For example, regarding the issue of immigration, Emergent Church theologian Brian McLaren is quoted as saying, “A lot of people don't realize the Bible is a book about immigration. Abraham was an immigrant. Moses was a refugee. The Hebrew scriptures have so much to say about how we should treat immigrants and aliens.”
Given the extent to which McLaren has come out in support of gay marriage, why ought he invoke the Hebrew scripture to justify a position he supports when it is quite obvious he has deliberately tossed aside one of that revelation's most foundational teachings?
If we as twenty-first century believers are to uphold the so-called “Hebrew scriptures” and the cultural milieu flowing from that body of teaching as the ideal to which our own society ought to aspire, perhaps we ought to consider and implement as a totality how the ancient Israelites approached (to borrow a term popular in the sort of postmodern circles those like McLaren love to wallow in) “the Other”.
The Mosaic law did indeed admonish that a degree of hospitality and kindness was to be extended to the alien or stranger that the Hebrews encountered that desired to sojourn in the Land of Israel.
McLaren insists, “So much of Jesus' ministry is defined by his reluctance to play along with the nativist urges of his day.”
Yet while the degrees of separation might no longer be as rigorous now in light of the completion of Christ's work in His death, burial, and resurrection as second member of the triune Godhead, it was Christ Himself as a member of the Triune Godhead that played a role in establishing a number of the Hebrew practices that even those religious conservatives McLaren loves to deride would no longer want to see implemented.
For example, regarding intermarriage with those categorized as foreigners from the perspective of the ancient Hebrews that McLaren apparently is emulating as his ideal, Deuteronomy 7:3 says, “Neither shalt thou make marriages with them; thy daughter thou shalt not give unto his son, nor shalt his daughter shalt thou take unto thy son. For thy will turn away thy son from following me, that they may serve other gods: so the anger of the Lord be kindled against you, and destroy thee suddenly.”
And of these foreigners that came to dwell in Israelite territory, they might have been bestowed a degree of hospitality not known in other cultures of the time.
However, it is doubtful that, if the letter of the Mosaic law had been adhered to, these strangers would have been allowed to continue in their explicitly pagan practices or that the Israelites would have ended up flagellating themselves for existing as a distinct people with their own unique culture and set of customs.
If anything, those wanting to dwell amongst Israel were often required to go through specific rituals to explicitly verify (one might also call the process extreme vetting) that they were in essence without reservation renouncing their former way of life
For example, Deuteronomy 21:11-14 elaborates that of women captured during a war, if an Israelite man wished to marry one of these, he was to shave her head, cut her nails, and to mourn her family for a month before she could be taken as his wife.
Liberals will snap how that seems exceedingly harsh by twenty-first century standards as to border on rape or sexual assault.
Probably so. But in this instance, is it not up to Brian McLaren to explain why he wants to uphold Mosaic law as the ideal upon which to base U.S. immigration policy?
Regarding the literary approach taken in the text, Scripture is believed to teach as much by historical example as by explicit didactic commands.
If so, even though Scripture counsels compassion towards the stranger, it also warns of the dire consequences that result when this is not done from the standpoint of the strength of adhering from morally superior convictions but from a spirit of amalgamative compromise where one god is seen as no different than any other god in the rush for nothing more than a romp in the sack.
Samson's decline can be directly traced to his attraction bordering on the pathological to Philistine women.
Despite serving as the conduit through which numerous warnings promulgated in the Book of Proverbs regarding a variety of strange women, King Solomon himself veered from the path of righteousness in order the placate his numerous heathen brides.
It was in such moments that the Nation of Promise sank to its most debauched depths.
It is doubtful that Ruth celebrated Moabite History Month or did so by demanding that Boaz articulate how wretched he felt for being a Hebrew.
Likewise, it is doubtful Rahab insisted that she be referred to as a Canaanite-Hebrew and that in her presence that events such as the Battle of Jericho were to be recalled only with a downcast face of regret.
God does indeed want Christians to be a beacon of hope in a fallen, troubled, and perishing world.
However, he does not necessarily require us to forsake commonsense to the point where we as individuals and as a distinct world people imperil our own prosperity and very survival in order to do so.
By Frederick Meekins