Trying to understand the Law!

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timmopussycat

Puritan Board Junior
Is it right thinking to say that the whole of the Moral Law is summarized in the Ten Commandments?

The Westminster Divines took great care when they defined the Moral Law. They defined it as the "law given to Adam...which....bound him and all his posterity to personal, entire, exact and perpetual obedience ...and...this law after his fall...was delivered by God upon mount Sinai in ten commandments."
(WCF 19:1,2)

This statement is generally held to define the entire moral law as the ten commandments: no more and no less.

It is sometimes argued from WLC Q 98's use of "summarily comprehended" to describe the moral law that the summary of the moral law provided by the decalogue is somehow incomplete and that to understand the full moral law, we must include, as well as the decalogue, stipulations drawn from Moses but not within the decalogue itself. Usually it is argued that these stipulations are what are usually called civil laws.

Unfortunately for this argument, the words chosen by the Divines make it impossible. The contemporary (17th century) definitions of both summarily and comprehended do not allow for incompleteness in the the subject summarized or comprehended: completeness in the subject summarized or comprehended is a given.

Here are the definitions of the words involved from the Oxford English dictionary 17th century usages.

“Summarily” - “in a summary or compendious manner; chiefly of statement, in few words, compendiously, briefly.”
“compendiously” then meant: “containing the substance within small compass, concise, succinct, summary; comprehensive though brief; esp. of literary works; also of their authors.”
“comprehended”: To grasp with the mind, conceive fully or adequately, understand, ‘take in’. (App. the earliest sense in English.) ….To lay hold of all the points of (any thing) and include them within the compass of a description or expression; to embrace or describe summarily; summarize; sum up.... To include or comprise in a treatise or discourse: now more usually said of the book, etc.... To include in the same category....To enclose or include in or within limits...To enclose or have within it; to contain; to lie around.

Webster's helpfully adds this: "understood" or "included" as in "education comprehends the training of many kinds of ability from the Latin comprehendere," (a meaning well known to the Divines who had all received their University instruction in Latin).
 

Christusregnat

Puritan Board Professor
This statement is generally held to define the entire moral law as the ten commandments: no more and no less.

It is sometimes argued from WLC Q 98's use of "summarily comprehended" to describe the moral law that the summary of the moral law provided by the decalogue is somehow incomplete and that to understand the full moral law, we must include, as well as the decalogue, stipulations drawn from Moses but not within the decalogue itself. Usually it is argued that these stipulations are what are usually called civil laws.

This is an interesting thought. Are you saying that the Moral Law, according to westminster, is limited to the specific sins prohibited or duties required?

Adam
 

satz

Puritan Board Senior
Can you tell me what you think this would look like with tattoos, only b/c that is a good example, not b/c I really want to debate tats. Would tattoos also be, "if not meat, how much less tattoos?" Or is there another way to determine that that is still a binding law. (TRULY, I am not wanting to debate that. As far as I can tell, it was tattoos to commemorate the dead, anyway. I just want to see a specific thing go through this system. Since you said it allowed for clothing, without a specific mention, do you think it also allows for tattoos, or how about beards, or...)

I’ll give it another go. My conclusion is different from Adam’s, although I thought we started off from the same place. I agree there is a principle we can understand in the NT that a physical thing is (generally) not inherently evil.

In the OT, pork was inherently unclean and forbidden. Clothing made from certain material was inherently forbidden. Those kinds of commands purely based on the physical attributes of items have, for the most part passed away. Now it is the abuse of physical items that is wrong. So in the NT pork is perfectly fine, but it can still be used for gluttony. Clothing cannot be forbidden simply because of the material it is made of or its color, but it is wrong if it is immodest.

I would say that this is indeed a boarder principle that is expressed in the NT. Jesus said that purely physical actions (like eating food or not washing hands) cannot defile a person.

From these principles I believe that simply marking your flesh with ink or anything else cannot be inherently wrong, for it is a purely physical action. Marking your flesh for the dead is wrong, and is the true sense of Lev 19:28. Marking your flesh in an immodest or extravagant way would be wrong. Marking your flesh in conformity to idolatry, paganism (as in for the dead) or worldliness (as some argued in the tattoo thread) would be wrong.

But marking your flesh in and of itself is not wrong. I would differ from Adam in that to me, ink, just like clothing and food is neutral. What you do with it is not neutral, but I see no principle in the bible that you may not do so to your flesh. In this respect, if we look at the text of Lev 19:28, it seems to me as an Israelite under the OT I could cut my flesh, so long as it was not for the dead (I’am ready to withdraw that, if I am given bible evidence why that would not be so). That is not an argument for tattoos, but in principle, I see no sin in body – how shall I put it – modification as long as the rules of modesty and not associating with idolatry are obeyed.

The NT’s proclamation that the body is God’s temple has a very specific context – fornication. There is no direct application to tattoos.

As another principle I see in the bible, adornment is allowed and even commendable, if it remains within the limits of modesty – as we see in clothes, perfume, jewelry (including earrings, which required some form of cutting the flesh).

So from those two principles – 1) adornment is allowed, 2) a purely physical thing is not wrong, I see at this point in time no evil in marking yourself in a modest, non-religious manner.

Just for emphasis, that was not meant to be an argument for tattoos. I think the arguments in the other thread regarding the appearance of evil are very worthy of consideration. But so far I think it is misapplying verses to say tattoos are inherently forbidden in the law of God.
 

Christusregnat

Puritan Board Professor

From third mil:

Furthermore, Theonomy fails to take into account the situational changes brought about by the coming of Christ in the application of the Mosaic law to the church. The Mosaic law was accommodated to the Israelites living in the theocracy of Israel. The church is the fulfillment of the Old Testament theocracy. Yet as a result of the coming of Christ, the Kingdom of God has been disenfranchised to include both Jews and Gentiles (Eph. 2:14-16). This situational change in the Kingdom of God necessitates a change in the way the law is applied to lives of believers.

This is a misstatement. Theonomy, as noted above, does not deny that the moral law has applicability to ecclesiastical government; what we deny is that the assertion of the law's sanction against incest in the church means that the law's sanction against incest in the state is abrogated. It is not. Any more than Paul's teaching against theft, or John's demand of restitution to private individuals means that the civil power should not punish theft as God requires in the judicials. Assertion of self-government can't be interpreted as a denial of church government; assertion of church government can't be interpreted as a denial of civil government. Paul addressed the church; Moses addressed the magistrate.

Cheers,

Adam
 

timmopussycat

Puritan Board Junior
This statement is generally held to define the entire moral law as the ten commandments: no more and no less.

It is sometimes argued from WLC Q 98's use of "summarily comprehended" to describe the moral law that the summary of the moral law provided by the decalogue is somehow incomplete and that to understand the full moral law, we must include, as well as the decalogue, stipulations drawn from Moses but not within the decalogue itself. Usually it is argued that these stipulations are what are usually called civil laws.

This is an interesting thought. Are you saying that the Moral Law, according to westminster, is limited to the specific sins prohibited or duties required?

Adam

I am saying that the WCF defines the term "the moral law" as the Decalogue. If the specific sins prohibited or duties required can be shown to be good and necessary consequences of the decalogue than they are prohibited or required. But the Divines' word choices exclude anything outside the decalogue from being understood as "the moral law" as WCF 19:1,2 defines it.

That said, certain Mosaic stipulations that are not ceremonial and abolished "may require" today because the "general equity therof" is still applicable. As they will be righteous and just laws, such stipulations may be properly called "moral" because of their inherent justice, but their inherent morality does not include them within "the moral law" as defined by WCF 19:1,2.
 
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Christusregnat

Puritan Board Professor
This is an interesting thought. Are you saying that the Moral Law, according to westminster, is limited to the specific sins prohibited or duties required?

Adam

I am saying that the WCF idenfies "the Moral law" as the Decalogue. If the specific sins prohibited or duties required can be shown to be good and necessary consequences of the decalogue than they are prohibited or required. But the Divines word choice excludes anthing outside the decalogue from being understood as "THE moral law".
That said, certain Mosaic stipulations that are not ceremonial and abolished "may require" today because the "general equity therof" is still applicable. Such stipulations when instituted as laws are laws form laws that are moral, but they are not "the moral law" as the term is defined by WCF 19:1,2.

So then, the Moral Law is only the 10 Cmds, and any other laws are based on general equity, or the "good and necessary consequces" of the Moral Law? Or is there a difference between GE and G&NC in your mind?

Cheers,

Adam
 

timmopussycat

Puritan Board Junior
This is an interesting thought. Are you saying that the Moral Law, according to westminster, is limited to the specific sins prohibited or duties required?

Adam

I am saying that the WCF idenfies "the Moral law" as the Decalogue. If the specific sins prohibited or duties required can be shown to be good and necessary consequences of the decalogue than they are prohibited or required. But the Divines word choice excludes anthing outside the decalogue from being understood as "THE moral law".
That said, certain Mosaic stipulations that are not ceremonial and abolished "may require" today because the "general equity therof" is still applicable. Such stipulations when instituted as laws are laws form laws that are moral, but they are not "the moral law" as the term is defined by WCF 19:1,2.

So then, the Moral Law is only the 10 Cmds, and any other laws are based on general equity, or the "good and necessary consequces" of the Moral Law? Or is there a difference between GE and G&NC in your mind?

Cheers,

Adam


There is some overlap in meaning but there is also a significant difference between G&NC and GE which is a narrower version of G&NC. The concept of general equity appears to have been formulated in English legal circles well before the WCF to achieve a specific end, that of applying a legal principle to a context in which it did not, as given originally, apply. General equity in the Confession is the tool by which we determine whether or not a given Mosaic civil law applies today. Does the law remain biblically just in the changed covenantal circumstances of the new Covenant? If yes, it applies if no, it does not.

G&NC is a tool of logical reasoning and not a specific legal concept. It applies to all types of premise-conclusion relationships where the conclusion can be demonstrated to be not only a possible inference from the premises but the demonstratably necessary conclusion from the premises, i.e., the premises logically force that conclusion and no other conclusion is possible. If it is a provably good and necessary consequence from the data that a Mosaic civil law remains just in today's covenantal circumstances then that law's general equity may be said to apply today.
 

TimV

Puritanboard Botanist
The laws against eating pork, fat, road kill, snake liver etc... fell under the Commandment You shall not kill. I can't imagine anyone denying that at the very least those things were dangerous to eat during those times, so eating them would tend to harm the eater.

Maybe there were spiritual aspects as well. I don't know. A certain someone with the initials g and n once said something mocking about the Chalcedon diet while ordering "bait" at a restaurant. After his heart attack he let up a bit on the joking.
 

BobVigneault

Bawberator
Hey Jessica, you're so nice! Thanks for trying so hard to not bring up tats again. I'm glad you did though. It's a great example to aid in the answers you are seeking. I've no problem with that because it's really not a debate about tats. Please feel free to bring them up all you need to.

Really, you are very sweet and a genuinely nice person, I am so glad you are here (tat and all!). Furthermore, it would be my privilege to defend your character anytime, anywhere to anyone. You have a legion of big brothers on the PB and if anyone picks on you, they pick on us.... AT THEIR OWN PERIL!!!!!!! Blessings little sister.
 

Christusregnat

Puritan Board Professor
Hey Jessica, you're so nice! Thanks for trying so hard to not bring up tats again. I'm glad you did though. It's a great example to aid in the answers you are seeking. I've no problem with that because it's really not a debate about tats. Please feel free to bring them up all you need to.

Really, you are very sweet and a genuinely nice person, I am so glad you are here (tat and all!). Furthermore, it would be my privilege to defend your character anytime, anywhere to anyone. You have a legion of big brothers on the PB and if anyone picks on you, they pick on us.... AT THEIR OWN PERIL!!!!!!! Blessings little sister.

:up:

:wwbd:
 

Contra_Mundum

Pilgrim, Alien, Stranger
Staff member
Jessica,
I wasn't meaning for you to take my comments as a rebuke for asking, or anything like it. It was sincere attempt to simplify your quest, not complicate your life.

I reject the idea--as something utterly unintended by the Westminster divines (in the main), or Calvin, or Rutherford--that you must find a specific NT warrant for ignoring a particular OT ordinance as LAW unto you. I think you need to find a moral reason for why a particular law MUST be law unto you, a complete inversion of the other principle.

Otherwise, you have not been freed from that "bondage." And as Rutherford said, if you obey even ONE of those laws as given by Moses because it was given to Moses, you have become a debtor to keep it whole and entire. This is the argument of the Apostle Paul in the book of Galatians, and I urge you, strenuously, to consider the wisdom of adopting the precept: that you need specific warrants to lay any of them aside.

You already have the general precept that they have been swept aside wholesale. This is the Confession's teaching. The 10C remain, since they were always considered (even by Moses and Israel) as unique (Ex.34:28).

This is a serious issue. Do you want to wear that yoke?
 

shackleton

Puritan Board Junior
Did the Jews at the time the Law was originally given see a distinction between the moral, ceremonial and civil or did they see it all as one law? I have heard that the distinction was something invented not that long ago for a theological purpose.
 

Contra_Mundum

Pilgrim, Alien, Stranger
Staff member
Ex.34:28 is prima facie evidence that those Ten Words were accorded unique status, cf. Dt.10:1-4.

God wrote them with his own finger. That was "special" (to put it mildly).

A whole category of the Law was inapplicable to the majority of Israelites. Or, to be more specific, they participated in the service of God vicariously, for the most part. There were particular ways in which a "general priesthood" was designated upon the whole body, see Ex.19:6; Dt.14:2; 26:18. And the laws of separation and ceremony and peculiarity of dress and diet--these all were extensions of the Levite-laws.

Its a pretty "extreme" position to say that Israel couldn't tell the differences themselves.

So, to say that this tripartite distinction is mere sophistry and a late invention is itself a product of a (recent) rejection of the "whole-Scripture" witness to the Christian religion, basically (as I read it) a NCT or dispensational approach that restricts the Christian relevance of the Bible to the New Testament.

Personally, I agree with those who think that it is largely concerned with getting rid of the Sabbath commandment. Every other provision of the moral law they find warrant for in the NT (of course they ignore what Jesus taught on the Sabbath, I guess since he hadn't died yet--so really they only care about the NT either starting with Acts).

So in the last analysis, they just want to watch football, or go fishing on Sunday. "So look, I found out the Bible actually says its OK. And you're a legalist."
 

NaphtaliPress

Administrator
Staff member
This is of course the teaching of Westminster Confession of Faith 19; it is found in Acquinas but goes back further according to Louis Igou Hodges, to Justin Martyr (d. c. 162 A.D.) for which he doesn't provide a citation (any help DTK?). Citing the WCF Hodges writes:

This distinction between moral, the ceremonial, and the civil law, far from being novel, was a reaffirmation of the teaching of Calvin1 and early church fathers like Justin Martyr. It is also found in less developed form in the writings of certain first and second century (A.D.) rabbis.2
1. John Calvin, Institutes of the Christian Religion 4.20.15.
2. Walter C. Kaiser, Jr. "The Weightier and Lighter Matters of the Law: Moses, Jesus and Paul," Current Issues in Biblical and Patristic Intterpretation (ed. G. F. Hawthorne; Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1975) 181. Walter C. Kaiser, Jr., Toward Old Testament Ethics (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1983) 44-45.
Louis Igou Hodges, A Defense of the Tripartite Understanding of the Law Articulated in "The Westminster Confession." Columbia Biblical Seminary. Evangelical Philosophical Society, November, 1990.

Did the Jews at the time the Law was originally given see a distinction between the moral, ceremonial and civil or did they see it all as one law? I have heard that the distinction was something invented not that long ago for a theological purpose.
 

Prufrock

Arbitrary Moderation
If I had to step out on a limb, I think the place in Justin he has to be referring to is the Dialogue With Trypho (approx. chs 10-47). I don't know of any place in Justin where he makes the distinction with the words moral, civil, judicial explicitly, but the moral/"ceremonial" distinction is certainly there in substance. Here is a quote from ch. 46:
And I said, “I know that Abraham and his descendants were circumcised. The reason why circumcision was given to them I stated at length in what has gone before; and if what has been said does not convince you, let us again search into the matter. But you are aware that, up to Moses, no one in fact who was righteous observed any of these rites at all of which we are talking, or received one commandment to observe, except that of circumcision, which began from Abraham.”

And he replied, “We know it, and admit that they are saved.”

Then I returned answer, “You perceive that God by Moses laid all such ordinances upon you on account of the hardness of your people’s hearts, in order that, by the large number of them, you might keep God continually, and in every action, before your eyes, and never begin to act unjustly or impiously. For He enjoined you to place around you [a fringe] of purple dye, in order that you might not forget God; and He commanded you to wear a phylactery, certain characters, which indeed we consider holy, being engraved on very thin parchment; and by these means stirring you up to retain a constant remembrance of God: at the same time, however, convincing you, that in your hearts you have not even a faint remembrance of God’s worship. Yet not even so were you dissuaded from idolatry: for in the times of Elijah, when [God] recounted the number of those who had not bowed the knee to Baal, He said the number was seven thousand; and in Isaiah He rebukes you for having sacrificed your children to idols. But we, because we refuse to sacrifice to those to whom we were of old accustomed to sacrifice, undergo extreme penalties, and rejoice in death,—believing that God will raise us up by His Christ, and will make us incorruptible, and undisturbed, and immortal; and we know that the ordinances imposed by reason of the hardness of your people’s hearts, contribute nothing to the performance of righteousness and of piety.”

He argues throughout that some laws had nothing inherently to do with righteousness, as they were never done by many who were righteous.

If there is something I have passed over in Justin which is more pertinent, I apologize: hopefully someone more versed in patristics will supply what I have lacked.
 
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timmopussycat

Puritan Board Junior
I reject the idea--as something utterly unintended by the Westminster divines (in the main), or Calvin, or Rutherford--that you must find a specific NT warrant for ignoring a particular OT ordinance as LAW unto you. I think you need to find a moral reason for why a particular law MUST be law unto you, a complete inversion of the other principle.

Otherwise, you have not been freed from that "bondage." And as Rutherford said, if you obey even ONE of those laws as given by Moses because it was given to Moses, you have become a debtor to keep it whole and entire. This is the argument of the Apostle Paul in the book of Galatians, and I urge you, strenuously, to consider the wisdom of adopting the precept: that you need specific warrants to lay any of them aside.

Query: I'm confused; did you perhaps miss out a couple of words in your last sentence? Should it not end "precept: and reject the idea that you need specific warrants..." ? Otherwise you seem to be contradicting yourself.
 

Christusregnat

Puritan Board Professor
I reject the idea--as something utterly unintended by the Westminster divines (in the main), or Calvin, or Rutherford--that you must find a specific NT warrant for ignoring a particular OT ordinance as LAW unto you. I think you need to find a moral reason for why a particular law MUST be law unto you, a complete inversion of the other principle.

Rev. Buchanan, is it a moral command to baptize your children? If so, where in the NT do you have a command to do so? If not, how can you teach anyone that God requires them to do so? Or do you not teach them this? Do you at all base your commands (if you don't call them that, that's fine; if you require it to be done as an act of obedience, it is a command) for members of your church to have their children baptized on the institution of circumcision? If so, isn't Paul's argument actually about circumcision in Galatians, and doesn't that make your congregants debtors to keep the whole law? If not, would you say that Calvin's arguments from circumcision to baptism are judaizing?

Otherwise, you have not been freed from that "bondage." And as Rutherford said, if you obey even ONE of those laws as given by Moses because it was given to Moses, you have become a debtor to keep it whole and entire. This is the argument of the Apostle Paul in the book of Galatians, and I urge you, strenuously, to consider the wisdom of adopting the precept: that you need specific warrants to lay any of them aside.

I believe that it is irresponsible, at least, to say that assuming continuity in the laws is damnable (that is what you're saying by lumping it in with the Galatian heresy). Perhaps we could look at more quotations from some other of Rutherford's writings. For instance, when he asserted the rightness of executing sodomites, adulterers, seducers to idolatry, etc. Of course no one has to obey the Mosaic law because it was given to Moses. Rutherford explains elsewhere:

That which is moral, and cannot be determined by the wisdom and will of man, must be determined by the revealed will of God in his word; but the punishment of a seducing Prophet, that ruins the soul of our brother, and makes him twofold more the child of Satan than before, is moral and cannot be determined by the wisdom and will of man: Ergo, such a pun-ishing of a seducing Prophet, must be by the revealed will of God in his word. The proposition is proved 1. Because God only, not Moses, nor any other law-giver under him, takes on him to determine death to be the adulterer’s punishment, Lev. 20:10. And the same he determines to be the punishment of wilful murder, Exodus 21:12, of smiting of the Father or Mother, verse 15, of Man-stealing, verse 16, of Sorcery, Exodus 22:18, of Bestiality, verse 19, of sacrificing to a strange God, verse 10. And upon the same reason, God only, not any mortal man, must deter-mine the punishment due to such as seduce souls to eternal perdition. For what reason can be imagined, why God can be the only determiner of such a punishment of killing, and not for the ruining the soul and making him the child of perdition. Samuel Rutherford, A Free Disputation Against Pretended Liberty of Conscience, p. 206

Do you believe that seducers to idolators, man-stealers, smiters of fathers and mothers, etc. ought to be executed? You ought to. And you ought to, not because Moses said so; not on human authority!!! No, but on God Almighty's authority. Furthermore, what did Rutherford mean by "judicial laws"?

Idolatry is to be punished by the judge, and that by the testimony of Job, who was obliged to observe no judicial law, but only the law moral and the law of nature.

Note that punishment for idolatry was NOT part of the judicial law, but part of the moral law. Therefore, if you'd like to re-read your quotation from Rutherford in light of his use of "judicial law" you may find that you are fighting a strawman, as no theonomist claims that nations must now obey these judicials, any further than the general equity may require. We don't require "lock, stock, and barrel". We require a presumption of continuity, which (lo and behold) means that "he who is punishable by death in the Old Covenant is punishable by death now" to quote from Gillespie and Piscator.

You already have the general precept that they have been swept aside wholesale. This is the Confession's teaching. The 10C remain, since they were always considered (even by Moses and Israel) as unique (Ex.34:28).

This is a serious issue. Do you want to wear that yoke?

I'm not sure how something having an ongoing obligation to obey its underlying equity is equivalent to something being "swept aside wholesale". Indeed, the ceremonial law has been "swept aside wholesale"; it has been abrogated. There is not "general equity" of the ceremonies. The same cannot be said of the judicials.

Cheers,

Adam
 

ChristianTrader

Puritan Board Graduate
I reject the idea--as something utterly unintended by the Westminster divines (in the main), or Calvin, or Rutherford--that you must find a specific NT warrant for ignoring a particular OT ordinance as LAW unto you. I think you need to find a moral reason for why a particular law MUST be law unto you, a complete inversion of the other principle.

Otherwise, you have not been freed from that "bondage." And as Rutherford said, if you obey even ONE of those laws as given by Moses because it was given to Moses, you have become a debtor to keep it whole and entire. This is the argument of the Apostle Paul in the book of Galatians, and I urge you, strenuously, to consider the wisdom of adopting the precept: that you need specific warrants to lay any of them aside.

Query: I'm confused; did you perhaps miss out a couple of words in your last sentence? Should it not end "precept: and reject the idea that you need specific warrants..." ? Otherwise you seem to be contradicting yourself.

I think Bruce is saying consider the wisdom of doing such a thing. As in think very carefully before you accept such a position. He is not endorsing it.

CT
 

Scott1

Puritanboard Commissioner
I've rated this thread a "5" out of "5"

Excellent.

Great job Jessica, Adam, Reverend Buchanan, many others providing information to help people biblically search out a difficult application.

Very helpful in clarifying biblical issues and a charitable presentation of different ways of looking at this- and creating a thread people can refer back to.
 

satz

Puritan Board Senior
The laws against eating pork, fat, road kill, snake liver etc... fell under the Commandment You shall not kill. I can't imagine anyone denying that at the very least those things were dangerous to eat during those times, so eating them would tend to harm the eater.

Maybe there were spiritual aspects as well. I don't know. A certain someone with the initials g and n once said something mocking about the Chalcedon diet while ordering "bait" at a restaurant. After his heart attack he let up a bit on the joking.

I don't think I have ever seen this position before.

I agree that those things were probably harmful healthwise. But is there any indication that health was God's reason for giving those laws?

If those laws are really under the sixth commandment, wouldn't they still be applicable now?
 

TimV

Puritanboard Botanist
I agree that those things were probably harmful healthwise. But is there any indication that health was God's reason for giving those laws?
I had someone once tell me that God said you can't eat fat because it was the best part of the meat and God didn't want to share it! Most of the other reasons (other than health) that I've heard make as little sense.

I heard a sermon not too long ago by an intern who was young and rather chubby. He say while wearing a Knowing Grin "I hope none of you see anything wrong with a bacon cheese burger" and I thought to my self that a couple months of Levitical diet would not be wasted on the fellow.

If those laws are really under the sixth commandment, wouldn't they still be applicable now?
To me the dietary laws fall under the good advice category. Like the neighbor I've mentioned before with the alfalfa farm in Africa. He wouldn't round the corners of his field, and allowed the poor locals to harvest the corners, which allowed them to keep milk goats in the 4 inch rainfall per year desert we were in.

So, you have two neighbors. One kept the law to let the poor harvest the corners of his field, the other didn't. 10 years before Christ rose from the dead no one reading this would argue that the one was in sin and the other was acting virtuously.

Now, 10 years after Christ rose from the dead, what do you say about them? I'd say one was acting virtuously and the other wasn't necessarily sinning, but it would depend on circumstance. Christian liberty, location, etc....But one is still acting better, wiser, whatever than the other. The same with the guy who uses lot of lard in his cooking.

And the same thing for a guy who kills female birds in nesting season while hunting, or builds a two story house with a flat roof and doesn't spend the time and money to put up a guard rail.

And of course the same with a tattoo. Neither the Church nor the State has a right to punish someone for getting a tattoo, and we have to leave the possibility open that in some cases (got one in ignorance, etc..) having one isn't a sin. But it's safe to say that the one guy who follows the law is acting wiser, more virtuously, whatever than the guy who doesn't.
 

Contra_Mundum

Pilgrim, Alien, Stranger
Staff member
...This is the argument of the Apostle Paul in the book of Galatians, and I urge you, strenuously, to consider the wisdom of adopting the precept: that you need specific warrants to lay any of them aside.

Query: I'm confused; did you perhaps miss out a couple of words in your last sentence? Should it not end "precept: and reject the idea that you need specific warrants..." ? Otherwise you seem to be contradicting yourself.

What I meant to convey was that it is the wisdom of that precept that I am calling into question. That is to say: consider whether, in fact, it is WISE at all.
 

Semper Fidelis

2 Timothy 2:24-25
Staff member
Jessica,

As usual, I find Bruce's comments to be very pastoral and wise.

I won't try to improve but just to give another way of looking at this.

It helps to understand the purpose of the Law even in its moral precepts. When we understand that the substance of even the OT was Christ and that the ceremonial aspects were given to point people to Christ then we have less a tendency to dwell upon the ceremonies and look to Who they are pointing.

Likewise, even some moral precepts are worked out in civil aspects with the nation of Israel. Some of these "codes" were rooted back in something moral but they were presented as "Do's" and "Dont's" that were appropriate to that time.

Something that Calvin draws out that is helpful is the note that Paul writes about the OT community being under a tutor. They were told what to do, as it were, even as a child has to be told when to get up, when to brush his teeth, don't put your finger in that light socket, etc.

Even under this yoke, this period was meant to prepare them for Christ but, often, rules have a way of being an end to themselves. Instead of looking at what the design behind all these restrictions and commandments is, some begin to create a fence around the law itself and make the keeping of a precept an end to itself without any reference to the reason for it. It's sort of like listening to a kid give the reason why he's not to take his sister's toy: "Because Daddy told me not to." Certainly true, but maturity demands that he grow to understand why Daddy wants him to share and to desire to share.

The end of the Law is love of God and love of neighbor. The yoke that we can enslave ourselves into is a formula where we continually ask: how far will I go before I am going to break God's Law? It's sort of like the kid that wants to know how far he's allowed to reach his hand forward toward the light socket before he's disobeying a father's command to keep away from sockets.

But if you try to remember that the Law is given to reveal the character of God to us then it is helpful because then we're not merely asking the "...when have I crossed over that line..." question.

From the WLC:
Q. 95. Of what use is the moral law to all men?
A. The moral law is of use to all men, to inform them of the holy nature and the will of God,404 and of their duty, binding them to walk accordingly;405 to convince them of their disability to keep it, and of the sinful pollution of their nature, hearts, and lives:406 to humble them in the sense of their sin and misery,407 and thereby help them to a clearer sight of the need they have of Christ,408 and of the perfection of his obedience.409
Q. 96. What particular use is there of the moral law to unregenerate men?
A. The moral law is of use to unregenerate men, to awaken their consciences to flee from wrath to come,410 and to drive them to Christ;411 or, upon their continuance in the estate and way of sin, to leave them inexcusable,412 and under the curse thereof.413
Q. 97. What special use is there of the moral law to the regenerate?
A. Although they that are regenerate, and believe in Christ, be delivered from the moral law as a covenant of works,414 so as thereby they are neither justified415 nor condemned;416 yet, besides the general uses thereof common to them with all men, it is of special use, to show them how much they are bound to Christ for his fulfilling it, and enduring the curse thereof in their stead, and for their good;417 and thereby to provoke them to more thankfulness,418 and to express the same in their greater care to conform themselves thereunto as the rule of their obedience.419

Think of the Prodigal Son. His elder brother is outside lecturing his father about how obedient he is and, therefore, the father owes blessing and presents. The Prodigal Son has received everything on free grace. He knows what pleases his father. If his father is offended by a particular action or manner of dress he's not going to be worried that he'll be kicked out of the house but his newfound love for his father, on the basis of his forgiveness, will make him desire the things that his father loves. It's no longer a "I don't dress that way because Father tells me not to" but "I don't dress that way because I love my Father."

Obviously, this is a somewhat simple presentation but the idea that we obey because we love God can be turned into "Law" but if we try to remember that laws are given for more than a simple "what are the boundaries before I break them" then we start to embarking on a quest for wisdom according to a love for Christ.
 

he beholds

Puritan Board Doctor
I agree that those things were probably harmful healthwise. But is there any indication that health was God's reason for giving those laws?
I had someone once tell me that God said you can't eat fat because it was the best part of the meat and God didn't want to share it! Most of the other reasons (other than health) that I've heard make as little sense.

I heard a sermon not too long ago by an intern who was young and rather chubby. He say while wearing a Knowing Grin "I hope none of you see anything wrong with a bacon cheese burger" and I thought to my self that a couple months of Levitical diet would not be wasted on the fellow.

If those laws are really under the sixth commandment, wouldn't they still be applicable now?
To me the dietary laws fall under the good advice category. Like the neighbor I've mentioned before with the alfalfa farm in Africa. He wouldn't round the corners of his field, and allowed the poor locals to harvest the corners, which allowed them to keep milk goats in the 4 inch rainfall per year desert we were in.

So, you have two neighbors. One kept the law to let the poor harvest the corners of his field, the other didn't. 10 years before Christ rose from the dead no one reading this would argue that the one was in sin and the other was acting virtuously.

Now, 10 years after Christ rose from the dead, what do you say about them? I'd say one was acting virtuously and the other wasn't necessarily sinning, but it would depend on circumstance. Christian liberty, location, etc....But one is still acting better, wiser, whatever than the other. The same with the guy who uses lot of lard in his cooking.

And the same thing for a guy who kills female birds in nesting season while hunting, or builds a two story house with a flat roof and doesn't spend the time and money to put up a guard rail.

And of course the same with a tattoo. Neither the Church nor the State has a right to punish someone for getting a tattoo, and we have to leave the possibility open that in some cases (got one in ignorance, etc..) having one isn't a sin. But it's safe to say that the one guy who follows the law is acting wiser, more virtuously, whatever than the guy who doesn't.

If these are not binding today, but are still wise for us to follow or they have now become "good advice," then I don't see how doing any of these:"guy who kills female birds in nesting season while hunting, or builds a two story house with a flat roof and doesn't spend the time and money to put up a guard rail.

And of course the same with a tattoo..." can ever be sinful, unless they are done sinfully: the guy does kills the birds, stuffs them with poison, and feeds them to his wife--which would still have nothing to do with the act of killing the bird; the guy builds the house roofless, and then sets his toddler there to play alone--again, the building of the house was not the occasion of sin; the man gets a tattoo of Christ, and for those who don't view this as sin, the man gets a tattoo of a the Lord's name as a swear word."

The tattoo was a sin b/c it displayed sinful material. Just as a T-shirt that did the same would be sinful to wear. Now a man gets a tattoo of a sweet yellow rose (I forget who did this from the other thread:)) and another man wears one on his T-shirt. I say neither are in sin. Sure, one act might be wiser, but I think to say one man is more virtuous by this fact alone, is surely an act of human judgment.

I think in reality, all of those things that you mentioned would only be sinful based on the person's heart while doing the act: If the man kills the mama bird b/c he thinks it is a sin, and wants to be a god unto himself, then he is hunting in sin. If the man kills the bird and then has bitterness toward God for not providing more than just this little female bird, then perhaps he is hunting in sin.
If the man building the roof doesn't put the frame around it because he wants to kill someone, then perhaps he is building the roof in sin. Or maybe if he doesn't do it out of sheer laziness. Or if it is the law of his municipality, and he breaks the law.
If the man getting a tattoo is doing it because he is trying to puff himself up amongst his peers, then perhaps he is getting it in sin.
I mean, we hear in Scripture, that a man eating meat makes him neither virtuous or in-virtuous. How can we say, "but to those other areas that are also no longer binding, despite all the good advice that may be gleaned from therein, a separation CAN be made."?
 

TimV

Puritanboard Botanist
I think in reality, all of those things that you mentioned would only be sinful based on the person's heart while doing the act: If the man kills the mama bird b/c he thinks it is a sin, and wants to be a god unto himself, then he is hunting in sin. If the man kills the bird and then has bitterness toward God for not providing more than just this little female bird, then perhaps he is hunting in sin.
If the man building the roof doesn't put the frame around it because he wants to kill someone, then perhaps he is building the roof in sin. Or maybe if he doesn't do it out of sheer laziness. Or if it is the law of his municipality, and he breaks the law.
If the man getting a tattoo is doing it because he is trying to puff himself up amongst his peers, then perhaps he is getting it in sin.
I mean, we hear in Scripture, that a man eating meat makes him neither virtuous or in-virtuous. How can we say, "but to those other areas that are also no longer binding, despite all the good advice that may be gleaned from therein, a separation CAN be made."?

But eating meat offered to idols doesn't change the character of the meat. It's still the same. In the case of killing a female bird in nesting season you can have, and we have had, whole species disappear. The passenger pigeon in your neck of the woods would still be here if it weren't for people ignoring the OT laws which would have preserved it. So I would say that a prohibition of killing a bird while she's nesting is a good, virtuous, wise law. But if a friend shot a turkey that was still caring for her chicks and he invited me over I'd not turn it down at dinner. I wouldn't kill the bird myself, and I may hint sometime down the road that the law was for a purpose though.

We need to avoid being human centric. God made wild life and loves it, and He gave certain laws to insure their well being. Remember the law of the 7th year Sabbath? And one of the reasons annexed to it? That wild animals had some extra food. So I don't think that a persons motive would have as much to do with the wisdom and virtuousness of that law in every case.

But in my friend's case of killing the hen, the act was already done, and he hasn't come to the same conclusion about the virtue of God's law. So I think you are right in that motive really does play a part sometimes, for sure. I think Brad's wife is a perfect example of that, and in a similar case I would would be grateful to her and just ask that it was kept covered.

Our first midwife said we shouldn't have our son circumcised since it was cruel. I wondered why she, a professing Christian, thought that God would order babies to be tortured. When our neighbor's in SA (White South Africans don't circumcise except for Jews) were baby sitting they noticed it was easier to bath our young sons. One of her kids had phimosis and after babysitting for us she had her kid circumcised and the problem cleared up.

Was she sinning in not having her sons circumcised? No. But would it have been better if she had? Usually. And you can ask yourself the same about safety railing, the animal and plant welfare laws, personal hygiene laws, etc...

Under Biblical law, you can't cut down a fruit tree during a time of war. Why? Well the goal of war is peace, and what will your enemy eat afterwards? Did Sherman sin by sowing fields with salt so they wouldn't be productive for years? Did we sin in Vietnam by using Agent Orange? I'd submit that at the very least it would have been wiser not to have done those things.
 

Contra_Mundum

Pilgrim, Alien, Stranger
Staff member
Adam,
I really don't want to get into a long discussion on theonomy. My purpose in the thread is not to persuade you away from your convictions, but to address Jessica's (and other's) specific issues. And if I have to contradict your position to do it, well then she can see there are two sides to the matter.
I reject the idea--as something utterly unintended by the Westminster divines (in the main), or Calvin, or Rutherford--that you must find a specific NT warrant for ignoring a particular OT ordinance as LAW unto you. I think you need to find a moral reason for why a particular law MUST be law unto you, a complete inversion of the other principle.
Rev. Buchanan, is it a moral command to baptize your children? If so, where in the NT do you have a command to do so? If not, how can you teach anyone that God requires them to do so? Or do you not teach them this? Do you at all base your commands (if you don't call them that, that's fine; if you require it to be done as an act of obedience, it is a command) for members of your church to have their children baptized on the institution of circumcision? If so, isn't Paul's argument actually about circumcision in Galatians, and doesn't that make your congregants debtors to keep the whole law? If not, would you say that Calvin's arguments from circumcision to baptism are judaizing?
1) In what sense are you using the word "moral"? I believe giving the sign of the covenant is an ordinance belonging to the Covenant of Grace.

2) I appeal to Gen.17 for the positive injunction. The Law that came 430 later cannot disannul the promise, nor would it obviate attendant requirements regarding the continuing Covenant of Grace embedded therein. And, now the positive stipulations respecting the ordinance of the sign of the covenant have indeed been modified under the present administration, circumcision-->baptism.

3) We're talking about the Law given to Moses. You are conflating the Law of Moses and God's command to Abraham and making them one whole thing, something I am not doing. Paul's argument in Galatians appeals to Abraham against Moses (and please do not attack my use of the term "against"; I am using it advisedly and contextually).
Otherwise, you have not been freed from that "bondage." And as Rutherford said, if you obey even ONE of those laws as given by Moses because it was given to Moses, you have become a debtor to keep it whole and entire. This is the argument of the Apostle Paul in the book of Galatians, and I urge you, strenuously, to consider the wisdom of adopting the precept: that you need specific warrants to lay any of them aside.
I believe that it is irresponsible, at least, to say that assuming continuity in the laws is damnable (that is what you're saying by lumping it in with the Galatian heresy). Perhaps we could look at more quotations from some other of Rutherford's writings. For instance, when he asserted the rightness of executing sodomites, adulterers, seducers to idolatry, etc. Of course no one has to obey the Mosaic law because it was given to Moses. Rutherford explains elsewhere:
That which is moral, and cannot be determined by the wisdom and will of man, must be determined by the revealed will of God in his word; but the punishment of a seducing Prophet, that ruins the soul of our brother, and makes him twofold more the child of Satan than before, is moral and cannot be determined by the wisdom and will of man: Ergo, such a pun-ishing of a seducing Prophet, must be by the revealed will of God in his word. The proposition is proved 1. Because God only, not Moses, nor any other law-giver under him, takes on him to determine death to be the adulterer’s punishment, Lev. 20:10. And the same he determines to be the punishment of wilful murder, Exodus 21:12, of smiting of the Father or Mother, verse 15, of Man-stealing, verse 16, of Sorcery, Exodus 22:18, of Bestiality, verse 19, of sacrificing to a strange God, verse 10. And upon the same reason, God only, not any mortal man, must deter-mine the punishment due to such as seduce souls to eternal perdition. For what reason can be imagined, why God can be the only determiner of such a punishment of killing, and not for the ruining the soul and making him the child of perdition. Samuel Rutherford, A Free Disputation Against Pretended Liberty of Conscience, p. 206
1) I won't disagree with Rutherford where he's arguing that the punishments dictated by God were as moral as anything else he ever commanded. I can't read him in context there, so I won't presume to agree or disagree with him on any other point.

2) If a modern magistrate dictates a death-penalty for any of the above offenses, you will not find me objecting to his action on some supposed moral high-ground. But it's one thing to defend some action as "moral" based on the Word of God. It's another thing entirely to propose that a different action is "immoral", imprudent, unjust, unfit, or unideal on the ground that it was not explicitly directed by the Word.

And I am in complete agreement with Calvin on this point. And we've encountered already RJR's contemptuous assessment of Calvin on the same.
Do you believe that seducers to idolators, man-stealers, smiters of fathers and mothers, etc. ought to be executed? You ought to. And you ought to, not because Moses said so; not on human authority!!! No, but on God Almighty's authority. Furthermore, what did Rutherford mean by "judicial laws"?
Idolatry is to be punished by the judge, and that by the testimony of Job, who was obliged to observe no judicial law, but only the law moral and the law of nature.
Note that punishment for idolatry was NOT part of the judicial law, but part of the moral law. Therefore, if you'd like to re-read your quotation from Rutherford in light of his use of "judicial law" you may find that you are fighting a strawman, as no theonomist claims that nations must now obey these judicials, any further than the general equity may require. We don't require "lock, stock, and barrel". We require a presumption of continuity, which (lo and behold) means that "he who is punishable by death in the Old Covenant is punishable by death now" to quote from Gillespie and Piscator.
1) That I ought to, implies that I ought to accept the theonomic thesis that would lead to that conclusion. But while I consent to the morality of such penalties, and may even prefer them on just occasion, I do not accept that "no society is rightly ordered" that does not adopt the Law of Moses. Again, I am with Calvin on this.

2) Job 31:28 indicates that errors of religion are subject to judgment. Of course his social situation is largely unknown to us. So, when transferred to our own situation, does this mean that the church is a sufficient context? Perhaps Rutherford, living in a more theocratic context, had every right to expect the secular authority to take action against it.

One thing it doesn't say to that non-Israelite setting: namely, what penalty the judge "ought" to impose in that situation.

3) I'm not at all convinced I've misread Rutherford regarding my quotation; he very clearly is speaking of Moses' judicial laws, and none other.
Rutherford:
He that will keep one judicial law, because judicial and given by Moses, becometh debtor to keep the whole judicial law under pain of God’s eternal wrath.
Here is a plain endorsement of a (tripartite) division of the Law, and a warning against receiving such as binding now on account of its character as revelation.

And, I reject that overarching "principle of continuity," as if theonomy was a necessary entailment of Covenant Theology. It's not.

And please understand, this is not a knee-jerk rejection. I spent over 10 years reading extensively, absorbing, and generally accepting and adopting the theonomic thesis. And for the last decade I have been in increasing critical reassessment.

4) We must, at the very least, take both of Gillespie's statements, and note that he appears to make a far stronger statement in one place than he does in the other. So, either he grew bolder, or less bold; or else he was willing to be more diplomatic at one time over another.

And it also raises other questions: who were they trying to convince? and were they defending the status quo or seeking a new institution?
You already have the general precept that they have been swept aside wholesale. This is the Confession's teaching. The 10C remain, since they were always considered (even by Moses and Israel) as unique (Ex.34:28).

This is a serious issue. Do you want to wear that yoke?
I'm not sure how something having an ongoing obligation to obey its underlying equity is equivalent to something being "swept aside wholesale". Indeed, the ceremonial law has been "swept aside wholesale"; it has been abrogated. There is not "general equity" of the ceremonies. The same cannot be said of the judicials.
1) I truly regret that you do not see the wholesale sweeping away of the Israelite social order. But I also understand your position, having made it mine with great confidence for a number of years.

2) The Confession states that the Judicial laws of Israel have "expired." Think of laws we have today that have "sunset provisions."
notional law: After Jan XX, 20XX, the law against X is no longer the law of the land. Do as you please.
But you STILL can't do X if it involves breaking some other law that remains in effect.

That "law that remains in effect" corresponds to "general equity." The moral law (the Confession's referent to "general equity") is present anywhere and everywhere, at any time. It never expires nor is abrogated. It's been in the hands of men and societies since the dawn of history.
 

he beholds

Puritan Board Doctor
I think in reality, all of those things that you mentioned would only be sinful based on the person's heart while doing the act: If the man kills the mama bird b/c he thinks it is a sin, and wants to be a god unto himself, then he is hunting in sin. If the man kills the bird and then has bitterness toward God for not providing more than just this little female bird, then perhaps he is hunting in sin.
If the man building the roof doesn't put the frame around it because he wants to kill someone, then perhaps he is building the roof in sin. Or maybe if he doesn't do it out of sheer laziness. Or if it is the law of his municipality, and he breaks the law.
If the man getting a tattoo is doing it because he is trying to puff himself up amongst his peers, then perhaps he is getting it in sin.
I mean, we hear in Scripture, that a man eating meat makes him neither virtuous or in-virtuous. How can we say, "but to those other areas that are also no longer binding, despite all the good advice that may be gleaned from therein, a separation CAN be made."?

But eating meat offered to idols doesn't change the character of the meat. It's still the same.
Ok, then, what about eating pork. It is still the same meat as when it was forbidden. If a non-pork eater were to say that he is more virtuous than a pork-eater, we would surely disagree! He is using the law to make him virtuous--which it cannot do b/c he cannot keep it!

In the case of killing a female bird in nesting season you can have, and we have had, whole species disappear. The passenger pigeon in your neck of the woods would still be here if it weren't for people ignoring the OT laws which would have preserved it. So I would say that a prohibition of killing a bird while she's nesting is a good, virtuous, wise law. But if a friend shot a turkey that was still caring for her chicks and he invited me over I'd not turn it down at dinner. I wouldn't kill the bird myself, and I may hint sometime down the road that the law was for a purpose though.

We need to avoid being human centric. God made wild life and loves it, and He gave certain laws to insure their well being. Remember the law of the 7th year Sabbath? And one of the reasons annexed to it? That wild animals had some extra food. So I don't think that a persons motive would have as much to do with the wisdom and virtuousness of that law in every case.

But in my friend's case of killing the hen, the act was already done, and he hasn't come to the same conclusion about the virtue of God's law. So I think you are right in that motive really does play a part sometimes, for sure. I think Brad's wife is a perfect example of that, and in a similar case I would would be grateful to her and just ask that it was kept covered.

Our first midwife said we shouldn't have our son circumcised since it was cruel. I wondered why she, a professing Christian, thought that God would order babies to be tortured. When our neighbor's in SA (White South Africans don't circumcise except for Jews) were baby sitting they noticed it was easier to bath our young sons. One of her kids had phimosis and after babysitting for us she had her kid circumcised and the problem cleared up.

Was she sinning in not having her sons circumcised? No. But would it have been better if she had? Usually. And you can ask yourself the same about safety railing, the animal and plant welfare laws, personal hygiene laws, etc...


So are we talking about what would be/could be pragmatically better for someone or what is sin???

Under Biblical law, you can't cut down a fruit tree during a time of war. Why? Well the goal of war is peace, and what will your enemy eat afterwards? Did Sherman sin by sowing fields with salt so they wouldn't be productive for years? Did we sin in Vietnam by using Agent Orange? I'd submit that at the very least it would have been wiser not to have done those things.
Yes we sinned here! But we did not sin b/c we disobeyed that specific example of biblical law, but because we disobeyed God's law of "Thou shall not murder." We worked against the preservation of life.
 

NaphtaliPress

Administrator
Staff member
Rutherford's most mature statement (i.e. latest in life) RE the judicial law can be found in his Examen Arminianismi chapter 19 on the Civil Magistrate, a good portion of which is translated and presented in The Confessional Presbyterian journal volume 4. "In Translatione, Samuel Rutherford, Of the Civil Magistrate From Examen Arminianismi," translated by Guy M. Richard.
 

TimV

Puritanboard Botanist
Was she sinning in not having her sons circumcised? No. But would it have been better if she had? Usually. And you can ask yourself the same about safety railing, the animal and plant welfare laws, personal hygiene laws, etc...


So are we talking about what would be/could be pragmatically better for someone or what is sin???
Yes, that was the point I was trying to make. That in some cases we don't have to use the word sin, and that's why I've come to use the word virtuous, to distinguish behavior that is better.
Under Biblical law, you can't cut down a fruit tree during a time of war. Why? Well the goal of war is peace, and what will your enemy eat afterwards? Did Sherman sin by sowing fields with salt so they wouldn't be productive for years? Did we sin in Vietnam by using Agent Orange? I'd submit that at the very least it would have been wiser not to have done those things.

Yes we sinned here! But we did not sin b/c we disobeyed that specific example of biblical law, but because we disobeyed God's law of "Thou shall not murder." We worked against the preservation of life.

You know, if there was an easy way of separating all the laws into easy categories it would have been done by now. There are a zillion opinions here on this board and in most churches as well. The way I try to do it is ask myself how the specific law was fulfilled in Christ. And the answers I come up with are different than what other people come up with. Taking the fruit tree law perhaps you're right, that it should fall under the Commandment not to kill. I think that you are right. I also think the fruit tree law also fell under the same Commandment in OT times. So I ask myself how that particular law as fulfilled in Christ, and for the life of me I can't think of how Christ's victory over death and His freeing us of the school master would make the willful violation of this law somehow morally neutral. I think that Sherman would have acted more virtuously by not preventing harvests for decades. I may even have obeyed his orders if I were in his army, though.

There are two dangerous slopes that one easily slides down if one is not careful. The one leads to feeling virtuous for not eating lard or killing nesting birds. The other leads to feeling virtuous for eating lard and killing nesting birds. Righteousness only comes through faith, and you can't even feel virtuous by claiming that this faith originated in your own decision.

But I'm not asking anyone to feel virtuous for keeping the conservation, safety and health laws. I'm just trying to point out that they weren't arbitrary and that one should start from an assumption that they were given by a loving and wise Father.
 
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