October 25, 2013

The Law Myth – part 3: Grumpy Old God

Posted in Religion, Terminology, The Dispensations, The Law tagged , , , , , at 2:57 PM by E. M.

NOT AN ACCURATE REPRESENTATION OF GOD

NOT AN ACCURATE REPRESENTATION OF GOD

We’ve been looking at some of the myths about the Law and the 5th Dispensation.  In this final post on the subject we’ll discuss a set of myths that are both pervasive and controversial – the idea that God’s Law is meant to make us feel bad about stuff that makes us feel good.

The myth is that God is a cosmic kill joy who gets perverse pleasure out of telling us “Thou shall not…”    And the perception is that all the stuff God doesn’t want us to do are things we find enjoyable.  It’s almost like He set us up to fail by telling us not to do things we are naturally inclined to do.  But is this true?

We’ve seen over the last two posts that the rules of the Law are not meant to be repressive or religious.   But they actually have positive intentions – namely helping prepare the world for the advent of the Redeemer.

So where does this myth come from?  Frankly, much of it is self-serving.  Because of our nature and our tendency toward pride, we tend to desire things that are evil.  Evil leads to destruction.  God is not being repressive; He’s trying to protect us from destruction by identifying our evil tendencies and steering us away from them.

But since we don’t like anyone telling us that we are wrong, it’s easier to cast God in a negative light than admit that we like being evil.

The myth is also acerbated by religion. Mystics heap up additional religious laws on men in order to stifle uniqueness and retain their power.  But these superfluous rules aren’t from God.  Worse, since people ascribe them to God (because they believe the mystics who claim to speak for Him), they begin to believe that in order to follow God they have to be in constant compliance with innumerable arbitrary rules.

Sometimes well intentioned non-mystics are guilty of this too.  Ever hear your grandmother say things like “cleanliness is next to Godliness”, or “God helps those who help themselves”, or “an idle mind is the devils workshop”?   Being tidy, self-reliant, and focused are nice attributes, but these rules didn’t come from God, and ascribing His name to them doesn’t make them Biblical.

But let’s focus on the area that has been the biggest source of the “God is a big ol’ prude” myth – Sexuality.  The myth is, that generally speaking, God doesn’t like it when we have sex.  It’s a low, dirty desire that we mammals are cursed with and He’d just as soon we not even speak of it.  It should only be done for the express purpose of procreation.  And even then, it should only be done in a locked room.

In the dark.

Missionary style.

Completed as quickly and quietly as possibly.

And we should bath ourselves in bleach afterwards.

Honestly, the source of this myth is rooted in the very detailed sexual morality rules of the Law.  Its clear that God only approves of sex in the marital relationship.  BUT within the confines of marriage, sex is encouraged.

Sadly, well-intentioned (and some not so well-intentioned) people made the myth that “God hates sex” even more pervasive by going overboard in enforcing sexual morality and vilifying the sex act in any form.

So if this is a myth, how does God really feel about sex?  I would contend that God thinks sex is pretty damn awesome!  Why? Well, first of all He created it!  He created it to feel good to us!  And He created us to desire it!

After God created the first man and woman, He told them to “be fruitful and multiply”.  He commanded them to have sex!  He basically said “Adam, here’s your wife.  Eve, here’s your husband.  Now go get some!”

Moreover, the fact that the Song of Songs in even in the Bible proves that God delights in the joy of our sexuality.  The entire book is about a bride and groom who physically desire one another and delight in sex.  Here’s a snippet of the grooms description of his bride’s body.

How beautiful are your feet in sandals,
O prince’s daughter!
The curves of your thighs are like jewels,
The work of the hands of a skillful workman.
Your navel is a rounded goblet;
It lacks no blended beverage.
Your waist is a heap of wheat
Set about with lilies. Songs of songs 7: 1-2

To get the full impact of this passage, it’s worth mentioning here that the word “navel” is mistranslated due to the desire of the translators to be polite.  Notice that he’s working his way UP her body in the description.  There is an, ahem, “opening” on the female body between the thighs and the waist. . . but it ain’t her navel.  I’ll just leave it at that.

But if God thinks sex is so awesome, why are we only allowed to do it with the person we’re married to, and them alone?  That’s actually not a valid question.  God doesn’t see sex and marriage separately. The “marriage ceremony” we do today is a man-made tradition.  To God, sex isn’t something you do with the person you’re married to.  The sex act is what makes you married!

Technically there is no such thing as “sex before marriage” because sex IS marriage.  The act of sex is the consummation of the marriage covenant.  So technically, in God’s eyes, you married the first person you had sex with (I’ll give you a moment to recover from the horror).  And you are committing adultery with any person you have sex with subsequently.  So you see why God wants us to take sex seriously?

God is strict about sex because of the tremendous value he places on marriage and what it symbolizes.  The joy and ecstasy of sex is God’s earthly representation of what Heaven is going to be like!  Kind of makes you anxious to get there, doesn’t it?

And as mentioned above, the rules of the Law are God’s way of protecting us from ourselves.  Again our tendency is toward evil so we have strong desires to be sexually immoral.  But the consequences of that immorality is destructive.

Promiscuity, infidelity, and adultery are emotionally devastating.  They break hearts, break up families, and ruin childhoods.  Sexual immorality can also lead to physical damage (disease) and physical dependency – the neurochemicals released during sex are identical to the ones released when addictive drugs are used.  God intended this function to bond you physically and emotionally to your spouse.  But illicit sex leaves you empty and constantly in search of your next “fix”, be it at the local bar or in front of a computer screen.

Lastly, let’s tackle the big controversy (at least in the eyes of contemporary society) – homosexuality.  I’m not going to sugarcoat the subject, because God doesn’t.  God calls it an abomination.  It’s listed as one of the effects of intentionally disregarding God and our inherent knowledge of Him.  Is this because God “hates” homosexuals as some zealots proclaim?

No, it goes back to how important marriage is to God, and how He defines it.  God defines marriage as the sexual covenant between a man and a woman.  Period.  And He considers anyone or anything that intentionally perverts that definition an affront to Him.  I know that’s not politically correct, but I kind of doubt God is terribly concerned about popular opinion.  The question is, should God conform to the whims of His creation, or should His creation conform to Him?

I won’t argue with someone who says they were born with a desire for someone of the same sex, any more than I would argue with someone who says they were born with a bad temper, or a predisposition to substance abuse, or even a desire for heterosexual promiscuity.   The issue is not the desire.  It’s what you choose to do with that desire.  We are creatures with free will – AND the responsibility that goes along with it.

The bottom line is that homosexuality is a sin in God’s eyes – like every other sin we all commit.  It has the same source, the same consequences, and the same remedy.  Presenting it as anything more or less than that is misrepresenting God.

Now that we’ve addressed some of the major myths of the Law, it’s time to focus on the major outcome of the Law – the advent of the Redeemer.  Considering the extraordinary and eternal impact of the event, it’s safe to say that the Redemption of man is the most important even in our history.  Understandably, this advent is the most well described event in the bible.  In fact, much of this description was detailed hundreds of years before He even arrived!  We’ll begin to explore all this next time.

Remember to subscribe to this blog to receive new posts when they are published

October 17, 2013

The Law Myth – part 2: Divine Dress Rehearsal

Posted in Jesus, Religion, The Law tagged , , , , at 2:20 PM by E. M.

THAT KID REALLY CREEPS ME OUT

THAT KID REALLY CREEPS ME OUT

In the last post we began to looking at some of the myths about the Law and the 5th Dispensation.  We saw that the rules of the Law were not meant to repress the Israelites, but were intended to show them the optimal way to live and prosper and to make them good ambassadors to usher in the advent of the Redeemer.

But there are other aspects of the Law beyond health and moral conduct that gives rise to another myth – the myth that the Law is religion.

Much of the Law details a multitude of rituals, sacraments, and festivals.  The rules around these activities are very detailed, exacting, and strict.  Take for example, the “sin offering”:

And if any one of the common people sin unwittingly, in doing any of the things which God hath commanded not to be done, and be guilty;
if his sin, which he hath sinned, be made known to him, then he shall bring for his oblation a goat, a female without blemish, for his sin which he hath sinned.
And he shall lay his hand upon the head of the sin-offering, and kill the sin-offering in the place of burnt-offering.
And the priest shall take of the blood thereof with his finger, and put it upon the horns of the altar of burnt-offering; and all the blood thereof shall he pour out at the base of the altar.
And all the fat thereof shall he take away, as the fat is taken away from off the sacrifice of peace-offerings; and the priest shall burn it upon the altar for a sweet savor unto God; and the priest shall make atonement for him, and he shall be forgiven. Leviticus 4: 27-31

To be honest, all this sounds a lot like religion.  It seems like God is telling people to do certain activities in order to justify their wrongs.

Furthermore, why does an all-powerful God need a sacrifice?  Why does killing an animal please Him?  Why does its blood need to be smeared all over the place?  It all seems a bit macabre.

Without the right context, it’s easy to see how all these rules can make God look no different than any other petulant, ancient “rage-god” demanding arbitrary obeisance from his fiefdom lest he rain down fire and crickets upon them in his wrath (ok, that’s maybe not the most vivid description of wrath, but I really hate crickets).

Is this myth true?  Is God basically that creepy omnipotent kid from the Twilight Zone?  Are the sacraments demanded by the Law a form of religion?

The answer is no.  And this is proven by understanding the purposes of both religion and the Law.

Religion is actions initiated by man (NOT God) in order for man to justify himself.  The Law comes from God, and merely doing the activities of the Law does not offer justification.

The purpose of the Law is to prepare the world (through Israel) for the coming of the Redeemer.  So how do the rituals of the Law accomplish this?

The ritual and the sacraments of the Law symbolize the vital aspects of the Redeemers advent and purpose.  Doing the sacraments of the Law is essentially acting out the work of the Redeemer.  It’s a divine dress rehearsal!

What is the Redeemer’s work?  From what we’ve learned so far, the Redeemer will be a man with perfect blood, who will sacrifice that blood on behalf of Adam’s fallen offspring (us), resulting in us gaining life and being reconciled to God.

Now let’s look again at the sin offering from the passage above.  It requires:

  1.  A blemish free (perfect) animal (a goat in this case, but lambs and bulls are also used)
  2. The animal is killed (sacrificed)
  3. Its blood is taken by the priest before the alter
  4. The priest puts blood on the horns and base of the alter
  5. The animals fat is burned which God enjoys
  6. The sin is forgiven

How does this all fit together?

We learned previously that “life” is in the blood.  The “perfect” animal represents perfect blood.  The perfect blood is sacrificed.  The priest is the mediator between God and man.  The priest represents One who has the authority to come before God on man’s behalf.  The alter represents God.  Horns are a Biblical representation of ruling authority.  Thus the mediator between God and man placed the perfect blood on that authority, and then pours it at His feet.  Fat is generally seen as excess and denotes the richness, luxury, and comfort (pride) of man.  Its burning (being destroyed) is pleasing to God.  These represent the humility needed when one prays – especially for forgiveness.  God finds prayers sweet like incense!  Finally, forgiveness is rendered, representing reconciliation with God.

And that’s just what can be found in ONE of the sacraments of the Law.  All of them represent some aspect of the Redeemer and were written with the Redeemer in mind!

The way this was supposed to work, is that if the Israelites obeyed the Law, they would have acted out the work of the Redeemer thousands of times, over the 1500 years between Moses and the advent of the Redeemer.  They should have known the work of the Redeemer so well, that there’s no reasonable way they could have missed Him and failed the 5th Dispensation.

But they did fail.  Why?  Religious brain damage!  As I wrote in a previous post:

“Unfortunately certain men decided of their own volition (and convinced countless others) that rituals alone could provide justification and atonement, and they warped them into religious acts.  But this was NEVER God’s intention.

As I wrote last week, the men who perverted Levitical rituals into religion are the ones whose actions led to the death of Christ.  Their religion blinded them to the advent of the very person the rituals were put in place to make them aware of!  See what I mean when I say religion causes brain damage?”

There is one final pervasive myth about the Law that we will conclude with.  The idea that God is a repressive prude who created the Law in order to make us feel bad about things we like – especially sex.  Next time…

Remember to subscribe to this blog to receive new posts when they are published