Not So Polite Dinner Conversation – follow those laws….or not

This week, there were a couple of fascinating columns from the usual theistic suspects, Rabbi Gellman and Billy Graham.

Billy has a column on the “ten” commandments.   The querent asks why we should follow them now. Billy asks in return “which of them would you do away with if you could?” as a challenge, because how could anyone want to get rid of “you will not steal”? Of course, he forgets to mention the commandments that require that everyone worships his god and that says that everyone is damned by the sins of their parents. He asks if the querent would dare to want to get rid of the other commandments, the ones that “demand we put God first in our lives or even the one safeguarding the family by commanding sexual purity.”   Oh yes, that one that says that homosexual should be killed.   According to Billy, if we ignore any of these commandments we will end in chaos. So what does that mean when Billy ignores those commandments he doesn’t like?   The one that says to pay your employees every day? The one that one isn’t to wear mixed fibers?   Do you think Billy has never eaten a shrimp? Pork? A cheeseburger? Where is Billy trying to kill those who dare to work on Sundays?   Where’s his beard? How many menstruating women has Billy chased out of church? How many divorced men and women has he tried to kill?

Yep, we don’t see Billy following those silly rules either, those ones that he says that we must follow or, you know, chaos. Thanks for leading the charge to chaos, Billy! Of course, this all nonsense, and the usual “do as I say, not as I do” from a hypocrite.

Then we have Rabbi Gellman who says something quite different, at least on the surface. The querent asks about the practice of creating a “eruv” by Orthodox Jews, an “enclosure” that observant Jews do not leave during the Sabbath. The eruv mentioned is a town, Westhampton Beach, NY. In the bible, in Exodus 16, it says “29 Bear in mind that the Lord has given you the Sabbath; that is why on the sixth day he gives you bread for two days. Everyone is to stay where they are on the seventh day; no one is to go out.” 30 So the people rested on the seventh day.” This is in reference of keeping the “Sabbath” holy and not working during it, one of those commandments that Billy mentioned.   It is inconvenient to be stuck at home and to be forbidding to carry things, so the eruv gets bigger and bigger dependent on the needs of the believers.

The querent asks if this is “bending the rules” that this god gave. The rabbi gives quite an answer. You can read the entire thing here, but it can be summed up by one of the sentences “All religions alter supposedly unalterably laws to help people more easily find God in their lives.”

Now, I’ve always wondered about a god that is so interested in such ludicrous minutia.   Why would an omnipotent, omniscient being care about what humans do with their genitalia.   One idea I came up with is that if you can’t do something so simple, as follow a law like “don’t eat shrimp” why think you could do anything harder or more complicated? The rabbi does mention the obvious problems with his attitude. If this god really did give these laws, how can humans ignore them or change them?   He excuses this because those laws were inconvenient for people so they needed to be changed because one just can’t have people unable to use strollers or lock their homes. This seems to assume that God didn’t think of such things and humans need to make sure that they are comfy.   The rabbi says “It’s the natural consequence of living with laws and compassionately altering them when their intent was being thwarted by their implementation.” Which is the typical claim of a theist that they know the intent better than anyone else, including others of their religion.

Not so amazingly, Gellman defends the Christians who also change their god’s supposedly immutable laws, saying that it was perfectly fine for the Catholic Church to invent “annulments” to allow “In Catholicism, for example, the laws forbidding divorce and remarriage in the Church have caused many Catholics great pain because they feel excluded from being in communion with the Church they love.”

Funny how the rabbi doesn’t suggest that the Church should just ignore those bits about homosexuality to allow gays and lesbians to be in the church that they love.

As always, people make gods and make up what those gods really “want”.   The rabbi and the pastor want to be the ones to tell everyone that it’s okay for them to say what their god wants.

14 thoughts on “Not So Polite Dinner Conversation – follow those laws….or not

  1. In other words:

    Cherry Picking is allowed….as long as “I” tell you what I cherry picked and you do exactly the same. Shutup those who want to apply logic.


  2. Graham’s column (both the question and the response) had to do specifically with the Ten Commandments — and yet you seem to be judging his statements as though he were speaking about the entire Old Testament Law. Deliberate choice, or oversight? I’m sure Graham’s answer would have been different if the topic were pertaining to the entire Torah. (Mine sure would be.)

    Also, happy to continue our discussion from earlier, here or wherever you wish 🙂


    1. I will have to disagree with you, Seth. The Billy Graham column said the following:

      “In other words, which of them would you do away with, if you could? Would you do away with the commandments forbidding murder, or lying, or stealing? Would you do away with the commandment forbidding greed? I doubt if you’d want to do away with any of these, because no society can be peaceful and harmonious without them.
      Perhaps, however, you’d like to do away with some of the other commandments, such as those that demand we put God first in our lives, or even the one safeguarding the family by commanding sexual purity.”

      Do the “ten” commandments say anything about sexual purity? I don’t see that, but if you want to tell me which one is about “sexual purity”, go for it. If you will note the last sentence, it mentions the laws that aren’t in the “ten” commandments. As usual, we have the claims of how God hates homosexuality, citing the laws in Leviticus. Leviticus 18:“22 “‘Do not have sexual relations with a man as one does with a woman; that is detestable.” And Leviticus 20: 13 “‘If a man has sexual relations with a man as one does with a woman, both of them have done what is detestable. They are to be put to death; their blood will be on their own heads.”

      So, if Billy would have just stayed with the “ten” commandments, he wouldn’t seem to be the complete hypocrite. However, he just had to take a shot at homosexuality and thus brought in all of those inconvenient laws that he doesn’t follow.

      The “ten” commandments are no more than an artificial creation since nothing in the bible says that they are any better than the other laws.

      I’ll make a post that we can discuss things on. It’ll be a few hours.


      1. Indeed it could be, though I have yet to hear about adultery having to do with purity of sex, and I have certainly heard plenty about how impure homosexuality is from Graham (along with any other sexual activity he doesn’t approve of).

        There is a problem with that too if one wants to ignore the rest of the laws in the OT. Where would I find more about what one should *do* about adultery? If we aren’t supposed to commit adultery, then are we supposed to do your god’s will in what he commands you to do to those who break his laws?


      2. I assume you’re referring to stoning, etc., when you speak of what we should do about such things. Well, that’s where Romans 13 comes in — we submit to the civil authorities. To understand the context of the capital punishment laws and the like in OT law, one must realize that the Torah was a civil text as well as a religious one — since Israel was a theocracy, there was no need at the time to distinguish the two, because the nation’s civil structure and laws were built upon a revelation of who God was, as well as the proper manner to serve and worship Him. When it says “thus-and-so is punishable by death”, that’s a civil law, for it outlines the state’s punishment for committing a crime.

        The civil laws of OT Israel do not apply to us, because we are not citizens of OT Israel — I could do something that would be considered illegal in China (such as share the Gospel), but because I’m not in China I’m not breaking any laws.

        In the OT, “God’s people” was a national identity — Israel. After Christ, “God’s people” is not a worldwide, universal Church. The church has no civil authority — it was never meant to be such. We are imitators of Christ — and I’ll follow His example in John 8 when it comes to adultery.


      3. Seth,

        Given that the Torah explicitly states the laws form a covenant between the Hebrews and their tribal god, I think it’s fair to say that none of them apply to non-Jews. The only universal rules are the ones issued to Noah in Genesis 9 (Be fruitful and multiply, don’t eat meat tainted with blood, and don’t shed the blood of another man). And these, I’m happy to report, I have faithfully followed 🙂


      4. Have no fear. Everything can be still be forgiven so long as you haven’t committed the unpardonable sin of blaspheming the Holy Spook.

        On a side note, I’d consider the rule against consuming bloody meat extremely beneficial, even if it wasn’t originally issued for health reasons.


  3. “Have you ever actually studied the Ten Commandments thoughtfully and carefully? (You can find them in Exodus 20 or Deuteronomy 5.)”~Billy’s Sockpuppet

    That’s odd. He must have a different translation. I only find the “ten commandments” mentioned in Exodus 34:28. I sure hope that Graham has kept all those feasts and refrained from seething a kid in his mother’s milk, or there’ll be hell to pay later.


Leave a Reply (depending on current posters, posts may be moderated, individually or en masse. It may take a day or two for a comment to be released so don't panic). Remember, I control the horizontal, I control the vertical. And also realize, any blog owner can see the IP address and email address of a commenter.)

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.