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Neal Wooten Headshot

Out With the Old

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My last Huffington Post article, titled "Judge Not - Except Gays," lit up the Twitter feeds of several members of the Westboro Baptist Church, as they posted verses from Ezekiel, Isaiah, and Leviticus to rebuke my views. Sadly, they're not alone. I have many Christian friends who also claim the Old Testament is to still be followed today.

They are not without their ammunition. One verse they use to support their belief is 2 Timothy 3:16.

All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness. - KJB

But notice of the things all scripture is profitable for, application is not mentioned. Of course we should study the OT to understand our history.

Another verse is Matthew 5:18.

For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled. - KJB

Neither does this address all the rules of the OT. It simply refers to "the law," which means it is referring to something specific. And we don't even have to guess. We need only read the very next sentence in Matthew 5:19.

Whosoever therefore shall break one of these least commandments, and shall teach men so, he shall be called the least in the kingdom of heaven: but whosoever shall do and teach them, the same shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven. - KJB

We can easily see that Jesus is referring to the commandments, which makes sense. The 10 Commandments are mentioned in the OT and the NT, and when the rich man asked Jesus what must he do to have eternal life, Jesus said, "Keep the Commandments."

What I thought was common knowledge, or at least commonly accepted, up until a few decades ago, was that Jesus came to earth for two reasons: to die for our sins and to set forth the rules for the new agreement. Why else would He spend so many years teaching, preaching, and training His disciples to become apostles?

He did not simply rehash the same old rules; He made them harder. For example, an old rule was don't murder; the new rule is don't even be angry. An old rule was don't commit adultery; the new rule is don't even think about it. An old rule was an eye for an eye, the new rule is turn the other cheek. An old rule was love your neighbor; the new rule is love also your enemy.

He certainly raised the bar. Unfortunately, He raised it very high, and most of the teachings of Jesus go against our very nature. Who wants to turn the other cheek or love their enemy? That might make you look like a coward or a traitor, which is why a lot of preachers will go to great lengths to tell you what these verses do not mean, because they don't want to accept what they do.

But Jesus used these specific words for a reason. The entire NT has a universal message, and it's as plain as the nose on your face, which is why I believe so many people look to the OT for ways to get around it. It's easy to hate, accuse, blame, and judge. It's hard to love, accept, forgive, and judge not. The problem is this; the Bible says that the way to the Father is through the Son, not around Him.

The very wording makes it clear. "Testament" means agreement. The old agreement was for another people of another time. The new agreement is for us now.

But the most incriminatory fact is this: even those who claim that the OT is still to be followed do not actually go by all the rules of the OT, nor can they, rules like killing disobedient children, not wearing clothes made from two animals, not eating pork, and not shaving or trimming your beards. All these rules can be found in Leviticus, but a lot of would-be Christians, including the clean-shaven members of the Westboro Baptist Church, seem only to be interested in the verses about homosexuals.

We are all flesh and blood, which means we are weak and will always fall short of the glory of God. But we have to at least make an effort and seek atonement for when we fail. But those who turn to the OT are the weakest of all. They are the ones who refuse to try to live by the simple teachings of Christ. They scan the OT for excuses to ignore them, for excuses to act upon their own frailties of human nature, which includes hating others, or making public statements against the sins they don't personally like.

For these people, it's as if Jesus never came, and I can't think of anyone more disrespectful to our Savior.