What is God’s Law? / Why do people take some verses/commands literally (homosexuality, divorce) and others not (shrimp, multiple-fabric clothing)?

There are two main facets to talking about these questions, laws in the Old Testament and laws in the New Testament. In the Old Testament, “the Law” consists of the commands by God through Moses which became a covenant relationship (agreement for living) between God and God’s chosen people, the people of Israel. It consists of 613 commands. They include commands against homosexual activity, incest, rape, as well as commands against eating certain animals like shellfish (shrimp included) and wearing clothing woven with two different kinds of fabric. The Law also lays out temple rituals, festivals, how and why to do these things, etc. It advocates for the care of the poor, the widow, and the foreigner. It forbids charging with interest and it advocates forgiving all debts after 7 years. Most notably for the Christian, the Law includes the 10 Commandments, which serve as a summation or at least an intro to the Law, namely know that God is God and don’t be a jerk to each other.

When people point to Old Testament Law as proof that we are doing something wrong or that we are violating God’s Law, there are two responses. First off, for the one wagging their finger, they must understand that to advocate any aspect of the Law is to bind themselves to the entire Law. Therefore, if they want to argue in favor of any Old Testament Law, they themselves ought to be righteous to uphold for themselves the entire Law (i.e. You can’t condemn fornication while eating all-you-can-eat crab legs at Red Lobster. You are in equal violation of the Law.) This is especially professed by Paul, a self-proclaimed “Pharisee of Pharisees” before knowing Christ Jesus. In Galatians, Paul literally says this as he talks about the difference between the old covenant of the Law through Moses and the new covenant through Christ on the cross. (Galatians 5:5-6 but really all of Galatians and much of Paul’s writing).

Which brings us to the 2nd response of arguing from the Old Testament, Jesus has fulfilled the Law and we are now bound to the New Testament Law of Christ. The Law of Christ is tricky! The Law of Christ can be summed up like this, you are freed from the burden of the Law and are free to simply love one another but don’t abuse that freedom or use it in such a way that others will misunderstand or ignore the Gospel of Jesus Christ. In Paul’s day, the hot button issue in at least Corinth (according to 1st Corinthians) was eating meat sacrificed to idols (1 Cor 8). Paul, freed from the Law which forbid eating meat sacrificed to idols, was now able to eat it because of Jesus’ fulfilling the Law through the cross. Paul was able to eat the meat, but if he did this in the presence of someone who would see Paul do that and think Jesus’s sacrifice meant nothing or that since Paul was eating this meat that Paul accepts whatever god it was sacrificed to, Paul’s freedom is causing someone to not hear the truth of Christ, the opposite of spreading the Gospel. So, the Law of Christ becomes trickier.

That’s probably a good stopping point for this one. It’s a complicated issue, as you probably know from all the varying Christian denominations out there. There is plenty more that could be said, and I’m always willing to continue the conversation with you.