Confession: what follows is one of my soapbox topics.
I really, really love reading about the nature of G-d as it is found in the Torah. There is so much that we do not skillfully tease out of the text because we think the only question we should ask is the grossly inelegant and broad-reaching question, “will doing this send me to hell?”. What I am going to say below can be summed up in one way of handling our life: namely the question we really might want to ask is something along the lines of, “ what does an abundant life of embracing and incarnating all of G-d’s principles look like and how fruitful will my life be in the context of embracing all He has for me.
I have a few friends who say that the New Testament abrogated the Tanakh and/or the Torah
Some say that because, in the Tanakh, the dietary laws and the clothing laws were a salvation issue, as were the moral laws dealing with adultery and homosex, we should delete the whole thing.
Others would suggest that G-d of the Tanakh was a cruel monster (Sodom and Gomorrah, stoning for sexual deviance, genocide of the Canaanites, etc.)
I would like to offer a brief response to a couple of these points.
I cannot answer that every question in the Torah is a question of whether or not those people who violated the Law in OT times went to Hell, or what the afterlife looked like. However, I will say that everything G-d said in the Law and the Tanakh has a present-day purpose. That is, the principles once violated, can lead to dangerous consequences in at least our temporal existence. Take the mixutre of fabrics. Don’t mix textiles, no cotton poly/blends, no crops mixed in fields, a field of wheat may have no corn in it, etc.
Two things. First, for the mixing of textiles; there is quite a bit of evidence that mixing materials leads to respioratory distress. This is not a law dealing with salvation or going to hell for wearing that smashing top you found at Gordman’s or Ross or on Amazon. Rather, this is a question of a cause-and-effect relationship.
Next, dealing with mixing fields. What was going on there? One of my takes out of many that presents itself is the idea of mixing essences. Namely, G-d likes the essences of things to be uniquely singular. He is zealous that your essence should be 100 percent YOUR essence, not mixed around with anything else or anyone else.
This is why marriage is so critical to Paul and others. He does not want you mixing light with darkness. He does not want two people who have divergent visions and designs for life traveling along two different paths mixing. When He designed you, assuming you are destined for marriage, He made you with the express intent that you would marry someone who is a complement to you though not divergent.
I had the unfortunate curse of marrying someone like that the first time around, and as a result, my first wife and I never really became one. There was never a full joining of purpose. This is why I specifically warn people aboutr marrying the first person that turns them on.
The end result is she controlled me, made me leave a fruitful season for a season of her control, and then ultimately our marriage ended with her cheating on me and both of us self-destructing.
G-d also intends you to marry someone of the opposite sex so you can be fruitful and multiply: so that you have a LEGACY!
And let us quit using the argument of the barrenness of some as an argument to advance sexually deviant relationships that violate Father’s design. It does not work like that.
Next, dietary laws. Leviticus 11. This is not a hell issue. Rather, there are reasons, medical reasons for many of those meats and foods being considered not kosher. One can starve to death eating rabbit, for example.
Again, the issue here is that whatever G-d said has uses and applications in current-day life. There are cause-and-effect principles that go into effect regardless of whether or not we want them to go into effect, whether or not we agree with the effects, and whether or not we are aware of the effects.
We have this mindset that takes the text of Scripture, and because we say it is infallible, we make every text carry equal weight and carry equal implications. And in that “G-d said it, I believe it, that settles it” mentality, we fail to cultivate skill in reading the nuances of the text and skillfully applying those nuanced applications where they are pertinent.
Our job is to look at the text, understand what G-d said to the original audience, understand what G-d is communicating to us, and to parse out heaven and hell implications from cause-and -effect implications.
The form of our worship, ecclesiology, diet, worship rituals, and clothing may not have heaven and hell implications, but we we ignore the concept of G-d wanting our essence being 100% our essence, we are going to have a harder time. To use the old adage “if you are going to be dumb, you gotta be tough”. Tranlsation, if you are going to willfully walk in ignorance of the cause-and-effects, or ourright reject those cause-and-effect relationships, then you are going to have to be tough enough to handle the fallout from violating principles.
Again, gang, Leviticus 11 is not a redemption salvation issue; it is a cause-and-effect issue.
And while some people may want to tell G-d what the form of human relationships should look like, violating his principles for relationships are going to make your life more difficult. Leviticus 18 does not care if you agree with the principles there for human sexuality, incest, beastiality, and the like. If you are choosing to ignore those principles, you will have to put up with the product of your choices. You do what you want.
And textiles and mixing fields, same things. You can ignore what’s written there, but there might be fallout from choosing to do or not do certain things.
The issue is not a salvation issue. It is a quality of life issue.
Nadab and Abihu chose to offer something the L-rd did not ask them to offer, and it cost them their lives.
The Sodomites and Gomorrites chose a lifestyle that polluted their land, and the cost was their lives and the freedom to live on that land that G-d gave them.
It’s not always about salvation, and we spend too much time, in my opinion asking how much we can get away with and still go to heaven, when really we should be asking what G-d’s best for us would look like, and what it would look like to flourish walking in sequence with G-d’s principles.
We indeed have this twisted idea that G-d is a tyrant with all these laws.
Further, for one final point, some also think that G-d’s destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah and the Canaanites was G-d being a monster. Those same people refuse to read passages like G-d’s comment ot Abraham when He has given the Amorites a season of 4 CENTURIES to repent of their sin. And they also do not see G-d’s discussion with Abraham to spare the city for the sake of the righteous. Because of the rampant iniquity of the cities in the Jordan Valley, G-d chose a different plan. He removed the righteous from the city, and he handled the iniquity that polluted the land. Sexual sin in this case.
I think we have a drastic need to justify our rejection of G-d and we allow ourselves to be blinded to His mercy and grace and attempt to execute justice in both Testaments and in our midst.
G-d is not some bipolar monster. Rather, He is abounding in steadfast mercy, and expects way less than we think in the canon, and even in the Torah. He spelled out how he wanted to be worshipped, and Nadab and Abihu did something that He never asked them to do. Jephthah never asked G-d if G-d wanted him to sacrifice his daughter. he already had the favor of G-d, and like a jackass, he made a stupid vow in an attempt to buy the favor of G-d that HE ALREADY HAD.
Gang, I do not know if your perspective is twisted but I think that we need to really reevaluate whether or not G-d is truly mean-spirited, or if because we are choosing a place of rejection, we are just looking for an interpretation that synchs with our biases.
My job is to approach the text of Scripture (all Scripture, not just the ones I like) and allow Him to transform me from further darkness into greater degrees of His marvelous light.