of ritualistic observance.  But, these priests were only representatives of the future High Priest, Jesus.

Expired: The priestly laws expired when Jesus fulfilled all the requirements of atonement with His final, ultimate sacrifice.  Animal sacrifices are no longer necessary because Jesus’ sacrifice was enough to atone for all.

Hopefully you’re still with me.  But there is still one more category.

Moral: The moral laws included how a follower of God was treat everyone else not held under the Civil laws.  This included not stealing and lying (Leviticus 19:12), no idolatry (Leviticus 26:1), and sexual purity.* These laws are based on the moral character of God. Because God’s character, by definition, cannot change, these laws cannot change either. Further, in the New Testament we see a reestablishment of the moral laws (including 1 Peter 1:16, Matt 22:39, and many more).

Expired: The moral laws have not expired because they are based on God’s character and reestablished under the new covenant.

So we can see, by examining the whole of scripture, a logical consistency to why some of the Leviticus laws still hold merit, while others do not, forms.

*Though the punishment for sexual impurity is defunct because of the fall of the Jewish civil government, the law itself remains.

This post is based on numerous different writings of Matt SlickWilliam Lane Craig, and personal study.

  1. Jaxion says:

    I wonder though isn't this really established by the 10 commandments? Those are the laws that God requires of all his followers correct?

  2. You are correct! However, a lot of these 636 laws dealt with how to respond to someone breaking one of the 10 commandments, with different laws based on the degree to which a commandment was broken. There are also a couple of theories about why such an exorbitant number of laws were established. One theory, the one I'm inclined to believe, is that because God's standard is perfection, the only way to achieve perfection/cleanliness (cleanliness was especially important before Christ came) was to follow every single law. This illustrates that no man can achieve perfection.

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