I'll try to keep this as brief as possible.Old Law, "Cleaness"
You're still labouring under the error that the concept of "clean/unclean" under the Old Law is more or less equivelent to the modern notion of hygiene. ÃƒÆ’Ã¢â‚¬Å¡ This is mistaken. ÃƒÆ’Ã¢â‚¬Å¡ Take for example Leviticus 13:9-13...
9 "When a man is afflicted with leprosy, he shall be brought to the priest; 10 and the priest shall make an examination, and if there is a white swelling in the skin, which has turned the hair white, and there is quick raw flesh in the swelling, 11 it is a chronic leprosy in the skin of his body, and the priest shall pronounce him unclean; he shall not shut him up, for he is unclean. 12 And if the leprosy breaks out in the skin, so that the leprosy covers all the skin of the diseased person from head to foot, so far as the priest can see, 13 then the priest shall make an examination, and if the leprosy has covered all his body, he shall pronounce him clean of the disease; it has all turned white, and he is clean." (Leviticus 13:9-13)
Now, how on earth is a man who is partially leprous "unclean" while one who is absolutely covered in it "clean"? ÃƒÆ’Ã¢â‚¬Å¡ Simple - to be "clean" is not a question of hygeine here, but a ritual one. ÃƒÆ’Ã¢â‚¬Å¡ IOW "purity" in the Old Law did not concern hygiene, but purity in the sense of "being true" and distinct - like we would say of a man who is "true blue" or as some would say of a dog (that it's motives are "pure" - unmixed, lack false pretense.)
The Old Law sought to impose upon a people who were a hair away from being satanic barbarians like their neighbours a mindset capable of making true distinctions and cleaving to the most important distinction of all - that God is not
the creation, or in essence anything
like His creation. ÃƒÆ’Ã¢â‚¬Å¡ In fact that is the meaning of "holiness" - kodesh
, to be distinct and set apart.
While much of this Law was a temporary pedagogue intended to form the people with a sledge hammer as it were, it undeniable contains ontological truths and not simply typological ones, relating ÃƒÆ’Ã¢â‚¬Å¡ to the God-constituted nature of man and what is needful for his salvation. ÃƒÆ’Ã¢â‚¬Å¡ Examples of this would be the prohibitions of idolatry and the following of foreign gods, or the abhorance of murder - and according to the Holy Fathers, the wrongness and contra-natural sin of sodomy
Your interpretation of the consequences of the ancestral sin is contrary to the sense of Holy Scripture and the teaching of the Fathers. ÃƒÆ’Ã¢â‚¬Å¡ I can see why you like Origenism (or as you veil this preference, "Alexandrian theology" - though I'm sure many of the Copts who frequent this forum would find your using of this term to describe what you espouse to be incredibly offensive) - but alas, he was (rightly) condemned as a heretic and his conclusions rejected by the mind of the Church, hence, the manifest mind of Christ.
Death was not God's intention for mankind - yet (as St.Athanasios teaches in On the Incarnation
) such corruption and perishing is inherently part of what happens when men move away from God. ÃƒÆ’Ã¢â‚¬Å¡ While the Saint appears to leave open the interpretation that corruption/death of some sort exists in the rest of the creation, this was not was intended for mankind. ÃƒÆ’Ã¢â‚¬Å¡ This sentiment can be found in any Holy Father (ex. St.Basil) who deals with this topic even briefly - and it is evidenced in the fact that the major fact of the Redeemer's feat was to overcome physical death
and rise with a glorified humanity. ÃƒÆ’Ã¢â‚¬Å¡ And while this glorified humanity (which the Saints will inherit at the Last Judgement) certainly superceeds what man possessed in Eden, it is a testimony that Christ "undid" something which only began with Adam's tresspass in mankind - the fact of suffering and dying.
This truth (that humanity's natural
state is one free from death and suffering, not simply spiritually but physically
) is evidenced in the lives of the Saints and in their relics - their experiences of theoria
show a taste of what a human nature free from corruption is like (ex. St.Simeo Stylites, who would simply "quit" needing the things we ordinary associate with human frailty, or St.Seraphim of Sarov who incessantly prayed for 1000 days and nights upon a rock near his hermitage - a feat impossible to a man bound by death and what comes with this). ÃƒÆ’Ã¢â‚¬Å¡ The idea that such is impossible, or could never have been possible for man (as the Scriptures teach) is simply thinly disguised atheism.
Death being the culmination of our corruptability, obviously lesser forms have a part in this. ÃƒÆ’Ã¢â‚¬Å¡ This is precisely why the mystery of Anointing the sick (as well as Holy Baptism in many cases) so often brings not only consolation to the soul, but physicial healing - because of the relationship between sin (whether it be the first sin or our own personal sins) and death.
Cells in the body reproduce - and because of the previously mentioned corruption (which did not exist in the first man in Paradise), it is hardly surprising that this process of replication goes wrong. ÃƒÆ’Ã¢â‚¬Å¡ Hence arise all manner of genetic disorders and this is precisely the cause of cancer. ÃƒÆ’Ã¢â‚¬Å¡ These are no more the will of God for mankind than man's mortality in general is. ÃƒÆ’Ã¢â‚¬Å¡ If
it is in fact the case that people who turn out to be homosexuals have certain genetic triggers which encourage this form of attraction, then this is no more the "will of God" (the God Who made man and woman for each other in Paradise - male and female, masculine and feminine, day and night, sky and seas, etc.) than a child being born blind, a bloodline prone to alcholism, etc.
You accuse me of putting forward a "view of God" which would involve Him being cruel - yet it is you who seems to believe He is the originator of retarded children and cancer wards...obviously a schitzophrenic "god", since it is supposedly the same Lord Who wept at seeing Lazarus' tomb, or who "had compassion upon the multitude".Gnosticism
As for the alleged "gnosticism" of my perspective, such a charge only shows your ignorance of both Orthodox Christianity and
the various gnostic sects of antiquity. ÃƒÆ’Ã¢â‚¬Å¡ About the only connection the gnostics have with this conversation, is to your tacit approval of sodomy (though to be fair to the gnostics, only certain of their sects approved of this kind of behaviour - some of them were downright puritanical).Old Law is "Cultural" and Man-made and filled with human prejudice
What you continually ignore in your appraisal of the Old Law is it's provisional nature - and that in many respects it is a comprimise. ÃƒÆ’Ã¢â‚¬Å¡ In reality, the perfection taught by Christ is of a far higher order.
Thus, the Old Law tolerates a great deal the Church does not (ex. divorce on demand, polygamy, etc., etc.) ÃƒÆ’Ã¢â‚¬Å¡ And while to an extent this applies to slavery, not wholly and entirely - strictly speaking, "owning slaves" is not inherently
immoral (and I'd love
to see you demonstrate otherwise). ÃƒÆ’Ã¢â‚¬Å¡ However, the truth is that such practices are prone
to inviting immorality, and this is why the general tide of Christian history has been a move away from the ownership of slaves. ÃƒÆ’Ã¢â‚¬Å¡ As for other atheistical red-herrings like the slaying of the Canaanites, consider the following - while God never intended death for mankind, there is a reason why it is tied to sin; for an immortality of sinning is worse than dying. ÃƒÆ’Ã¢â‚¬Å¡ Also while the same Lord is not vindictive, He does chastise out of love - even to the point of bringing men to death. ÃƒÆ’Ã¢â‚¬Å¡ And bearing this in mind, there is little difference between God using a hoarde of Hebrews and a torrent of water to bring the demise of men.
These and your other objections relating to the "obvious" human origin of the Old Law lack substance and are not without adequate explanation.Of shellfish and sodomites
The dietary prohibitions of the Old Law were for both psychological and practical purposes. ÃƒÆ’Ã¢â‚¬Å¡ Psychologically, they pertain to the concept of "purity" as I previously discussed - for example, every animal forbidden for consumption by the Israelites was somehow "strange" in that it was "mixed" (ex. rabbits who chew their cud like a cow, but have paws like a predator; the same goes for Torah prohibitions against the wearing of blended fabrics, marrying unassimilated foreigners, etc.) ÃƒÆ’Ã¢â‚¬Å¡ And the practical end these taboos collectively served is obvious - they made it next to impossible for any Israelite observing them to get mixed up in the thinking and ways of the pagans, but to remain as a literally separate people (and this is why to this day, those Jews who observe halakah rigorously will invariably choose
to live in de facto ghettos - within short walking distance of a synagogue, not having to deal with "impure" people, unable to so much as eat their food, "dressing funny", etc.)
IOW. it was not all a bunch of stupid taboos; it did
serve a purpose. ÃƒÆ’Ã¢â‚¬Å¡ However, it was a purpose fulfilled and superceeded by the grace of the New Testament, which is far stronger than the evil of this world and as such includes the calling not to live away from the heathen, but to transform him into a son of God.
And as previously indicated, many of the Torah laws did have a moral/ethnical content
. ÃƒÆ’Ã¢â‚¬Å¡ Not "buggering thy neighbour" was among them.