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Adultery of the Heart

Adultery of the heart isn't punishable by a civil court and isn't grounds for divorce, but it is definitely a serious problem.

I recently posted this on social media:

If a man commits adultery with the wife of his neighbor, both the adulterer and the adulteress shall surely be put to death.
Leviticus 20:10

By Biblical standards (not modern English nor American legal), adultery is a sexual relationship between a married woman and someone who is not her husband. A man cannot commit adultery with an unmarried, unbetrothed woman. It’s impossible by definition. A sexual relationship between them might be sinful, but it is not adultery because she’s not married or betrothed to another man.

Don’t get mad at me. I’m just letting the Bible define its own terms.

I added that last sentence because I know that this can be a very sensitive topic and will put many people into fight-or-flight mode. Sure enough, this post had many times more comments than normal, many of them quite irate and accusing me of having all kinds of nefarious motives for even discussing the topic. I’m not going to waste my time defending myself from other people’s imaginations, so I blocked most of them.

One person had the self-awareness to recognize that her emotional reaction against what I was saying might be only emotional.

Holly wrote…

I think this discussion raises hackles because it seems to insinuate a greater standard of fidelity upon married women than upon married men. Biblically, the latter will not incur the death penalty if they sleep with a woman who isn’t married; whereas the former will incur capital punishment in 100% of cases in which they stray from their marriage. A married man could potentially justify a range of unfaithful behavior with any unmarried woman, could he not? Also, I struggle to reconcile the Torah commands about adultery with Yeshua’s statement about a man looking upon a woman with lust in his heart. The Savior did not qualify His statement by saying “a man who looks upon a MARRIED woman…” He knew the Torah far better than we do, so what are we to conclude from this?

If you can help shed any light on this difficulty, it would be much appreciated. A husband, as the head of his household, ought to have at least an equal standard of fidelity as his wife, if not a higher one.

I thought Holly’s questions were good, and I appreciated that she wasn’t trying to attack me for merely exploring what the Scriptures might mean. She deserved a thorough and honest reply.

Thank you for the honest questions, Holly. Topics related to male-female relationships can be very difficult for most people to think objectively about, so it takes a lot of thought and study, and a willingness to confront ideas that might be very difficult. So, I sincerely appreciate the spirit of your question.

Remember that Yeshua was primarily addressing heart conditions and not delivering sermons on the technicalities of the Law. For example, if you hate your brother in your heart, you are guilty of murder in your heart, but you haven’t actually murdered your brother. Torah says it is a sin to hate your brother in your heart, but it’s not a crime that can be punished by anyone.

The same principle is true in marriage.

Matthew 5:32, Matthew 19:9, Mark 10:11-12, and Luke 16:18 all give somewhat different versions of the same teaching. We’re not getting precise transcripts in the Gospels. We’re only getting summary versions. I think this causes some confusion in cases like this, but we’d probably find even more to argue about if we had full audio recordings of everything Yeshua said.

Keeping in mind that Yeshua almost never discussed technicalities of the Law, choosing to teach about the state of people’s hearts instead, here is how I believe these 4 statements, along with Matthew 5:27-31, harmonize:

It’s a sin to covet another man’s wife, even if you haven’t done anything about it. In Matthew 5:27-30, Yeshua discusses lust that is tantamount to adultery. The text doesn’t specify “married woman”, but it also doesn’t specify “married man”. I think we’re all in agreement that adultery requires at least one party to be married, so we already have to make some assumptions about what Yeshua’s intent. (I know that some people believe it’s adultery even to desire your own wife, but I hope we agree that’s nonsense.) In v28, I believe he meant for his audience to understand he was talking about a married woman, because it wouldn’t have made any sense to them otherwise. Just like we assume that he must have been talking about married *people* because it doesn’t make sense to say that two unmarried teenagers have committed adultery because they find each other sexually attractive.

(Please note that I am NOT saying it’s ok for anyone to lust after someone who isn’t their spouse. I’m neither saying it nor implying it.)

If a man despises the covenant of marriage, whether his own or someone else’s, he has adultery in his heart, even if he hasn’t committed actually adultery. It is a sin for a man to hate his wife and want to divorce her when she hasn’t done anything to deserve it. It’s a sin to despise another man and want to take his wife. However, these aren’t crimes of which he can be tried and convicted. These are sins in the heart that can lead to sins of the body.

There is nothing outside a person that by going into him can defile him, but the things that come out of a person are what defile him.
Mark 7:15 ESV

If a man does divorce his wife without just cause, then the adultery in his heart is beginning to come out. If you willfully put someone else in a position where you know they are likely to sin, you are making yourself guilty too.

You shall not curse the deaf or put a stumbling block before the blind, but you shall fear your God: I am the LORD.
Leviticus 19:14 ESV

In the ancient world, a divorced/put away woman who had no family to fall back on, was in a very bad economic situation, facing possible starvation and constant abuse from strangers. She must either find another man to support and protect her or possibly resort to prostitution. If she was put away unjustly, her former husband shares in the guilt of her ensuing adultery because he put her into an impossible situation. He is guilty, she is guilty, and any man who sleeps with her is guilty.

Adultery of the heart isn’t punishable by a civil court and isn’t grounds for divorce, but it is definitely a serious problem that needs to be addressed. Just like having murder in the heart, eventually it comes out into the real world.

Any time you are trying to fill in gaps in the Scriptures, you are going to be engaging in some speculation, and there is significant danger that you are going to get it wrong. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t make the attempt, though. Yeshua’s teaching style makes it necessary.

Believers need to stop being afraid or ashamed of the Bible. If it’s God’s word, being ashamed of what it says is tantamount to being ashamed of God. Since the Father, the Son, and the Apostles all tell us that God’s Law teaches us how to love one another, why in the world would you be afraid of it?

God doesn’t want childish marionettes who only follow orders with no understanding. Writing the Law on our hearts means that it must be internalized. To do that, we must spend a lot of time studying God’s Word, looking for connections between different passages, meditating on the meaning, and praying for understanding.

Sometimes you’re going to get it wrong. Don’t worry too much about it unless it leads you to doing something that seems to contradict some direct commandment or it bothers your conscience. Those are both warning signs that your understanding could be wrong. Keep studying. Keep meditating. Keep praying.

Be Holy, for YHWH Is Holy

As obedient children, do not be conformed to the passions of your former ignorance, but as he who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, since it is written, “You shall be holy, for I am holy.” 1 Peter 1:14-16 ESV

This week’s Torah reading is called Kedoshim, which means “Holy Ones” and includes Leviticus 19-20. These two chapters contain two of the most famous sentences in the Old Testament. Ironically, most Christians think these are New Testament ideas and have no idea that Yeshua and Peter quoted them from Leviticus:

  • You shall be holy, for I am holy. 1 Peter 1:16
  • Love your neighbor as yourself. Matthew 22:39

I want to focus on the first quote.

As obedient children, do not be conformed to the passions of your former ignorance, 15 but as he who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, 16 since it is written, “You shall be holy, for I am holy.” 17 And if you call on him as Father who judges impartially according to each one’s deeds, conduct yourselves with fear throughout the time of your exile, 18 knowing that you were ransomed from the futile ways inherited from your forefathers, not with perishable things such as silver or gold, 19 but with the precious blood of Christ, like that of a lamb without blemish or spot.
1 Peter 1:14-19 ESV

God makes this statement four times in Leviticus, three times in Kedoshim.

  • Speak to all the congregation of the people of Israel and say to them, You shall be holy, for I YHWH your God am holy. Leviticus 19:2
  • Consecrate yourselves, therefore, and be holy, for I am YHWH your God. Leviticus 20:7
  • You shall be holy to me, for I YHWH am holy and have separated you from the peoples, that you should be mine. Leviticus 20:26

In all three of these instances, the surrounding text emphasizes three things:

  1. Don’t do what the pagans do.
  2. Do what God tells you to do.
  3. Honor your parents.

When Peter quoted this command from God, he also included all three points: “Live according to your heavenly Father’s rules, not according to the pagan traditions of your ancestors.” Some will say that the “futile ways inherited from your forefathers” are God’s commandments as given through Moses, but Peter is clearly quoting from that very same Torah, and from the one book of Torah that is most despised by modern American culture: Leviticus.

Whether Jew or Gentile, we have all inherited pagan and man-made religious traditions. God said we are to leave them behind and adopt God’s ways instead. At the end of that chapter, Peter also quotes from Isaiah 40: “The grass withers, the flower fades, but the word of our God will stand forever.”

That includes Leviticus.

The Tabernacle and the Family

The wilderness Tabernacle is a picture of God, the individual, and the family.

YHWH is a God of patterns. You only have to look at DNA for the proof. Humans share a large percentage of their DNA code with monkeys, fish, and bananas. Contrary to popular opinion, that’s not evidence for evolution. It’s evidence for a Creator who loves to reuse a good pattern. Every good coder does the same thing. He writes a module, which is a small bit of code, that can be called and reused from numerous other parts of the program. That’s not laziness or a shortcut. It’s elegance. Efficiency. God is the master coder, the most elegant and efficient coder who has ever existed.

He follows patterns in other ways too. Consider the feast days. They are all patterns of his interactions with Israel and the world. They remind us of what he has done in the past, and they prophesy of what he will do in the future. Also consider the creation of mankind. God said “Let us create mankind in our own image.” Then he took a pattern of himself and applied it to his favored creation: man.

The image of God in mankind is much like his signature or fingerprints. First, God created Adam in his own image, and then he created Eve in Adam’s likeness to be a helper “suitable to him”, unlike any of the animals. She was shaped like him, had free will, and an eternal spirit like him. Adam and Eve, both together and individually, are made in the image of God, and the two together are tasked with creating new people who will carry the image of both of their parents and, through them, of God himself. If you look closely enough at all of God’s creations, you can find evidence of his fingerprints in everything he created. God loves to reuse a good pattern.

In Exodus 25, we begin to see God’s instructions for his Tabernacle, the place where he would dwell in the center of the camp of Israel. If we did not see evidence of his fingerprints in the design of the Tabernacle, I think we should be very surprised and begin to wonder if the Tabernacle was from God at all. Fortunately, we do see those fingerprints.

Like God himself, the Tabernacle is a unit. It is echad. Yet within it there are compartments and furnishings, and the primary components of the Tabernacle follow the pattern of the primary components of God.

The Ark contains a memorial of divine provision (manna), and the tablets of the Law, and so is an image of the provider and law giver, God the father.

The Menorah is a source of light generated by oil, like the anointing of the Holy spirit. Like the Holy Spirit the menorah has seven branches. Recall the seven spirits of God in Isaiah 11:2 and in Revelation 3, 4, and 5.

The Table holds within the bounds of its crown twelve loaves representing both the bread of life and the twelve tribes of Israel. Since it holds all the people of Israel, the Table is a metaphor of the King and Messiah of Israel, Yeshua.

If the Tabernacle is an image of God–and it certainly appears to be–then it must also be in some way an image of mankind, since mankind bears the image of God. I have written elsewhere of how the Tabernacle can be an image of a single person, but it is also an image of the family, which God instituted at the same time and on the same day he created man in his image.

The commandments in the preceding chapters of Exodus show some ways in which a man’s responsibility to his family includes providing sustenance and protection. Elsewhere in Torah, a man is commanded to teach his children, to be a lawgiver and law enforcer in his house. In this, every husband and father is intended to follow the pattern of God the Father, as he his represented in the Ark of the Covenant.

The very nature of the woman’s creation and her physical aspect shows us that she was created to be a life giver, a source of wisdom and comfort to her family, and to light the way of the children to their father. She nurtures her children when they are too young to understand explicit instruction, teaches them the ways and wisdom of their father when they are older, and comforts them when they are hurting. She is the Menorah in the tabernacle of man, and in some ways an image of the Holy Spirit for the family.

The firstborn son, according to God’s order, receives a double inheritance over his brothers, putting him in the position of a secondary provider for the extended family and the captain of his father. He is the father’s right hand, an extension of his father’s power into the world, and he sustains his siblings as the showbread table holds the sacred bread. The first born son of a man in this respect is an image of the first born son of God. When his father deems him ready, he will sit on his father’s throne and become the patriarch of his family. Even more than other believers, a firstborn son should look to Yeshua, the Son of God, for his role model.

Be careful of reading too much into these patterns. We are very good at finding patterns where none exist, so it’s important that any lesson drawn from allusions and apparent patterns in Scripture is supported by more explicit texts elsewhere. Some of the roles pictured by the Tabernacle and its furnishings are explicitly commanded in torah, while others may only be illustrated or even just hinted at. There may be characteristics of the Tabernacle that could be extrapolated into roles in the family but that are not commanded in scripture. Patterns like these might be illustrative but are not definitive.

For example, there is no explicit command in Scripture that younger children should obey the firstborn son in the absence of the father. This is an idea that could certainly be derived from the structure of the Tabernacle and the pattern of the firstborn son of man after the firstborn son of God, and it might even be a good principle in many respects, but it is by no means commanded by God and should not be treated as if it is.

For another example, a father is not to be hidden away from his family. To some extent he will be inscrutable to his children due to his superior strength, knowledge, and wisdom, and perhaps the oft inexplicable nature of his rules. Like God, he has no obligation to explain his actions or his laws, but also like God, his laws shouldn’t be arbitrary. Every commandment of God is given in love for the good of his children, and so should be every instruction of a father. He must be actively involved in the care and teaching of his children, aware of their activities and experiences so that he can speak directly to them when needed. A father should not only be a lawgiver and disciplinary, but a caregiver and a protector. He holds the staff of Aaron as a rod of correction, guidance, and comfort.

Likewise, a mother is not simply a source of light and comfort, she also is a lawgiver of sorts and a disciplinarian. The difference between the roles of father and mother in these respects is more of degrees and ratios, than ironclad laws. The Holy Spirit is God just as much as is the Father and Son, and a woman is just as much the image of God as is her husband.

Reading through scripture, you won’t be able to find a clean division between the authority and roles of Father, Son, and Spirit, and this is true in the household as well. There is no hard line between the roles of mother and father and firstborn son, but a gradient. Deborah was both mother and judge of Israel. Yeshua is our master, brother, friend, and servant. There will be times when a wife must take command of the household because her husband is ill, absent, or incapacitated. That’s not a sin. It’s part of the flexibility that God has built into all of humanity. It is part of our image to be able to fill in for and support one another.

Jacob, First into Battle

Why did Jacob divide his camp before he met Esau in the wilderness east of the Jordan on his way back from his years with Laban?

Then Jacob was greatly afraid and distressed. He divided the people who were with him, and the flocks and herds and camels, into two camps, thinking, “If Esau comes to the one camp and attacks it, then the camp that is left will escape.”
Genesis 32:7-8 ESV

Jacob divided his camp into two companies. In one company went all of his livestock, and in the other went his family and other possessions. (We can know the general scheme of division because verses 22 and 23 say that all four women and eleven sons were still with him after he had sent off his livestock.) Jacob obviously did not consider his wives and children to be mere property. He was willing to sacrifice all his wealth before sacrificing even one of the concubines. Later, he would also divide his family into separate parties.

There are points in this story where it sounds like Jacob sent his family ahead to face the danger of Esau while he stayed behind to see what would happen, but a careful reading shows that this isn’t what happened at all. Here is a breakdown of the actual sequence of events:

  • 32:3-5 – Jacob sent messengers to Esau to announce his return.
  • 32:6 – Messengers returned to say that Esau was coming with 400 men.
  • 32:7 – Jacob divided people and herds into two groups, but they didn’t go anywhere yet. His entire retinue was still in one location.
  • 32:8-12 – Jacob prayed for deliverance from Esau and declared his trust in God’s promise.
  • 32:13-18 – Jacob sent servants with goats, sheep, camels, cattle, and donkeys as 5 separate gifts to Esau.
  • 32:19-20 – Jacob sent additional presents of herds to Esau.
  • 32:21 – Jacob stayed in the camp with his family.
  • 32:22-23 – Jacob sent his family and remaining possessions across the Jabbok river.
  • 32:24-30 – Jacob wrestled with the angel.
  • 32:31-32 – Jacob returned to his family.
  • 33:1-2 – Jacob divided his remaining camp into three.
  • 33:3 – Jacob went ahead of his family to meet Esau alone.
  • 33:4-11 – Esau met Jacob and his family. Discussion of gifts.
  • 33:12-15 – Esau offered to merge their camps and Jacob refused.
  • 33:16 – Esau returned to Seir.
  • 33:17 – Jacob went on to Sukkot.

At first Jacob feared for himself and his family, so he divided his household into two groups, thinking that if Esau attacked one, then the second might have time to escape. But then, as he prayed for God’s protection, he remembered God’s promise to make his offspring as numerous as the sand of the sea and realized there was nothing Esau could do to threaten that future. He changed his plan.

Instead of sending his household in two different directions, Jacob decided to try to make peace with Esau, apparently hoping to cool his brother’s anger before they even met. He formed small herds of goats, sheep, camels, cattle, and donkeys and sent them ahead as gifts, one herd at a time. He instructed the herdsmen accompanying each herd to tell Esau that they belonged to his servant Jacob and were sent as a gift to Lord Esau. He called Esau “Adonai” and used the same word for gift, minkhah, used of the grain offerings given to YHWH in Leviticus 6 and 7. He simultaneously expressed humility and generosity to someone who was legally and justly his inferior and did so in a way that was certain to soften Esau’s heart toward him.

Jacob then followed this with more of the same, with groups of animals–the most widely recognized form of wealth–probably arriving over the course of at least two days. He could have sent all of these animals as a single, tremendous offering, but he understood that many small–but still generous–gifts over time will have a much deeper impact on the recipient than a greater gift given all at once. If a soft answer turns away wrath (Proverbs 15:1), how much more will a dozen soft answers?

In Genesis 32:22, Jacob took his family and the rest of his household across the Jabbok River north of Esau’s territory. While both sides of the river were within the territory that God had ultimately promised to Abraham’s descendants, it was a significant geographic boundary separating them from Esau. Jacob had authority from God, but Esau still held most of the actual power, as evidenced by the significant force that accompanied him–100 more men than Abraham fielded in his war against Chedorlaomer in Genesis 14.

Verse 23 says that Jacob “sent them across the stream” and is then left alone in verse 24 for his wrestling match with the angel. However, verse 22 shows that he crossed the Jabbok with his family, probably going back and forth multiple times to lead them across in smaller groups. When his entire household had successfully crossed the river, it appears that Jacob went back by himself, possibly to make one last check for stragglers, just as we might check under all the pillows and in all the drawers of a hotel room before finally checking out.

Even then, the text doesn’t say which side of the river Jacob was on during his encounter with the angel. Most people assume that he was on the north bank since he was by himself, and that seems reasonable but is ultimately unknowable. The antiquity of Genesis necessitates guessing at many dates, names, and locations.

My point is that Jacob didn’t send his family ahead into danger. In 33:1, he is back with his family again, so whether he wrestled on the north or the south bank of the Jabbok, they were never far away.

In 33:1-2, when Jacob could see Esau and his men approaching, he divided his camp again, this time into a column of three groups, with those he valued most at the rear. Bilhah and Zilpah with their children were in the first group, Leah and her children in the next, and Rachel and Joseph in the last. Each of these groups probably included herds, beasts of burden, servants, and armed guards. Even after giving away enormous wealth to Esau, Jacob was likely still a very wealthy man.

Good leaders, fathers, and husbands should almost always be first into danger and the last to escape. Verse 3 says plainly that Jacob then went ahead of all these to be the first to meet Esau on the road, bowing seven times along the way. Although we know from Genesis 29:10 that Jacob was a strong man, he didn’t want a fight with Esau, let alone with all of his men. He wisely softened Esau’s heart before they met with generous gifts, shows of humility, and generally treating Esau as an honored lord, all the while putting himself and all his wealth in danger before his wives and children.

Finally, knowing Esau’s fiery character from previous decades spent with him, he seems to have also suspected that Esau’s good will might not last and that his men would not make good company for his family on the road.

In 33:12-15, Esau offered to accompany him on the road, but Jacob found a gracious way to decline: “Let my lord go on ahead of his servant, and I will lead my group slowly, at the pace of the livestock and children, until we reach Seir.” He flattered Esau by acknowledging his ability to travel more quickly, he made himself seem weaker in Esau’s eyes, and he even lied to say that they would join him in Seir, when he had no intention of going there.

Esau responded by offering to leave a group of men behind to guard them on the road, but without their lord present to keep them in check, that might prove even more dangerous than traveling with Esau. Jacob’s response this time was simpler, but even more subtly flattering: “There’s no need. Only let me find favor in your sight.” That last was probably to say that if everyone knew that Jacob was in Esau’s good graces, who would dare try to harm him? So Esau went to Seir and Jacob went to Sukkot.

Jacob, far from being a coward, showed himself to be a generous, determined, and humble leader. He put the well-being of his family ahead of his own, recognizing and avoiding dangers to them, and humiliated himself before the world in order to preserve them. He was far from perfect, but in this episode of his life, Jacob was a model from which all fathers and husbands can learn.

Obedience to God Requires a Community

And you shall rejoice in all the good that the LORD your God has given to you and to your house, you, and the Levite, and the sojourner who is among you. Deuteronomy 26:11 ESV

As I’ve noted elsewhere, it’s impossible to keep God’s instructions outside the context of community. How can you love your neighbor, if you don’t have any neighbors, after all?

And you shall rejoice in all the good that YHWH your God has given to you and to your house, you, and the Levite, and the sojourner who is among you.
Deuteronomy 26:11

Selecting Today’s Firstfruits Offering

This instruction is given in the context of harvesting in the Land of Israel after each man has received his inheritance. Most believers, including native-born Israelites don’t live in the land, and nobody in the land today has possession of his ancestral land. Most people–no matter where they live–also don’t have land from which they are harvesting any produce, so the command doesn’t directly and literally apply to anyone today. However, this command, like all others in Torah, is a reflection of God’s character. The principle that underlies the command, therefore applies to all believers in all lands and ages.

All productive labor–and all able-bodied people ought to be employed in some kind of productive labor–has a “firstfruits”, although it will look very different, depending on what you are producing. An hourly or salaried employee might consider the first portion of each check, or the wages of the first month in the fiscal year as his firstfruits and dedicate that to God. An artist might donate his first painting or sculpture and a general contractor could give a portion of the profits from the first project of the year.

Torah doesn’t give explicit commands for these things, so I don’t think anyone can tell you exactly how to determine and select your firstfruits if you aren’t a self-employed farmer. I’m sure that some ancient writers have expounded on this topic at great length, and there are probably entire books written on it more recently, but nobody gets to add to God’s Law. Ultimately, how and if you select your firstfruits is between you and God.

Giving of Your Firstfruits

Having determined what your firstfruits are, what should you do with them? There is no Temple where you can take a basket of fruits and vegetables. Even if there were, without some direction from Messiah, I’m not confident that it would be legitimate, and it would still be much too far for most of us to visit.

Fortunately, this same command provides some guidance here too: “You shall rejoice…you, and the Levite, and the sojourner who is among you.” And the following verses, vs12-15, say that the agricultural tithe every third year is to be shared with the Levites, sojourners (landless and potentially destitute), orphans, and widows in your own community.

When you have finished paying all the tithe of your produce in the third year, which is the year of tithing, giving it to the Levite, the sojourner, the fatherless, and the widow, so that they may eat within your towns and be filled…
Deuteronomy 26:12 ESV

You do live in a community, don’t you?

Maybe you don’t have Levites (almost certainly no Levites who are functioning in a Biblical capacity), but unless you’re living in the wilderness far from people, you probably have poor or oppressed people, widows, orphans, and the sick somewhere near you. Who lives near you, needs help of some kind–even if it’s just a friend–and can’t pay you back?

God’s character, as evidenced by the commandments he gave to ancient Israel, is to bless those who bless others who can’t return the favor. But you can’t bless people who don’t exist. Living according to God’s Law, living as Jesus lived, requires that you have a community of some kind and that you know something about the people in your community.

It can be difficult for some of us to connect with other people–and I don’t say “us” idly–but we need to make it happen. Talk to people, ask about their lives, tell them you care, and then invite them for a celebration in God’s honor.

One of the best parts of God’s plan for supporting the disadvantaged, is that God said you get to use part of the tithes and offerings that you owe to him for throwing a party, so long as you include his favorite people, those who don’t have much to offer you in return.

But you can’t do that unless you know who those people are in your local community. You don’t have to live in a city; you only need to live near other people, and you need to have enough of a relationship with them that you can invite them to join you at your home or at a park.

A Twitter Exchange about “Torah-Keepers”

I saw this post on Twitter this morning from someone I will call GRD and felt obliged to respond. I thought the content was worth preserving here in the likely case that something will eventually happen to make it disappear from Twitter.

This is an image of the tweet to which I was responding…

Of course, I disagree with the original tweet about the Sabbath and with the person complaining about Torah-Keepers. Your eternal salvation is not contingent on the Sabbath and most Torah-Keepers do not engage in scare tactics to make you believe you need to keep the commandments “or else”. Most of us are simply trying to live the way God wants us to and some of us are trying to tell other people what God says about how to live.

Some people are all fire and brimstone and trying to scare people straight. Some people are obnoxious and legalistic and all kinds of other negative adjectives, but that’s true of every religion and denomination, not just Torah-Keepers.

So, here’s how the rest of this exchange went:

Me: If you’re open to an honest conversation between brothers with an aim to understanding instead of accusations, I’d love to talk about this topic.

GRD: That depends on: 1. Do you agree with [the OP’s] statement, “There is no salvation without the 7th day Sabbath!”? 2. Can you show me my accusations?

Me: 1. No 2. That was a proposal for a conversation, not an accusation in itself.

GRD: Start a thread. Tag me. Restrict comments to just you and me. Let’s see if it flies.

Me: I believe that Torah defines sin and is God’s standard of behavior for all people, so I’m one of those “Torah-Keepers” who believe in keeping the Sabbath.

I don’t believe that anyone can earn eternal salvation by keeping the Sabbath or any other commandment.

I don’t believe that Jesus or Paul taught people not to keep Torah (aka the Law of Moses). Their words–especially those of Paul–have been twisted and misunderstood to say what they never intended.

[Some confusion about Twitter notifications not working.]

GRD: In your original tweet, you said, ‘I believe that Torah defines sin and is God’s standard of behavior for all people, so I’m one of those “Torah-Keepers” who believe in keeping the Sabbath.’

So, do you believe that the Gentiles in Romans 2:12-16, who do not have the law, but do by nature the things contained in the law, showing the work of the law written in their hearts, keep the 7th-day Sabbath?

Me: No. Paul was talking about those aspects of the law that can be discerned by observing nature and following conscience. The concept of a sabbath could be derived from natural law, but God’s Sabbath could only be revealed by Him. The same is true of almost all of God’s Law. Let me give 2 examples.

1) The need for some kind of mediator between God and Man can be reasoned out from natural law, but the identity and nature of that Mediator can only be revealed supernaturally.
2) Open homosexuals (whom Paul had just condemned as sinners) often show that they are still able to discern some right from wrong when they defend their sin by appealing to monogamy and “committed relationships”. In that respect, they “do by nature things contained in the law, showing the work of the law written in their hearts”, but they are still disobedient in other respects.

GRD: I just discovered your reply and did not get notified of it. Maybe we should follow each other & send DMs when we reply? Missing notifications gets frustrating.

What’s your take on the scripture below, since Torah observers say the New Covenant is really a REnewed Covenant?

Me: Yeah, maybe following will kick the system. Some Torah-keepers say it is a “renewed” covenant, but I don’t think Scripture supports that. Jeremiah 31, 2 Corinthians 3, and Hebrews all say “new”, not “renewed”.

As Peter warned, Paul can be very difficult to understand. Without a thorough understanding of the Torah, he is impossible.

God’s Law had to be written down because the people couldn’t keep it through the spirit alone. Torah itself says that it is blessing if you keep it and a curse if you don’t. Of course, nobody is able to keep every commandment perfectly, so it becomes a ministration of death by it’s undeniable witness of sin. Most of it is very clear in meaning.

However, by faith, by God’s grace, and by Jesus’ death and resurrection, we are spared the eternal consequences of disobedience. The Law proves we are unworthy of eternal life and condemns us to death. God’s Grace forgives our sin, sets aside that condemnation, and promises eternal life. That doesn’t nullify the Law’s ability to define sin. It just takes away the Law’s power to condemn (ministry of condemnation).

As God reforms us in his image and writes his Law on our hearts, the written Law becomes less and less useful. I think the YLT is helpful here.

9 …for if the ministration of the condemnation is glory, much more doth the ministration of the righteousness abound in glory; 10 for also even that which hath been glorious, hath not been glorious—in this respect, because of the superior glory; 11 for if that which is being made useless is through glory, much more that which is remaining is in glory.

10-11 shows that the glory of the written Law that condemns has only diminished in comparison to the greater glory of the spiritual Law. As Jeremiah 31 says, the Law isn’t done away with; it’s only transferred from stone–which can ultimately only condemn because our hearts are unable to receive it–to hearts, where it can become part of who we are, not imposed from without, but natural and instinctive as reborn children of God.

[More confusion about Twitter notifications.]

At this point, GRD decided it wasn’t worth continuing since Twitter wasn’t notifying us when the other person replied. I wish we could have continued this conversation, as it seemed like we might have been able to reach some kind of understanding. In any case, I hope he was persuaded that manyTorah-Keepers are not legalist, salvation-by-works Judaizers.

The Gospel, the Garden, and the Golden Calf

Thematic connections between the Fall in the Garden of Eden, the Golden Calf at Mount Sinai, and the Gospel.

My wife, Paula, is reading through Exodus, and last week she noticed several parallels between the stories of the Garden of Eden (Genesis 3) and the Golden Calf (Exodus 32). As we talked about them, those parallels deepened and it soon became apparent that both stories had Yeshua stamped all over them. I’m sure that some of those parallels will seem obvious–temptation, disobedience, passing the buck–but others are more subtle and significant.

Helping God in His Absence?

In the Garden, Eve was tempted by the serpent in the apparent absence of God and then she tempted Adam. At Sinai, the people began to doubt when it seemed like Moses wasn’t coming back. They likely felt confused and vulnerable, perhaps even abandoned. Genesis doesn’t seem to indicate the same about Eve, but her response was similar. In both cases, the people decided not to wait for God and to take matters into their own hands. They both tried to bridge a perceived gap that God had not authorized them to bridge.

In the Garden, the serpent told Eve that she could make herself like God. If mankind was created in God’s image, telling Eve that she would be like God, knowing Good from Evil, could have been intended to make her think that this is really what God wanted for them from the beginning. They could more fully accomplish their role on earth by being more like God himself.

At Sinai, he told the people that they could make themselves an inanimate mediator to represent YHWH in the camp. Since God had provided a mediator in the person of Moses and they had been unable to receive God’s Law directly from the source, they probably thought it was reasonable to make a replacement.

They weren’t trying to replace God himself; they were just trying to help him to help them.

The Surrender of Authority

People in the Bible often wore rings as symbols of authority. A ring in the ear or nose indicated submission, while a ring on the finger indicated the bearing of authority. Recall the pierced ear of the bond servant in Exodus 21:2-6 and the signet rings of Judah and Joseph in Genesis 38:18 and Genesis 41:42.

When the people demanded that Aaron make them a replacement for Moses, he told them to take the gold rings from the ears of their wives and children to make an idol, rings that symbolized their families’ submission to their authority. I believe that Aaron told them to bring these specific items and not their signets, arm bands, and other gold objects later given for the furnishings of the Tabernacle, in order to say, “You want me to disrupt your relationship with God, so I will disrupt your relationship with your families.”

Likewise, in the Garden, humanity probably would not have been expelled if Adam had not surrendered his authority over Eve to the serpent by not protecting her and instead joining her in eating of the forbidden fruit. In both stories, the people rebelled and their spiritual coverings aided and joined them.

Mankind might not have needed a savior and Israel might not have needed an earthly High Priest and priestly caste if they had not surrendered their authority to a false god.

Hiding from God

When God came to visit Adam and Eve in the Garden, they tried to hide themselves because of their shame. When he confronted them, Adam tried to blame Eve, and Eve tried to blame the serpent.

When Moses returned from Mount Sinai, the people couldn’t hide. God told him, “I have seen this people,” (Exodus 32:9) and Moses could hear the sound of their partying from all the way up the mountain. However, Aaron did try to shift the blame. First he blamed the people. “You know how these people are determined to do evil,” he told Moses in verse 22. Then he blamed the fire and gold in verse 24: “I threw it into the fire and out came this calf!”

Of course, nobody can really hide from God, and nobody can escape the consequences of their actions. It seems at first that Aaron got away without punishment for his role in the golden calf incident, but that’s not really true.

Cascading Consequences

God told Adam, “In the day that you eat of the fruit of the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil, you will surely die” (Genesis 2:17) and he told Moses, “Whoever has sinned against me, I will blot out of my book…In the day when I visit, I will visit their sin upon them” (Exodus 32:33-34). These statements continue to puzzle theologians today because these threats don’t appear to have been literally carried out. Adam lived more than 900 years and Aaron lived almost 40 years after their respective sins.

God did punish the people at the time of their sin. Adam and Eve were expelled from the Garden by an angel bearing a flaming sword and the Israelites at the center of the calf worship were killed by sword-bearing Levites. God condemned Adam and Eve to a life of struggle and eventual death and he sent a plague among the Israelites, but neither of these really fulfill the letter of his promise.

There are several concepts that aren’t immediately apparent in the plain text and will have to wait for another article. I’m going to focus on one of those ideas for now: A dramatic change in role is analogous to death and resurrection.

As the first man, all of humanity is blessed and cursed through Adam. He wasn’t only expelled from the garden and condemned to die himself, but every person since is also condemned to die because of what he did. On the day that Adam ate the fruit, his role in the world changed from God’s governor to a mediator of death to all humanity.

When Aaron took the authority of all the men of Israel in order to create a thing that could never act as a true mediator, he condemned himself to occupying that role. This was a mixed curse, of course. It’s a great blessing to serve God by leading his people in worship, but Aaron also died to his prior role as Moses’ prophet, giving up any chance of an ordinary life, and was metaphorically resurrected as a mediator for the whole nation.

An Insufficient Mediator

Unfortunately, neither Adam nor Aaron were capable of finally undoing the damage they had done. They had both created their roles by sinning, by becoming imperfect, and that which is imperfect can never make itself perfect again. Adam and Aaron both presided over what Paul called a “ministry of death”. They could never do anything more than guide their people until inevitable death.

Ultimate restoration required a different kind of mediator, one without sin, who had never caused the people to stumble nor participated in their rebellion. The stories of the sin in the Garden and the sin of the Golden Calf are purposely told in such a way to highlight these parallels in order to illustrate mankind’s need for a perfect mediator and redeemer in the person of Yeshua.

He filled the role of God and Moses by coming down from Heaven to observe and confront the sin of mankind.

He filled the role of Eve and the Hebrews by living as an ordinary human subject to trials, temptations, joys, and sorrows.

He filled the role of Adam and Aaron by taking authority over mankind and the responsibility of their sins onto his shoulders through the cross. Like them, he died to one life and resurrected to another, but the great and essential difference is that his death was undeserved and his resurrection complete. Adam and Aaron deserved their punishments, while Yeshua did not, and so he will remain forever a perfect High Priest and Kinsman Redeemer.

What Did Jesus Mean by “Fulfill”?

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. 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. Matthew 5:17-18 ESV

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. 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.
Matthew 5:17-18 ESV

Torah-keepers point to these verses as a primary text proving the ongoing validity of the Law of Moses (aka Torah), while anti-Torah Christians point to them as proof the Law has passed away, been nailed to the cross, superseded…you get the idea. Whatever word they choose to use, it amounts to the same as “abolish”.

In light of the numerous biblical passages claiming that the Law will never pass away, it seems the burden of proof must lie on those who claim that Yeshua here said the opposite. This is the typical argument: Yeshua said the Law would pass away when the Law was fulfilled, and he fulfilled the law on the cross, therefore the Law has passed away. The obvious counter is that Yeshua did not say “when the Law was fulfilled.” He said “nothing will pass from the Law until all is accomplished” (or “fulfilled” in some translations).
What did he mean by “all”?

I see four possible meanings: all of the Law, all of the Prophets, the passing away of all of heaven and earth, and the completion of Yeshua’s mission on earth.

  1. All of the Law. What does it mean for all of the Law to be accomplished? Whatever it means, Yeshua’s death and resurrection could not have done it because decades after the resurrection, in Romans 13:8, Paul wrote that believers loving one another continue to fulfill the Law. Some will say that he was referring to a greater, unwritten Law of God that is superior to the Torah (aka Law of Moses), but in the very next verse, Paul wrote that he was specifically talking about the Torah or at the very least, the Ten Commandments which is at its core. All of the New Testament epistles are full of instruction based on the commandments of Torah. Why would the Apostles continue to instruct first century believers on how to observe and fulfill those commandments if Yeshua had nullified them by fulfilling them?
  2. All of the Prophets. It’s trivial to show that some prophecies in the Old Testament have not yet been fulfilled. For example, in Deuteronomy 30 Moses prophesied that Israel will repent from their rebellion against God and be fully restored to the land of Israel where God will circumcise their hearts and the hearts of their children so that they would keep all of the commandments given by Moses. There have been two partial returns of Israel to the land, once in the time of Nehemiah and Ezra, and once in the twentieth century. In neither case was there any significant repentance. In the former case, God returned the people to exile. Today, the state of Israel hosts some of the world’s largest celebrations of rebellion against God. There are numerous prophecies of Israel’s eventual repentance and restoration to the land, and none of them have been fulfilled.*
  3. The End of Heaven and Earth. As I write this article, I am flying through the air at more than 30,000 feet above the surface of the earth. Outside the windows of this A330, I see sun, sky, clouds, mountains, and many miles of West Texas desert. I know that when I am home tonight, I will be able to look up in the sky and see the moon and thousands of stars. I hope you’ll trust me when I say that the heavens and the earth have not yet passed away. In fact, Revelation 20:11 says that they won’t pass away until the Great White Throne Judgment immediately prior to the final resurrection. If Yeshua meant that the Law would pass away with the heavens and the earth, then it nothing in the Law will pass until God is ready to judge every person who has ever lived.
  4. Yeshua’s Mission on Earth. This is probably what most Christians believe Yeshua meant when he said “until all is accomplished”. When he said “It is finished” on the cross, that was the end of the Law. However, as I pointed out above, Paul said that believers continue to fulfill the Law of Moses after Yeshua’s death by obeying the command in Leviticus 19:18, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself”. James also repeated this command, even stating that it was from Scripture at a time when the old Scriptures available were the Old Testament, so it is very unlikely that he was referring to the Gospels. Many scholars believe that James’ letter was the first of all the New Testament writings.

As you can see, none of the possible interpretations of “till all be accomplished” in Matthew 5:18 stand up when the whole of Scripture is considered. According to Paul, the Law wasn’t abolished at the cross. All Old Testament prophecy has not been fulfilled. The heavens and the earth are still here.

In Matthew 5:17, Yeshua said that he had come to fulfill the Law, and I think we have to believe that he did that or else he failed in his mission. In the very next verse, he said that not one jot or tittle will pass from the Law until all is accomplished, which can only mean that fulfilling the Law does not annul it or cause anything to pass from it. If both Paul and James taught that believers fulfill the Law by obeying it, why should we assume that Yeshua meant something different when he said he came to fulfill it?

One of the fundamental principles of Bible study is to let the Bible define its own terms. Of course, tradition and historical context can also be important, but ultimately, every biblical concept must be understood by how that concept is used and explained in the Bible itself.

What does the Bible say it means to “fulfill the Law”?

The Greek word translated “fulfill” in v17 is πληρόω (pleroo). It is often used to describe the fulfillment of a prophecy. The Torah is full of prophecies about the Messiah (Joseph’s entire life story is prophetic, for example), and Yeshua certainly fulfilled it in that way.
However, it is also frequently used to describe keeping the requirements of a commandment as when Yeshua, Paul, James, and John said that if we keep the commandments, we are loving one another, and–vice versa–if we love one another, we will also be keeping (fulfilling) the commandments because the commandments are instruction in how to love. (See John 14:15, 14:21, Romans 8:4, 13:8-9, 2 Corinthians 10:6, Galatians 5:14, James 2:8, 1 John 5:2-2, and 2 John 1:6.)

Pleroo/filled-full is also used to describe something being filled up or made complete. Yeshua was filled with wisdom in Luke 2:40, valleys are filled in Luke 3:5, joy is made full in John 15:11, and Ananias’ heart is filled by Satan in Acts 5:3.

In no case does pleroo ever mean to nullify or cancel anything. When applied to God’s commandments as given through Moses, it can only mean one of three things: 1) Fulfill their prophetic meaning, 2) Obey them, or 3) Fill or restore them with their intended meaning. Based on Yeshua’s own words throughout the Gospels and the Apostles teachings, “I have come to fulfill the Law and the Prophets” in Matthew 5:17 probably means all three, but it definitely cannot mean that Yeshua came to abolish, nullify, make obsolete…and any other synonym that people might use to get around Yeshua’s plain words in verse 18.

Our task from here is to reexamine the erroneous interpretations of verses that talk about “blotting out the handwriting of ordinances” and “that which decayeth and waxeth old is ready to vanish away”. See here for more thoughts on this and related topics: Objections to Keeping Torah.

* Since the Deuteronomy 30 prophecy also clearly states that the result of Israel’s circumcised hearts at some point in the future is obedience to Torah, God must still be pleased by his people obeying Moses’ instructions.

No One Can Serve Two Masters?

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. Matthew 6:24 ESV

In Genesis 24, Abraham ordered his servant, Eliezer, to swear by YHWH that he would find a wife for Isaac from among Abraham’s people in Haran.

And Abraham said to his servant, the oldest of his household, who had charge of all that he had, “Put your hand under my thigh, that I may make you swear by the LORD, the God of heaven and God of the earth, that you will not take a wife for my son from the daughters of the Canaanites, among whom I dwell, but will go to my country and to my kindred, and take a wife for my son Isaac.”
Genesis 24:2-4 ESV

When Eliezer met Rebekah, the daughter of Abraham’s nephew Bethuel, he thanked God for guiding him.

The man bowed his head and worshiped the LORD and said, “Blessed be the LORD, the God of my master Abraham, who has not forsaken his steadfast love and his faithfulness toward my master. As for me, the LORD has led me in the way to the house of my master’s kinsmen.”
Genesis 24:26-27 ESV

Eliezer followed the orders of his master, Abraham, and of his God, YHWH.

However, in Matthew 6:24, Yeshua said, “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.” At first, it sounds as if Yeshua was saying that nobody should ever have any master except God himself, but clearly that’s not what he meant.

The word for “master” in this verse is kurios, which means the same as the English word “master”. It can refer to a teacher, employer, slave owner, nobleman…pretty much anyone who has authority over something. In Ephesians 6:5, Colossians 3:22, and other places, Paul tells slaves to obey their human masters (kurios). In 1 Peter 3:6, Peter holds Sarah up as an example for women because she obeyed her husband and called him lord (kurios). Since God established the authority of judges, husbands, and others, clearly Yeshua didn’t mean “No one can serve two masters” in a strictly literal sense.

This is another of many times that Yeshua employed hyperbole as a teaching tool. The immediate context of his statement was the pursuit of material wealth. Just a few seconds earlier, in verse 19, he said “Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth”, and he didn’t mean anyone to take this in a hyperliteral sense either, because it’s not a sin to acquire wealth. Once again, Abraham is a case in point.

The key to understanding what Yeshua meant is in the verses between:

For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. The eye is the lamp of the body. So, if your eye is healthy, your whole body will be full of light, 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!
Matthew 6:21-23 ESV

Do you see the world as land to be exploited for every grain of wheat and every lump of coal you can extract? Or do you see it as the property of a higher master entrusted to your care for its health and prosperity?

Eliezer served Abraham by seeking out the best possible wife for Isaac, ultimately serving God by being faithful to his charge. A disciple serves God by serving his master. A wife serves God by serving her husband and caring for her children.

There is no conflict at all between serving God and seeking the wellbeing of one’s family, employers, neighbors, and country, because the wellbeing of all people is tied to their conformity to God’s will. On the other hand, if any authority commands us to disobey God’s clear instructions, then we are obligated to obey God rather than man.

But Peter and the apostles answered, “We must obey God rather than men.”
Acts 5:29 ESV

It’s one thing to submit to taxation that we know will be used for wicked purposes; it’s another thing entirely to obey orders to carry out that wickedness with our own hands. It’s one thing for a wife to submit to a criminal husband; it’s another to be an active participant in a criminal enterprise. Where exactly you draw that line in your own circumstances is between you and God.

YHWH is the Creator of everything and everyone and remains the ultimate authority over all people and relationships. So long as we do everything for his ultimate glory and purposes, we serve him by serving others in whatever role he has placed us. If we elevate our own desires–or those of anyone else!–above God’s, we also elevate ourselves above God, rejecting him as Master.

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. 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?’ And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.’
Matthew 7:21-23 ESV

For the LORD your God is a consuming fire, a jealous God.
Deuteronomy 4:24 ESV

Related video…

Man and Woman in the Image of God

Man and woman together were created in the image of God.

Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness. And let them have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over the livestock and over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.” So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.
Genesis 1:26-27 ESV

Scripture never explains why God created mankind, but there are some clues we can discern from the Creation narrative.

  • We were created in his image, so our purpose requires being like him in some important ways.
  • Our first command was to “be fruitful and multiple and fill the earth and subdue it”, so our purpose requires a large enough number of us to fill the earth and be its master. (See Be Fruitful and Multiply at the RN Blog.)
  • Adam’s first task was to inventory all the animals so that he would know he was unique and needed a helper of his own kind.
  • Eve’s first task was to assist Adam in his role as the keeper of God’s garden.

Humanity’s mission as God’s stewards over the earth requires us to act as his agents in the world, to be god-like to the plants and animals, much as Moses was to be like a god to Pharaoh (Exodus 7:1). To fill that role adequately, a man needs a wife, and through that relationship, together they act in another of God’s capacities: they create more people.

God created Adam first, and he was the only man to have been created directly in God’s image through divine action rather than through procreation. Even Yeshua, who is God in the flesh, had a body built cell-by-cell within the body of a woman. All others, including Eve, are created in God’s image by being created in Adam’s image.

Moses’ was deliberate and precise in his wording of Genesis 1:27. Consider this very literal translation:

God created the man in his image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.

The man in this verse is literally “the man”, ha adam in Hebrew, not “mankind”. While Scripture sometimes refers to mankind collectively as adam, only the first man is ever called Adam as an individual. Throughout Genesis 1 and 2, when Moses referred to the individual characters, he calls the man adam and the woman ishah. (The woman isn’t called “Eve” until the end of chapter 3.)

The Hebrew words used for male and female in v27 are also illustrative. Zakar, the Hebrew for male, comes from a root that means “remembered” or “memorial”, and what is an image but an imprinted memory of something else? Nekevah, the Hebrew for female, is derived from nekev, which means “to pierce”. It might be derived from the wearing of rings, especially in the context of betrothal, or it might be a sexual reference, as crude as that seems to our Western sensibilities. It’s a more functionally oriented word and describes more of who the woman is rather than who she resembles.

Adam was created from dust and the breath of God, while Eve was created from Adam. In 1 Corinthians 11:7-9 Paul pointed out that all mankind as a whole bears the image of God, but men more specifically are that image: “…he is the image and glory of God: but the woman is the glory of the man. For the man is not of the woman; but the woman of the man. Neither was the man created for the woman; but the woman for the man.”

Despite all this, the very first task God put to Adam was to learn how incomplete he was without Ishah.

God is neither male nor female, but he has something of both the masculine and the feminine within him; else how could Eve have been created from Adam, who was created in the image of God? When the first part of the substance of Eve was extracted from Adam, both feminine and masculine traits, which he had inherited from God, were passed on to Eve, but in a very different balance. Both men and women have masculine and feminine attributes, and in this they both bear God’s image, but each in different ways and degrees

For example, Adam is the law-giver and protector (inadequate as he might have been in both of those roles) and Eve is the mother and helper. But they are only able to be fully God’s agents in Creation when they are together, not as man and man or woman and woman, but Adam and Eve. They are complements, not Lego blocks that can be swapped out for each other at will.

By God’s original design, a man is unable to be a woman and a woman is unable to be a man. They can fill in for each other in a crippled, temporary sort of way, but one will never be complete without the other. If either disregards their role for any length of time, like any well-designed machine, malfunctions will begin to accumulate in every system: physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual. A person can compensate for that damage for a time through drugs, entertainment and distractions, but that won’t stop the degeneration. It only hides it, enabling a cascade of failures until the whole person is drowning in utter misery.

Hollywood, the legacy media, the National Education Association, and Washington, D.C. are all intent on convincing the world that the only loving thing to do is to encourage injured people to go on destroying their lives. I can’t help but believe they know the damage they are causing and that they actually hate all those they claim to love.

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.”
Romans 13:9 ESV

True love isn’t making people feel good about this moment at the expense of the rest of their lives. It’s teaching them to keep God’s commandments, including those that concern sexuality and “gender roles”. If you love your neighbor, you must support the Biblical example of marriage as male and female joined together and oppose the world’s twisted counterfeit.