Getting stoned: problems for those who woud be “Torah observant”

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As a part of my move away from Messianic Jewish congregations I have finally taken a closer look at the 613 commandments.  I have always said that you cannot take just 10 and call it good, but there are some very hard laws in those 613.  Some just don’t make sense in the modern world.   Others just seem heartless.

I’m still working on what my position should be in relation to the law, but I can’t imagine advocating for some of these commandments.  Let’s start with Deuteronomy 21:18-22 where the parents are told to take their stubborn and rebellious son to the elders where he is stoned to death by all the men of the city.   Granted teenagers can really be a pain, but I don’t know any sane person that would go for the death penalty even for those who are “drunkards and gluttons”.

How about breaking the sabbath?  I’m all for the Sabbath day of rest, but Exodus 32:5 says anyone who works on the Sabbath shall be put to death.  So before you go grab a bite at the local restaurant after service, pick up some rocks.  You decide if you’re going to kill the workers before or after dinner.  By the way, did I see you working in the congregational store last Saturday?

Here’s one for you gardeners: when you plant a tree the fruit is forbidden for three years.  (Lev 19:23).   I wonder if that applies to tomatoes?  I guess that’s not a tree.  There’s also the one about not planting more than one crop in a field.  I suppose my raised bed is not a field, but still confusing!

In spite of these obvious problems, the majority of the commandments seem moral and wise.  I like the idea that we should continue to use the commandments as guidelines. However, I have to ask myself, who am I to pick and choose?  And if I choose some commands and not others what is my justification?

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