October 29, 2011

Hard Sayings XXI: Buggery & A 50/50 Linen Cotton Blend

***Warning To Parents: This post contains Biblical sexual content***

I've decided to continue my series Hard Sayings since they were so popular in the summer.

Ahhhh yes, the Law against interminglings and blending. The butt of many jokes and mockeries of the Old Testament and the Bible in general. Mocked because of a blatant ignorance of Biblical facts and failure to study or do even a precursory inspection of Scripture with a critical eye.

I hear it occasionally from folks that know just enough about the Bible to be thoroughly dangerous. “If we believed everything we read in the Bible we would all still be forbidden from wearing 50/50 T-shirts since we are not allowed to mix fabrics…” The cheeky biblical "scholar" that would say these things are referring to the Law as outlined in Leviticus 19.

“You shall keep my statutes. You shall not let your cattle breed with a different kind. You shall not sow your field with two kinds of seed, nor shall you wear a garment of cloth made of two kinds of material. Leviticus 19:19

The correct question should be this. Is there an obligation attached to this law or laws like it for us today?

The answer is…well, its a long one so pay attention. We must realize there were different types of laws: Moral, Ceremonial and Civic. We must understand that ceremonial and civic laws no longer apply but moral laws can still apply because they can continue to make a person holy. These laws (moral) include things like the Ten Commandments. Let me ask you this: If someone does not kill or cheat on his neighbor’s wife…it’s a good thing, right? Leviticus 19 is what the Jews considered the Kedoshim קְדֹשִׁים or Hebrew for "holy ones" and were mainly statements and penalties for transgressions of the Holiness code of Leviticus chapters 17-26. Chapter 19 even starts with the precursory imperative from God:

 "Speak unto all the congregation of the children of Israel, and say unto them: Ye shall be holy; for I the LORD your God am holy." Leviticus 19:2.

God is literally speaking holiness directly to His people through Moses. This portion of Leviticus contained various laws that overlap one another in the civic and ceremonial area and one must be careful how they categorize. The passage above belongs to the ceremonial law and are laws of purity in response to pagan practices of surrounding cultures. I can hear it already, “How does mixing fabrics make one less holy from a ceremonial point of view? Read on…

The animals are not to be interbred with other species, just as humans are not to have intercourse with animals (Leviticus 18:23). Holiness relates to purity, which inter-species breeding or sexual abomination destroys …i.e.: Gen 1:24-25, "of the same kind". If sacrificial animals are in view here this law could have been put in place in order to stop inter-breeding between acceptable sacrificial animals and those that were not...so that the offspring which would’ve been unacceptable for sacrifice wouldn't be inadvertently used for sacrifices. This would've been an unacceptable or polluted sacrifice and would've been considered cheating God (Malachi 1). Plants/seeds were not to be mixed either. Mixture of seeds and the resulting mixture would be hard to separate at harvest, so it was better to keep them separate from the beginning.

Then we come to our 50/50 T-shirts. At a more spiritual or allegorized level, banned mixtures symbolize the holiness of God's covenant people, who are to keep themselves separate from their pagan neighbors, maintaining the demarcation between clean and unclean as regards people. There is something more going on with the mixing of cloth and we need to note it. Clothing made from two different fabrics, most probably wool and linen as mentioned in Leviticus 13:47-48; Deuteronomy 22: 11 were banned. Well…sort of…

Mixtures of cloth like these were banned except, apparently, for a priest of God or the intercessor or intermediary with God, whose ephod in Exodus 28:6; 39:2 and breastplate in Exodus 28:15 and 39:8 were of mixed material. We even see that the curtains of the Tabernacle were of mixed material Exodus 26:1. Therefore the ban was restricted to what? It was restricted to laity, with the fabric mixture only being permissible for the divine realm or holiness realm.

We must understand that these laws belong to the period when God was pleased to teach His people by precise and formal rules; and when it was especially needful to impress that man must in no way interfere with the Divine order and arrangement, either in nature or in revelation. After divine rule has done its work, and made its witness, the free dominion and use of the earth is given to men. Men soon discover that they cannot improve on, or alter, the actual Divine order, but they can, and they may, develop the possibilities that are in the divine creation. The premise is that man must first realize God’s sovereign power and rule. Cloning make anyone cringe besides me?

An interesting sidebar must be noted at this point. The idea of not mixing and not combining in terms of the Ceremonial/Moral Law must be understood in their ancient contexts...and in ours. The things that make person less holy (moral) still apply and must then be seen also in context of modern culture otherwise they appear absurd and are often used as tools to mock the Christian (and Jew). Many will say that if the ceremonial law “of not mixing” no longer applies than we can mix inter-species and sex too right? Wrong. We need to delineate between the items within v.19 itself. Like I said we need to be careful with catagorizing. To generalize all the items in this verse is foolishness and poor exegesis and hermeneutics. Allowing sexual "blending" or "intermingling" across immoral boundries such as species and same-gender would be like entering and entertaining a nebulous no-man’s land of "sexual free-for-all". We must see this in the context of today’s sexual ambiguity and the nature of the sexual act. The sexual act is rooted firmly on the realm of moral and even spiritual according to 1 Corinthians 6 by Paul. The ceremonial law being fulfilled in Jesus Christ is not an excuse to violate other biblical moral mandates.

I could rail, denounce and condemn sexual imorality and unnatural acts as others do but it would be next to pointless. The Bible can and will do it for me. I will solely outline what Scripture says and allow people to make their own choice. We are all big boys and big girls and will be held accountable in the end for our own decisions. In the modern age there are important distinctions that are now being blurred and Christians must not participate in or practice them at the risk of possibly not being Christian. This flys in the face of many liberal theological experts that are in the process of undermining Scripture and have been for a long time. Sexual immorality is a violation of Moral Law not Civic and Ceremonial Law therefore it still applies. Sadly some Christian denominations are already allowing the mixing and ignoring the moral implications of those ignoring Moral Law and engaging or permitting sexual immoralities. The present day blurring of distinctions between genders is unbiblical and unchristian. If Christians are doing this, allowing this or applauding it they had better check their motives as they are in immoral areas and in danger or apostatizing or already are backsliding. The Bible is unequivocal about gender blurring, gender confusion and aberrant or immoral sexual sins. The pattern exists all over Scripture so mentioning them all would be a fool’s errand but I will state Genesis 2:24, Leviticus 18, Romans 1 and 1 Corinthians 6 are a good place to start looking.

As a curious side bar I part with this fact. Natural blended fabrics were slower to ignite near fire and considering priests were near flame quite often, I wouldn't be surprised if there were other reasons God had the priest wear blended  or mixed fabrics beyond just purity and holiness. Why slower to ignite? Did you ever burn hair off your arm? Did it actually catch flame or did it melt and shrivel up and fall off? What do you suppose wool is? It's sheep hair and is made of protein which is more prone to melt or cauterize rather than burn. Why do you suppose the ephod was a mixture of linen and wool? Additionally, linen when it is around a lot of heat breathes better than most fabics and is very cool. It also has a natural white luster (image of purity) and it also is less likely to cling to the skin. In the event of fire this is a characteristic I would prefer in my clothes. Can anyone say burnt offering?

Comfort, Philip Wesley, David W. Baker, Dale A. Brueggemann, and Eugene H. Merrill. Cornerstone Biblical Commentary. Wheaton, Illinois: Tyndale House Publishers, 2008. Print


Philsthrills said...

Nice work.

Andy Pierson said...

Thank you sir, more coming

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