The Law Of Moses: Is It Valid Today?
Should A Non-Jew Follow the Kosher
What About Circumcision?
Circumcision, the surgical removal of the foreskin from the penis, has become curiously popular among non-Jews in America today. However, when performed, it is performed for "health" reasons, and is held to have no religious significance.
Even many Jews deny the religious significance of circumcision, although all of them, from the ultra-orthodox to the ultra-reformed, circumcise their newborn males. For the reformed, this is, of course, held to be a "health" related procedure. God-forbid that anything should be done for God!
Next to circumcision, the most hated of Jewish Laws are those relating to diet. Yet among Christians (and, these days, non-religious "Jews"), pork is a very favored meat. And lobster is a very favored seafood. Is there any reason to give these "delicacies" up?
Didn't Jesus "cancel" the Law of Moses? Didn't he render all food "clean"?
Not likely! He who said "Till heaven and earth pass, not one jot or one tittle shall pass from the law, till all be fulfilled" (Sermon on the Mount, Matthew 5:18), was not likely the one who would declare that same law "null and void".
Nevertheless, it would be hard indeed to find very many devout Christians who did not believe that they were "clean in Christ", and that they were therefore released from all dietary constraints and impediments.
Even among Jews, these days the majority believe that the Kosher laws, like the circumcision laws, are merely health regulations, and not divine commandments. With respect to the dietary laws, most believe further that "modern" medicine has dealt successfully with the health issues, the net effect being a release from the requirement of following these allegedly obsolete laws.
But is this true?
If You Can't Follow the Kosher Laws,
Which Laws Will You Follow?
Correct me if I'm wrong. The attitude of most Christians (not to mention conservative and reformed Jews) seems to be this:
"I'll follow the really important laws; the big ones such as 'thou shalt not kill' and 'thou shalt not commit adultery'. But the little, unimportant laws, such as the dietary laws, I'll dispense with. All those little mini-laws are simply too hard to follow."
This sounds very plausible. This point of view seems to confirm the importance of major laws, such as those enshrined in the 10 Commandments -- i.e., those which are accepted with near-universality from nation-to-nation. Conversely, the minor-sounding laws, such as the dietary laws, are despised as being "arbitrary and capricious". Dietary laws do, after all, differ from nation-to-nation, and from culture-to-culture.
It would simply be "too hard" to follow all those silly little laws, right?
But is this a true statement of the facts, or is it really a hypocritical form of deception, and of self-deception at that?
You swear you'll follow the major, "important" laws.
Will you really?
Now I'm going to give you an opportunity to test yourself. You say you can't follow the dietary laws, because all those little annoying laws are just too hard, and too inconvenient to follow. BUT, you say, you'll follow the major, "important" laws such as "thou shalt not murder", and "thou shalt not commit adultery". Is this really true?
Let's invent a scenario where your claim can be tested, and you may then test yourself. Don't worry -- I can't see you.
Imagine, if you will, that your next door neighbor is away on a long trip. Because I'm a male, I only know how to tell this story from the male perspective. So I'll tell you that your neighbor's wife, a real beauty, is home, and she's lonely (if you're a woman, perhaps you can try imaging yourself to be the neighbor's wife).
She invites you over on some pretext, or perhaps even for a valid reason. For example, she may really need help moving some heavy piece of furniture which she can't manage by herself. So you go over to help.
It turns out to be a bit more than either you or she thought it would be, and it takes a while to accomplish.
By the time it's over, it's late in the day, and you're both hungry. As an act of kindness only, she offers you food. Let's say she's a good cook, and has something left over from last night. Let's say it's delicious, and she's thinking to herself "why should it go to waste?"
Now the two of you are sitting around, eating this wonderful food, and the subject comes up that if this were served in a restaurant, it would certainly require some red wine. Lo and behold, she has an open bottle of red wine, which she drank from the night before ... all alone. Most of it is still left over.
The subject of wine brings this innocent relationship to a new level of seriousness, because everyone knows about the potential of alcohol to destroy judgment. But, after all, you're neighbors, are you not? What could go wrong? What trouble can arise from a little glass of wine?
So a glass is poured. Naturally, before long, a second glass is poured.
Now, with two glasses of wine on board, both of you are relaxed, and feeling pretty good. So, the evening moves on to the next stage. This might be just more talk, it might be watching something on television, or it might be anything else that two people can do.
Since the judgment is already dulled by wine, there emerges, after the dessert and coffee, the after-dinner drink. Now the judgment is really dulled. Sooner or later -- you being, after all, man and woman, alone without chaperone -- the subject of sex comes up.
Does it matter how the subject arises? It could arise as a discussion of theory, or of political viewpoint, or of opinions about abortion, or about child rearing. What's the difference? It's come up.
I'm not going to spell out all the details of what happens next. At the end of this story, the man and women are in the bedroom, and pre-sexual activity has already been initiated. Before long, both parties are beside themselves with desire.
If you, the reader, have ever been "beside yourself" with desire, then you know what I'm talking about. It tends to get the best of you.
The Rabbis and Priests have known this all along, and all wise men of all nations teach that the "solution" to this sort of problem is to NOT get into this situation in the first place. I'll never forget reading about Billy Graham in the newspapers, the day he was invited to dine with the First Lady. He turned the invitation down, at the risk of insulting the President himself, on the grounds, that he never, as a matter of personal policy, dined with a woman (other than his wife) alone -- not even in a public place.
But, in our story, you DID get into it. Now you're "beside yourself" with desire. If you know what I'm talking about, then you understand the gravity of the situation. If you don't know what I'm talking about, then I might consider you "lucky", but whether or not you're "lucky" or "unlucky" to not know, from personal experience, what it means to be "beside yourself with desire", I cannot explain it to you.
If you do understand what I'm talking about, then ask yourself this: What's easier? To refrain from ordering your favorite pork or lobster dish from a menu placed in front of you, or to refrain from plunging into your neighbor's wife in the hottest heat of desire, when she lies before you, open and ready to proceed?
Think about it.
When you have a desire for a certain food, that desire can be very strong. But when you have a desire for sex, that desire can cause you to cave in completely, no matter who you are. There's no question in my mind as to which one is easier. No matter how difficult it is to refrain from ordering a particular food from a menu, it's not even remotely as difficult as refraining from sex with a partner who's willing, and available -- right now -- especially when there's no one watching, and no one to stop you from having sex.
Consequently, when I hear people saying things like "I'd never commit adultery with my neighbor's wife, but I'm not going to obey those silly Kosher laws", I have to wonder. Is the refraining from adultery with the neighbor's wife really a "moral" restraint, or is it merely that the opportunity has not yet arisen?
And, should the opportunity arise, will you really refuse? Or will you take the attitude that "what others don't know, won't hurt them". The neighbor's husband is away, on a long trip! Who's going to tell?
If you give the matter some thought, you may come to the same conclusion I came to, which is that anyone who doesn't have the discipline to follow dietary laws, will surely not have the discipline to refrain from sex with his neighbor's wife, in the heat of the moment. If you haven't done it yet, it's probably mainly because the opportunity hasn't arisen.
Conversely, a God-fearing man, who obeys the Kosher laws -- NOT because they seem "scientific", but because he fears the wrath of God -- will surely be the least likely of men to even be in his neighbor's wife's house, much less her bed.
You swear you'll follow the major, "important" laws.
Will you really?
Let's play this game a bit more. You undoubtedly believe that you, of all people, could never in a million years stoop to murder. You, murder someone? Never!!
But once again, I have to ask: Is this because you're "good", or is it because the opportunity simply hasn't arisen?
Here's another story. Imagine that your son (or your mother, or father, or brother, or anyone else you love) was in business, and that the business went under. Now imagine that your son had a partner, who lost everything -- money, home, car, maybe even his wife (divorce is disturbingly common after business failures). For whatever reason, let's say that your son, in spite of the business failure, is doing well. Perhaps he had more foresight, and put money into a savings account. Whatever.
The partner, however, accuses your son of robbery. Your son robbed the business, and the partner is now ruined, with your son holding "all the money". The former partner swears revenge.
Toward this end, the former partner gives press conferences, and smears your son in the media. He spreads false stories among their personal acquaintances as well, doing everything in his power to ruin your son's reputation. Then he mounts a lawsuit, which, if successful, will cause your son to be ruined financially, and to have a black shadow over his future.
Let's say further that your son is married, and has several children. Through this very serious lawsuit, he is facing possible loss of income, loss of property, and general ruin which will affect him, his wife, and his children. He's done nothing wrong, but his former partner, who simply cannot face up to and accept his losses, has become a deadly enemy.
Now let us imagine that you are coming home from some late night event, and that it's, say, 3:00 AM. You're on a back road somewhere. You come upon the site of a traffic accident. There, smashed against a tree, is a wreck of a car, with -- of all people -- your enemy at the wheel, slumped over, unconscious, and bleeding.
You open the door of his car. You ascertain that he's alive, although unconscious. You note that he has already sustained a skull injury, and you note further that there's a heavy stick on the ground which you can use to enlarge that injury so that it becomes fatal. Mind you, the injury is already there; you would merely be enlarging it, not "causing" it.
You stand there for several moments. No cars go by. You realize that on this road, it may be sunrise before anyone passes by. You can do whatever seems right. What do you do?
If you "kill the bastard", your son is free. Your son's wife is free. Your grandchildren are free. The lawsuits are over. The defamation is over. Everything is over.
If you even leave the scene without calling for help, you will also probably be free, since it doesn't look to you like your "enemy" will survive to the morning without medical assistance.
What do you do?
A better question is this: What's easier? To refrain from killing your "enemy", when his life is in your hands, and when his murder is easy, undetectable, and life-saving for your family? Or refraining from ordering pork or lobster on a restaurant menu?
Once again, you may conclude, as I have concluded, that anyone who doesn't have the discipline to follow simple dietary laws, will surely not have the discipline to refrain from killing his "enemy", when doing so will set his whole family free from years of torment, and from possible irreversible financial disaster.
This imaginary story is about personal vendetta. What about "institutional" murder?
Although we all seem to revel in the theory that we are, at the dawn of a new millennium, finally "civilized", and that war is a thing of the past, the reality is quite different. There is as much -- or perhaps even more -- war in the world now as there has ever been. No matter what side you take in a war, in the taking of that side, you are tacitly approving of the murder of everyone on the other side.
In Israel, for example, many Jews are killed by Arabs every year, and, if the published statistics are to be believed, even more Arabs are killed by Jews. When an Israeli Jew kills an Arab, no one here in the West seems to care very much. Isn't it "justifiable" to kill Arabs in Israel?
Likewise, the murder of a Jewish Israeli by an Arab is widely believed, among Muslims, to be a form of "religious" observance.
So what's easier? Refraining from eating the flesh of pigs, or refraining from the institutionalized killing of a national enemy who has publicly declared that your nation has no right to live?
What about circumcision?
The Jewish-Christian prophet Paul (Saul of Tarsus) ingratiated himself to the Europeans by advising them that they could be in God's Covenant through Jesus, even if they were not circumcised. He said that in their faith and belief in Jesus the Messiah, they would be "circumcised in the heart".
It's true that the ancient Hebrew prophets chastised the Children of Israel, telling them that the time would surely come that they would be circumcised, not merely in the flesh, but in the "heart" as well (Deuteronomy 10:16, Jeremiah 4:4 and 9:26, Ezekiel 44:7-9).
To reverse this, however, and to claim that "circumcision of the heart" (whatever that might mean) was a replacement for circumcision of the flesh, was always highly questionable. After all, did God not say thatHis Covenant WAS circumcision? (Click to read about the Covenant). How, then, could it be dispensed with?
The correct answer is that "it can't be". There is no possibility of dispensing with circumcision, if there is to be a Bible, and if there is to be worship of the God of that Bible.
The problem with non-Biblical thinking on the subject is that the thought of circumcision is horrifying to everyone except Jews and Muslims. To nearly everyone except these, the removal of a piece of skin from the penis seems bloody and barbaric in this day and age. But what are the consequences of not circumcising?
We live in a world of constant bloodshed. Although the members of the present generation duplicitously proclaim themselves to be "citizens of the world", the facts speak differently. War is ongoing, and everyone seems to know, deep in the heart, that a big war looms large on the horizon.
When I was young, every American male was drafted into military service. There has been no generation since the American Revolution which has not known war. And in war, the amount of flesh destroyed is far greater than the amount of flesh removed in circumcision.
The purpose of religion is to secure peace; both personal and internal peace, as well as communal peace with one's external neighbors. If universal circumcision could end all war, would it be worth it? (Try to avoid saying, in your heart, "circumcision couldn't possibly end war". Maybe it can, maybe it can't. The question is: If universal circumcision could end all war, would it be worth it?)
If you say "no", they you're saying "I'd rather have my son's whole head blown off by a wartime enemy, than to have a little flesh removed from the head of his penis as a religious rite".
Of course, in this day and age, no one will be quick to believe that universal circumcision could possibly end war. I, of course, do believe it. But who am I?
Furthermore, since the world's "answer" to war appears to be the establishment of a universal world banking dictatorship, within which everyone except a tiny "elite" will be reduced to serfdom, I can ask, with great sincerity, concerning the question of circumcision: "Do you have a better idea?"
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