Question: Deuteronomy 23:1 says, “No one whose testicles are crushed or whose male organ is cut off shall enter the assembly of the Lord.” Whhhhaaaa? What’s the point of this? How does this reflect God’s nature?
Not only do specific kinds of food, clothing, planting, and sexual relations in their respective “spheres” serve as a picture of Israel’s set-apartness from the nations. The distinction between clean and unclean animals in particular symbolizes how Israelites were to act in relationship to their neighbor as well as to God. In the language of Leviticus, animals symbolize what God required from his people. For example, note the parallels between the kinds of animals offered in sacrifices in Leviticus 1, 3, and 23 (“without blemish”—including no crushed testicles— which resulted in a “pleasing aroma to the Lord”) and the priest who is to be “without defect/blemish” (Leviticus 21:18-24), including no crushed testicles.
There is a connection between the kinds of animals that are permitted/forbidden to be eaten and the kind of people God wants Israel to be in its relationships. The theme of (un)cleanness in Leviticus and Deuteronomy not only symbolizes creation’s orderliness with everything in its own sphere. (So, unclean animals represent a lack wholeness or integrity in not belonging to their own “sphere.”) Yet something more is going on: animals that are unclean appear to be either (a) predatory animals or (b) “vulnerable” animals (defective in appearance or characteristics). This has a parallel to human relationships.
I find this troubling, because it suggests that those with disabilities (‘defective in appearance’) should be excluded. Which is just outright offensive.
What worries me is that people are spending an awful lot of time doing complicated somersaults to try to get round the thorny issues and still claim that Scripture is ‘perfectly true.’ Though he’s speaking tongue in cheek, Frank does make sure he nails his colours to the mast before he plays Devil’s Advocate in the interview:
I hereby solemnly declare before God, angels, and mortals that I believe in the Holy Scriptures, both Old and New Testaments, the 66 books of what we call “the Bible” or “biblical canon.” I believe that they are fully inspired, true, and reliable.
You only need to look on the ‘statements of belief‘ on any (US) church website to see similar things written, which boil down to: Don’t worry, there’s nothing to see here! We’re good guys – just like you! So breath easy now!
As I commented on Frank’s post: my fear is that people are expending energy convincing others that they believe that Scripture is inerrant, that hell is for unbelievers, that crushed testicles are no good in church, not because they truly believe it, but because they cannot countenance the flak that would come their way, and the exclusion they would experience if they admitted what they were really thinking. In other words, getting back to Deuteronomy, they don’t want their balls broken, because that means being thrown out.
The result of this: the defence of Truth has perpetrated a lot of lies. A lot of bluff. And that just seems wrong somehow.
[I think this has been one of the differences between UK and US emerging churches. In the US, communities seem more keen to be seen to be kosher, to still be holding orthodox views on the central tenets in order that they can be accepted. Whereas in the UK I think people have been a bit more free to deconstruct things more radically, though that’s just my own perception.]
Click here to receive updates, and hear first about new projects