RE: [asa] A question on morals (OT and NT)

From: Ryan Rasmussen, P.E. <>
Date: Tue Nov 03 2009 - 14:51:13 EST

Bernie said:

I can understand morals changing or evolving, esp. with a 'meme' idea of cultural evolution. But thinking that God is the ultimate sense of morals, then God changes the morals, poses a logic problem for me. Why didn't God just say the morals once, and have them good for all time? Was it because humans weren't evolved enough culturally so they couldn't handle it yet? Again, that feeds into the 'meme' idea. The whole progressive attitude of morals which you seem to suggest smacks to me of cultural evolution (and I think you are right in seeing it that way).

I'm confused.

OT: Leviticus 19:18 (New International Version)

 18 " 'Do not seek revenge or bear a grudge against one of your people, but love your neighbor as yourself. I am the LORD.

NT: Matthew 7:12 (New International Version)

12So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets.

I don't see where the changing and evolving is taking place?

Pete said : "Eye for an eye in the OT is a means of bringing official "legal" restitution. It is not meant for making personal decisions. I likely agree with Murray here, in our previous exchange. You may not be picking a very good example to make your point. "

Bernie replied: "There's not really that big of a difference. Instead of a person making a judgment, it is a court (which is hopefully more fair and unbiased). So I think it is still interesting to see exactly what "eye for eye" meant (OT law example), how it was applied, and how it compares/contrasts with the NT."

On the personal level which you argued, I would say that Lev. 19:18 strictly prohibits revenge. I do believe it would be wrong (sin) for the Jewish boy to have acted on his own in spirit a of vindictiveness in your example. "Eye for eye", in my view, is more about limiting punishment/restitution by a governing body on the behalf of someone who was wronged to a "punishment/recompense that fits the crime".

Or as Glenn highlighted in a reference: "According to the laws in chaps. 17-26, two qualities are the girding pillars of a holy life, i.e., justice and love. Justice means equity. This is stated fundamentally in the principle of lex talionis, an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth, a life for a life (24:20). This principle does not imply that punishment was carried out by inflicting bodily injury in kind, but that punishment for harm to a person is to be commensurate with the harm done, not greater, as revenge dictates, nor less, as indulgence desires. This principle was a great advancement in law codes, for it raised personal injury from a civil tort to criminal law, increasing the social worth of a citizen. Throughout these laws the worth of each person is affirmed. [WBC,<x-msg://1/bookabs.html#WBC> Leviticus, Intro]

I think some of the confusion here is that you are looking at laws that were established for a culture so different from our own and assuming that they have the same value/societal implications as ours. Would we ever stone a woman who lied and posed to be a virgin in today's times? Does someone's virginity have the same implications today as it did in the ANE?

I think the main contrast I see in the NT is that Jesus brings the same unchanging morals to a focus in our inner world rather than constraints on the outer world.


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Received on Tue Nov 3 14:51:40 2009

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