The Law – do or die!

Someone sent us interesting questions about the Old Testament laws that circulate on the web.   The questions are very amusing, but we want to attempt to answer some of them logically from Scripture, with the help of the Holy Spirit, in the next few blogs.  Here follows the circular:

Dear Dr. Laura,

Thank you for doing so much to educate people regarding God’s Law.  I have learned a great deal from your show, and I try to share that knowledge with as many people as I can.  When someone tries to defend the homosexual lifestyle, for example, I simply remind him that Leviticus 18:22 clearly states it to be an abomination.  End of debate.

I do need some advice from you, however, regarding some of the specific laws and how to best follow them.

a) Animal sacrifices.  When I burn a bull on the altar as a sacrifice, I know it creates a pleasing odor for the Lord (Lev 1:9).  The problem is my neighbors.  They claim the odor is not pleasing to them.  Should I smite them?

b) Selling daughters as slave girls.  I would like to sell my daughter into slavery, as sanctioned in Exodus 21:7.  In this day and age, what do you think would be a fair price for her?

c) Women’s menstruation.  I know that I am allowed no contact with a woman while she is in her period of menstrual uncleanliness (Lev 15:19-24).  The problem is, how do I tell?  I have tried asking, but most women take offense.

d) Non Israelite slaves.  Lev. 25:44 states that I may indeed possess slaves, both male and female, provided they are purchased from neighboring nations.  A friend of mine claims that this applies to Mexicans, but not Canadians.  Can you clarify?  Why can’t I own Canadians?

e) Sabbath breaker.  I have a neighbor who insists on working on the Sabbath.  Exodus 35:2 clearly states he should be put to death.  Am I morally obligated to kill him myself?

f) Abominations.  A friend of mine feels that even though eating shellfish is an Abomination (Lev 11:10), it is a lesser abomination than homosexuality.  I don’t agree.  Can you settle this?

g) Blindness.  Lev 21:20 states that I may not approach the altar of God [to offer sacrifices] if I have a defect in my sight [am blind].  I have to admit that I wear reading glasses.  Does my vision have to be 20/20, or is there some wiggle room here?

h) Hair cut of short sides.  Most of my male friends get their hair trimmed, including the hair around their temples, even though this is expressly forbidden by Lev 19:27.  How should they die?

i) Carcasses of unclean animals.  I know from Lev 11:6-8 that touching the skin of a dead pig makes me unclean, but may I still play football if I wear gloves?

j) Mixed seeds and fabrics.  My uncle has a farm.  He violates Lev 19:19 by planting two different crops in the same field, as does his wife by wearing garments made of two different kinds of thread (cotton/polyester blend).  He also tends to curse and blaspheme a lot.  Is it really necessary that we go to all the trouble of getting the whole town together to stone them? (Lev 24:10-16) Couldn’t we just burn them to death at a private family affair like we do with people who sleep with their in-laws? (Lev. 20:14)

I know you have studied these things extensively, so I am confident you can help.

Thank you again for reminding us that God’s word is eternal and unchanging.

Your devoted disciple and adoring fan.

The questions beautifully demonstrate the confusion about the Old Testament laws: what do they have to do with us and why are they in the Bible?



Confusion about the Old Testament Law

There is a lot of confusion about the Old Testament Law (for example, Law and NTExodus 20-23) and how to apply it today. Atheists love to poke fun at it. One mockingly asked, ‘How much should I charge for my daughter if I want to sell her into slavery?’ How does one answer that?

The Old Testament Law was a special ‘deal,’ or covenant, that God made with the Israelites, to which they agreed. So the question is, why are these ‘obsolete’ laws in the Bible if they don’t apply to us? The reasons are:

  • The history of the Israelites in the Old Testament shows that they couldn’t keep God’s covenant. God proved that people are unable to please Him with laws. Scripture says, ‘Therefore no one will be declared righteous in His sight by observing the law…’ 1 [this is very important – see the following point].
  • People could not keep the Law, so God gave His ‘solution,’ namely His Son. Jesus changes people’s hearts, and the Holy Spirit gives the power to live in a relationship with God. 2
  • Thus the function of the Old Testament Law is to show how important Jesus is, ’…No one comes to the Father except through Me.’ 3

Despite that, the Old Testament Law remains controversial. How do we answer the criticisms of God’s enemies, like the stoning of a Sabbath breaker? 4  The answer is to look at the New Testament. If a law is found in both Testaments, we can regard it as binding on Christians today. For example:

  • We are told to love God in Deuteronomy 6:4.  Jesus repeats it: ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ 5  So Christians are to keep that law today.
  • The Old Testament forbids eating pork.6 The New Testament declares all food clean in the vision that Peter saw.7  To make the message clear, it is repeated three times. So pork is not forbidden today.
  • Both the Old and New Testaments forbid adultery. The Old Testament command remains binding.
  • The Old Testament forbids working on the Sabbath.9 In Colossians 2:16-17 the Sabbath is seen as a shadow of the things to come. The reality is found in Jesus. In addition, the Jerusalem Council did not impose Sabbath keeping on the Gentiles.10 Today we will not kill a person who works on the Sabbath (Saturday).
  • Slavery is a special case. Both Testaments have instructions about it, but common sense will help. Contrary to the times when the Bible was written, slavery has largely disappeared.  The commands about slaves are not applicable.11


When you investigate both Testaments, it is clear which laws still stand. That might help to answer atheists and skeptics who claim every Old Testament law is binding today.


  1. Romans 3:20a
  2. Jeremiah 31:31
  3. John 14:6b
  4. Numbers 15:32-36
  5. Mark 12:30
  6. Leviticus 11:7
  7. Acts 10:10-16
  8. Exodus 20:14: Galatians 5:19
  9. Exodus 20:8-11
  10. Acts 15:19-20; see also Romans 14:5
  11. Colossians 3:22-25; 4:1

Did God change His tune?

Law given at Sinai Stan Adermann posted a comment on Stone the Rebellious Child, on 7 March, 2014. It consisted of two parts:

1. ’Even though the laws don’t apply now, there was a point in time where God declared that the proper thing to do was to murder your children in a horrific way, according to the Bible. If Yahweh of the O.T. is the same as the Father of Jesus in the N.T., why can he not be held accountable for those who died on his command?’

Did God change His tune from Yahweh in the Old Testament, to the Father of Jesus in the New Testament? In the Old Testament the Israelites agreed to enter into a covenant with God, The people all responded together, ‘We will do everything the Lord has said.’1 The laws of God determined many aspects of Israelite society, like Hebrew servants, personal injuries, protection of property, social responsibility, and many more.

The question is, is God responsible for the people who were killed because they broke the covenant? For example, the Sabbath breaker.3 The Bible doesn’t record a specific rebellious son who was stoned. The person who was stoned knew the law and agreed to it.

What the question amounts to is: If a government changed the law of capital punishment to life imprisonment, are they responsible for the deaths of the murderers who were affected by the former law? Surely the citizens knew about the law. Was the death sentence not enacted to keep law and order in the country?

2. Stan’s other issue: ‘Also, a common Christian claim is that morals are unchanging because they come from God. But one can argue that this is an example of God changing his mind. What was moral for one group at one time, is not moral now, and on this basis morals do change.’

God demonstrated in the O.T. that nations and individuals cannot obey laws and live holy lives as He wants them to. This issued in the promise of a new covenant, a new way of dealing with disobedience through Jesus the Messiah.4

While it superficially appears as if God changed His tune, He did not. The most important law in the Old Testament was, Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul and with all your strength.5  In the New Testament Jesus agreed that it was still the most important law.6

There are people who think when you accept Jesus, your sins are forgiven, so you can live as you like, because your place in heaven is booked. That is totally, completely wrong. Jesus made the application of the law more stringent in the new covenant. For example, in the Old Testament adultery in Israel was forbidden. In the New Testament Jesus said if you look lustfully at a woman, you have already committed adultery with her in your heart.7 Jesus recommended drastic measures to help you keep the law. Although judgement was not as immediate as in the covenant with Israel, judgment was still very much part of Jesus’ message.8

God never changes His tune. The morals remain the same, love God and your neighbour.


  1. Exodus 19:8
  2. Exodus 21-23
  3. Numbers 15:32-36
  4. Jeremiah 31:31
  5. Deuteronomy 6:4,5
  6. Matthew 22:37
  7. Matthew 5:27-30
  8. Matthew 5:29-30; 7:21-23; 13:41
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