Question:

I must disagree with you on two counts.

First of all, I cannot agree with your stand on the Sabbath day. When Paul and the other writers write of various points, such as honoring parents, not killing, not stealing, etc. they are not establishing new rules but are quoting from the Ten, which their audiences were to obey. Of course, this includes the Sabbath. How else do you explain James' admonition in James 2, in which he quotes two of the commandments as an example of the law which his hearers were to follow? How is this to be understood except that they were still binding? Just because the New Testament does not rename the Sabbath does not make it no longer binding; after all, it does not rename bestiality -- do you in the Church of Christ believe it is permissible to have relations with your livestock?

I must also take exception to your teaching on masturbation. I will admit that the Bible does not explicitly name masturbation (although Paul possibly does in 1 Corinthians 6:9 when he mentions the "effeminate"), but did God not create sexuality to be enjoyed between a married man and woman? Every sexual offence under the law (adultery, fornication, bestiality, sodomy, among others) are violations of this fundamental principle. It can be inferred that anything that does not fall in this covenant of marriage is sinful.


Answer:

The apostles wrote as instructed by the Holy Spirit. "Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we might know the things that have been freely given to us by God. These things we also speak, not in words which man's wisdom teaches but which the Holy Spirit teaches, comparing spiritual things with spiritual" (I Corinthians 2:12-13). It is by the Spirit that we were told, "For if that first covenant had been faultless, then no place would have been sought for a second. Because finding fault with them, He says: "Behold, the days are coming, says the LORD, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah-- not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day when I took them by the hand to lead them out of the land of Egypt; because they did not continue in My covenant, and I disregarded them, says the LORD"" (Hebrews 8:7-9). God promised a new covenant based on different terms than the Old Covenant.

Some things remained the same because right and wrong have not changed. "For the commandments, "You shall not commit adultery," "You shall not murder," "You shall not steal," "You shall not bear false witness," "You shall not covet," and if there is any other commandment, are all summed up in this saying, namely, "You shall love your neighbor as yourself."" (Romans 13:9). These commandments apply to the Christian because the Holy Spirit placed them in the new covenant, the Law of Christ. But we know that everything in the old covenant was not included in the new (e.g. Hebrews 10:1-4). You yourself have noticed that while nine of the ten commandments are mentioned in the New Testament, the commandment to keep the Sabbath is not mentioned. Instead, we are told that it is is no longer binding.

In talking to Gentiles, who did not have the ten commandments or the rest of the Law, Paul stated, "In Him you were also circumcised with the circumcision made without hands, by putting off the body of the sins of the flesh, by the circumcision of Christ, buried with Him in baptism, in which you also were raised with Him through faith in the working of God, who raised Him from the dead. And you, being dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, He has made alive together with Him, having forgiven you all trespasses, having wiped out the handwriting of requirements that was against us, which was contrary to us. And He has taken it out of the way, having nailed it to the cross. Having disarmed principalities and powers, He made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them in it. So let no one judge you in food or in drink, or regarding a festival or a new moon or sabbaths, which are a shadow of things to come, but the substance is of Christ" (Colossians 2:11-17).

Thus when we read, "For whoever shall keep the whole law, and yet stumble in one point, he is guilty of all. For He who said, "Do not commit adultery," also said, "Do not murder." Now if you do not commit adultery, but you do murder, you have become a transgressor of the law" (James 2:10-11), I do not need to return to the Law of Moses to find out that murder and adultery are sins. It is so stated in the Law of Christ (Romans 13:9). James' point remains the same. But if you justify yourself by the Law of Moses, then as James points out, you have obligated yourself to keep the whole law -- not just the prologue. "Stand fast therefore in the liberty by which Christ has made us free, and do not be entangled again with a yoke of bondage. Indeed I, Paul, say to you that if you become circumcised, Christ will profit you nothing. And I testify again to every man who becomes circumcised that he is a debtor to keep the whole law. You have become estranged from Christ, you who attempt to be justified by law; you have fallen from grace" (Galatians 5:1-4).

Bestiality is a form of fornication and is thus condemned under the same prohibition (I Corinthians 6:9-10).

"Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Be not deceived: neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind" (I Corinthians 6:9, KJV).

"Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived. Neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor homosexuals, nor sodomites" (I Corinthians 6:9, NKJV).

"Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived; neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor homosexuals" (I Corinthians 6:9, NASB).

"Do you not know that the wicked will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor male prostitutes nor homosexual offenders" (I Corinthians 6:9, NIV).

I quoted I Corinthians 6:9 from a variety of translations so that the word which you claim includes masturbation is clearly noted. The last two words in this list of sin deals with homosexual acts.

The word under consideration is malakos. Allow me to quote from The Complete Biblical Library Greek - English Dictionary under the entry for malakos:

"Classical Greek: This is the word for "soft" or "soft to the touch." Throughout classical Greek malakos is used (1) of this, such as clothes, and (2) of persons, especially to denote catamites, those who allow themselves passively to be used homosexually. New Testament Usage: Both classical senses are employed in the New Testament. Matthew 11:8 (twice) and Luke 7:25 use malakos when speaking of clothing. The Baptist's clothes were not of a soft texture like the raiment of the rich. In 1 Corinthians 6:9 malakos is used in the metaphoric sense. Here it refers to persons who are "soft." The rendering "effeminate" (malakos) designates the passive partner of a homosexual relationship, and "abusers of themselves with mankind" (malakos and arsenokoites) denotes both the passive and active homosexual partners."

The second word, arsenokoites, is a compound Greek word. It doesn't appear often in Greek literature, but it is meaning is quite clear. Arsen is the Greek word for "male" and koites is the Greek work for "bed". The later is where English gets its word "cot." Koites is a euphemism in Greek for sexual intercourse. (English also gets its word "coitus" from this Greek word.) Examples of this can be found in Hebrews 13:4; Romans 9:10; and Romans 13:13. It doesn't take depth of scholarship to understand to what arsenokoites is referring.

I know of no scholarly writing which applies malakos or arsenokoites (which imply two people) to masturbation (which involves one). Yes, sexual intercourse belongs in a marriage (Hebrews 13:4). But your definition would mean that every male who has a wet dream (something that is not controllable) has sinned. Wet dreams are mentioned in the Old Law, and were not categorized as sin. Neither wet dreams or masturbation is mentioned in the law of Christ. Since we are warned not to bind where Christ has not (Galatians 1:6-10), I prefer to clearly state that it is not called sinful than to make up a command that God has not made. If a person, as an individual, does not feel it is right then he ought not to do it (Romans 14:22-23). But none of us are in the position to make up laws on behalf of God.

For the same reason, if you want, as an individual, to set aside Saturdays to honor God, that is your right. "Who are you to judge another's servant? To his own master he stands or falls. Indeed, he will be made to stand, for God is able to make him stand. One person esteems one day above another; another esteems every day alike. Let each be fully convinced in his own mind. He who observes the day, observes it to the Lord; and he who does not observe the day, to the Lord he does not observe it. He who eats, eats to the Lord, for he gives God thanks; and he who does not eat, to the Lord he does not eat, and gives God thanks" (Romans 14:4-6). But you do not have the right to bind your choice on other people when God did not give this requirement. Nor does your setting aside Sabbaths for no work remove your obligation to partake of the Lord's Supper (Acts 20:7) and give of your means (I Corinthians 16:1-2) on the first day of the week.