Does God Contradict Himself?

I received the following email a few weeks ago. I thought I would post it because of some of the questions that last week’s message raised.  Two of the questions asked were “Can a Christian serve in the Military?” and “Does God support going to war?” My answer doesn’t answer the questions directly, but it will give you some good stuff to consider as you think of the questions.

Here’s the email:
Hey Pastor Randy,

I just have a quick question for you about something you said in your sermon this past Sunday. (With all due respect) you said that God never contradicts Himself, yet right now I am reading the book of Joshua and He seems to contradict Himself in every line. He had already given the Israelites the Ten Commandments, the one in question being thou shall not kill. So if He had already told them not to kill, why did He tell them to wipe out all of those cities and kingdoms, leaving no survivors?

I’ve just been thinking about this a lot since you mentioned it Sunday because I read my bible every night and seem to come across this quite a bit and couldn’t come up with a suitable answer.

Here’s my answer:
Thanks for the question! I’m really glad you are thinking through these things. Let me take a stab at this question. It’s one of the hardest in the Bible.

The 6th commandment is not accurately translated as just “kill.” The word is specifically referring to the murder of a human being by another human being. Fighting a just war, such as against Hitler in WW2, is not prohibited here. Neither is capital punishment. Neither is eating meat. Murder of a person by a person is what is prohibited. The definition of murder would be very similar to our definition of murder in an American court room. Dogs are never put on trial and accused of murder because dogs can’t murder. Only humans can. By it’s definition, God can’t murder either.

Now about the book of Joshua, God did tell them to kill everyone. I know that is hard to swallow for other reasons. But those people had already come under judgment from God. They were being punished by Him. That is not the same as murder. God is not contradicting himself. We know from the rest of the Bible how God works so we can assume that they had been warned and had refused to repent.

We also know that these people weren’t peaceful, random people. They were in a constant state of war with their neighbors, including the Israelites. It’s not like the Israelites just found some random people and killed them. They had a history with each other and it wasn’t pretty. So for God to tell them to wipe them all out, it made complete sense to them.

Well, I hope this helps a little. I know it raises even more questions so feel free to shoot those to me when they come up.

God bless,

Does God Hate TATTOOS?

Does God Hate TATTOOS? This past Sunday we had a special guest speaker. He read Leviticus 19:28 which says “Do not cut your bodies for the dead or put tattoo marks on yourselves. I am the LORD.” He didn’t explain it and moved on. I could feel the tension in the room. About half of our congregation has a tattoo. Many of the tats are BC (before Christ) and probably just as many are AC (after Christ). If you are a FOSM regular or just somebody that has a tat, how does this make you feel?

As you think about your answer, I want to ask a few more questions. If his statement bothered you a bit, why did it? Were you bothered by it because you knew the Biblical answer to his statements? Were you bothered because you didn’t see anything wrong with it in your own eyes? What do you think God thinks about it?

I’ll come clean. I have no moral or biblical objections to tattoos. Leviticus 19:28 is part of the Jewish Law. Very few Christian scholars believe it applies to people who are Christ followers. We are not under the law but under Grace. God also says in Leviticus 19:19 “Do not wear clothing woven of two kinds of material.” You never hear a sermon about that. Why? Because it’s Jewish Law, given to the Jews at the time to separate them from everybody else. It taught them holiness among other things. We are not under the law.

There is another verse to think about though. Hebrews 11:6 says “without faith it is impossible to please God…” That means everything we do should be with faith, if we want to please God. If you get a tattoo in faith, I don’t see anything wrong with it. Another way to think about it is this: Can I take Jesus with me when I go to get the tattoo? Would He be proud of it? If so, then knock yourself out.

What about teenagers? Should teenagers get tattoos? It’s up to their parents FIRST! If your parents are against it, don’t do it. When you are on your own, paying your own bills and you still want to do it then go for it. Until then you will have to wait. Your parents are just looking out for you. They remember a friend in High School who tattooed a girlfriend’s name on his arm, only to break up with her two weeks later. And yes, the same answer applies to getting your belly button pierced or anything else that weirds them out.

Ok, one more question… Pastor Randy, do you have any tats? No I don’t. I don’t because I grew up hearing elderly war veterans who had tattoos complain about them. EVERY single tattooed war vet I talked to growing up said “Boy, don’t ever get a tattoo like I did. When you are old and wrinkly like me, the tattoo will look ugly.” I laugh every time I think of someone saying that to me.

Maybe someday when I’m old, I’ll get a tattoo. That way, there won’t be time for it to fade or get ugly… :)

UPDATE: I found a great podcast from John Piper here. He talks about how we view ourselves in light of Christ’s love for us. It’s seven minutes long and really thought provoking.