Tipsy has a post about some lady who is ostentatiously living by the precepts for women set forth in the Bible: things like “growing out her hair, making her own clothes, covering her head, obeying her husband, rising before dawn, abstaining from gossip, remaining silent in church, and even camping out in the front yard during her period.”
There is apparently some debate about whether she is intentionally mocking the Bible or not, but, in any case, she’s being criticized as at least misguided because the New Testament trumps the Old Testament from whence most (all?) of these anachronistic practices spring.
But here’s the rub as I see it: I don’t think any Christian groups have gotten rid of the Old Testament entirely. And there is some sort of human editorial process in making decisions about which provisions are deemed eternal commandments of God and which are deemed passing preferences of the tribesmen who wrote them down. Because unlike certain legislation, the passing preferences are unfortunately lacking in expiration clauses.
The process of picking and choosing which Old Testament instructions are still required is a human effort. And I think the lady’s efforts to follow Biblical law and the discussion surrounding it underscores the human element in making these distinctions. For me, a nonbeliever, this has value if believers are more likely to consider justifications for their own choices. “God told me so” is an abdication of responsibility for the moral choices one makes. Hopefully this sort of exercise leads to further discussion, “God told me so, and God is right because . . .”
Because of the current events of today, the Christian attitude toward gays is a concern of mine. It’s hardly uniform, but for those who have decided that homosexuality is anathema, it’s not enough to say that it’s true because “the Bible tells me so.” Or, at least if they do, there should be an explanation about why those provisions of the Old Testament are operative when so many others are not. Otherwise, as Jefferson put it, “a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them” to make these judgments.