E-mail Scott
Scott's Links
About the Author
Opinion Archives
Social Media:
Google Plus
Monthly Archives:

January 2010
February 2010
March 2010
April 2010
May 2010
June 2010
July 2010
August 2010
September 2010
October 2010
November 2010
December 2010
January 2011
February 2011
March 2011
April 2011
May 2011
June 2011
July 2011
August 2011
September 2011
October 2011
November 2011
December 2011
January 2012
February 2012
March 2012
April 2012
May 2012
June 2012
July 2012
August 2012
September 2012
October 2012
November 2012
December 2012
January 2013
February 2013
March 2013
April 2013
May 2013
June 2013
July 2013
August 2013
September 2013
October 2013
November 2013
December 2013
January 2014
February 2014
March 2014
April 2014
May 2014
June 2014
July 2014
August 2014
September 2014
October 2014
November 2014
December 2014
January 2015
February 2015
March 2015
April 2015
May 2015
June 2015
July 2015
August 2015
September 2015
October 2015
November 2015
December 2015
January 2016
February 2016
March 2016
April 2016
May 2016
June 2016
July 2016
August 2016
September 2016
October 2016
November 2016
December 2016
January 2017
February 2017
March 2017
April 2017
May 2017
June 2017

Powered by Blogger
Subscribe via RSS

Monday, July 23, 2012

Deuteronomy 23:1, more deeply examined

Posted by Scott Tibbs at 4:30 AM (#)

Note: I originally wrote this commentary back in 2008. I was motivated to re-post it after someone sent me an e-mail about it last week saying I was "twisting" the Bible.

One of my critics in local politics loves to mock my experience with testicular cancer by repeatedly bringing up Deuteronomy 23:1 to claim that I will not be in Heaven. The childishness of this claim aside, it does represent an opportunity to demonstrate that, while the text of Scripture as literally written is important, it is also important to understand the context of the text and what the words actually mean. First, let's start with the verse:

"He that is wounded in the stones, or hath his privy member cut off, shall not enter into the congregation of the LORD." - Deuteronomy 23:1

Commentary here by John Wesley:

He that is wounded — A phrase denoting an eunuch.

Shall not enter into the congregation of the Lord — Shall not be admitted to honours and offices either in the church or commonwealth of Israel; and so the congregation of the Lord doth not here signify, the body of the people, but the society of the elders or rulers of the people. Add to this, that the Hebrew word, Kahal, generally signifies a congregation or company of men met together; and therefore this cannot so conveniently be meant of all the body of the people, which could never meet in one place, but of the chief rulers, which frequently did so. Nor is it strange that eunuchs are excluded from government, both because such persons are commonly observed to want that courage which is necessary for a governor, because as such persons ordinarily were despicable, so the authority in their hands was likely to be exposed to the same contempt.

Source: http://www.christnotes.org/commentary.php?com=wes&b=5&c=23

Another commentary follows:

He that is wounded ., shall not enter into the congregation of the Lord-"To enter into the congregation of the Lord" means either admission to public honors and offices in the Church and State of Israel, or, in the case of foreigners, incorporation with that nation by marriage. The rule was that strangers and foreigners, for fear of friendship or marriage connections with them leading the people into idolatry, were not admissible till their conversion to the Jewish faith. But this passage describes certain limitations of the general rule. The following parties were excluded from the full rights and privileges of citizenship: (1) Eunuchs-It was a very ancient practice for parents in the East by various arts to mutilate their children, with a view to training them for service in the houses of the great. (2) Bastards-Such an indelible stigma in both these instances was designed as a discouragement to practices that were disgraceful, but too common from intercourse with foreigners. (3) Ammonites and Moabites-Without provocation they had combined to engage a soothsayer to curse the Israelites; and had further endeavored, by ensnaring them into the guilt and licentious abominations of idolatry, to seduce them from their allegiance to God.

Source: http://jfb.biblecommenter.com/deuteronomy/23.htm

There isn't much question about what "wounded in the stones" means. The question is what, in the context of the time, "the congregation of the Lord" means. As Wesley explains, this refers to holding an office, being a priest, etc. It could also mean not being allowed to enter the Temple. But what the text does not say is that intact genitalia is a requirement for salvation. In order to understand what the verse means, as literally written, you have to understand what the words themselves mean. As with any writing, if you do not know the definitions of the words used, you cannot understand what the text means.

So no, I'm not going to go to Hell because I lost a testicle to cancer. As with any question of Biblical doctrine, it is important to seek the truth by searching for context in other parts of Scripture. Two of those passages follow.

Isaiah 56:4-5

For thus saith the LORD unto the eunuchs that keep my sabbaths, and choose the things that please me, and take hold of my covenant;

Even unto them will I give in mine house and within my walls a place and a name better than of sons and of daughters: I will give them an everlasting name, that shall not be cut off.

Now, if one who has had "his privy member cut off" (which is what a eunuch is) cannot possibly be saved, then why would God give eunuchs who keep His Sabbath a place in His house? Is there any reason to believe that one who has been "wounded in the stones" by testicular cancer would be barred from salvation by Deuteronomy 23:1, considering that eunuchs are clearly not barred from salvation?

Matthew 19:11-12

But he said unto them, All men cannot receive this saying, save they to whom it is given.

For there are some eunuchs, which were so born from their mother's womb: and there are some eunuchs, which were made eunuchs of men: and there be eunuchs, which have made themselves eunuchs for the kingdom of heaven's sake. He that is able to receive it, let him receive it.

Again, if someone could become a eunuch for the Kingdom of Heaven's sake, then how could Deuteronomy 23:1 bar that person from salvation? For another reference, read Acts 8:27-40, where a eunuch accepts Jesus Christ as his Savior and is baptized into the faith. Clearly, one who has had "his privy member cut off" can be justified by grace through faith. And again, if Deuteronomy 23:1 does not bar such a person from salvation, it also does not bar anyone who has been "wounded in the stones", whether it be through an accident or through cancer.

Below are the rules for commenting on ConservaTibbs.com.

  1. A reasonable level of civility is expected. While it is expected that controversial political and social issues may generate heated debate, there are common-sense limits of civility that will be enforced.

  2. This blog is a family-friendly site. Therefore no cursing, profanity, vulgarity, obscenity, etc. will be allowed. This is a zero-tolerance rule and will result in automatic deletion of the offending post.

  3. Anonymity has greatly coarsened discourse on the Internet, so pseudonyms are discouraged but not forbidden. That said, any direct criticism of a person by name may not be done anonymously. If you criticize someone, you must subject yourself to the same level of scrutiny or the comment will be deleted.

  4. You must put a name or pseudonym on your comments. All comments by "Anonymous" will be deleted.

  5. Please keep your comments relevant to the topic of the post.

Thank you for your cooperation.