In our first section in this Part 4 of “Is the Old Testament Moral?” we looked at whether or not a death penalty was morally justifiable. Having determined that it was not an immoral concept we will now move on to evaluate the type of crimes for which the Old Testament justice system required a penalty of death. Can we defend the Mosaic period’s penal code from a sophisticated and modern perspective?
First Things First
Before critiquing the Old Testament penal code we need to realize that not everything God commanded Moses to impose on the Jewish nation was meant for humans in general. It was a system designed to preserve Israel for about 1,200 to 1,400 years until the arrival of the Messiah. Much like a royal family expects more poise, honour, education and courage from their princes then their peasants, God needed to set Israel apart from a fallen world. Not only would this show that being close to the Lord made a nation prosper, but it would marinate the minds and culture of the Hebrews in the ways of God’s character, allowing them to understand Him in a way no other civilization ever had. Which would allow them the theological savvy to articulate theology accurately to the rest of the world.
Therefore, some of the rules set for Israel will seem harsh. Yet they must be viewed as special commands for God’s Chosen People and not necessarily universally applicable laws for all peoples and for all of time. Remember that when Christ came, two thirds of the Levitical system became obsolete. The Moral Code within it continued on into our time, but the Levitical Priesthood’s ordinances vanished as did the Civil Codes that were meant to guide Israel during its time as a theocracy. Something which God did not ask to survive the arrival of His Messiah. And as we can see, much has changed since Christ’s arrival. The Christian Church simply has not carried most of the capital punishment clauses or the other Mosaic civil ordinances throughout the ages.
“Whoever strikes a man so that he dies shall be put to death.”
– Exodus 21:12
As we saw in SECTION 1 of this Part 4 of our series, many nations today still hold on to capital punishment for murder. And that previous section makes a thorough defense of this law. Interesting is the follow up verse to qualify verse 12…
“But if he did not lie in wait for him, but God let him fall into his hand, then I will appoint for you a place to which he may flee.”
– Exodus 21:13
“Let him fall into his hand” means that an individual fell into the hands of a perpetrator and had to kill in self defense. In order to protect him or her, the Jews were to create sanctuary cities so that those who had shed blood innocently could be safe from the wrath of the dead individual’s family and friends. This shows the differentiation of first and second degree murder from that of manslaughter. Ancient Athenian lawmaker Draco from the 7th century BC is often touted as being the first to have made this distinction. Yet it appears in the 13th century BC Hebrew Mosaic penal code. Six hundred years earlier than the sophisticated greco-roman legal system. As a modern society we have retained the death penalty for murder but not for manslaughter, effectively copying the biblical mandate.
“Whoever strikes his father or his mother shall be put to death… …Whoever curses his father or his mother shall be put to death.”
– Exodus 21:17, 19
Cringe worthy isn’t it? How can we ever worship a God that would come down so hard on typical teenage behaviour? Well, the reader has to assume that the slightest version of the above infractions would trigger a Hebrew village to stone a young man or woman. But we have some clues that show this penalty was for youth that were heavily astray.
In Deuteronomy 21:20 we see that this law was for sons that were “gluttons and drunkards.” A modern equivalent would be akin to the horrifying epidemic of British youth who have turned to a nihilistic life of sex, drugs, booze and violence. Time Magazine published 2 articles on this subject. One in 2008 and a follow up in 2011. These reported on the ultra-violent juvenile culture that was plaguing the center of the British Commonwealth. In a 2008 Telegraph UK article, it was reported that up to 20% of English adults avoid going out at night for fear of feral gangs of youths robbing and beating them or worse. The article goes on to say that even compared to the 1970’s era British skinhead gangs, modern youth gangs are far more violent. Alcohol and drug consumption are perennial problems for most (if not all) of these youths. Most come from the lower socio-economic classes and many are latch-key kids (i.e.: both parents work long hours, leaving them unattended for long hours starting in elementary school years). Another potential factor in explaining this sad phenomenon is that although England is not one of the 50 or so countries (as of 2018) to have abolished the parental right to physical punishment, it has been joining much of the modern Western world in shying away from corporal discipline. A thorough 2005 published meta analysis in the Clinical Child and Family Psychology Review stated that physical spanking (along with healthy parenting) had a better long term outcome in curbing anti-social and defiant behaviours in children than did disciplinary styles that omitted all forms of corporal punishment. Whatever the cause of the unusually high levels of juvenile substance abuse, sexual promiscuity and violence in British youths, it shows what the Exodus and Deuteronomical laws on excessively defiant youths was trying to avoid. Is it possible God knew that a growing youth gang problem would paralyze and erode the Jewish nation long before the time of the Messiah had come? Is it possible that the deterrence factor of seeing unruly youths stoned to death preserved more lives than it took? Think of how quickly a society can fall apart. The Western world’s 1960’s generation ushered in a self-indulgent “sexual revolution” and the substance abuse sky rocketed. The break down of the family ensued and gang violence soared. Does it truly seem impossible to see hard line approaches as nipping a civilization-killing problem in the bud?
Notice that there is no sign that the Christian Church has ever carried this legal penalty into the societies it has penetrated over the past two thousand years. It has never been practiced as a part of Christendom. This is because it is by and large considered as part of the Jewish Civil Code which died with the atonement of Christ and cessation of Israel as a theocracy.
“You shall not permit a sorceress to live.”
– Exodus 22:18
In a highly secular culture, most will roll their eyes at this command. An added layer of insult to our modern world is that this command pertains to a female sorcerer. Why assume only women are evil enough to be witches? And is this command not a dangerous slippery slope? After all, in Salem, Massachusetts circa 1692, several women were killed by zealous believers who felt they had captured bona fide sorcerers (14 women, 6 men) and were doing “the Lord’s work.”
Without having experienced demonic manifestation, it will be hard to appreciate the seriousness of occult spiritual practices. Personally, I have witnessed two exorcisms and was once physically attacked by a demonic spirit. It is impossible for me to laugh off the notion of an individual that is seeking to contact and co-operate with the dark side of the supernatural. As for the designation of a female being the sorceress, it may simply be that this was the overwhelming pattern at that time. I am certain that a male occult worshiper would be treated just as roughly. It could also be that since a Satanic religion would seek to turn God’s order upside down, that the defacto hierarchy of priestly authority would start with women as opposed to the reverse biblical order.
In many societies throughout the globe, shamans, voodoo priests and other non-Christian religious figures have embraced spirituality outside the boundaries of judeochristian guidelines. Consequently we see rituals and activities in these societies that we would consider unfathomable in our secular Western world. Animal and child ritual abuse and sacrifice. Superstition-inspired violence such as the killing of albinos or bald men. Once humans identify an individual as having authority from the spiritual world, there is seemingly nothing they will not eventually do as they are lead down the path of folk religions.
And although isolated communities have, in the past, gone on ill advised “witch hunts,” this does not mean there is no such thing as a human who is acting as a conduit for nefarious spiritual activity. Historically the Church has not kept the Exodus 22:18 commandment and it has been dropped from Christian life with most of the rest of the Civil Code in the Old Testament.
“Say to the people of Israel, Any one of the people of Israel or of the strangers who sojourn in Israel who gives any of his children to Molech shall surely be put to death. The people of the land shall stone him with stones.”
– Leviticus 20:2
During the time of Israel’s early years, a people known as the Ammonites lived on the east side of the river Jordan. Their national god was Molech. Part of their religious worship ceremonies included heating up a bronze statue of Molech until it was red hot. Then they would place infants or small children in its super heated hands. A horrific death ensued.
Few modern folks would find it difficult to have pity on those who sacrifice their children in such horrific ways. God asked the Israelites to kill any man or woman who participated in such wickedness. Interestingly, it should be a relief to modern secular Westerners that Christians no longer practice capital punishment on those who sacrifice infants. In our world of casual abortions — especially late term procedures — the annual death toll from this barbaric infanticide tallies in the tens of millions. According to the World Health Organization, there are about 125,000 world wide abortions per day. Meaning we have 40 to 50 million abortions per year. As a civilization, we are constantly asking for the right to abort children at later and later times past the moment of conception. Many states in the U.S. already have no time restrictions on abortions. These infants are the most vulnerable and innocent members of our societies, yet most secular liberal folks in our midst think nothing of our genocidal society. We cannot hear this children scream as they are torn apart in the womb, so we do not care. Politicians risk their careers if they make a hard stance against abortion. We are now embracing Molech worship and yet find it disdainful to see an Old Testament system that wanted to kill the guilty segments of their society. We are knee deep in the blood of our most innocent. We have no right to look down on our Bronze Age Hebrew predecessors who could never have caught up to just 3 days’ worth of our abortion death toll. It has been estimated that in the 20th century, the world wide abortion total was approximately 1 billion.
“Whoever lies with an animal shall be put to death.”
– Exodus 22:19
Even in our modern, sexually “liberated” world we still look down on bestiality. Although some countries turn a blind eye, most have stiff penalties and a few even still carry the death penalty. The question is, if we can raise animals to kill them for bacon, why can’t we have sex with them?
We could gross ourselves out by detailing the biological incompatibility between animal and human sex organs. Or we could describe how the psychology of an individual willing to engage in sex acts with an animal is unhealthy and unstable. Luckily, even in our depraved culture we tend to unanimously agree that it is agreeable to shun bestiality. A peer reviewed medical article in the Indian Journal of Community Medicine warns that someone engaged in animal sex is a “warning signal for the community the patient belonged to, as bestiality may be associated with psychological disorder, including aggressive tendencies and behaviours towards children and other human. Children or less powerful individuals may be at a heightened risk of being sexually abused or interpersonal violence in later life.”
Human-on-human Sexual Sins
Incest, adultery, prostitution & homosexuality
Surprisingly, incest is not shunned universally in our modern world. In Europe it is still legal in many circumstances:
“So what?” we may say, “In a liberated world, whose business is it what we do with our sex life?”
Well, as we see with a study published in Psychology Today, a group of Czechoslovakian children born of first degree incest (with a direct relative that has 50% of the same genes, such as a father, mother or sibling), the rates of physical and mental handicaps were astronomically higher than in the non-incestuous population. A study in the Journal of Genetic Counseling showed that the consequences of 2nd degree incest (with cousins or aunts/uncles) show that they are much safer than first degree incest but still consistently cause birth defects.
According to researcher Nicolai Sennels, a Danish psychologist, close to half of all Muslims in the world are inbred to one degree or another. His list is jaw dropping:
- 70% of Pakistanis are inbred.
- 67% of Saudi Arabians are inbred.
- 64% of those living in Jordan and Kuwait are inbred.
- 63% of Sudanese are inbred.
- 60% of Iraqis are inbred.
- 54% of Muslims in the United Arab Emirates and Qatar are inbred.
- 25-30% of those in Turkey are inbred.
- In England, at least 55% of Pakistani immigrants are married to their first cousins.
- In Denmark the number of inbred Pakistani immigrants is around 40%.
Baroness Flather, a British female politician is calling for Pakistanis seeking marriage in the U.K. to be forced to take a DNA test to see whether or not they are indeed too closely related to have healthy children. Remember that the prophet Mohamed himself married his cousin and the practice is encouraged by Islamic law. It should be no surprise then to see it be pandemic across most of the Muslim world. Not much is spoken of this issue due to political correctness frowning on criticisms of Islam in our current cultural climate. the Pakistani population in Europe, in-breeding with first and second degree relatives leads to cognitive and physical deformities.
As we discussed in the second installment of this series, adultery has risen dramatically in our modern Western world. It has caused the break down in the family and consequently rotted the fabric of society. Children as well as adults have suffered the fallout in terms of mental health, financial strain, substance abuse and crime rates. When the unit of the family begins breaking, civilization is being shaken at its core. Perhaps no other sexual sin (outside of rape and child molestation) is as damaging to society. A firm boundary around the family can be well understood.
There is no way to present the “oldest profession” in glowing terms. I have yet to run across even a modern Western liberal who will defend prostitution as a healthy, natural enterprise. Here is a short list of the negative side effects of selling your body for sex:
- lowered self esteem
- lowered immunity
- high rate of sexually transmitted diseases
- increased mental health problems
- most prostitutes come from a background of sexual abuse
- prostitutes are vulnerable to sexual and physical assault
Although New Zealand decriminalized prostitution in 2003, no neighbourhoods want brothels in their midst due to the type of people these businesses attract. As a result, the poorer regions end up being zoned because they are outspent in the courts by richer areas and have to acquiesce to government zoning. Further, when prostitution is tolerated the sex slavery industry thrives. asfd
One of our articles zones in on the environmental and psychosocial factors that often accompany the development of a homosexual identity. There is also a thorough list of the negative elements most of those in the gay community. This short list highlights some of the seemingly natural consequences of a homosexual lifestyle:
- Young homosexual men and women have a pronounced tendency to contemplate suicide.
- Homosexual men are 3 times as likely to commit suicide.
- Alcoholism is a fatal chronic illness affecting the lives of 20 to 30% of the homosexual population.
- Studies have found that 35% of lesbians had a history of excessive drinking, compared to only 5% of the heterosexual women in the sample.
- Approximately 30% of lesbians and gay men are addicted to drugs. The facts show that the homosexual community constitutes a high-risk population with regard to alcoholism and drug abuse.
- Homosexuality is marginal lifestyle that is practiced by an extremely minor segment of the population. Relying upon three large data sets: the General Social Survey, the National Health and Social Life Survey, and the U.S. census, a recent study in Demography estimates the number of exclusive male homosexuals in the general population at 2.5 percent, and the number of exclusive lesbians at 1.4 percent. Alfred Kinsey is responsible for his 1948 study which created the 10% myth when he polled a mainly prison-population and sex offender sample group.
Sexual sins have a very toxic effect on individuals, families and societies. By putting a stiff barrier and strong deterrent to dissuade the Hebrews from engaging in corrupt sexual behaviours, God was preserving the nation of Israel while the other neighbouring societies devolved before their eyes. Today we look around and see a Western world in which there are fewer and fewer sexual taboos. Selfish narcissism seems to be simultaneously be on the rise and birth rates on the decrease. So few babies are being born that most western European countries are in population decline with little to no evidence of breaking out of this spiral. Healthy sexual activity seems to be a crucial component of healthy societies.
In PART 5 of this of the “Is the Old Testament Moral?” we will look at the genocidal commands given by God to the nation of Israel against their neighbours.
 Suicide and Homosexual Youth. Harvard Mental Health Letter. Dec 1998 v15 i6 pNA.
 31. Remafedi, G., Farrow, JA., and Deisher, RW. Risk factors for attempted suicide in gay and bisexual youth. Pediatrics, 1991;87(6): 869-875.
 Ziebold & Mongeon, 1982
 Saghir, 1970; Lewis, 1982
 Rofes, 1983.
 Dan Black, et al., “Demographics of the Gay and Lesbian Population in the United States: Evidence from Available Systematic Data Sources,” Demography 37 (May 2000): 150.