West Wing Bible Lesson?


President Josiah Bartlet on the television show The West Wing, from season 2, episode 3: “I like how you call homosexuality an abomination [Leviticus 18:22]. I wanted to ask you a couple of questions while I have you here. I’m interested in selling my youngest daughter into slavery as sanctioned in Exodus 21:7. She’s a Georgetown sophomore, speaks fluent Italian, always cleared the table when it was her turn. What would a good price for her be?

“While thinking about that, can I ask another? My chief of staff Leo McGarry insists on working on the Sabbath. Exodus 35:2 clearly says he should be put to death. Am I morally obligated to kill him myself, or is it okay to call the police? Here’s one that’s really important, because we’ve got a lot of sports fans in this town. Touching the skin of a dead pig makes one unclean, Leviticus 11:7. If they promise to wear gloves, can the Washington Redskins still play football? Can Notre Dame? Can West Point?

“Does the whole town really have to be together to stone my brother John for planting different crops side by side? Can I burn my mother in a small family gathering for wearing garments made from two different threads [according to Deuteronomy 22:9-11]?”

The God-fearing, Bible-believing Christian knows better than to get a Bible lesson from a fake president on a scripted TV show. Notice that all these arguments come from the Pentateuch, so writer Aaron Sorkin, with an agenda, ignores context and the entire biblical narrative.

The reference to slavery in Exodus 21:7 is not like American Civil War era slavery. It’s protecting a woman from poverty and exploitation and giving her work. The Sabbath laws were fulfilled in Christ, the Lord of the Sabbath (Matthew 12:8, Mark 2:28).

Footballs are made of cowhide, not pigskin. Google it. Leviticus 11 applied to ceremonial laws, and Jesus declared all foods clean (Mark 7:19) repeated by Peter and Paul (Acts 10:9-16, Romans 14:13-23, Colossians 2:16-17, 1 Timothy 4:1-4). A sentence of death wasn’t given for planting different crops or wearing two different materials. The Israelites were to reflect holiness in all practice and life as the chosen people of God.

All the Law points to Jesus Christ, who kept the law perfectly, and lovingly gave His own life as an atoning sacrifice. Those who break God’s law will still perish on the day of judgment. But those who believe in Jesus will be forgiven their sins, including the sin of homosexuality, still an abomination (1 Corinthians 6:9-11), when we understand the text.

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