As I write, we are in the midst of suffering the atrocities of those who practice extreme-Islam, and believe they are carrying out God's judgment on infidels by beheading, exploding, stabbing, and whatever other means they deem equivalent to the "crime" of not converting to Islam. Not to mention, in the news this past week, a man claiming to be a Christian took lives at a Planned Parenthood location in Colorado Springs, CA. It's all despicable and extreme nonsense!
In the last many years I've heard various journalists and interviewees make reference to the Bible in comparison to the Quran. In their ignorance, they try to tell an ignorant-of-scripture audience that the Bible is as bloody as the Quran. They reference the Old Testament's Levitical law of stoning for adultery, incest, homosexuality, working on the Sabbath. They spotlight the eye-for-an-eye judgement, or the tooth-for-a-tooth.
It's equally disturbing when Christian's actually believe they are suppose to take on the ancient role of the long-deceased Hebrews, and indeed take these punishments into their own hands.
So, are the journalists correct to assume the Bible actually does endorse the punishment of death for those who have broken any law of God? Are those Christians who take up arms to take a life-for-a-life at abortion clinics pleasing God?
A thousand times, "No!"
It is ignorance, and folly, perhaps even an act of hatred of Christianity on the part of the media to report that the Bible endorses such hideous acts.
It is insanity and indeed more hatred for so-called "Christians" to take up a sword to destroy those who are breaking a moral law.
In the Old Testament we do find the death penalty being practiced by God's ordination. But NOT in the New Testament. For those ignorant of the Bible, they do not realize that the scripture is broken up into two parts. In today's order of God-seekers we Christians understand that the Old Testament is no longer the rule book. It now serves us as a gauge of God's likes and dislikes, and it's stories are symbolic examples of relationship with God. The majority of Christians, of all branches of Christianity, understand that the Old Testament is not our guide, it is our gauge. The New Testament is our guide. My pastor taught me that we only tie Old Testament laws to New Testament living if the writers of the New Testament refer us to it. For instance, Paul clearly taught the God-seekers after the resurrection of Christ that the dietary laws were no longer required. But he clearly told us to continue to observe the sexual abstinences such as adultery, homosexuality, cross-dressing, etc. There are some core-laws that we continue to carry out (Thou shall not kill, being one.) But they are taught to be observed between God and man. Not between God and "a people." This is why we believe pastor's should TELL the people what the scripture says, but not go house to house policing and insuring each person is obeying. It's not the minister's job to make sure people obey. It's the preacher's job to "blow the trumpet" of truth. It's each individual's job to please God through adherence.
Here's an example of a way the Old Testament is helpful to God-seekers: When I was a teenager and a boy would ask me to be his date to a school function, or a banquet, or something, he would do something very smart; he'd ask my friends about me. He wanted to know what color I liked, and what my favorite flower was. And those friends of mine would give him some advice he didn't even know to ask about, "Do NOT eat ice around her. The crunching drives her CRAZY."
This is akin to what the Old Testament is to us today. The Word was with God, and is, in fact, GOD. So when you are reading the Bible, you're not reading just another book. It's a spiritual experience. The book is alive! It is God's longest running friendship. The Old Testament is a friend that tells us, "He loves such-and-such. He hates this-or-that."
The Old Testament is certainly NOT a present day instructional for judgment and punishment.
In the New Testament we find TWO attempts to reenact the Old Testament Levitical law. One was of stoning for adultery. They brought a woman to Jesus who had been caught in the compromising position. But Jesus refused to be pushed around by their manipulation. As God-robed-in-flesh he had every right to stone her. As the only sinless human on earth he had every right to stone her. But as Jesus-the-citizen he did not have the right to stone her. The Old Testament did not require the citizens to take the death penalty into their own hands. The law didn't release a socialistic vigilante system of government. The Old Testament required the citizens to take the matter to the governing body and to then have a fair trial. Jesus absolutely REFUSED to be the hand of punishment.
The second time we see people in the New Testament reaching back to the Old Testament law is in the stoning of the preacher, Stephen, for the crime of blasphemy. But the scripture points this out as an act of violent sin. This was not an approved-of-God judgment and punishment.
In the Old Testament we are given a window into what God (who is the same yesterday, today, & forever) like, dislikes, and utterly loathes. This unique window of what God approves or disapproves of is very clear. And is not necessarily in sync with any of our personal opinions about whether or not he's "a little overboard" in HIS approval or disapproval. For instance, I would personally deem stoning for working on the Sabbath an extreme reaction to a lightweight offense. But, [ahem] I am not God. And in the same way that you and I differ on what we find acceptable within our own house-rules, God is as unique an individual. And just as if I want to enjoy your company, I would need to make sure my scent, habits, & ticks do not repel you. So, those of us who seek to be in God's presence make sure to be enticing and enjoyable to be around to Him. The point of thenOld Testament today is for those who want to have a relationship with God.
It's NOT to tell us what offenses we should punish.
James 4:12 (KJV) There is one lawgiver, who is able to save and to destroy: who art thou that judgest another?
WE DO NOT DELIVER THE JUDGEMENT AND PUNISHMENT OF LAW BREAKERS.
The one who made the law is the one who judges. The one who made the law carries out punishment.
We use the scripture to judge our OWN life. We use the scripture to see what God likes and dislikes. He has the SAME likes and dislikes today, yesterday, and forever. But when a fellow human does something God finds dispicable, YOU are not ordained to punish them for it.
That you choose to tolerate your spouse consistently leaving the milk on the table instead of them putting it away doesn't mean you APPROVE of your spouse's behavior.
That you choose to tolerate your friend's choice of food doesn't mean you APPROVE it.
That you choose to tolerate your kid not making their bed doesn't mean you APPROVE of their leaving it unmade.
Your tolerance simply means you're being graceful, and that you're loving them in spite of their rule breaking. You'll even clean up after them!
Though it's hard for people to understand, God has this same kind of tolerance. It doesn't mean he approves of law-breaking, it just means he's full of grace and mercy.
We DO NOT kill abortion clinic workers.
We DO NOT kill homosexuals or adulterers.
We DO NOT take matters of eye-for-an-eye into our own hands.
We see that Jesus obeyed the law of the land when we read about him paying taxes. Even in his utter righteousness he did not take matters of the government in his own hands. He was being an example to us.
You and I should each strive to do what is right. We should not ignore examples in scripture. But it's not my place to judge and punish you for displeasing God. I am your spiritual sibling, not your parent. It's none of my business if you get a "spanking" for breaking one of God's rules. I'm not going to approve of your behavior that is contrary to God's desires and instructions for mankind. But I'm not going to be your executioner either.
The Word will guide you into what pleases God, if you will obey it.
God himself, as the lawmaker, will take care of you to whatever degree he deems appropriate and best.
The Bible does NOT condone or approve of Christians taking matters of justice into their own hands. Jesus clearly taught us to live within the boundaries of the laws of the land. If we want a matter changed, we do it STRICTLY through legal means. PERIOD.
The whole foundation of Christianity is FAITH. We believe in Christ's virgin birth. We believe in the miracles he performed. We have faith that he truly rose from the dead. Faith is no less a vital element then in feeling panged at society's blatant disregard for laws we know to be sacred. Like abortion, gender-acceptance, and so on. If someone somewhere is doing something inappropriate; "Be not deceived, God is not mocked. Whatsoever a man soweth, THAT shall he also reap."
FAITH is what you must exhibit in these matters, not judgement or punishment.