Teaching Bible in public schools
Again, it may not happen - probably won't - but if it does, like some others before me, I've got some questions about parts of the Bible that possibly are a bit confusing.
I don't have any problem with the Golden Rule (Luke 6:31). It seems sort of like common sense to treat others the way you'd like to be treated, and I usually try to do that.
We've also talked about requiring the teaching of the Ten Commandments. But even though some believe in the inerrancy of scripture, I worry that, for example, ordering people not to covet their neighbor's house (Exodus 20:17) could seriously undermine the real estate business.
And, I presume the prohibition against working on the Sabbath (Exodus 20:10) is well-intentioned. But it gets a bit harsh when Moses says anyone who does should be put to death (Exodus 35:2). If that indeed is correct, my question is whether we can just stone them, or have to use some harsher method. Or can we just get the sheriff to do it?
I read that it's OK for me to have slaves, either male or female (Leviticus 25:44), providing they come from neighboring nations. It's obvious that I can possess Mexicans. But would Canada qualify as a neighboring nation, or are Texans limited to Oklahoma, Louisiana, Arkansas and New Mexico?
I realize it creates a pleasing odor for the Lord when I burn a bull on the altar as a sacrifice (Leviticus 1:9), and I've gotten pretty accustomed to the smell. But I've got some new neighbors who say the odor doesn't please them. Shall I smite them?
I wear trifocals, but the Bible says I can't approach the altar of God if I have a defect in my sight (Leviticus 21:20). Would Lasik surgery qualify me for an altar approach?
Most of my buddies get haircuts, including the hair around their temples. But Leviticus 19:27 flatly says this is wrong. Am I required to kill them, or can someone else take care of it?
I realize that touching the skin of a dead pig makes one unclean (Leviticus 11:6-8). Is that why football players get so dirty? And if they wear gloves, will that take care of it? Also, I worry that this may discourage pass interceptions.
My brother has a farm. He plants two different crops in the same field, which I've told him is a clear violation of Leviticus 19:19. Furthermore, his wife wears garments made of two different kinds of thread (a cotton/polyester blend).
When I mention these things to him, he curses and blasphemes. Am I required to get the town together to stone them (Leviticus 24:10-16)? Or could we just burn them to death in a private family affair, like we do with people who sleep with their in-laws (Leviticus 20:14)?
I like raw oysters, but a friend tells me eating shellfish is an abomination (Leviticus 11:10). However, he says it's less of an abomination than homosexuality. Is he correct? Are there degrees of abomination?
I realize it's okay to sell my daughter into slavery, according to Exodus 21:7. I'm giving it serious thought, because I need the money. But every time I mention it to either of my daughters, they get really, really upset. Got any advice about what to do?
It's entirely possible that Bible study won't be required, since other legislators want to water down Chisum's bill, including by requiring use of a textbook rather than the Bible, and letting local officials decide whether their school districts will offer the courses at all.
But if they do, I hope a good teacher can help clear up some of these nagging questions, sure to come up in classrooms.
Reach McNeely at dmcneely@austin. rr.com or (512) 323-0248.