Why are Christians allowed to eat shellfish but not allowed to have sex before marriage?

I have a key that will unlock a puzzling mystery
I have a key that will unlock a puzzling mystery

Here’s a wonderful article from Peter Saunders.

The challenge:

An argument frequently advanced by those attempting to defend homosexual practice is that Christians ‘cherry pick’ the commands in the Bible – that is, they chose to emphasise some commands while ignoring others.

The Old Testament may forbid homosexual acts (Leviticus 18:2; 20:13) but it also forbids eating seafood without fins and scales (Leviticus 11:9-12; Deuteronomy 14:9, 10).

So how can Christians then justify upholding laws on sexual morality whilst at the same time ignoring the food laws from the very same books of the Bible? Why may they eat shellfish but not be allowed to have sex outside marriage? Isn’t this inconsistent and hypocritical?

The solution is that God enters into “covenants” with his people, and the terms of those covenants change.

Especially dietary laws:

The answer to this question lies in an understanding of biblical covenants.

A covenant is a binding solemn agreement made between two parties. It generally leaves each with obligations. But it holds only between the parties involved.

There are a number of biblical covenants: Noahic, Abrahamic, Sinaitic (Old), Davidic and New.

Under the Noahic covenant, which God made with all living human beings (Genesis 9:8-17), people were able to eat anything:

‘Everything that lives and moves about will be food for you. Just as I gave you the green plants, I now give you everything’ (Genesis 9:3).

But under the Sinaitic (Old) Covenant, which God made with the nation of Israel, people were able to eat certain foods, but not others.

Jesus clearly created a new covenant with his followers, where the dietary laws are lifted:

Jesus said that he had come to fulfil the ‘Law and the Prophets’ (Matthew 5:17; Luke 24:44). He would establish this new covenant with new laws, with himself as high priest based on his own sacrificial death on the cross.

This new covenant would completely deal with sin (Hebrews 10:1-18) and protect all those who put their faith in him from God’s wrath and judgement…

[…]‘In the same way, after the supper (Jesus) took the cup, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood, which is poured out for you”’ (Luke 22:20). ‘…we have been made holy through the sacrifice of the body of Jesus Christ once for all’ (Hebrews 10:10)

People would come under the protection of this new covenant, not by virtue of belonging to the nation of Israel, but through faith in Christ. In fact the function of the Old Testament Law (Sinaitic covenant) was to point to Christ as its fulfilment.

[…]So what then did Christ say about foods? He pronounced all foods clean for his followers to eat:

‘ “Don’t you see that nothing that enters a person from the outside can defile them?  For it doesn’t go into their heart but into their stomach, and then out of the body.” (In saying this, Jesus declared all foods clean.) He went on: “What comes out of a person is what defiles them.  For it is from within, out of a person’s heart, that evil thoughts come—sexual immorality, theft, murder,  adultery, greed, malice, deceit, lewdness, envy, slander, arrogance and folly.  All these evils come from inside and defile a person.” (Mark 7:18-23)

Jesus was making that point that under the new covenant God required purity of the heart. Internal thoughts and attitudes were as important as external actions.

Food is OK for Christians, but sexual immorality – which includes premarital sex and adultery – are NOT OK for Christians.

I think sometimes when you are talking to people whose motivation is just to get rid of any objective moral law entirely, they tend to ask questions without really wanting a good answer. This is especially true when it comes to the morality of sex. They ask the question not to get an answer, but to justify getting rid of the moral rules governing sexuality. The answers are there for people who are willing to respect God in their decision-making to find. The answers are not found only by people who have a reason to not want to find them.

In case you’re wondering, I am one of those Christian men who takes chastity seriously. Marriage is about having a close connection with your spouse. Sure, I could break the rules and have a lot of fun now. A lot of Christians have a hard time turning down fun. But when I look at Jesus, I don’t see a man who is pursuing fun and thrills. I see a man who sees a need and then sacrifices his own interests to rescue others from peril.

Let’s check in on Britain’s first married gay couple and see how they’re doing

Gay activist vandalizes pro-marriage sign
Gay activist vandalizes pro-marriage sign

A long time ago in 2011, I wrote a long article looking at the research about same-sex relationships. The research said that sexual relationships between men were more likely to be unstable, promiscuous, and involve domestic violence. Also, it said that same-sex relationships harm children, not just because of the instability but because of the loss of relationships with biological parents.

So let’s take a look at one famous very wealthy gay couple from the UK, and see if we find any evidence of this in their story.

This article is from the UK Daily Mail:

Britain’s first gay fathers have ended their 32-year relationship after one of them fell ‘head over heels’ in love with their daughter’s boyfriend.

Barrie Drewitt-Barlow, 50, is now living with the husband he is currently divorcing as well as their five children and his new boyfriend, 25-year-old Scott Hutchison.

Mr Huchison, who has always been openly bisexual, has previously dated Mr Drewitt-Barlow’s 19-year-old daughter, Saffron.

Mr. Drewitt-Barlow’s current “husband” is named Tony, and he is 55 years old.

The family, originally from Essex, now live in Florida. The children refer to Tony as ‘Dad’, Mr Drewitt-Barlow as ‘Daddy’ and Mr Hutchison as ‘stepdad’.

The shocking move comes two years after Saffron and Mr Hutchison reportedly planned to have their own twins using a surrogate. The pair claim their relationship was never sexual.

[…]Mr Drewitt-Barlow and his husband Tony became the UK’s first gay fathers in 1999 when a surrogate gave birth to twins Saffron and Aspen.

[…]Twins Saffron and Aspen will be 20 next month and were conceived using donor eggs from Tracie McCune before being carried in surrogate Rosalind Bellamy.

Each husband is father to one of the twins, so although they were born at the same time they are in fact half-siblings.

However, Aspen does have an identical twin, 16-year-old Orlando.

The embryo which Aspen came from split in two while it was in the lab and Orlando was frozen for four years before being put into the womb of another surrogate, Donna.

Donna acted as surrogate again for the couple’s second set of twins – who were born nine years ago.

The eggs were from a Brazilian model that Mr Drewitt-Barlow spotted on a catwalk and paid £35,000.

[…]The pair, who are now worth £40million, went on to have five children using other surrogates and egg donors.

They fought in court for their right to be on their children’s birth certificates as father and father and became the first gay couple allowed to do so.

In 2006 they became civil partners and got married as soon as it was legal in the UK in 2014.

Although they don’t seem to be doing very well at commitment, fidelity, children’s needs before adult selfishness department, they nevertheless wanted to move forward from re-defining marriage to eliminate complementary sexes to eliminating religious liberty:

The couple, who previously challenged churches’ right to opt out of gay weddings, also caused controversy by supporting gender selection and hand-picking beautiful egg donors.

My original 2011 article mentioned how expanding gay rights in other countries had let to the elimination of real rights, like freedom of speech, freedom of religion, freedom of association, and so on. And I cited a lot of articles from countries that were showing these problems.

Right now, we are seeing how aspects of marriage which used to be seen as central to the marriage enterprise (chastity, permanent commitment, sexual exclusivity, parenting by biological mother and father, etc.) are disappearing as society accepts that happiness-focused marriage as practiced by gay activists is the same as the old commitment-fidelity-children’s-rights marriage. When you lump what gay activists are doing in marriage in with what used to be considered marriage before no-fault divorce and before same-sex marriage, you understand that what marriage means is changing to include behaviors that were viewed as different from natural marriage.

Christians used to believe that marriage was a life-long commitment to self-sacrificially love their spouse, no matter what troubles were encountered, and no matter how they felt. Marriage was not seen as an engine for producing feelings of happiness. Marriage was about being a disciple of Christ, pursuing holiness, and fighting the world to deliver your spouse to Jesus, with a life demonstrated effective allegiance to Christ. Even non-Christians were aware of this vision of marriage, and it influenced how they approached marriage.

But what is it about now? Happiness:

The couple began to drift apart as their sex life dwindled and Mr Drewitt-Barlow’s snoring forced the pair into separate beds.

Husband Tony also suffered from cancer in 2006 and suffered bad health for the last three years because of treatment related to it.

While his is now in remission, it was his hospital admission for osteoradionecrosis in his jaw that sent Mr Drewitt-Barlow into the arms of Scott – who had been his PA for seven years.

Happiness is the goal for marriage once marriage has drifted away from the example of Christ’s self-sacrificial love for his bride, the church. And happiness does not last. Commitment does.

Here are some sample wedding vows from back when Christianity was taken seriously as something that had authority over feelings. Take a look at what marriage vows used to say about marriage. It was all about commitment, and gender-specific obligations tailored to the particular needs of the man and the woman.

We don’t have that any more, because a bunch of feelings-driven people in the church decided that it was more important for Christians to feel good and look good to non-Christians, than to study how to defend the truth-claims of the Bible on controversial issues like sex and marriage.

Physicist Michael Strauss discusses Christianity and science at Stanford University

Christianity and the progress of science
Christianity and the progress of science

This is one of my favorite lectures.

The lecture:

Dr. Strauss delivered this lecture at Stanford University in 1999. It is fairly easy to understand, and it even includes useful dating tips.

Here is a clip:

The full video can be watched on Vimeo:

Summary:

What does science tell us about God?
– the discoveries of Copernicus made humans less significant in the universe
– the discoveries of Darwin should that humans are an accident
– but this all pre-modern science
– what do the latest findings of science say about God?

Evidence #1: the origin of the universe
– the steady state model supports atheism, but was disproved by the latest discoveries
– the oscillating model supports atheism, but was disproved by the latest discoveries
– the big bang model supports theism, and it is supported by multiple recent discoveries
– the quantum gravity model supports atheism, but it pure theory and has never been tested or confirmed by experiment and observation

Evidence #2: the fine-tuning of physical constants for life
– there are over 100 examples of constants that must be selected within a narrow range in order for the universe to support the minimal requirements for life
– example: mass density
– example: strong nuclear force (what he studies)
– example: carbon formation

Evidence #3: the fine-tuning of our planet for habitability
– the type of galaxy and our location in it
– our solar system and our star
– our planet
– our moon

It’s a good lecture explaining a couple of basic arguments for a cosmic Creator and Designer. If you add the origin of life and the Cambrian explosion (Stephen C. Meyer’s arguments), then you will be solid on the basic scientific arguments for a Creator and Designer of the universe.

Positive arguments for Christian theism

Jennifer Roback Morse lectures on sex and sexuality at Harvard University

Dr. Jennifer Roback Morse
Dr. Jennifer Roback Morse

Dr. Morse delivers a talk based on her book “Smart Sex” at Harvard University.

The MP3 file is here. (21 Mb) (Link in case that doesn’t work)

Topics:

  • the hook-up culture and its effects on men and women
  • cohabitation and its effect on marriage stability
  • balancing marriage, family and career
  • single motherhood by choice and IVF
  • donor-conceived children
  • modern sex: a sterile, recreation activity
  • the real purposes of sex: procreation and spousal unity
  • the hormone oxytocin: when it is secreted and what it does
  • the hormone vassopressin: when it is secreted and what it does
  • the sexual revolution and the commoditization of sex
  • the consumer view of sex vs the organic view of sex
  • fatherlessness and multi-partner fertility
  • how the “sex-without-relationship” view harms children

52 minutes of lecture, 33 minutes of Q&A from the Harvard students. The Q&A is worth listening to – the first question is from a gay student, and Dr. Morse pulls a William Lane Craig to defeat her objection. It was awesome! I never get tired of listening to her talk, and especially on the topics of marriage and family.

What can Christians learn from the bravest naval aviator at the Battle of Midway?

I have been reading lots of books about the World War II battles in the Pacific theater lately, and I wanted to write a post about one of the heroes I found who was the most compelling to me. You may have seen him in the old 1976 Midway movie or the new 2019 Midway movie. But neither movie tells the full story. The man I am talking about is Lt. Commander John C. Waldron.

John Waldron was the leader of the torpedo bomber squadron on the Hornet. This squadron was composed of outdated and slow Devastator torpedo bombers, armed with the Mark 13 Mod 1 torpedoes, which malfunctioned about 90% of the time.

I found an article on the Federalist that tells the story of John Waldron:

Now there are countless men and woman who deserve to be singled out for their valor, but with the 75th anniversary of the Battle of Midway just around the corner, I thought it would be appropriate to call your attention to one of the bravest men who ever lived. A man who, knowing he was facing certain death, led the first attack against the Japanese aircraft carriers and played a direct role in what would be a decisive victory for the United States, and a defeat from which Japan would never recover. That man was Lt. Commander John C. Waldron.

Now for those who don’t know, the Battle of Midway was the turning point in the Pacific theater. The Japanese had an elaborate plan that involved attacking the U.S. base on Midway Island in order to lure the Americans into a battle which the Japanese High command felt their experience and tactics would overwhelm and annihilate the American fleet. With no significant U.S. naval presence, Hawaii and the entire West Coast would be at risk of invasion. But the Americans broke the Japanese code and set a trap of their own – hoping to destroy their enemy’s carriers and thereby establish U.S. dominance in the Pacific. And that was exactly what happened : The U.S. fleet surprised the Japanese, sank their four carriers, and took the first real step to winning the Second World War.

John Waldron was 42 years old when the USS Hornet steamed towards Midway on June 1st, 1942. Born and raised on a reservation in South Dakota, he had never seen the ocean until he attended the Naval Academy. It wasn’t long after he graduated that he moved into naval aviation. He had been assigned to be the squadron leader of the Hornet’s torpedo bombers in late 1941 and had been drilling his men tirelessly ever since. Waldron had the reputation of a tough as nails, no-nonsense commander. Not surprising, since Waldron was a direct descendant of the warriors from the Oglala Lakota tribe – part of the Great Sioux Nation. The tough skin he developed came from decades of derision from his peers over his meager beginnings, and from the racism directed at his Native American heritage. Waldron didn’t care what anyone thought of him – all he wanted to do was fight for his country. He was a natural leader and his men would follow him into the gates of Hell, which, as fate would have it, is exactly what they would do in the upcoming battle.

On the morning of June 4th, the Americans were ready to spring their trap, but in the preflight briefing aboard the Hornet there was a problem. Stanhope Ring, who was in command of the carrier’s air group, directed his pilots to head northwest of the last reported position of the Japanese fleet. Waldron disagreed with this decision, feeling that they should head in the exact direction of that last sighting. He wasn’t shy about expressing this opinion, much the displeasure of Ring. Waldron continued to lobby his superior officer several times after the briefing ended, but to no avail.

The Federalist article doesn’t talk much about Stanhope Ring, but the book I just finished called “The Battle of Midway” by Craig L. Symonds did. Ring was a very tall, good-looking, and white officer who had breezed up the chain of command thanks to his good looks and confident manner. He loved to show off for cameras, and pull rank on subordinates. He was too proud to admit that Waldron was right in front of the other pilots.

More:

The air strike force took off from the deck of the Hornet – fighters, dive bombers, and the 15 planes in Waldron’s torpedo squadron. This force would be joined in the air by similar strike forces from the other U.S. carriers – the Yorktown and the Enterprise. Shortly after the Hornet’s air group was airborne, Waldron couldn’t contain his anger anymore. He broke radio silence to tell Ring that they were headed in the wrong direction. He repeated that comment and Ring issued a terse reply that he was in charge of this group and to stay the hell off the radio. Waldron waited a couple of minutes before replying “The hell with you” and peeled his squadron off and headed due west, where he felt the Japanese fleet was.

Less than an hour later, Waldron was proved right. He had led his squadron on a direct line to the enemy. Waldron broke radio silence again to signal to Ring that he had found the fleet, but Ring and the rest of the Hornet’s planes were too far away to hear. So now, Waldron was faced with a brutal decision. If he went in to attack, he would do so without any fighter protection, and they’d be totally at the mercy of the Japanese fighters. To make matters worse, the U.S. planes (Douglas Devastators) were hopelessly outdated aircraft – their top speed was about a third of what the Japanese fighters could do. They had hoped to get the newer Grumman Avengers, but the Hornet had left Pearl Harbor before they had arrived from the mainland. All of this meant that Waldron and Torpedo 8 were looking at a suicidal attack run. […]Waldron got on the radio again and told his men “We will go in. We won’t turn back. Former strategy cannot be used. We will attack. Good luck!”

And with that, the planes of Torpedo 8 closed up their formation and bore down on the Japanese fleet, some seven miles distant.

The Japanese fighters quickly pounced on the Americans, who were going in low and slow – the only way torpedo bombers can attack. One by one the planes from Torpedo 8 were shot down. […]Every single plane in Torpedo 8 was destroyed and not one torpedo hit a Japanese ship.

Not only were the torpedo bombers of John Waldron’s VT-8 (Hornet) shot down, but two more waves led by Eugene Lindsey VT-6 (Enterprise) and Edward Massey VT-3 (Yorktown) were also repulsed without a hit.

More:

History might have viewed Waldron’s attack as more insane than brave, and utterly pointless….except for what happened next. Shortly after his failed attack, the torpedo squadron from the Enterprise attacked the fleet – and right after that the torpedo squadron from the Yorktown. Both of those squadrons had devastating casualties as well (10 of 14 planes lost and 10 of 12 respectively) without inflicting any damage on any Japanese ship. But these three attacks in succession drew the Japanese fighter cover down so low, that it left their carriers exposed to dive bomber attacks. It also burned up a lot of fuel for the fighters, who now needed to land before they could continue their defense of the fleet. The attacks also forced the Japanese carriers into defensive maneuvers, so they were unable to land any planes or launch any for a strike on the American carriers.

In addition to using up their fuel and coming down to low altitude, the Japanese CAP (combat air patrol) fighters also used up most of their dangerous 20 mm ammunition. They mostly had much weaker 7.7 mm ammunition remaining when the dive bombers from the Enterprise and Yorktown arrived.

More:

As the Japanese were trying to compose themselves after the three fierce but harmless attacks, the American dive bombers from the Enterprise and Yorktown arrived and quickly struck. Within minutes, three of the Japanese carriers were in flames – the heart of the Imperial Navy had been gutted.

[…]The other planes from the Hornet never found the Japanese ships. Ring kept his planes flying in that northwesterly direction until they were too low on fuel to keep going. They returned to the Hornet with their full payload of bombs.

[…]Now, there were a lot of heroes that day – some who lived and some who died, but the valor that John Waldron displayed in defying orders he knew were wrong and then attacking the enemy when he knew it meant certain death, place him on a special level. His actions directly helped the Americans win this crucial battle, which turned the tide of the war in the favor of the United States. He got the Navy Cross for his actions that day, but it seems astonishing to me that he wasn’t awarded the Medal of Honor – he is definitely worthy of it.

You can learn more about the Battle of Midway in this helpful video:

So, here is what I wanted to say about this.

John Waldron was not properly equipped by his organization to make a difference at Midway. His planes were too old and slow, his torpedoes almost never worked. His leader was an arrogant, incompetent coward who prevented him from leading others to find and attack the actual targets. The only way he could do something to his enemy was to disobey orders and go off on his own. If he had lived, he probably would have been court-martialed for insubordination. After Waldron was shot down, every single one of the men in his squadron continued their attack until they too were all shot down. Everyone watching must have thought “what a waste of effort”. It was only later that it became evident to all that what he did was necessary for the second wave to succeed.

This plaque at the United States Naval Academy Club honors the three commanders of the torpedo bomber squadrons:

Plaque honoring the Torpedo Squadron commanders at Midway
Plaque honoring the Midway torpedo bomber squadron commanders

According  to the Family Research Council, the plaque reads:

The torpedo attacks of Waldron, Lindsey, and Massey had followed hard upon each other by luck. What was not luck, but the soul of the United States in action, was the willingness of the torpedo plane squadrons to go in against hopeless odds. This was the extra ounce of martial weight that in a few decisive minutes tipped the balance of history.

When I read this story, it immediately occurred to me that this is the problem that serious Christians are facing today. Parents and pastors are not equipping young people to actually make a difference. Instead of finding and fighting the real targets: atheism, feminism, communism, etc., all our forces have been sent on wild goose chases, so that now “Christians” are actually trying to work on the priorities of the secular left, e.g. – climate change, wealth redistribution, affirming sexual immorality, open borders, etc.

The few of us who actually know how to do our jobs are poorly equipped. We are prevented from leading by organizations that are focused on feelings rather than results. We can only hope that our decision to attack against hopeless odds somehow paves the way for a second wave to succeed. It has happened before, and that’s why we should be brave and continue to engage our opponents using tools that work (philosophy of religion, evidential apologetics, scientific research, historical evidence, chastity, sobriety, self-control, good stewardship of our educations, careers and finances, effective charitable giving, self-sacrificial love, etc.).

…integrating Christian faith and knowledge in the public square

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