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The core of Christian ethics (for those inclined to put God in the dock)


There is such a strong tendency to project all sorts of accusations against Christian ethics that I believe it is necessary to put the indisputable core of the Christian ethical tradition on the table, to clear the air.

And so, Matt 5 – 7, ESV:

>>The Sermon on the Mount

Seeing the crowds, he [Jesus] went up on the mountain, and when he sat down, his disciples came to him.

The Beatitudes

And he opened his mouth and taught them, saying:

“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

“Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.

“Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.

“Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.

“Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy.

“Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.

“Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons[a] of God.

10 “Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

11 “Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. 12 Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.

Salt and Light

13 “You are the salt of the earth, but if salt has lost its taste, how shall its saltiness be restored? It is no longer good for anything except to be thrown out and trampled under people’s feet.

14 “You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. 15 Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. 16 In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that[b] they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.

Christ Came to Fulfill the Law

17 “Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. 18 For truly, I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not an iota, not a dot, will pass from the Law until all is accomplished. 19 Therefore whoever relaxes one of the least of these commandments and teaches others to do the same will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever does them and teaches them will be called great in the kingdom of heaven. 20 For I tell you, unless your righteousness exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.


21 “You have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not murder; and whoever murders will be liable to judgment.’ 22 But I say to you that everyone who is angry with his brother[c] will be liable to judgment; whoever insults[d] his brother will be liable to the council; and whoever says, ‘You fool!’ will be liable to the hell[e] of fire. 23 So if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you, 24 leave your gift there before the altar and go. First be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift. 25 Come to terms quickly with your accuser while you are going with him to court, lest your accuser hand you over to the judge, and the judge to the guard, and you be put in prison. 26 Truly, I say to you, you will never get out until you have paid the last penny.[f]


27 “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’ 28 But I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lustful intent has already committed adultery with her in his heart. 29 If your right eye causes you to sin, tear it out and throw it away. For it is better that you lose one of your members than that your whole body be thrown into hell. 30 And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away. For it is better that you lose one of your members than that your whole body go into hell.


31 “It was also said, ‘Whoever divorces his wife, let him give her a certificate of divorce.’ 32 But I say to you that everyone who divorces his wife, except on the ground of sexual immorality, makes her commit adultery, and whoever marries a divorced woman commits adultery.


33 “Again you have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not swear falsely, but shall perform to the Lord what you have sworn.’ 34 But I say to you, Do not take an oath at all, either by heaven, for it is the throne of God, 35 or by the earth, for it is his footstool, or by Jerusalem, for it is the city of the great King. 36 And do not take an oath by your head, for you cannot make one hair white or black. 37 Let what you say be simply ‘Yes’ or ‘No’; anything more than this comes from evil.[g]


38 “You have heard that it was said, ‘An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.’ 39 But I say to you, Do not resist the one who is evil. But if anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also. 40 And if anyone would sue you and take your tunic,[h] let him have your cloak as well. 41 And if anyone forces you to go one mile, go with him two miles. 42 Give to the one who begs from you, and do not refuse the one who would borrow from you.

Love Your Enemies

43 “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. 46 For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? 47 And if you greet only your brothers,[i] what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same? 48 You therefore must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.

Giving to the Needy

“Beware of practicing your righteousness before other people in order to be seen by them, for then you will have no reward from your Father who is in heaven.

“Thus, when you give to the needy, sound no trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may be praised by others. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward. But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your giving may be in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you.

The Lord’s Prayer

“And when you pray, you must not be like the hypocrites. For they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and at the street corners, that they may be seen by others. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward. But when you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you.

“And when you pray, do not heap up empty phrases as the Gentiles do, for they think that they will be heard for their many words. Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him. Pray then like this:

“Our Father in heaven,
hallowed be your name.[j]
10 Your kingdom come,
your will be done,[k]
    on earth as it is in heaven.
11 Give us this day our daily bread,[l]
12 and forgive us our debts,
    as we also have forgiven our debtors.
13 And lead us not into temptation,
    but deliver us from evil.[m]

14 For if you forgive others their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you, 15 but if you do not forgive others their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.


16 “And when you fast, do not look gloomy like the hypocrites, for they disfigure their faces that their fasting may be seen by others. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward. 17 But when you fast, anoint your head and wash your face, 18 that your fasting may not be seen by others but by your Father who is in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you.

Lay Up Treasures in Heaven

19 “Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust[n] destroy and where thieves break in and steal, 20 but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. 21 For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.

22 “The eye is the lamp of the body. So, if your eye is healthy, your whole body will be full of light, 23 but if your eye is bad, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light in you is darkness, how great is the darkness!

24 “No one can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and money.[o]

Do Not Be Anxious

25 “Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? 26 Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? 27 And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life?[p] 28 And why are you anxious about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, 29 yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. 30 But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? 31 Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ 32 For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. 33 But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.

34 “Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.

Judging Others

“Judge not, that you be not judged. For with the judgment you pronounce you will be judged, and with the measure you use it will be measured to you. Why do you see the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when there is the log in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye.

“Do not give dogs what is holy, and do not throw your pearls before pigs, lest they trample them underfoot and turn to attack you.

Ask, and It Will Be Given

“Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened. Or which one of you, if his son asks him for bread, will give him a stone? 10 Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a serpent? 11 If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask him!

The Golden Rule

12 “So whatever you wish that others would do to you, do also to them, for this is the Law and the Prophets.

13 “Enter by the narrow gate. For the gate is wide and the way is easy[q] that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many. 14 For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few.

A Tree and Its Fruit

15 “Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing but inwardly are ravenous wolves. 16 You will recognize them by their fruits. Are grapes gathered from thornbushes, or figs from thistles? 17 So, every healthy tree bears good fruit, but the diseased tree bears bad fruit. 18 A healthy tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a diseased tree bear good fruit. 19 Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. 20 Thus you will recognize them by their fruits.

I Never Knew You

21 “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. 22 On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’ 23 And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.’

Build Your House on the Rock

24 “Everyone then who hears these words of mine and does them will be like a wise man who built his house on the rock. 25 And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house, but it did not fall, because it had been founded on the rock. 26 And everyone who hears these words of mine and does not do them will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand. 27 And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell, and great was the fall of it.”

The Authority of Jesus

28 And when Jesus finished these sayings, the crowds were astonished at his teaching, 29 for he was teaching them as one who had authority, and not as their scribes.


  1. Matthew 5:9 Greek huioi; see Preface
  2. Matthew 5:16 Or house. 16Let your light so shine before others that
  3. Matthew 5:22 Some manuscripts insert without cause
  4. Matthew 5:22 Greek says Raca to (a term of abuse)
  5. Matthew 5:22 Greek Gehenna; also verses 29, 30
  6. Matthew 5:26 Greek kodrantes, Roman copper coin (Latin quadrans) worth about 1/64 of a denarius (which was a day’s wage for a laborer)
  7. Matthew 5:37 Or the evil one
  8. Matthew 5:40 Greek chiton, a long garment worn under the cloak next to the skin
  9. Matthew 5:47 Or brothers and sisters. In New Testament usage, depending on the context, the plural Greek word adelphoi (translated “brothers”) may refer either to brothers or to brothers and sisters
  10. Matthew 6:9 Or Let your name be kept holy, or Let your name be treated with reverence
  11. Matthew 6:10 Or Let your kingdom come, let your will be done
  12. Matthew 6:11 Or our bread for tomorrow
  13. Matthew 6:13 Or the evil one; some manuscripts add For yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory, forever. Amen
  14. Matthew 6:19 Or worm; also verse 20
  15. Matthew 6:24 Greek mammon, a Semitic word for money or possessions
  16. Matthew 6:27 Or a single cubit to his stature; a cubit was about 18 inches or 45 centimeters
  17. Matthew 7:13 Some manuscripts For the way is wide and easy
English Standard Version (ESV)The Holy Bible, English Standard Version. ESV® Text Edition: 2016. Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers.>>

This may be supplemented with Paul’s summary on the implications of neighbour love, in Rom 13:8 – 10:

>>Rom 13:Owe no one anything, except to love each other, for the one who loves another has fulfilled the law. For the commandments, “You shall not commit adultery, You shall not murder, You shall not steal, You shall not covet,” and any other commandment, are summed up in this word: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” 10 Love does no wrong to a neighbor; therefore love is the fulfilling of the law. [ESV]>>

Similarly, the Hebraic text, Leviticus 19 expands on what neighbour-love entails, in the words of Moses:

>>Lev 19:13 “You shall not oppress your neighbor or rob him. The wages of a hired worker shall not remain with you all night until the morning. 14 You shall not curse the deaf or put a stumbling block before the blind, but you shall fear your God: I am the Lord.

15 “You shall do no injustice in court. You shall not be partial to the poor or defer to the great, but in righteousness shall you judge your neighbor. 16 You shall not go around as a slanderer among your people, and you shall not stand up against the life[a] of your neighbor: I am the Lord.

17 “You shall not hate your brother in your heart, but you shall reason frankly with your neighbor, lest you incur sin because of him. 18 You shall not take vengeance or bear a grudge against the sons of your own people, but you shall love your neighbor as yourself: I am the Lord. [ESV]>>

It would be interesting to see how these primary, central, even shaping principles and precepts are found objectionable by the usual circles of objectors who are hostile to Christian ethics and deeply suspicious of Christians. END

Note the gap between the OP and the discussion thread, especially on the objecting side. kairosfocus
J-Mac @47 Van Lommel's take may be informative:
Several theories have been proposed to explain NDE. However, in our prospective study we did not show that psychological, physiological or pharmacological factors caused these experiences after cardiac arrest. With a purely physiological explanation such as cerebral anoxia, most patients who had been clinically dead should report an NDE. All 344 patients had been unconscious because of anoxia of the brain resulting from their cardiac arrest. Why should only 18% of the survivors of cardiac arrest report an NDE? And yet, neurophysiological processes must play some part in NDE, because NDE-like experiences can be induced through electrical “stimulation” of some parts of the cortex in patients with epilepsy,8 with high carbon dioxide levels (hypercarbia)9 and in decreased cerebral perfusion resulting in local cerebral hypoxia, as in rapid acceleration during training of fighter pilots,10 or as in hyperventilation followed by Valsalva maneuver.11 Also NDE-like experiences have been reported after the use of drugs like ketamine,12 LSD,13 or mushrooms.14 These induced experiences can sometimes result in a period of unconsciousness, but can at the same time also consist of out-of-body experiences, perception of sound, light or flashes of recollections from the past. These recollections, however, consist of fragmented and random memories unlike the panoramic life-review that can occur in NDE. Further, transformational processes are rarely reported after induced experiences. Thus, induced experiences are not identical to NDE.source
And this is noteworthy:
Unexpectedly, we found that significantly more patients who had an NDE, especially a deep experience, died within 30 days of CPR (p<0.0001).
J-M, I guess I was only half-dead. The answer to my mom's prayer of surrender within hours leading to an utterly unknown way forward, is for me just one of many decisive points of intervention by God in my life and that of those close to me. The last was, while I was holding him, my father turning to me then to a caregiver then looking up and addressing someone as Lord, surrendering his spirit to him. In seconds thereafter, he was gone. KF kairosfocus
https://link.springer.com/article/10.1023/A:1025010015662 (paywall) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=azIh8gsXVRg http://www.spiritdaily.net/ndeblind.htm AnimatedDust
KF, I'm only referring to the NDE of the clinically dead; VSA... Their symptoms/experiences were almost exactly reproduced by brain stimulation of certain parts of the brain... J-Mac
AnimatedDust Fascinating that you present that as an argument but blow right by people who were blind from birth being able to see during the NDE. Far less convenient to the narrative I suppose. I wasn't aware of NDE among the ones born blind... It is fascinating. Can you provide some details or links? J-Mac
KF @17, In response to Dawkins' rant I'd ask the questioning individual whether he or she would let a total stranger cut him or her open with a knife. We can't answer the question without knowing who the person is and why they want to cut us open with a knife. If it's someone in a dark alley we'd want to avoid it. If it's a surgeon we trust then we might view it differently. It's just an analogy, full of holes like any other. It's not an apples-to-apples comparison (as such it would fail badly) but rather an introduction of some perspective. If a person points out some of more shocking or hard-to-believe things they've read in the Bible, or the rampant hypocrisy of religious believers, I'd honestly acknowledge what they say. Look at it from their perspective. they're reasoning people reasoning from what they know. They can't reason on what they don't know. From there the discussion likely either gets much more personal than anything I'd carry on in a forum, or it just ends. If someone doesn't want to believe it they're not going to believe it. I can't control that. But perhaps they're more likely to think favorably on it later if they can tell that I genuinely respect them and I don't call them names or compare them to Hitler. OldAndrew
Origenes, remember what is regulated per the hardness of men's hearts is one thing, civil code is another and the demands of purity are yet another. I think our civilisation, our generation has made a first class mess of marriage and family which will come back to haunt our civilisation. KF kairosfocus
AD, such is a point but you must recognise that you deal with people who by implication routinely think millions are utterly deluded that they have met God in life-transforming power, or that the laws we sense in our consciences are subjective perceptions, delusions in a more blunt word. Selective hyperskepticism is a very real issue. In a lot of cases we can only recognise and cordon off. KF kairosfocus
JM, not so different. When you walk out of a clinic (no Doctor available) where you are half-conscious and being carried on a shoulder, and at the foot of the stairs is a taxi-cab with its door open and a driver saying Asthma, I know just the doctor, that is a little obvious. KF kairosfocus
Kairosfocus @40 That answers my main concern. Thank you. There is much more to divorce than possible sexual immorality. Good to see that this obvious insight is part of Christian ethics. Origenes
Origenes, Please note, the application where constructive abandonment of a marriage by driving out with blows was pointed to. Wounding words with their menacing implications fits right in with that. KF kairosfocus
J-Mac @ 35,37: Fascinating that you present that as an argument but blow right by people who were blind from birth being able to see during the NDE. Far less convenient to the narrative I suppose. Or children who learned of miscarried brothers and sisters (or even met them) that hadn't been told of their existence by their parents. There is much more. AnimatedDust
KF, rvb8 Thank you very much for answering my questions Kairosfocus. It seems to me that, wrt divorce, mental and physical abuse need to be factored in as well, and I would suggest that those often carry more weight than 'sexual immorality.' But I am convinced that the Bible has a lot to say about that. To rvb8 I would like to say that he should notice that I have no questions whatsoever about 'materialistic ethics' (*). Materialism is so hopelessly absurd and irrational that it is no option at all. Even in the unlikely case that much of what the Bible states is wrong, my theistic faith would still be unwavering. (*)
In a world where physics fixes all the facts, it’s hard to see how there could be room for moral facts. In a universe headed for its own heat death, there is no cosmic value to human life, your own or anyone else’s. Why bother to be good? We need to answer these questions. But we should also worry about the public relations nightmare for scientism produced by the answer theists try to foist on scientism. The militant exponents of the higher superstitions say that scientism has no room for morality and can’t even condemn the wrongdoing of a monster like Hitler. Religious people especially argue that we cannot really have any values—things we stand up for just because they are right—and that we are not to be trusted to be good when we can get away with something. They complain that our worldview has no moral compass. These charges get redoubled once theists see how big a role Darwinian natural selection plays in scientism’s view of reality. Many of the most vocal people who have taken sides against this scientific theory (for instance, the founders of the Discovery Institute, which advocates “intelligent design”) have frankly done so because they think it’s morally dangerous, not because it lacks evidence. If Darwinism is true, then anything goes! You might think that we have to resist these conclusions or else we’ll never get people to agree with us. Most people really do accept morality as a constraint on their conduct. The few who might agree privately with Darwinism about morality won’t do so publicly because of the deep unpopularity of these views. … We have to acknowledge (to ourselves, at least) that many questions we want the “right” answers to just don’t have any. .. First, nihilism can’t condemn Hitler, Stalin, Mao, Pol Pot, or those who fomented the Armenian genocide or the Rwandan one. If there is no such thing as “morally forbidden,” then what Mohamed Atta did on September 11, 2001, was not morally forbidden. Of course, it was not permitted either. But still, don’t we want to have grounds to condemn these monsters? Nihilism seems to cut that ground out from under us. Second, if we admit to being nihilists, then people won’t trust us. We won’t be left alone when there is loose change around. We won’t be relied on to be sure small children stay out of trouble. Third, and worst of all, if nihilism gets any traction, society will be destroyed. We will find ourselves back in Thomas Hobbes’s famous state of nature, where “the life of man is solitary, mean, nasty, brutish and short.” Surely, we don’t want to be nihilists if we can possibly avoid it. (Or at least, we don’t want the other people around us to be nihilists.) Scientism can’t avoid nihilism. We need to make the best of it. … To avoid these outcomes, people have been searching for scientifically respectable justification of morality for least a century and a half. The trouble is that over the same 150 years or so, the reasons for nihilism have continued to mount. Both the failure to find an ethics that everyone can agree on and the scientific explanation of the origin and persistence of moral norms have made nihilism more and more plausible while remaining just as unappetizing. [Alexander Rosenberg, ‘The Atheist’s Guide to Reality’, Ch.5]
36@KF I'm sorry about your experience as a child... It looks like we might be taking about two different things... I was referring to NDE when people were actually clinically dead; their heart stopped and they experienced the well known phenomenon of floating over their bodies, seeing the light in the tunnel, etc. These kinds of experiences were accidentally stimulated by applying an electric current in a some parts of the brain... Resurrection is not the same thing... J-Mac
JM, kindly note again that in AD 50, at Athens, Paul of Tarsus put on record that the key warranting case regarding the Christian faith (which includes the existence of God) is the resurrection of Jesus of Nazareth with 500 witnesses. Already noted just now, but you may have overlooked it. KF PS: My own near-death experience is a little different. I nearly died of major illness as a child. After nursing me through the night yet again, my mother reached the end of her rope and at dawn went into the garden of our home and surrendered me to God. That day, a miracle of guidance led us to the doctor who saved my life. I join with millions to report that we have met the Living God who has transformed our lives. We are not all delusional, which would by the way be so widespread as to undermine the credibility of knowing mind. That chain of living experience goes all the way back to the 500 and onward to the literally hundreds of written prophecies of Messiah he fulfilled including by that resurrection and by the spreading of the gospel in power to the world. kairosfocus
Near death experiences have been accidentally stimulated by neurosurgeons on patients who were having brain surgery with local anaesthetic. They were awake. They thought they had died... J-Mac
JS, responsible, rational freedom FYI is a requisite of serious discussion driven by sound logic and facing credible truth. the tendency to dismiss such or to manufacture a counterfeit of genuine freedom, end up in absurdity. Love BTW is the lynch-pin of the virtues and to love requires genuine freedom. KF PS: Paul in Athens, AD 50, makes it quite clear what the key warrant for the Christian faith is, the resurrection of Jesus of Nazareth, with 500 witnesses. That remains so today. kairosfocus
RVB8, you full well know there is a limit on what UD should properly discuss and keep on trying to use that rhetorically to force a dilemma: divert from proper focus because of outrageous Internet Atheist behaviour, or leave that behaviour to stand, with maybe a note, as exposing its own level. I choose the latter, knowing that you can go elsewhere for serious answers if you really cared for such rather than for trying to score cheap points. G'night. KF PS: That you imagine that Zeus or Odin are in the same ontological category as the Living God, the inherently good creator, a necessary and maximally great being, root of reality, shows the degree of what is not understood. I suggest, you review your understanding before further making that category error. kairosfocus
Origenes, In context, notice that the look of lust is already adultery in the heart before we get to the relevant point. This is not about civil law but moral purity. Remember, this is teaching of disciples, not the crowds from Galilee, Judaea and the Dekapolis of the Greeks. Jesus them proceeds to a typical oriental teaching device, hyperbole: pluck out your lustful eye. In more literal terms, take radical action to deal with lust before it enmeshes and consumes you. (The how much more on our plague of immodesty and pornography, perversities of all sorts and false colour of law attitude that we can re-write creation order practically beg to be drawn out, i/l/o the inner standard.) So, in that context, what is he saying about divorce, given that he is not overturning but fulfilling the code of Moses. Which code permits and regulates divorce as a response to the hardness of men's hearts. That is, the lesser of evils. Where also Malachi 2:16 speaks in the voice of YHWH: "I hate divorce." Here, we see the issue of the second marriage market. (And apparently there was a divorce and remarriage issue at stake, including in the House of Herod. On a trip to Rome, there was seduction of the brother's wife, leading to marrying up the status ladder with a notorious dance by daughter Salome at 14 years of age insinuating a two for one mother + daughter deal. That taking of brother's wife is what John the Baptist rebuked and the notorious dance led to the promise of up to half the kingdom. On mother's advice -- underscoring that something truly dirty was afoot -- John's head was the price.) So, now, how does one speak to so explosive a live issue that literally has one's head at stake? From a purity perspective. The civil permission for hardness of hearts is there, but it is pushing a woman into the used wife market. Where, most victims of frivolous divorce did not have the status and resources of a royal. (Notice, the adultery proviso -- this was in a context where Rabbis were debating divorce over burnt food.) With this in mind as either already partly played out or about to play out, we may look at the purity perspective that a remarried woman has been in effect pushed into adultery and the second husband is implicated as well. Lesson 1: stop the look of lust much less the deed, taking drastic action (though literal mutilation is not intended, whatever foolishness Origen may or may not have done). Lesson 2: Fish does rot from de head. If community leaders set a bad example, teaching impurity by deed and word, it taints the society and hurts those in a weak position. Lesson 3: Frivolous divorce of a wife stumbles her into impurity and the one who comes along to collect easy pickings. Matt 19 gives more:
Mt 19:3 And Pharisees [--> not disciples!] came up to him [in trans-Jordanian Judaea proper] and tested him by asking, “Is it lawful to divorce one's wife for any cause?” 4 He answered, “Have you not read that he who created them from the beginning made them male and female, 5 and said, ‘Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast 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 not man separate.” 7 They said to him, “Why then did Moses command one to give a certificate of divorce and to send her away?” 8 He said to them, “Because of your hardness of heart Moses allowed you to divorce your wives, but from the beginning it was not so. 9 And I say to you: whoever divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality, and marries another, commits adultery.”[a] 10 The disciples said to him, “If such is the case of a man with his wife, it is better not to marry.” 11 But he said to them, “Not everyone can receive this saying, but only those to whom it is given. 12 For there are eunuchs who have been so from birth, and there are eunuchs who have been made eunuchs by men, and there are eunuchs who have made themselves eunuchs for the sake of the kingdom of heaven. Let the one who is able to receive this receive it.” [ESV]
How do we transfer this across 2,000 years of time and a different situation? First, purity always applies. So does forgiveness. So does the principle of a fresh, clean start. What was to be done with those who came into the church with tainted or at best second best marriages? Paul spoke to if the unbelieving husband is willing, do not leave him but if he abandons the marriage, the wife is free. Subsequent church leaders have held that driving out wife and children with blows is constructive abandonment. But the spiritual priority is to get clean and find a reasonable solution. Marry, rather than burn. Here, I note the interesting example of Charles, who on the occasion of his second marriage requested that the Archbishop publicly dress him down for his former ways. The answers are challenging and force us to think through matters, examining our hearts. With being willing to remain single rather than go into what one cannot soundly and safely manage being explicitly on the table. (With the factor also in play that in times of expected or actual persecution the single are not under anywhere near the pressure of the married.) None of this is fashionable. But it is what disciples need to ponder. KF PS: We all need to also realise how Internet Atheists and the like will exploit what we say online in a discussion thread where they are present. Not that responsible questions ought not to be asked, but that we should be wise as snakes but harmless as doves. kairosfocus
Origenes, and JSmith ask good questions. These are the childish, indisputable, well founded questions that adults forget about as their faith inculcates, and their reason disappears. Good, honest questions of religious texts, that no religious person can ever reasonably answer: "The whole world was covered in water?; Lazarus was really dead?; There were so few fish and just a couple of loves?; The Red sea parted?; Babel was a joke right?"....etc, etc. With each question the entrenchement and mind convolutions grow, to the point where we now have, not God, but the Intelligent Designer.( Any answer will do, just keep the faith. Yes AnimatedDust this is indeed, 'scoffing', or ridicule, or contempt, take your pick, you and your faith deserve it. If I prayed to Baal, or Zeus, or Oden, for a heathy son you would scoff; think of it that way.) Where will this mental gymnastics lead us? Probably another war. But that's Ok, because it's, "written" Ugh! rvb8
JS, the similiarities in the accounts of NDE survivors are remarkably similar.
Except where they differ. Some saw a tunnel, not all. Some had out of body experiences, not all. Some remembered relatives, not all. All you have is unexplained phenomenon. The world is full of them. Maybe there is life after death. I certainly hope so. But the evidence suggesting it is weak at best. JSmith
26 and 27, yes, it does seem that the rules suggest that the women are owned by their husbands, even after divorce. JSmith
JS, the similiarities in the accounts of NDE survivors are remarkably similar. I’m not saying the study confirms life after death, but there is much in the accounts that is quite the same. The verifiable out of body experiences in the hospital. The tunnel of light, the life review, dead relatives seen alive, the feeling of deep love and well being, etc. Most all say they don’t want to come back, their lives are forever changed, and they no longer fear death. The reports of hell that are seen are also remarkably similar. If you are the designer of the whole show, you get to set the rules, our protestations notwithstanding. I don’t expect to change your mind. AnimatedDust
@26 good questions! J-Mac
Divorce 31 “It was also said, ‘Whoever divorces his wife, let him give her a certificate of divorce.’ 32 But I say to you that everyone who divorces his wife, except on the ground of sexual immorality, makes her commit adultery, and whoever marries a divorced woman commits adultery.
Two questions: 1. Why does a man who divorces his wife (or vice versa) make her/him commit adultery? Is this based on the assumption that they will find new sex partners? If so, why doesn't the text (also) mention that the man commits himself to the act of adultery? 2. Do I understand the text correctly, when I take it that there is but one valid ground ('sexual immorality') for divorce? Origenes
Beautiful principles... unfortunately only on paper... “I’d be a Christian if it were not for the Christians.’” “I like your Christ, I do not like your Christians. Your Christians are so unlike your Christ.” -Mahatma Gandhi Even the principles of communism are similar to those preached by Christ... but it's the communists who make them confusing... J-Mac
AD at 21, it is a giant step from not being able to explain NDE to, this must be life after death. I skimmed through the paper (I will give it a deeper read when I get time). But one thing that jumped out was that the percentage of people who experience is very low, and that there is a variety of experiences for those who experience them. Also that the percentages of people claiming to experience them increase with duration between event and interview. JSmith
AD at 22, my issue is not with the free will as such, it has more to do with the punishment. God surely knew that if he gave man free will, that one of them would eventually do something that would displease him. Why punish all of his humanity (100 billion by some accounts) for the sins of two? JSmith
“If he wants us to do what he says, why the entire free will nonsense?” Because the ability to say no is a necessary component of love and of free will. That should be obvious. No free will, as in the materialist worldview, then it’s bags of chemicals determining whatever their physics and chemistry dictate at the moment. Mindless automata. AnimatedDust

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