God may have inspired all of the books that exist in the Bible, but He didn’t write all of them. Even the gospels he wrote or helped write, such as Kings, Songs, Proverbs and parts of Psalms, Job, and Genesis, among others, are limited or constrained by their time periods and more importantly, by the terms of the covenants that appeared in those gospels. Also, whatever God wrote has been respoken, repeated, rewritten, retranslated, and often completely altered by the shifting hands of well-meaning souls over the millennia.
God inspired the Bible, yes. He spoke to the prophets, some better and more clearly than to others. For example, Isaiah, Daniel, Ezekiel, and Jeremiah wrote what they were given, and faithfully transcribed vast amounts of material. Even these great prophets, however, missed some things. It’s hard to understand the meaning and intent of the Lord. Very hard.
Moses was perhaps the greatest of the prophets, and he contributed greatly to the first several gospels. Even Moses had to use human ears to hear, and these human ears, well, they’re limited by a number of factors. Sometimes we just hear things wrong; sometimes we hear things through our own filters; often our own cultural prejudices inform how we interpret the words we are given; and sometimes we put our own beliefs into what we hear, and then when we go to write down the words we’re given, well, we add some of our own.
I believe this was the case for Deuteronomy. And the message God has asked me to deliver to you is both simply and complex. First, the simple: Deuteronomy was limited by its time period; it does not completely capture the will or the Word of God accurately; and for guidelines on how to behave, you are not to look to Deuteronomy, but to the words spoken by the only begotten Son of God instead.
Second, there’s clear biblical justification for disregarding the laws set forth in Deuteronomy. You see, the Old Testament gospels, especially the early ones, capture promises, also called covenants, made between God and His people. In exchange for agreeing to obey God’s laws, God promised His people Israel, which also means, “the promised land.”
Over time, the sheer number of laws piled up. There were more than 600 laws and rules and regulations the Jews were following . . . and yet they were still leading unfulfilling lives, which is to say they were constantly breaking not just the little laws, but the big ones, as in the ones set forth in the Ten Commandments. Souls weren’t just breaking laws—they weren’t finding their way Home, and they weren’t loving or finding God.
Jesus came to set humans free—free of the Old Covenants. He brought with him a new covenant, which, to put it simply amounted to this: Love God; love your neighbor; accept that Jesus died for our sins . . . and you’re on your way Home. Does it sound too good to be true? Well, a lot of his fellow Jews thought it did. They didn’t think Jesus was really a prophet, or the Messiah, the Son of God, and the Jews asked questions like, “Yes, but where’s the Ark of the Covenant?” Or, “Yes, but even with all your miracles, how can you prove you are the Messiah?” Or, “Yes, but wait, that sounds so different from anything we’ve ever heard—it just doesn’t . . . sound right?”
The sad thing for so many people is that what Jesus was bringing was some incredibly good news. He was also bringing the people this amazing gift: the Holy Spirit, or the third part of the trinity, which amounted to a piece of God that would forever exist within each child of God, or within each soul born of water and spirit forever after. But before I explain what the Holy Spirit means and how it relates to gay love, I wanted to quickly cover the nuts and bolts of the New Testament’s New Covenant.
If you want to learn about the Old Covenants, the best place to start is in the New Testament; specifically, go to the Gospel of Hebrews, which was written by an Essene priest named Barnabus. A teacher and close family friend of Jesus, Barnabus was one of the greatest intellectuals of his era, and he not only walked and talked with Jesus for five years—he also walked and preached the good news to Jews and Gentiles for an additional fifteen years after Jesus died. For more on Barnabus, please see Elaine Phoenix’s The First Lost Gospel of Mark, or preferably read the Gospel of Hebrews as well as the (formerly lost) Epistle of Barnabus on your own. It’s always best to go directly to the primary sources.
Barnabus explains the Old Covenants very well. He starts off by setting forth the superiority of Jesus to the prophets who contributed to the Old Testament:
In the past God spoke to our ancestors through the prophets at many times and in various ways, but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed heir of all things, and through whom also he made the universe. The Son is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of his being, sustaining all things by his powerful word. After he had provided purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty in heaven. So he became as much superior to the angels as the name he has inherited is superior to theirs.
Then Barnabus explains why Jesus had to be human: he had to suffer just as we suffer so that in overcoming suffering, he could show us how to set ourselves free of the fear of dying. Jesus suffered at the hands of man; he was made fully human, and he defeated death.
Jesus was also greater than Moses, and the words he spoke could be trusted as coming straight from God.
Jesus has been found worthy of greater honor than Moses, just as the builder of a house has greater honor than the house itself. For every house is built by someone, but God is the builder of everything. “Moses was faithful as a servant in all God’s house,” bearing witness to what would be spoken by God in the future. But Christ is faithful as the Son over God’s house. And we are his house, if indeed we hold firmly to our confidence and the hope in which we glory. Hebrews 3:3-6.
In the days of Moses, God made agreements with His people, and both sides, or parties to the agreement made promises:
When God made his promise to Abraham, since there was no one greater for him to swear by, he swore by himself, saying, “I will surely bless you and give you many descendants.” And so after waiting patiently, Abraham received what was promised.
People swear by someone greater than themselves, and the oath confirms what is said and puts an end to all argument. Because God wanted to make the unchanging nature of his purpose very clear to the heirs of what was promised, he confirmed it with an oath. God did this so that, by two unchangeable things in which it is impossible for God to lie, we who have fled to take hold of the hope set before us may be greatly encouraged. We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure. It enters the inner sanctuary behind the curtain, where our forerunner, Jesus, has entered on our behalf. He has become a high priest forever, in the order of Melchizedek. Hebrews 6:13-20.
Jesus was a high priest of sorts in addition to being a prophet and the Messiah, or the promised one, the soul promised by so many earlier prophets such as Moses and Isaiah, Elijah and Elisha, among others. And Jesus took an oath as a priest, an oath that guaranteed the truth or sanctity of any covenants he would later announce to the people:
Others became priests without any oath, but he became a priest with an oath when God said to him:
“The Lord has sworn
and will not change his mind:
‘You are a priest forever.’”
Because of this oath, Jesus has become the guarantor of a better covenant.
What does Barnabus mean when he says that Jesus is the guarantor of a better covenant? That means that we can trust Jesus—we can believe that what He says is the Word or intention of God is true. What Jesus promises us is accurate and real, or to put it in financial terms, if we want to cash a check in, Jesus will make sure that so long as we upheld our end of the bargain and lived virtuously, loving God and loving one another, He would make sure that we would receive the salvation promised.
Barnabus explains why we should listen to Jesus in Hebrews:
Now the main point of what we are saying is this: We do have such a high priest, who sat down at the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in heaven, and who serves in the sanctuary, the true tabernacle set up by the Lord, not by a mere human being. Hebrews 8:1-2.
The earlier priests, from the time of Moses, had to offer up sacrifices up on altars to make good their part of the covenant, or agreement with God. The priests had to make sure their altars were built just so, and that they basically built copies of the sanctuaries that (they thought) were built in heaven.
But Jesus didn’t need to use these altars or follow all these practices as set forth in the Old Testament. Why not?
But in fact the ministry Jesus has received is as superior to theirs as the covenant of which he is mediator is superior to the old one, since the new covenant is established on better promises. Hebrews 8:6.
Jesus was bringing a new covenant because the old covenants weren’t working, and were now obsolete.
For if there had been nothing wrong with that first covenant, no place would have been sought for another. But God found fault with the people and said:
“The days are coming, declares the Lord,
when I will make a new covenant
with the people of Israel
and with the people of Judah.
It will not be like the covenant
I made with their ancestors
when I took them by the hand
to lead them out of Egypt,
because they did not remain faithful to my covenant,
and I turned away from them,
declares the Lord.
This is the covenant I will establish with the people of Israel
after that time, declares the Lord.
I will put my laws in their minds
and write them on their hearts.
I will be their God,
and they will be my people.
No longer will they teach their neighbor,
or say to one another, ‘Know the Lord,’
because they will all know me,
from the least of them to the greatest.
For I will forgive their wickedness
and will remember their sins no more.”
By calling this covenant “new,” he has made the first one obsolete; and what is obsolete and outdated will soon disappear. Hebrews 8:7-13, quoting Jer. 31:31-34.
There it is—right there in black and white. The old covenants from Deuteronomy and other books from the Old Testament are “obsolete and outdated.” For those of you who have been looking for a reason, a clear justification, biblically sound, absolutely logical and doctrinally accurate for why God has not outlawed gay love, here’s the passage you’ve been searching for. And then there’s this:
For this reason Christ is the mediator of a new covenant, that those who are called may receive the promised eternal inheritance—now that he has died as a ransom to set them free from the sins committed under the first covenant. In the case of a will, it is necessary to prove the death of the one who made it, because a will is in force only when somebody has died; it never takes effect while the one who made it is living. This is why even the first covenant was not put into effect without blood. Hebrews 9:15-17.
As Barnabus explains, Jesus “made good” on his promises by shedding his blood on the cross. While this seems anachronistic, maybe even cruel to modern ears, God sealed His agreement with us, His people, with the blood of His son. Jesus died so that we, in a manner of speaking, would gain eternal life much more easily.
The old laws, as set forth in Deuteronomy, concerning what humans can and cannot do are no longer in force. That’s why proscriptions on eating certain foods are no longer in effect; and more importantly, Jesus wants us to focus on the deeper, more meaningful issues. As far as what we eat, for example, it’s not what goes into our mouths but what comes out of them that matters. Or as far as the laws regarding the Sabbath, did Jesus stop working to make the world better? No—he healed the sick:
Another time Jesus went into the synagogue, and a man with a shriveled hand was there. Jesus said to the man with the shriveled hand, “Stand up in front of everyone.”
Then Jesus asked them, “Which is lawful on the Sabbath: to do good or to do evil, to save life or to kill?”
But they remained silent.
He looked around at them in anger and, deeply distressed at their stubborn hearts, said to the man, “Stretch out your hand.” He stretched it out, and his hand was completely restored. Mark 3:1-6.
Jesus taught us to look deeper, to search for the true meaning behind all of the teachings earlier prophets had shared.
Indeed, when Jesus was saying goodbye to his followers, he didn’t give them a long list of rules. He kept it simple, oh so very simple.
“As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love. If you keep my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commands and remain in his love. I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete. My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. 13 Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. You are my friends if you do what I command. I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master’s business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you. You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you so that you might go and bear fruit—fruit that will last—and so that whatever you ask in my name the Father will give you. This is my command: Love each other.”
Jesus told us to love one another, and he gave us a tool, a new tool, that would help guide us: the Holy Spirit.
It is this, the Holy Spirit, or the light within our souls, that should inform how we treat one another. This light, which is pure love, God’s love, is inside all of us, and when we look on our brothers and sisters, we should shine light, not darkness, on them. After all, why should it bother us who our brother, or who our sister . . . loves? What, after all, is love? Other than light, shining like a beacon from the Almighty One who made us?
In closing, brothers and sisters, be not afraid. The new laws of the New Testament supersede the old laws of the Old Testament. Even if Deuteronomy once accurately captured the will of God (a position I do not accept but grant for the sake of argument), the laws God gave to his people within that gospel have been rendered obsolete by the New Testament covenants. For the map Home, look to Jesus, and look within, to the piece of God given to you in the form of the Holy Spirit. That light, and His love—is all we need. For love, is love. And love is good.
Since the children have flesh and blood, he too shared in their humanity so that by his death he might break the power of him who holds the power of death—that is, the devil—and free those who all their lives were held in slavery by their fear of death. For surely it is not angels he helps, but Abraham’s descendants. For this reason he had to be made like them, fully human in every way, in order that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest in service to God, and that he might make atonement for the sins of the people. Because he himself suffered when he was tempted, he is able to help those who are being tempted. Hebrews 2:15-18.
See also Galatians 3:21-26. “For if a law had been given that could impart life, then righteousness would certainly have come by the law.
Before the coming of this faith, we were held in custody under the law, locked up until the faith that was to come would be revealed. So the law was our guardian until Christ came that we might be justified by faith. Now that this faith has come, we are no longer under a guardian.
So in Christ Jesus you are all children of God through faith, for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ.”