People must decide how to live and how to treat one another. The atheistic evolutionary system suggests that the only governing law is “survival of the fittest.” Writers like Ayn Rand espoused the idea that if we do what benefits us personally, the world will become a utopia. From a biblical standpoint, there are three systems of laws that answer the question of how we should live, and Christianity brings freedom from ceremonial laws.
Christianity is not a set of “thou shalt not” rules, but misconceptions abound because people don’t understand the difference between the Old and New testaments. The Old Testament emphasized ceremonial laws. Leviticus describes a rigid set of laws to follow. (See the first 13 verses of chapter 1.)
In the New Testament, Galatians 3:10-25 refers to this system as a “curse” because breaking one ceremonial law invalidates the whole system. Many people believe those ceremonial laws are binding today. However, Colossians 2:13-17 points out that Christ did away with the ceremonial laws. The New Testament does urge Christians to pray while allowing tremendous freedom as to how and when. Only communion and baptism could be considered ceremonial activities.
The second kind of law we all have to deal with is civil law. Deuteronomy 24 is an example of applying laws of that kind at the time of Moses. Civil laws have changed as culture has changed. Romans 13:1-7 tells Christians to obey civil law, but those laws can sometimes conflict with the third kind of law, which is moral law.
The moral laws of the Old Testament were all repeated in the New Testament, but Christ gave us a way to successfully follow laws that benefit humans. The teachings of Christ deal with attitudes. Rather than just saying “do not murder,” Christ says “do not be angry” (Matthew 5:22). Rather than saying “do not commit adultery,” Christ says not to look on a person with sexual intent (Matthew 5:28).
Christianity brings freedom in many ways. That includes freedom from ceremony, power struggles, violence, racism, and gender issues. Christian faith also frees us from arranged marriages, religious taxes, and spending money on extravagant buildings, idols, or shrines. Yet, tragically, some have encumbered people with ceremonial laws and destructive civil laws in the name of Christianity. Jesus said, “You shall know the Truth, and the Truth shall make you free.” (John 8:32).
— John N. Clayton © 2022