Jesus, the tax law and the regulations

One argument that arises in the issue of apologetics is the extent to which the Old Testament Law is still binding on us. One area that it arises is in relation to the area of homosexuality and the Bible. (Let me once again stress that the CADRE as a whole is of different minds on a number of issues, and the nature of homosexuality is one of them. As always, I speak only for myself when discussing this issue.) For example, in a piece entitled "The Six Bible Passages Used To Condemn Homosexuals", Robert Truluck argues:

The use of Leviticus to condemn and reject homosexuals is obviously a hypocritical selective use of the Bible against gays and lesbians. Nobody today tries to keep the laws in Leviticus. Look at Leviticus 11:1-12, where all unclean animals are forbidden as food, including rabbits, pigs, and shellfish, such as oysters, shrimp, lobsters, crabs, clams, and others that are called an "abomination." Leviticus 20:25 demands that "you are to make a distinction between the clean and unclean animal and between the unclean and clean bird; and you shall not make yourself an abomination by animal or by bird or by anything that creeps on the ground, which I have separated for you as unclean." You can eat some insects like locusts (grasshoppers), but not others.

Leviticus 12:1-8 declares that a woman is unclean for 33 days after giving birth to a boy and for 66 days after giving birth to a girl and goes on to demand that certain animals must be offered as a burnt offering and a sin offering for cleansing. Nobody today who claims to be a Christian tries to keep these laws, and few people even know about them! Why do you think that most people don't know about them?

Obviously, some of the Old Testament Law is still binding on Christians today. For example, "Thou shalt have no other Gods before Me" seems to be binding without discussion. The laws against murder, theft and adultery, I am sure, would be largely agreed as binding regardless of your approach. Of course it is true that even if these laws are violated, God's love and forgiveness is expansive enough to not result in condemnation, but that does not mean that we are free to engage in these acts. Even laws found outside of the ten commandments, such as the restriction on child sacrifice and bestiality also found in Leviticus 20, would seem to be binding. So, on what basis can we differentiate between those that are binding and those that are not?

I have found that there is an analogy that is helpful in differentiating between binding and non-binding laws, and it is as follows: Any reader who lives in the United States is familiar with the Internal Revenue Service (the IRS) which collects the income taxes for the government. Income taxes are able to be collected by the federal government because the Sixteenth Amendment to the Constitution makes the collection of these taxes constitutional (please, no theories about how the Sixteenth Amendment was not properly passed -- that is irrelevant for purposes of this post). The Congress is able to pass laws (in this case, the Internal Revenue Code) based on this general grant of authority in the Constitution, and it has done so. Finally, the Treasury Department takes the laws passed by Congress and writes volumes and volumes of regulations attempting to flesh out and fill in the gaps in the law. With me so far?

Suppose that someone comes along who is a multi-multi-trillionaire. This multi-multi-trillionaire decides that he will undertake paying the money that would otherwise be collected by the federal government through taxes, and the federal government, in turn, agrees to amend the Constitution to do away with the Sixteenth Amendment. Thus, the federal government no longer needs to collect income taxes and the legal right to collect income taxes has been removed from the Constitution.

If such a thing were to come to pass that the underlying taxes were paid by someone else, what becomes of the obligation to file the forms or do any of the other reporting requirements in the Internal Revenue Code (IRC)? If there are no taxes owed and no Constitutional right for the federal government to even collect income taxes, there is no longer any need to comply with the regulations under the IRC. In fact, there is no reason to follow the IRC itself because the underlying ability of the government to collect income taxes no longer exists. The laws would still be there, but they would be of no continuing force or effect.

I think we should look at the Old Testament Law the same way. Those things that were in place to act as a "ritual cleansing" were there to act for our atonement. Things like eating clean and unclean animals seem to be that type of thing. The laws about the priests having to be in the Levite tribe were also part of that system (see Hebrews 7), and so they are no longer valid or binding. But the fact that these types of laws were completely set aside in no way effects the moral laws, in the same way that the IRC being set aside would in no way effect the restrictions on the government required by the freedoms spelled out in the First Amendment.

So, is homosexuality a "ritual cleansing" law or a "moral" law. I leave that for another time to answer. However, if it is a moral law, then it remains binding on us as Christians in our quest to become more like Jesus since Jesus never, ever broke a moral law.


Popular Posts