WARREN: Well, evidently, for that generation, that’s their – that’s their commandment.
MORGAN: Exactly my point. . . .
WARREN: But it’s not one of the moral laws.
MORGAN: No, but it’s still in the Bible, and it’s flawed.
This is where Warren’s response fell short.
First, the law against adultery was a moral law, not a civil law. The specific penalty for adultery, namely, stoning, was part of Israel’s civil law, but even at that, Torah law does not distinguish between moral law and civil law.
It would have been better to say, “We both agree that adultery is still wrong; it’s just the penalty for adultery that has changed. It’s the same with homosexual practice.”
Second, Warren offered a weak defense for the validity of this law, saying, “evidently, for that generation, that’s their – that’s their commandment.”
Actually, it would have been better to say that Israel was a theocracy, and as a nation, the people of Israel heard God speak his laws from Mount Sinai. America is not a theocracy and we are not trying to make America into a theocracy. Also, in the ancient Near East, the laws of Moses were actually more compassionate in many ways than the laws of the surrounding nations. But either way, laws like these were common at that time.
More importantly, Jesus, in the New Testament – which is part of the Bible! – spoke against the stoning of an adulteress, without downplaying the sin of adultery. So, Warren could have simply said, “We don’t need to amend the Bible. The Bible already dealt with the very question you raise.”
Of course, if Warren had the time, he could have asked Morgan what right our contemporary Western culture has to throw stones at ancient Israelite morality (no pun intended). For every person stoned to death in ancient Israel for sexual sins, countless thousands of people in Europe and America suffer and even die because of sexually transmitted diseases. I wonder how a line like that would have gone over on the show?
Ironically, after Rick Warren commended Piers Morgan for bringing up these issues, calling for more civil discussion, Moran agreed, saying, “The debate should always be respectful. It's the moment -- it applies to politics, too. . . . The moment it becomes disrespectful and discourteous and then rude and then poisonous, you never achieve anything.”
Perhaps Morgan forgot this principle when he vilified gun lobbyist Larry Pratt as an “incredibly stupid person”? But I digress. Calling for an amendment to the Bible is more than enough for now, and I have no desire to compare today’s gun laws with the Law of Moses.
Michael Brown holds a Ph.D. in Near Eastern Languages and Literatures from New York University. He is the author of 25 books, includingLine of Fire. Follow him at AskDrBrown on Facebook or @drmichaellbrown on Twitter.