Christianity… A Hard Sell

I just recently finished up listening to Kevin DeYoung’s sermon series on the book of Leviticus. KDY is the senior pastor at University Reformed Church in East Lansing, Michigan, and therefore an unashamed Spartan fan.

He preached through Leviticus from February to July of last year, but because the church makes all his sermons available online (for free!), one can listen to them at one’s leisure. Go here for the whole Leviticus series.

Leviticus? What’s in there but the moldy trappings of a now defunct bloody sacrificial system? Not to mention, a bunch of regulations that frankly seem irrelevant to us who don’t live in an agrarian society and outdated sexual mores that are beneath our “enlightened” 21st Century selves?

While I can devote an entire series of posts of all the things KDY uncovered in the 18-part series, I will try to sift through the largesse.

In Sermon 4 (“Sin Offerings”), he expands on sin, no, not the TV station formerly known as the Spanish International Network (currently known as Univision).

Rather to the our constantly missing the mark of God’s law. Something which all human beings (save for One) are born into, act out and puts us at enmity with God.

Sin, as KDY points out, is an “objective category”. That is, it’s not relative to our whims and fancy, as he put it, “God’s values ARE whether we value them or not”. Because we are born at enmity with God we don’t like to hear about sin, especially our sin though we all feel more comfortable pointing out the sins (real or perceived) of others.

KDY rightfully asserts that he abhor hearing about sin and because of that he says,

Christianity will always be a hard sell. Real Christianity. Because it confronts head-on our love of autonomy. ‘I want to be the reference point… I want my feelings, my desires to be affirmed… It want to be the center of the universe… I want you to exist to make me happy… God exists to make me happy… I am the moral reference point, everything else is decided right or wrong based on what it does to me and how I like it… If there is a God surely He exists to meet my needs and affirm my beliefs.’

Sin is not simply being untrue to yourself no matter how many times the Disney movies tell you that it is

Indeed…

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Torah and Wahhabism

Saw the following headline at the Drudge Report,
“Saudi punishes gang rape victim with 200 lashes”

As I read the story my Western mind was taken aback by some of what I was reading,

The 19-year-old woman — whose six armed attackers have been sentenced to jail terms — was initially ordered to undergo 90 lashes for “being in the car of an unrelated male at the time of the rape,” the Arab News reported.

The story reports that the 90 lashes became 200 because,

the judges had decided to punish the woman further for “her attempt to aggravate and influence the judiciary through the media.”

As much as I wanted to cast judgment on the policies of the Saudi government (whether or not it is warranted is another issue), I remembered something from the Old Testament.

More specifically in the Torah, that is the Law of Moses. To narrow it down even further, in the book of Deuteronomy (22:23-25),

If there is a girl who is a virgin engaged to a man, and another man finds her in the city and lies with her,

then you shall bring them both out to the gate of that city and you shall stone them to death; the girl, because she did not cry out in the city, and the man, because he has violated his neighbor’s wife. Thus you shall purge the evil from among you.

But if in the field the man finds the girl who is engaged, and the man forces her and lies with her, then only the man who lies with her shall die.

I write this post understanding that this type of text is fodder for those who shake their fist at God and dismiss Him as some bloodthirsty tyrant (at best) or a non-entity (at worst). Context is typically ignored when one is content to wallow in the mire of unbelief.

However, if we can move past the realm of emotionalism for a bit, is there a difference between what the Saudi government did in this case and what is written in the Torah?

Southern California Fires and Leviticus 19:15

You shall do no injustice in judgment; you shall not be partial to the poor nor defer to the great, but you are to judge your neighbor fairly. — Leviticus 19:15

What is going on in SoCal right now I do not wish on anybody. Being forced to leave one’s home for any reason much less because of inexorable wildfires¬† cannot be a good experience regardless of income level.

Tragically, at least one person has been killed and scores have been injured. Not to mention the millions of dollars in damages but at times like these, this is relatively unimportant.

In perhaps our worst moments, we tend not to feel as bad for these evacuees (300,000 according to above story) as we did for the Hurricane Katrina evacuees. Foolishly we think, “Well at least Cali people have money and probably had their nice homes insured while the New Orleans’ folk truly lost everything and were not insured.”

Personally, I think this sinful attitude is based on the foolish notion that money is the salve that covers a multitude of maladies, including natural disasters. As Leviticus 19:15 points out, we “are to judge our neighbor fairly”.

Naturally, we tend to feel more compassion for the poor, especially when these are subject to disasters like Katrina. The compassion is good provided that it doesn’t deaden us to feel compassion towards evacuees who have more money. Compassion, in order to be just, has to be consistent, has to be fair.

May God forgive us for these unjust attitudes towards people of any income level.