Ask Mr. Wisdom: Why Do Christians Only Pick Certain Old Testament Laws To Enforce?

by Jason Wisdom

QUESTION: “Do the laws of the Old Testament apply to us today? It seems like some Christians pick and choose which ones they want to enforce and then just ignore the others. Why?”

RESPONSE: Thank you for a great question. I have provided a visual aid (the picture at left) to reinforce the criticism (which you touched on) often raised about the apparent randomness of Christians picking and choosing which Old Testament laws apply and which ones don’t. At any rate, my answer may surprise you. In a word, no. The Old Testament laws do not apply to us today (but not for the reasons given in the ridiculous picture). The laws of the Old Testament were given to national Israel. They were designed to govern national Israel. We are not national Israel. Therefore, they do not apply to us today.

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What if I asked you, “Do the laws of Tennessee apply to the people in California?” The correct answer is no. The laws of Tennessee are designed to govern the state of Tennessee, not California, and vice versa. However, you might hesitate to say no because you immediately recognize that many laws in Tennessee are also laws in California. That is exactly the train of thought we need to follow in order to parse out the second half of your question. You said “it seems like some Christians pick and choose which ones they want to enforce and then just ignore the others.” So, let me ask you another question: why do some people in Tennessee follow the same laws as the people in California? The answer is simple: many of the laws of Tennessee reflect universal moral principles that ought to be enforced everywhere. For instance, murder is a crime in both states. But that doesn’t mean that the laws of Tennessee apply to the people in California. It simply means that there are universal moral obligations that apply to people wherever they are. Someone in Tennessee doesn’t go to jail for murder because of the law against murder in California, but because murder is wrong…

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Ask Mr. Wisdom: Why Do Christians Only Pick Certain Old Testament Laws To Enforce?