ABC:Leviticus 20

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Verse 10

The ReasonProject lists the following as a Bible contradiction with the headline "How should adulterers be punished?"[1]

Leviticus 20:10 And the man that committeth adultery with another man's wife, even he that committeth adultery with his neighbour's wife, the adulterer and the adulteress shall surely be put to death.

John 8:3 And the scribes and Pharisees brought unto him a woman taken in adultery; and when they had set her in the midst,
4 They say unto him, Master, this woman was taken in adultery, in the very act.
5 Now Moses in the law commanded us, that such should be stoned: but what sayest thou?
6 This they said, tempting him, that they might have to accuse him. But Jesus stooped down, and with his finger wrote on the ground, as though he heard them not.
7 So when they continued asking him, he lifted up himself, and said unto them, He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her.
8 And again he stooped down, and wrote on the ground.

This involves a distinction between the Old and New Testaments in who has the right to punish, not what the punishment should be. Observe that Jesus never said she wasn't worthy of death.

The New Testament writers, particularly Paul, point out that while the Old Testament Law including Leviticus 20:10 was a just Law (1 Timothy 1:8, Romans 7:7) it declares everyone is guilty of death and by it none will be justified. (Romans 3:20) As Paul says, the Law is just (Romans 7:7, 1 Timothy 1:8), but was just a schoolmaster to show us our faults (Galatians 3:24-25) that we might repent and turn from them (Romans 6:1-2, Galatians 6:7-8, Philippians 3:18-19), forgiving others as God wants so He can forgive us.

Romans 3:19 Now we know that what things soever the law saith, it saith to them who are under the law: that every mouth may be stopped, and all the world may become guilty before God.
20 Therefore by the deeds of the law there shall no flesh be justified in his sight: for by the law is the knowledge of sin.

1 John 3:4 Whosoever committeth sin transgresseth also the law: for sin is the transgression of the law.

Romans 6:23 For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.

James 2:10 For whosoever shall keep the whole law, and yet offend in one point, he is guilty of all.
11 For he that said, Do not commit adultery, said also, Do not kill. Now if thou commit no adultery, yet if thou kill, thou art become a transgressor of the law.
12 So speak ye, and so do, as they that shall be judged by the law of liberty.
13 For he shall have judgment without mercy, that hath shewed no mercy; and mercy rejoiceth against judgment.

Romans 7:7 What shall we say then? Is the law sin? God forbid. Nay, I had not known sin, but by the law: for I had not known lust, except the law had said, Thou shalt not covet.

1 Timothy 1:8 But we know that the law is good, if a man use it lawfully;
9 Knowing this, that the law is not made for a righteous man, but for the lawless and disobedient, for the ungodly and for sinners, for unholy and profane, for murderers of fathers and murderers of mothers, for manslayers,
10 For whoremongers, for them that defile themselves with mankind, for menstealers, for liars, for perjured persons, and if there be any other thing that is contrary to sound doctrine;

Romans 3:9 What then? are we better than they? No, in no wise: for we have before proved both Jews and Gentiles, that they are all under sin;
10 As it is written, There is none righteous, no, not one:

Galatians 3:19 Wherefore then serveth the law? It was added because of transgressions, till the seed should come to whom the promise was made; and it was ordained by angels in the hand of a mediator.
20 Now a mediator is not a mediator of one, but God is one.
21 Is the law then against the promises of God? God forbid: for if there had been a law given which could have given life, verily righteousness should have been by the law.
22 But the scripture hath concluded all under sin, that the promise by faith of Jesus Christ might be given to them that believe.
23 But before faith came, we were kept under the law, shut up unto the faith which should afterwards be revealed.
24 Wherefore the law was our schoolmaster to bring us unto Christ, that we might be justified by faith.
25 But after that faith is come, we are no longer under a schoolmaster.

Romans 3:31 Do we then make void the law through faith? God forbid: yea, we establish the law.

Thus there is no contradiction. Adultery like all sin is worthy of death, but God alone has the authority and position to render that judgment. Since we are all equally guilty of death, we should not sentence others to death unless sinless ourselves, which is all Jesus was pointing out. Notice that Jesus did not deny the adulteress was sinful or worthy of death, to the contrary, Jesus told her "go and sin no more." (John 8:11)

Rather than claiming the Old Testament Law's punishments were wrong, the New Testament seen in Romans 3 claims that all are guilty according to the Law, and that we must forgive others their violations of it if we want God to likewise forgive us. (Matthew 6:12, 18:35; Mark 11:25-26) The Law, including Leviticus, was just, but could not justify, and was given to show us our faults and sinfulness.

Verse 17

TheThinkingAtheist.com claims the Bible is wrong about the following passage, and makes the following comments (italicized):[2]

Genesis 17:15 And God said unto Abraham, As for Sarai thy wife, thou shalt not call her name Sarai, but Sarah shall her name be.
16 And I will bless her, and give thee a son also of her: yea, I will bless her, and she shall be a mother of nations; kings of people shall be of her.

Abraham marries his half-sister. God blesses the union in Genesis 22:17.

Leviticus 20:17 And if a man shall take his sister, his father's daughter, or his mother's daughter, and see her nakedness, and she see his nakedness; it is a wicked thing; and they shall be cut off in the sight of their people: he hath uncovered his sister's nakedness; he shall bear his iniquity.

Incest is a disgrace.

Deuteronomy 27:22 Cursed be he that lieth with his sister, the daughter of his father, or the daughter of his mother. And all the people shall say, Amen.
23 Cursed be he that lieth with his mother in law. And all the people shall say, Amen.

The perpetrator is "cursed."

See also Pre-Flood Longevity

The commandment against incest was not given until the time of Moses because incest was not wrong before that, since people lived such extraordinarily long lives, centuries longer than we do today. Technically it wasn't incest by today's standards since early humans each had lifespans of 900 years (Genesis 5). Incest was only declared wrong by the time of Moses when people had average lifespans of 70 years (Psalms 90:10) and God when the Flood started began reducing the average lifespan to 120 years (Genesis 6:3. Lifespans did not reach this point until about the time of Moses, who lived exactly the 120 years specified. (Deuteronomy 34:7) Incest today is considered wrong, as it should be, because children who grow up with one another as part of the same family should not have sexual relationships.

However, ancient people like Noah's family lived centuries upon centuries and could be born many centuries apart in age from their siblings, old enough by today's standards to be the great, great, great, great, great, great, great grandparents of their brothers and sisters. As Romans 5:13 says, "sin is not imputed when there is no law." Before the time of Moses there was no necessity for a law against incest because such vast lifespans made for very different family units, and incest was thus not wrong in the same way it is today.

In the case of Abraham, he lived to be 175 years old. (Genesis 25:7 People lived such long lives at the time that his great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great grandfather, Noah himself, did not die until 18 years after Abraham was born at the ripe age of 950 years old! Under the Biblical model, such ancient patriarchs could have siblings considerably older and more distant in relation than is seen today, which is why the commandment against incest was not yet given, and incest at the time was not wrong.

Sources

  1. Marlow, Andy (2009). Contradictions in the Bible. Project Reason.
  2. TheThinkingAtheist. Bible Contradictions. Retrieved from http://www.thethinkingatheist.com/page/bible-contradictions.