I decided to put this list together because people will take some kind of sin, usually a sexual one, that the church has historically opposed and point to reasons why it isn’t actually sinful. Then they will point to things that happened in the Bible and say, “See, God allows this. Why not this?” Here are some of those things.
Divorce: Nobody explains this one better than Jesus. Here he is in Matthew 19 when the Pharisees decided to ask him about divorce.
Some Pharisees came to him to test him. They asked, “Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife for any and every reason?”
4 “Haven’t you read,” he replied, “that at the beginning the Creator ‘made them male and female,’ 5 and said, ‘For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh’? 6 So they are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate.”
7 “Why then,” they asked, “did Moses command that a man give his wife a certificate of divorce and send her away?”
8 Jesus replied, “Moses permitted you to divorce your wives because your hearts were hard. But it was not this way from the beginning. 9 I tell you that anyone who divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality, and marries another woman commits adultery.”
10 The disciples said to him, “If this is the situation between a husband and wife, it is better not to marry.”
11 Jesus replied, “Not everyone can accept this word, but only those to whom it has been given. 12 For there are eunuchs who were born that way, and there are eunuchs who have been made eunuchs by others—and there are those who choose to live like eunuchs for the sake of the kingdom of heaven. The one who can accept this should accept it.”
Polygamy: Somebody once said that God actually commanded this. Like if a man and woman married, and the woman produced no child, then the woman was obligated to provide a servant for the man to produce a child for her. That woman could not marry the man because of her social status and served as a concubine. Heroes of the Bible such as David had many wives and people loved him. So this is clearly allowed, right?
No, not exactly. Like Jesus said, when God created mankind, he created them male and female and they would become one flesh. Also, what people don’t realize is that the Bible accounts often describe things that did happen, not necessarily what should happen. I read a Bible dictionary once that said that God did allow this practice, but history shows what a disaster it always caused.
For example, Jacob’s wives always fought with each other over who got to have kids and sleep with Jacob. Hannah was heartbroken because her husband took on another wife because she couldn’t have kids. David’s many marriages caused him to take on another man’s wife and kill him and then one of his sons thought he should be allowed to rape his half-sister and another son killed that son, tried to kill David, and slept with all his concubines on a roof in broad daylight.
So what about passages that seem to command men to take on an extra wife to provide for children. Actually, they never command that. God simply provides rules for when men happen to do that.
In Exodus 21:7-11 it says:
“If a man sells his daughter as a servant, she is not to go free as male servants do. 8 If she does not please the master who has selected her for himself, he must let her be redeemed. He has no right to sell her to foreigners, because he has broken faith with her. 9 If he selects her for his son, he must grant her the rights of a daughter. 10 If he marries another woman, he must not deprive the first one of her food, clothing and marital rights. 11 If he does not provide her with these three things, she is to go free, without any payment of money.
It did not command a man to either sell his daughter or take on a servant consort; it merely said what to do if that happened.
This leads me to my next thing:
I think in the ancient times, slavery started as a kind of way to pay debts. If Tim owed Bill some money or had committed a crime that was not punishable by death, he could work for Bill as a servant for an amount of time to pay off that debt. It would save taxpayers from having to support him in a penal system and he could contribute to society.
Also, women could enter into slavery as a household servant to a woman or as a way to produce children for a man.
Through the years it became the horrifying practice that was finally condemned after the American Civil War at least in America and in England before that. Human sin changed it into a civil debt system into the brutality that it would become.
It was so common that Paul commanded slaves to obey their masters and masters to be kind to their slaves. And when Onesimus was converted to a believer, Paul pled with his master, Philemon, to take him not as a slave, but as a brother in Christ.
I think the issue of slavery is one of the most embarrassing things for conservative believers to support when it was the monster that it became. It fooled even giants such as George Whitfield. But God hates the idea of a man owning another man and he hates abuse.
The Crucifixion of Jesus
Not only did God allow this, but the whole Trinity planned on doing this from before creation. When God created a being in his image called human, he knew that this image would not be as perfect as him. And he knew that the humans would betray their creator and sin. So the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit always planned on sending the second person of the Trinity, Jesus Christ, to earth to be born as a man and to die for the sins of all the Lord had chosen to believe. (Acts 13:48, all who were appointed for eternal life believed).
Does God love the idea that people betrayed him and that they could not come to him in their sins on their own terms? There was no greater injustice than the only perfect human dying on the cross, but people needed a substitute for their sins and they needed his alien righteousness applied to their lives in order to come to God. We will never quite understand the contrasts between God’s expressed will (what we know he loves and hates) and his secret decrees (what he allows for reasons only he knows). But we know that he is God, his commandments are right, all he does and plans is right, and that Christ is the only perfect human and God himself who did not want all humanity lost in its own rebellion. Believe on him, and you will have your sins imputed to Christ and his goodness imputed to you. And through our perfect permanent priest who needs no replacement can we come to God and have our sins forgiven.