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Feedback archiveFeedback 2010

Hoax ‘testimony’ and Hoax endorsement:

Is eating shellfish still an abomination?

Published: 10 July 2010(GMT+10)

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It pays to be alert to sarcasm when listening to what others have to say.’

It pays to be alert to sarcasm when listening to what others have to say.

Be warned. This letter from US correspondent Michael B. takes the reader on some unorthodox twists and turns. But after this, there is a genuine feedback on our new book The Greatest Hoax on Earth.

God Bless from Florida!

Thank you for doing so much to educate people regarding God’s Law. Two years ago I was in a sad state, I thought I was homosexual and even started DATING a man! I had not been raised in a Christian household so I didn’t know God’s word. One day a Catholic co-worker recommended I view your web page article “Homosexual behaviour v the Bible“. I want to thank you for turning my life around! I now follow a glorious way of life which I never knew existed, and am now quite happy with my celibacy. I have learned a great deal from many of your informative articles, and try to share that knowledge with as many people as I can. Now when someone tries to defend the homosexual lifestyle, I simply remind them that Leviticus 18:22 clearly states it to be an abomination. Because, after all, “The final guide to the interpretation of Scripture is Scripture itself!” And that’s usually the end of the debate. I do need some advice from you, however, regarding some of the other specific laws the Bible plainly states and how to follow them to the best of my abilities:

When my close friend burns a bull on the altar as a sacrifice, I know it creates a pleasing odor for the Lord — Lev. 1:9. The problem is, I understand Jesus died for our sins, making sacrifice unnecessary. Should I sit quietly or just remind myself that God finds these things pleasing?

A man may sell his daughter into slavery, as sanctioned in Exodus 21:7. This is illegal in America, but if the opportunity existed in another country, is this still right with God?

I know that one is allowed no contact with a woman while she is in her period of menstrual uncleanliness — Lev. 15:19–24. The problem is, how does one tell? I imagine most women take offense to this question being asked.

Lev. 25:44 states that I may indeed possess slaves, both male and female, provided they are purchased from neighboring nations. A prayer partner claims that this applies to Mexicans, but not Canadians. Can you clarify? I know American law makes this illegal, but if it were legal, why wouldn’t I be able to own a Canadian?

I have a neighbor who insists on working on the Sabbath. Exodus 35:2 clearly states she should be put to death. Am I morally obligated to insure her death?

Another female friend of mine feels that even though eating shellfish is an abomination — Lev. 11:10, it is a lesser abomination than homosexuality. I don’t agree. Can you settle this?

Lev. 21:20 states that I may not approach the altar of God as a priest if I have a defect in my sight. I have to admit that I sometimes wear distance glasses while driving. Does my vision have to be perfect 20/20 to become a priest?

Most of my male friends get their hair trimmed, including the hair around their temples, even though this is expressly forbidden by Lev. 19:27. My work requires that I shave. What is a proper form of atonement?

I know from Lev. 11:6–8 that touching the skin of a dead pig is unclean in the eyes of God, but may I still play football if I wear gloves?

Lastly, my uncle has a farm. He violates Lev. 19:19 by planting two different crops in the same field, as did his wife one day when she came to visit by wearing garments made of two different kinds of thread (I think it was a cotton/polyester blend blouse with khaki pants). My uncle also tends to use the Lord’s name in vain and blaspheme a lot. Please help me show them the wrong in their life choices.

I know Creation Ministries has studied these things extensively, so I am confident you can help. Thank you again so much for reminding me that God’s word is eternal and unchanging.

Your devoted friend in God,

Michael B.

Lita Cosner of CMI–US replies (her responses are interspersed):

Dear Michael, you wrote:

Thank you for doing so much to educate people regarding God’s Law. Two years ago I was in a sad state, I thought I was homosexual and even started DATING a man! I had not been raised in a Christian household so I didn’t know God’s word. One day a Catholic co-worker recommended I view your web page article “Homosexual behaviour v the Bible“. I want to thank you for turning my life around! I now follow a glorious way of life which I never knew existed, and am now quite happy with my celibacy. I have learned a great deal from many of your informative articles, and try to share that knowledge with as many people as I can. Now when someone tries to defend the homosexual lifestyle, I simply remind them that Leviticus 18:22 clearly states it to be an abomination. Because, after all, “The final guide to the interpretation of Scripture is Scripture itself!” And that’s usually the end of the debate. I do need some advice from you, however, regarding some of the other specific laws the Bible plainly states and how to follow them to the best of my abilities:

I wish your initial testimony were true, but I assure you Christians are just as capable of detecting sarcasm as non-Christians. We get this list of ‘questions’ a lot—an unoriginal and decontextualized list of supposed problem passages from the Old Testament. Since there are answers available on the Internet, I can only conclude that you were either too lazy to look them up for yourself or that you didn’t think there were answers to any of these objections.

When my close friend burns a bull on the altar as a sacrifice, I know it creates a pleasing odor for the Lord — Lev. 1:9. The problem is, I understand Jesus died for our sins, making sacrifice unnecessary. Should I sit quietly or just remind myself that God finds these things pleasing?

The whole question is moot now, since there is no Temple

Are you sure your friend isn’t just having a barbecue? Burnt offerings were only to be given in the prescribed places; this was first at the tabernacle, then various high places in Israel until the Temple was built and became the only acceptable place to give a burnt offering. Certainly, these burnt offerings, the shedding of the blood of animals to cover over the sins of man, was looking forward to the final sacrifice of Jesus Christ which would fulfill the sacrificial system and render it superfluous. Even so, there is evidence that very early Jewish Christians still participated in Temple worship with other sorts of offerings, such as thanksgiving offerings. These have nothing to do with sin, so would not be contrary to accepting Jesus as the final sacrifice for sin. Of course, the whole question is moot now, since there is no Temple.

A man may sell his daughter into slavery, as sanctioned in Exodus 21:7. This is illegal in America, but if the opportunity existed in another country, is this still right with God?

You’re assuming that the ancient world was as friendly as the Western world is to those who have enough wealth and leisure time to sit around on the Internet making bigoted assumptions about an ancient text.

Way to view the text as a bigoted 21st century Western man! This is more like the scenario—a family is destitute and they have the choice to either let their teenaged daughter starve to death with them, or ‘sell’ her (really, give her in marriage) to someone better off who could take care of her, and the bride gift her husband gives would allow the family to survive. Not what you’d read in a modern romance novel, but the ancient world was not as convenient as the modern Western world is—since most people in the world throughout history had to work long hours just to survive.

I know that one is allowed no contact with a woman while she is in her period of menstrual uncleanliness — Lev. 15:19–24. The problem is, how does one tell? I imagine most women take offense to this question being asked.

Well, unless you’re a signatory to the Sinaitic Covenant, the question is moot because the command isn’t for you. That being said, sexual contact with a woman during her menstrual cycle is forbidden by the Law; other forms of contact would incur uncleanness, but the Jew, with very few exceptions, is never commanded to avoid this type of uncleanness, and it isn’t related to sin at all. A person who is ritually unclean is simply not eligible to serve in the Temple, a condition which would not affect most peoples’ day-to-day life at all. See also my answer about the role of such ritual purity laws in ancient Judaism.

Lev. 25:44 states that I may indeed possess slaves, both male and female, provided they are purchased from neighboring nations. A prayer partner claims that this applies to Mexicans, but not Canadians. Can you clarify? I know American law makes this illegal, but if it were legal, why wouldn’t I be able to own a Canadian?

Again, you’re making the common mistake of equating an ancient institution with a modern one, and assuming that the ancient world was as friendly as the Western world is to those who have enough wealth and leisure time to sit around on the Internet making bigoted assumptions about an ancient text. Slavery, as referred to here in the Bible, as in much of the ancient world, was more like indentured servitude, or even modern employment— in the ancient world, the President’s cabinet would be called his ‘slaves’; you would similarly be the ‘slave’ of your employer. Indeed, anyone who is not self-employed would be in slavery by the ancient definition! So I would disagree with your friend; you can indeed employ both Mexicans and Canadians, but only if they have the appropriate work visas. ;-)

Note that slavery occurred throughout the world, in all continents and affecting all people groups (“races”). But atheists attack only the Bible and the Christian west for a humanity-wide evil, whereas it was only the Christianized west that finally abolished this evil and spread this abolition throughout the world (see Anti-slavery activist William Wilberforce: Christian hero).

I have a neighbor who insists on working on the Sabbath. Exodus 35:2 clearly states she should be put to death. Am I morally obligated to insure her death?

Again, if she’s not a signatory to the Sinaitic Covenant, working on Saturday is not forbidden for her, and if you’re not a signatory to the Sinaitic Covenant, you’re not qualified to kill her for it. Plus you’d still be subject to the American laws against murder. Come on, don’t you atheists have anything interesting to offer?

Another female friend of mine feels that even though eating shellfish is an abomination-Lev. 11:10, it is a lesser abomination than homosexuality. I don’t agree. Can you settle this?

You have taken this out of context. The full passage says, “abomination to you”. Who is “you”? Again, the signatories to the Sinaitic Covenant, or the Jews under the Mosaic Law. “Abominations” are a certain class of sins that would pollute the land, because it was ignoring the “boundaries” God put into place. Shellfish aren’t “natural” fish with fins and scales, so not appropriate for food according to the Sinaitic Covenant.

Homosexual behaviour was not qualified in this way “to you”; i.e. it was an objective abomination, not just one to the signatories of the Sinaitic Covenant. Certainly, homosexual acts break the ritual boundary of appropriate relationships, but they also violate the Creation ordinance of marriage as one man and one woman (Genesis 1:27, 2:24), endorsed by Christ Himself as the words of the Creator (Matthew 19:3–6).

Lev. 21:20 states that I may not approach the altar of God as a priest if I have a defect in my sight. I have to admit that I sometimes wear distance glasses while driving. Does my vision have to be perfect 20/20 to become a priest?

Sorry, people with less than perfect vision (although how they would judge that in the ancient world isn’t certain) aren’t eligible for the priesthood. Neither are women, men from any tribe other than Levi, and descendants of Levi who had made themselves impure by marrying non-virgins or non-Israelites.

Most of my male friends get their hair trimmed, including the hair around their temples, even though this is expressly forbidden by Lev. 19:27. My work requires that I shave. What is a proper form of atonement?

Again, unless they and you are signatories to the Sinaitic covenant you don’t have to worry about it. Once again, the command was to keep the Jews separate from the surrounding pagans, including prohibiting Jewish men from copying pagan beard styles.

I know from Lev. 11:6 –8 that touching the skin of a dead pig is unclean in the eyes of God, but may I still play football if I wear gloves?

Or get a ‘kosher’ football that isn’t made with pigskin, but again, only signatories of the Sinaitic Covenant have to worry about that.

Lastly, my uncle has a farm. He violates Lev. 19:19 by planting two different crops in the same field, as did his wife one day when she came to visit by wearing garments made of two different kinds of thread (I think it was a cotton/polyester blend blouse with khaki pants). My uncle also tends to use the lord’s name in vain and blaspheme a lot. Please help me show them the wrong in their life choices.

Again, are any of them signatories of the Sinaitic covenant? If not, then we’d only have a problem with the blaspheming, but Christianity doesn’t make that a stoning offense. And the Sinaitic restriction against mixing crops or cloths is not silly or arbitrary, but it involves the symbolism of Israelites remaining pure and ‘unmixed’ with the surrounding peoples. See also A brief history of the Jews.

I know Creation Ministries has studied these things extensively, so I am confident you can help. Thank you again so much for reminding me that God’s word is eternal and unchanging.

Finally, a statement that if it only weren’t so sarcastic would be intelligent! We have studied these things, and we do uphold that God’s word is eternal and unchanging. I hope this has at least taught you not to uncritically copy and paste arguments to emails without thinking about it. You’ll just end up looking silly.

Sincerely,

Lita Cosner
Information Officer
Creation Ministries International


Just to show that not all correspondence we receive is of the hostile genre above, here’s a wonderfully positive letter from Australian correspondent Shane R., to conclude this week’s feedback:

With a knowledge of this material Christians everywhere finally have the informational weaponry to not just withstand but to refute evolutionary teaching everywhere.

Dear Christian friends at CMI.

I have just finished reading two masterpieces of scientific exposition written so carefully in mostly common language, just like the Bible. Dr Jonathan Sarfati has prepared, in “Refuting Compromise“ and “The Greatest Hoax on Earth“, such well written and thoroughly referenced books that I believe these works will eventually enter our Global Christian heritage. With a knowledge of this material Christians everywhere finally have the informational weaponry to not just withstand but to refute evolutionary teaching everywhere. Even folk without formal scientific education should be able to understand the core information here that Dr Sarfati has presented so well!

Dr Sarfati has responded to the misinformed and misinforming claims of both Dr Ross and Dr Dawkins with firm courtesy and respect, unlike either of the above, deploying the razor sharp insight of an objective and carefully factual scientific mind to devastating effect.

Well done Dr Sarfati! I shall forever be in awe of God for raising you to this task. I have told a great many people about these books and have already given one away for another Professional to read as I often do with CMI materials including your excellent teaching videos.

Shane R., B.Eng. (Hons)

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Readers’ comments
Allison T., Australia:

Well done Lita!

You’ve articulated beautifully in your reply! I’ll be bookmarking your response.

Adrian E., Australia:

This is well written. This response is equally valid to the classic “Why Can’t I Own a Canadian” rubbish that is pulled out now and again.

I’ll direct them to this article in the future.

Linda H., Australia:

Thank you for your well-written answers to the hoax questions. I will pray for Michael because your answers would have to make him think. (God willing)

I would also like to add my thank you to Jonathan Sarfati for his books and endorse Shane R.’s comments [above]. Bless you, and keep up the good work; we need every bit of it.

Kathleen I., Australia:

Well done. Thank you for your dignified and thorough answers which were an excellent example to us all of graciousness while intellectually rebutting!

Josef L., USA:

Just wanted to thank Lita Cosner for her latest (and really all) feedback regarding the atheist with the hoax testimony. Lita is an inspiration and her knowledge is impressive. I’m really glad Christians have her on our side. I only pray that more Christians (male and female) will follow her lead and study the word.

Kevin M., USA:

From my experience in many discussions on the Internet (primarily on the CMI Facebook fan page), I have little doubt that some people, even from our own side, will complain that Lita Cosner’s response shouldn’t have “assumed” that Michael B.’s letter was sarcastic.

I say, good job. I frequently see similar copying and pasting from secular sites myself in the discussions I take part in. Possibly the most common discussion topic (usually a tangent to the posted topic) is the complaints from others on our side about our calling certain arguments from the other side “ridiculous” or “foolish” (or what some on our side would say are “even worse” labels). Often, the mere fact that we refute the other side's argument is called “an attack” (by the other side, but also by some on our own side). Any response to the secularists' arguments is called “cruel”, “judgmental”, etc. You'd almost think we're not supposed to give a defense at all! (One on our sound even gave several extensive impassioned comments about our use of the word “troll” when describing someone (even though the word has a standard definition and we were using it accordingly!). It's as though we're supposed to beat around the bush to avoid calling someone a “liar” (even when that's the case) or a hypocrite (even when it's obvious) or any number or other labels according to their defined meanings.

Some are upset when I call a stupid argument “stupid” or even an idiotic argument “idiotic”. But like Lita Cosner, I can usually spot disingenuousness and outright sarcasm, and I’ll use such labels when I think they’re appropriate. Occasionally there are sincere questions, and I’ll try to give a sincere answer. But with many of them, it soon becomes apparent that they’re there simply to disrupt things or “shout down” our side (as much as it’s possible on the Internet). Their dismissal of any refutation while they constantly ask for “evidence” from our side, their frequent equivocation when trying to refute OUR side: “complexity” (by itself) for “specified complexity”, “evolution” for “the slightest variation within kinds”, “operational science” for “origins science”, etc. The list could go on.

Many cite Jesus’ “love” when dealing with people, but they selectively dismiss the fact that He also called enemies of the gospel (especially the religious hypocrites) “a brood of vipers” or “sons of hell”. They say we should be Christlike in our love but imply somehow that we’re NOT supposed to be Christlike when dealing with enemies (as opposed to sincere seekers). I’ve heard some say that such responses to them won’t attract them to Christ. But sometimes I wonder whether, instead, they would actually say, “Boy, those Christians are so wimpy and wishy-washy—I want to be one of them!”

In any case, Lita’s response was well-done, with good answers, and also perceptive of the sarcasm being shown by Michael B.

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