Wednesday, June 20, 2012

The Incorrigible Son

by Randy Pope 

Aren't you glad that we no longer live in the past; In a time when a stubborn and disobedient child was put to death for cursing his parents? The Levitical law warns that this son “shall die the death,” and the parallel passage in Deuteronomy encourages his parents to take the “stubborn and disobedient” son to the elders of the city to have him stoned. But this American culture has progressed way beyond this kind of barbarity. Aren't you glad that you live in an enlightened society that has cast off the chains of the archaic, Biblical law? Don't be too hasty. It may be that America would be better off if she attended to the message in these passages.

Did God really say that a stubborn and disobedient son should be taken to the authorities and stoned to death? Wouldn't this eliminate most children before they learned to submit to authority? The only people who take these passages in such a strict literal sense are those who are immature in their understanding of interpreting literature in general, and scripture in this particular case. Or it could be that they are antinomians who wish to embarrass theonomists with the barbarity of this law. Or it might be someone who has a previous hatred of God and, like the antinomian, wants to embarrass Christians.
If you must take everything in a wooden literal sense then you must believe that the newspaper account saying, “It Rained Cats and Dogs in L.A. Yesterday,” means that cats and dogs fell out of the sky in Los Angeles yesterday, when in fact the Alabama newspaper was reporting on the heavy rain in lower Alabama yesterday. Or you must believe that when President Obama admonished Democrats to bring a gun to the fight that he wanted them to shoot anyone who disagrees with him. When in fact, the only one who would believe that is someone who disagrees with, or has a previous hatred for the president.
Because Americans have become conditioned to view all law in the rubric of statute law they believe that all law must be interpreted only based on the actual wording of the law. Incidentally, that is why American legislatures must pass tens of thousands of laws every year. They are constantly running into situations that obviously fall into the category of crime, but there is no statute that covers that particular situation. The case law of scripture is much more efficient than statute law. So that when the Levitical law informs you to help your neighbor pull his ass or ox out of a ditch, that does not exclude you from helping him to pull his cow or horse out of the ditch as well.
The Rev. R. J. Rushdoony delves into great depth in the original Hebrew custom and language to explain important principles found in the passages cited above about the incorrigible son. Based on the language, and the fact that we are dealing with case law in the Levitical law you find that society must do away with repeat criminals. Based on the idea that parents must not protect even their son against societal justice, no one should defend any repeat offender from the penalty of death. Finally, it is made clear that even the incorrigible criminal is a human being made in the image of God, and his body must be treated with respect after his execution. By the way, Deuteronomy 21:20 makes it clear that these children are adult sons.
Maybe the rebirth of the enlightenment in America is not as beneficial as many believe it to be. Divorcing God from justice has only led to a proliferation of crime. The innocent tax payer is penalized more than the repeat offender. Society at large suffers from the inevitable outcome of ignoring that ancient law that was transcribed by the creator of the universe, the Levitical case law.

originally published in The Examiner

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