Some people claimed that followers of Jesus were speaking against the law and saying that Jesus was going to change the customs given by Moses. But those were false witnesses. Paul didn’t believe Christ promoted sin. Jesus himself said he had not come to abolish the law. He said as long as the world exists, not even the smallest bit of the law will disappear. After he healed a leper, Jesus told him to go through with the rituals that the law of Moses requires.
According to Jesus, the law is still very important. Keeping the commandments is how you get eternal life! So you must be careful to do everything the teachers of the law tell you. You can’t get into the kingdom of heaven unless you’re even better at obeying the law than law-obsessed people like the Pharisees. (Even they didn’t keep the law thoroughly enough to satisfy Jesus.) And even after you make it into the kingdom of heaven, he says your status there will be determined by how strictly you keep the law.
A lot of the things Jesus taught were in contrast to the Jewish law given by Moses. Jesus would specifically mention one of Moses’s laws, and then contrast that with how he thought people should behave. Sometimes he was just adding to what Moses taught, but other times he was telling people not to do what Moses had told them to do.
For instance, Jesus thought the command to love your neighbor also said you should hate your enemy. It doesn’t actually say that, but that’s what Jesus seemed to think the law was. And he said you should do the opposite. Then there’s the “eye for an eye” rule, which actually is in the Old Testament law. Jesus told people to disregard that law, and to instead encourage people who mistreat you to mistreat you even more.
Continue reading Did Jesus want people to obey the law?
I’m a big fan of freedom of speech. Here are a few of the reasons it’s important for everyone to be free to talk about controversial things without being forcibly silenced:
- Think about important truths that were strongly rejected in the past. Those ideas could never have become accepted if people hadn’t been free to discuss them and to advocate for unpopular views.
- The people deciding which views to forcibly suppress could easily be in the wrong, and end up suppressing the truth. The use of force doesn’t favor the people who are right. It favors whoever happens to be more powerful and capable of violence.
- Even if it is in fact wrong views or potentially harmful ideas that are being suppressed, that just hides the fact that people have wrong beliefs, which makes it harder for anyone to actually do anything about it. If discussion of a topic is banned, there is no opportunity for anyone to correct people who are developing dangerously wrong beliefs about it. And if people aren’t allowed to talk about their desire to harm people, that just means the victims will be less likely to be prepared to do anything to stop them.
- Banning the expression of false beliefs can also backfire, causing people to assume (quite reasonably) that the truth is being hidden from them, and that the things people aren’t allowed to say must be true. And they will never realize how weak the arguments for those bad ideas are, if they never even get a chance to hear those arguments.
Many people believe that the USA, the country that values and protects freedom of speech more than any other, was founded by Christians as a Christian nation based on Christian principles. If that was true, you would expect that the founders’ regard for free speech would have some basis in the Christian Bible. Or at least that the Bible would agree with them about it. Or at least that the Bible’s instructions wouldn’t be completely incompatible with it. Let’s look at what the Bible says about silencing speech, and see if that’s the case…
Continue reading Censorship in the Bible
The Bible says when the Israelites were conquering some nations on their way to the promised land, they stopped at the fortified border of the Ammonites. God told them to leave the Ammonites alone, and the Israelites obeyed, and kept away from the land of the Ammonites.
After the Israelites had settled in the promised land, Jephthah stated that Israel had not taken the land of the Ammonites. The Amorites, maybe, but not the Ammonites.
Continue reading Did Israel take any of the land of the Ammonites?