Don Stenberg: Not the beastiality straw man again. smh. In the New Covenant Jesus explains that any sexual relationship other than a lifelong marriage of one man and one woman is contrary to God’s design and law – Matthew 19. Since beastiality is clearly contrary to this standard, “dispensationalists” who believe that the New Covenant Law has replaced the Mosaic can indeed affirm that beastiality is still sin. Old Covenant Theonomists really need to give this spurious argument a rest.
Straw Man Missing…Wait Straw Man Found
I am failing to see where or how the straw man fallacy has been employed. If you read my article, I state clearly, “Dispensationalists begin with the assumption that the case or judicial laws of the Old Testament are no longer valid under the New Covenant unless they are restated, re-instituted, or re-implemented in the New Testament.” A common definition of the straw man fallacy is as follows: A straw man is a common form of argument and is an informal fallacy based on giving the impression of refuting an opponent’s argument, while actually refuting an argument which was not advanced by that opponent. How is presuming discontinuity rather than continuity as dispensationalism clearly teaches a misrepresentation of that particular hermeneutic? “Therefore, there is an emphasis on a gradually developed unity as seen in the entirety of Scripture. Biblical covenants are intricately tied to the dispensations. When these Biblical covenants are compared and contrasted, the result is a historical ordering of different dispensations. Also with regard to the different Biblical covenant promises, dispensationalism emphasizes to whom these promises were written, the original recipients. This has led to certain fundamental dispensational beliefs, such as a distinction between Israel and the Church.” You even later admit you hold to this hermeneutic. Don Stenberg, “Some Christians take the position that if a Law of Moses is not repealed in the New Covenant Scriptures (the “New Testament”), then all people, Jew and Gentile, are bound to obey that. Other Christians (including myself) think that although there is wisdom in all the laws, that Christian Gentiles (and possibly even Christian Jews) are only required to obey laws of the Pentateuch if they are specifically reiterated in the New Covenant Scriptures.
For what reason do you presuppose discontinuity rather than continuity? Scripture must interpret scripture. If we agree that God is the Law-giver, He, and only He can abrogate laws. Therefore, the proper approach to the Old and New Covenants is to allow the New Testament to guide us as to which laws are still applicable today. “So, the problem with the dispensational assumption is that is assumes discontinuity rather than continuity. The correct and biblical assumption regarding the interpretation of the Old Testament moral law is that it continues to be binding unless further revelation teaches otherwise. Therefore, one presumes or presupposes that the case laws (given our illustration) continue to be valid unless Jesus, or the apostles themselves teach us otherwise. What is my justification for the presupposition of continuity over discontinuity? Matthew 5:17-20. Jesus plainly said that He came not to abrogate the law but to fulfill it. Then with a double negative within this passage He states that not an iota or dot will pass from the law until heaven and earth pass away. Of course a different interpretation of this passage is held by the dispensationalist; the illustration of bestiality will be sufficient evidence for proof of errors inherent within that interpretation.” For those who haven’t read Jesus’ statements, “Do not think that I have come to abolish the law and the prophets; I did not come to abolish…(with a DOUBLE NEGATIVE Christ assures us that His coming has not changed God’s Law).” Not even the minutest part of the law will lose its validity until the end of the world. “For truly I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not the smallest letter or stroke shall pass from the Law until all is accomplished. Whoever then annuls one of the least of these commandments, and teaches others to do the same, shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but whoever keeps and teaches them, he shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven.” This as I will show later on is consistent with Scripture in it’s totality. Ps. 119:160, “The sum of Your word is truth, And every one of Your righteous ordinances is everlasting.” Isaiah 40:8, “The grass withers, the flower fades, But the word of our God stands forever.”
Wait, I found the straw man.
Don Stenberg: One of the favorite arguments for the first view is that bestiality is condemned specifically in Leviticus 18, but not explicitly in the New Testament, and yet all Christians agree that it’s sinful. So doesn’t that prove that Leviticus 18 is still binding on all people? And my counter argument was that Jesus reaffirmed that marriage should only be one man and one woman for life in Matthew 19 where he quoted Genesis 1:27 and 2:24 – thereby declaring any other sexual relationship to be inconsistent with God’s design/plan/law, even under the New Covenant.
The argument you mention here Don, is not at all what I present. See, this is a straw man argument, not what you accused me of. First, I plainly stated in my article that not all Christians agree that bestiality is wrong. “So what is the common answer one will receive to the question of bestiality being wrong today? “Well everyone knows such an act is wrong!” Really? Maybe within the Protestant community such intuitions are commonly held.” I actually respond to such a response as begging the question, it cannot prove anything. Common held beliefs are not absolutely agreed upon across the board. They are merely common, but not without exception. I am not attempting to prove that because All Christians believe bestiality is wrong; therefore it must be valid. The strawest of straw men Don. What I am saying is that, due to dispensationalism presupposing the case laws as invalid under the New Covenant, dispensationalism cannot biblically offer any scriptural justification for it’s validity without assuming the antithetical approach, theonomy; thus begging the question simultaneously. For arguments sake, assuming Matthew 19 does explicitly condemn bestiality, what would the penal sanction be for this crime? Or will you arbitrarily dismiss that and assume upon yourself the right that only God as the Law-giver has Himself? All you are left with is autonomy, sinful speculation, and mythical natural law that cannot be defended scripturally.
Don Stenberg: The Law of Moses was added until Christ came – Galatians 3:24-25 “The law, then, was our guardian until Christ, so that we could be justified by faith. 25 But since that faith has come, we are no longer under a guardian,”
I address this verse later, but if we know Christ perfectly obeyed the law, and we are commanded to be imitators of Christ, how can we imitate Christ without simultaneously obeying the law of God? You equate the tutor or guardian in Galatians 3 to the entire mosaic law, not only ceremonial but moral and judicial law as well fallaciously. All of life is ethical, and if we intend to morally imitate Christ it would be impossible to not obey the moral laws of the mosaic legislation. For God’s nature doesn’t change. James 1:17, “Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change.”
Don Stenberg: Furthermore, Christ Himself makes a distinction between the Law of Moses and His law from the beginning: Matthew 19:8 ““Moses permitted you to divorce your wives because of the hardness of your hearts. But it was not like that from the beginning.”
So, the very law that was written down by God’s own finger is distinct in moral nature from the law of Christ? This presupposes a ethical tension within the trinity that is incompatible with scripture. The phrase, “it wasn’t that way from the beginning” refers to prior to the fall of Adam. God hates divorce, but after the fall he allowed it under certain circumstances (desertion or fornication). There is no ethical distinction between the law of Christ and the law God; indeed, they are immutable. Malachi 3:6, “For I the Lord do not change; therefore you, O children of Jacob, are not consumed.”
Let’s Keep Begging
Referencing Matthew 19 does not get you off the hook Don; actually, it once again proves what I already proved in my original post. You quote, “In the New Covenant Jesus explains that any sexual relationship other than a lifelong marriage of one man and one woman is contrary to God’s design and law.” Actually, Jesus doesn’t explain that much. Which, under a reformed covenantal presupposition, this wouldn’t be an issue; due to the fact that bestiality does not have to be restated, re-instituted, or re-implemented. However, according to your dispensational presuppositions you would need (as dispensationalism claims to adhere to adamantly) a literal, explicit reference to that act. This explicit statement is no where in Matthew 19. You are assuming to be true what you must exegetically show this particular text to prove. “Some Pharisees came to Jesus, testing Him and asking, “Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife for any reason at all?” 4 And He answered and said, “Have you not read that He who created them from the beginning made them male and female, 5 and said, ‘For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh’? 6 So they are no longer two, but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let no man separate.” 7 They *said to Him, “Why then did Moses command to give her a certificate of divorce and send her away?” 8 He *said to them, “Because of your hardness of heart Moses permitted you to divorce your wives; but from the beginning it has not been this way. 9 And I say to you, whoever divorces his wife, except for immorality, and marries another woman commits adultery.”
Dr. Greg Bahnsen, in his article, Theses on Divorce and Spousal Abuse, observes on this passage: Jesus was also speaking categorically in the sense that His principle was meant to be applied universally – to all men. He stated that “everyone” (pas, Matt. 5:32) or “whoever” (hos an, Matt. 19:9) divorces apart from the ground of fornication was doing wrong – whether believer or unbeliever, Jew or Gentile. Note that Christ’s teaching was based upon factors which apply to all men in general: (1) the creation ordinance, and (2) the condition of man’s sinful heart. God does not have a double standard for marriage: the only proper ground upon which a believer or unbeliever may divorce his/her spouse is “fornication.”
Consider this thought that I originally posted, “What may one do who continues with his initial answer that everyone knows bestiality is wrong? Lets just assume he tries to resort to the many New Testament prohibitions against “sexual immorality.” Well, how does one know that the New Testament prohibitions against “sexual immorality” include prohibitions against bestiality? Bestiality is never specifically prohibited right? Bestiality never comes within the scope of New Testament teaching. So how would one know that any prohibition against sexual immorality in the New Testament refers specifically to bestiality? That is to read into the text what one intends to prove from the text. Indeed, one is still begging the question.” According to your dispensational presupposition you would need an explicit (not implicit as in Matt. 19) reference to bestiality such as Lev. 18:23, “Also you shall not have intercourse with any animal to be defiled with it, nor shall any woman stand before an animal to mate with it; it is a perversion.” I agree, that Jesus defined what proper marriage consist of in Matt. 19; however, that is not an internal contradiction with my covenantal presuppositions. For even though bestiality isn’t explicitly mentioned by Jesus as a violation of marriage, there is not any New Testament scripture that teaches bestiality is no longer a perversion; therefore it remains valid. Any answer you give me in refutation will do have to make some appeal to either general revelation or the 7th commandment. In either case, you will not be proving a dispensational hermeneutic, but a theonomic hermeneutic. My original post is as follows:
“…simply referring to general revelation (not natural law) and is proving the Theonomic thesis. The only text that deals with bestiality in the New Testament (indirectly) is Romans 2:14-15 “For when Gentiles, who do not have the law, by nature do what the law requires, they are a law to themselves, even though they do not have the law. They show that the work of the law is written on their hearts, while their conscience also bears witness, and their conflicting thoughts accuse or even excuse them…” The statement that everyone just knows that bestiality is wrong can only be true if the case laws of the Old Testament are presupposed as valid. Paul plainly teaches that the Gentiles without the law have the law written upon their hearts. That law bears witness to the truth, which essentially leaves them without excuse. Appealing to general revelation inevitably proves the theonomic premise with regards to the case laws.
Tantamount to Romans 2 is Romans 1 where Paul does not limit this general revelation to the Decalogue (Ten Commandments) but includes acts of homosexuality; which can only be found within the case laws.
So, as a last resort one may conclude that though bestiality is not explicitly or specifically mentioned in the New Testament, it is incorporated in the meaning of the seventh commandment; which once again proves the theonomic conclusions which he is attempting to disprove. The judicial or case laws are but an exegesis (explanation) of the Decalogue. The commandment prohibiting adultery does include bestiality, simply because God defined exactly what adultery (or sexual immorality) consisted of in the Old Testament case laws. Therefore, to make this claim one must sub-consciously or consciously presuppose the validity of the case laws.”
Supposed Contradictory Text to Theonomy
Don Stenberg: The Mosaic Covenant as a system has been replaced with the New Covenant as a system – with new (though overlapping) laws (Hebrews 7:11-12; Gal. 3:19, 3:24-25, 5:18; 1 Cor. 9:20-21; Heb. 8:13; Rom 10:4; Gal 6:2; Rom 7:1-7; 2 Cor 3:2-11; John 15:10; Matthew 18:18; John 16:13)
Hebrews 7:11-12, “Now if perfection was through the Levitical priesthood (for on the basis of it the people received the Law), what further need was there for another priest to arise according to the order of Melchizedek, and not be designated according to the order of Aaron? 12 For when the priesthood is changed, of necessity there takes place a change of law also.”
This passage speaks nothing of replacing or changing the Mosaic law (specifically moral or judicial law). It is speaking of the requirement for the priesthood. No longer would the priesthood be after the Levitical order, but after the order of Melchizedek. Jesus, as the great high priest would come not from the family line of Levi, but rather as Melchizedek did. The law this text speaks of is the change that took place to the ceremonial law that foreshadowed the coming of the great high priest.
1 Corinthians 9:20-21, “To the Jews I became as a Jew, so that I might win Jews; to those who are under the Law, as under the Law though not being myself under the Law, so that I might win those who are under the Law; to those who are without law, as without law, though not being without the law of God but under the law of Christ, so that I might win those who are without law.”
Paul here is speaking of the separating cultural practices and conditions that existed among the Jews and the Gentiles. Specifically, Paul is here referring to the ceremonial law as well. Paul would adhere to the ritual ordinances of the law among Jews to reach them; however, among Gentiles Paul exercised his freedom in the law of Christ. If you interpret this text as pertaining to moral matters, essentially Paul would be saying I was moral among this group, but immoral around that group.
Galatians 3:19-25, “Why the Law then? It was added because of transgressions, having been ordained through angels by the agency of a mediator, until the seed would come to whom the promise had been made. Now a mediator is not for one party only; whereas God is only one. 21 Is the Law then contrary to the promises of God? May it never be! For if a law had been given which was able to impart life, then righteousness would indeed have been based on law. 22 But the Scripture has shut up everyone under sin, so that the promise by faith in Jesus Christ might be given to those who believe. But before faith came, we were kept in custody under the law, being shut up to the faith which was later to be revealed. Therefore the Law has become our tutor to lead us to Christ, so that we may be justified by faith. 25 But now that faith has come, we are no longer under a tutor.”
Taking into account the historical context of Galatians, Paul was dealing with harsh Judaizers who were insisting that for one to be truly justified they must also adhere to the ceremonial law. The tutor that Paul speaks of as leading us to Christ cannot be relating to the moral law. The commandment reveals knowledge of sin, but cannot save any human. However, the ceremonial laws typified and foreshadowed the atoning work of Christ that must be accepted by faith in order to be justified. Now, that Christ has come we no longer need this tutor.
Romans 7:1-7, “Or do you not know, brothers—for I am speaking to those who know the law—that the law is binding on a person only as long as he lives? 2 For a married woman is bound by law to her husband while he lives, but if her husband dies she is released from the law of marriage. 3 Accordingly, she will be called an adulteress if she lives with another man while her husband is alive. But if her husband dies, she is free from that law, and if she marries another man she is not an adulteress. Likewise, my brothers, you also have died to the law through the body of Christ, so that you may belong to another, to him who has been raised from the dead, in order that we may bear fruit for God. 5 For while we were living in the flesh, our sinful passions, aroused by the law, were at work in our members to bear fruit for death. 6 But now we are released from the law, having died to that which held us captive, so that we serve in the new way of the Spirit and not in the old way of the written code.”
One must die to the law as a means of works righteousness and confess their incompetency to fulfill all its requirements in perfection as a means of justification. It is only through the perfect law-obedience by Christ applied to us judicially by God that justifies. However, this in no way contradicts God’s law as the only means of holy sanctification. Paul later states, “So the law is holy, and the commandment is holy and righteous and good (v. 12). If the law is holy, and the commandment is holy, we must assume for us to bear fruit for God we must obey His law. In fact, in the next chapter Paul plainly states that the Holy Spirit helps us fulfill the law. Romans 8:3-4, “For God has done what the law, weakened by the flesh, could not do. By sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin, he condemned sin in the flesh, in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.“
Hebrews 8:13, “In speaking of a new covenant, he makes the first one obsolete. And what is becoming obsolete and growing old is ready to vanish away.” What was vanishing away exactly, ceremonial laws that foreshadowed Christ atoning work or the immutable nature of God found within the moral law? Hebrews 10:11-16,”And every priest stands daily at his service, offering repeatedly the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins. But when Christ had offered for all time a single sacrifice for sins, he sat down at the right hand of God, waiting from that time until his enemies should be made a footstool for his feet. For by a single offering he has perfected for all time those who are being sanctified. And the Holy Spirit also bears witness to us; for after saying, “This is the covenant that I will make with them after those days, declares the Lord: I will put my laws on their hearts, and write them on their minds.” In, By This Standard, Dr. Greg Bahnsen observes, “All of God’s covenants are unified. They make the same moral demands and focus upon the same promises. However, the promises call for historical fulfillment – the change from anticipation to realization – in a way which the demands do not; there is a difference in perspective between Old and New Covenants regarding the promises of God, while the moral standards of both are absolute and unchanging. Thus the Old Covenant administration (sacrifices, covenant signs, temple) can be set aside for the New Covenant realities, even though the Old Covenant moral law remains fundamentally the same.” Hebrews 10:16 is a quotation of Jeremiah 31:35, “For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, declares the Lord: I will put my law within them, and I will write it on their hearts. And I will be their God, and they shall be my people.”
Don Stenberg: So there’s an intramural debate among Christians regarding how we Christian Gentiles are to relate to the law of Moses, when we believe (as Christians) that we are living under the New Covenant prophesied by Jeremiah in Jeremiah 31:31-35 (and Jer. 32:40, 33:20-21; Ezekiel 36:25-27, 37:26; Isaiah 49:8, 54:10, 55:3; and hinted at first in Deuteronomy 18:15 and 30:6… etc.).
In Jeremiah 31:35, God said he would put My LAW within them. The law that is written upon our hearts in the New Covenant is not “distinct” from the law of Christ as you assume. The only revealed law that God could have been referring to was His law. I eluded to this in my original post as well. “The only text that deals with bestiality in the New Testament (indirectly) is Romans 2:14-15 “For when Gentiles, who do not have the law, by nature do what the law requires, they are a law to themselves, even though they do not have the law. They show that the work of the law is written on their hearts, while their conscience also bears witness, and their conflicting thoughts accuse or even excuse them…” If we back up to chapter one in Romans we see that even gentiles from the creation of the world clearly perceived God’s divine attributes (eternal, immutable law rooted in His nature) and this revelation was not restricted to the ten commandments! Romans 1:26-27, “For this reason God gave them up to dishonorable passions. For their women exchanged natural relations for those that are contrary to nature; 27 and the men likewise gave up natural relations with women and were consumed with passion for one another, men committing shameless acts with men and receiving in themselves the due penalty for their error.”
2 Corinthians 2-11, “You yourselves are our letter of recommendation, written on our hearts, to be known and read by all. 3 And you show that you are a letter from Christ delivered by us, written not with ink but with the Spirit of the living God, not on tablets of stone but on tablets of human hearts. Such is the confidence that we have through Christ toward God. Not that we are sufficient in ourselves to claim anything as coming from us, but our sufficiency is from God, 6 who has made us sufficient to be ministers of a new covenant, not of the letter but of the Spirit. For the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life. Now if the ministry of death, carved in letters on stone, came with such glory that the Israelites could not gaze at Moses’ face because of its glory, which was being brought to an end, 8 will not the ministry of the Spirit have even more glory? 9 For if there was glory in the ministry of condemnation, the ministry of righteousness must far exceed it in glory. 10 Indeed, in this case, what once had glory has come to have no glory at all, because of the glory that surpasses it. 11 For if what was being brought to an end came with glory, much more will what is permanent have glory.”
Understanding what the law can and cannot do this text becomes seen as not opposed to any theonomic premise. The letter will prove to be a letter of death to any man who attempts to use it as a means to salvation. However, what is being brought to an end is the tutor or guardian of the ceremonial law that brought about Christ’s atoning work and the giving of the Holy Spirit. As I have stated already, the Holy Spirit is what allows this ministry of righteousness to far surpass that of the Old Covenant. Romans 8:3-8, “For God has done what the law, weakened by the flesh,could not do. By sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin, he condemned sin in the flesh, 4 in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit. 5 For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit set their minds on the things of the Spirit. 6 For to set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace. 7 For the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God, for it does not submit to God’s law; indeed, it cannot. 8 Those who are in the flesh cannot please God.” Notice the contrast, the mind that is set on the Spirit is enabled to obey the righteous requirement of the law, which is life and peace! Indeed, God’s commandments are not burdensome to those who believe.
Unwarranted and Unscriptural Progressive Revelation
Don Stenberg:”You should know that the book of Job is considered the oldest book in the Bible, long before Moses was born, so what was required of Moses and those following, was not required of Job. Progressive revelation. And you should know that we are to read the Bible as one continuous revelation.”
I do know this and affirm it.
But you said “GOD’S laws are forever! His laws then are His laws now. And they are always to be obeyed.”
So I was showing you that you must affirm that God has used His prerogative to add laws in the past, and He still retains the prerogative to add or remove or change laws, particularly as new covenants are made. So your previous words are inconsistent with what you just said.
Ps. 119:160, “The sum of your word is truth,
and every one of your righteous rules endures forever.
Is. 40:8, “The grass withers, the flower fades,
but the word of our God will stand forever.
“For what can be known about God is plain to them,because God has shown it to them. “For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made (Romans 1:18-20). God’s law has always existed. It is His NATURE! This verse even proves the validity of the case laws, for it derived from a case law (Lev. 18:22).
New Testament Endorsement of God’s Law
Romans 7:12, “So the law is holy, and the commandment is holy and righteous and good.”
Why should churches pay their pastors according to Paul in 1 Cor. 9:9? Deuteronomy 25:4, “You shall not muzzle an ox when it is treading out the grain.” Again, why would Paul use this as a base for his argument if he didn’t presume its validity?
Matthew 5:44, “ “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ 44 But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, 45 so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven. For he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust.” Notice what Jesus uses to correct the unlawful interpretation the Pharisees had of God’s Law. Exodus 23:4-5, ““If you meet your enemy’s ox or his donkey going astray, you shall bring it back to him. 5 If you see the donkey of one who hates you lying down under its burden, you shall refrain from leaving him with it; you shall rescue it with him. Yup, you got it Don. Jesus presupposed the validity of the case laws or His refutation would have been futile.
Ps. 89:34, “I will not violate my covenant
or alter the word that went forth from my lips.”
Ps. 111:7-8, “The works of his hands are faithful and just;
all his precepts are trustworthy;
8 they are established forever and ever,
to be performed with faithfulness and uprightness.”
Ephesians 2:12, “remember that you were at that time separated from Christ,alienated from the commonwealth of Israel and strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world.” Multiple covenants all having their fulfillment in Christ.
Galatians 3:21, “ Is the law then contrary to the promises of God? Certainly not! For if a law had been given that could give life, then righteousness would indeed be by the law.
Isaiah 51:4-8, “
“Give attention to me, my people,
and give ear to me, my nation;
for a law will go out from me,
and I will set my justice for a light to the peoples.
5 My righteousness draws near,
my salvation has gone out,
and my arms will judge the peoples;
the coastlands hope for me,
and for my arm they wait.
6 Lift up your eyes to the heavens,
and look at the earth beneath;
for the heavens vanish like smoke,
the earth will wear out like a garment,
and they who dwell in it will die in like manner;
but my salvation will be forever,
and my righteousness will never be dismayed.”
7 “Listen to me, you who know righteousness,
the people in whose heart is my law;
fear not the reproach of man,
nor be dismayed at their revilings.
8 For the moth will eat them up like a garment,
and the worm will eat them like wool;
but my righteousness will be forever,
and my salvation to all generations.”