Tuesday, December 20, 2011

On the Wool/Linen Sin from Leviticus (and why that's there)

"You are to keep My statutes. You shall not breed together two kinds of your cattle; you shall not sow your field with two kinds of seed, nor wear a garment upon you of two kinds of material mixed together." --Leviticus 19:19 (NASB)

"You shall not wear a material mixed of wool and linen together." --Deuteronomy 22:11

"Today I'm going to violate Leviticus by wearing a cotton/polyester blend. #CherryPickingSins" --George Takei (Twitter)

These are verses that I hear more often from non-believers than from believers.  It's usually to say "Christianity is ridiculous and here's why," or lately "Christianity thinks homosexuality is an abomination.  Here are some OTHER things they think is an abomination."

Mostly, I get the impression that the non-believers that say these things seem to think we're not aware our Holy Scripture says it.  They think they've discovered something in a casual browsing that those of us who attend church week after week and study the Bible in context have somehow missed.

When you hear someone cite these laws or ANY OTHER biblical law that seems silly/no longer relevant/outdated/inconvenient/barbaric, realize that the best POSSIBLE intention for doing so is because they think they are protecting something valuable.  In every instance, what they have placed in priority is either bad for them and they'd like to justify it - or it's good for them and they ignorantly THINK Christianity is against it, so they're trying to justify it.  In either case, the idea is to find one biblical law that even a Christian doesn't think you have to follow and collapse the whole legal system with it.

It would be a whole lot easier and more honest to approach what you're REALLY having hang-ups about, and do a bit of research.  The only thing that makes it difficult is that you're invested in one particular outcome.

So, now that we got THAT out of the way, why does the Bible even HAVE these verses?

"This question often arises when people read Leviticus 19:19 and Deuteronomy 22:11. Today we would call this a "consumer protection law." Notice that these verses contain the basic principle that materials of widely differing character and texture are not to be combined. On the other hand, these verses allow a number of combinations that are within God's laws.

Today's garments are made of two basic kinds of natural fibers. The first is plant cellulose fiber, from which fabrics such as linen and cotton are produced. The second is animal protein fiber such as wool and silk. Because these kinds of fibers differ markedly in strength, washability, absorption, and so forth, they should not be mixed.

However, a garment made of a combination of cellulose materials—a mixture of cotton and linen, for example—is acceptable because the fibers are basically similar. For the same reason, mixtures of protein fibers (wool, mohair, silk, and so on) are acceptable.

What about the mixture of synthetic, man-made fabrics, such as Dacron, nylon, polyester, and rayon, with either cellulose or protein fibers? Many have not realized that a combination of synthetic and either plant or animal material does not necessarily break the biblical principle. Synthetic materials are usually made to have essentially the same characteristics as the natural fibers. Otherwise, they would not mix well. The stronger fibers would cut and tear away from the weaker ones or would not combine well in other ways. In other words, it is perfectly acceptable to manufacture fabrics from a combination of fibers which are naturally or artificially compatible with one another. It is the mixture of fibers with markedly differing qualities which this biblical principle concerns.

It should be noted that such combinations produce a cheapergarment, with respect to quality, than one made with the best grades of pure fibers. On the other hand, a fabric made from low-grade, natural fibers is usually improved by the addition of compatible man-made fibers. Any good tailor or seamstress knows that the best quality clothing is made from 100 percent wool, cotton, and so forth. Nevertheless, one need not throw away or destroy clothing which may be of lower quality or a wrong mixture. Wearing such materials is not sin in itself. Rather, God does not want manufacturers producing shoddy materials in order to take advantage of their customers.

A wise principle to follow in selecting either a pure or mixed garment is to purchase thebest quality one can afford—it will last longer and fit better than inferior, less expensive clothes. The primary reason to do this is to honor and glorify God in what we wear, especially if the clothing is to be worn primarily for church services. However, it is not wise to go into debt buying better quality than one can afford."


No comments:

Post a Comment