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Awhile back I had a post about sci-fi (science fiction) scenarios serving as a good model for Christian fellowship! Post here: Sci-fi and Christian fellowship.

Sci-fi has also served to help certain disconcerting Old Testament laws make more sense to me! While there are various disconcerting things about OT laws, one example would be unusually harsh punishment (death) for minor offenses.

I watched some episodes of a cancelled TV show portraying post-apocalyptic life after all electricity had been lost. There was a loss of normal civic structure in society. People divided up into small communities to survive. With a lack of civic structure, certain crimes had to be immediately and harshly dealt with by the group (such as death for a non-capital offense) – in order to keep things in control. In the context of this post-apocalyptic world, the harsh punishments made more sense and fit the situation.

And that is one way to better understand certain troubling OT laws. Here is an explanation from the book God Behaving Badly. Is the God of the Old Testament Angry, Sexist and Racist? by David Lamb – pointing out how ancient Israel existed in a very different time.

“It is first necessary to point out that Israel’s justice system was very different from our own. We can’t naively assume that their system was similar to our overly complicated matrix of jails, prisons, lawyers, trials, appeals, and levels of local, state, district and national courts. In ancient Israel, a city was lucky to have a judge (Deut 16:18-20). Justice, therefore, needed to be simple, swift, and straightforward. While we might throw a criminal into prison to serve time, that wasn’t an option in Israel particularly during their wilderness wanderings when their laws were given….Even with this acknowledgement, Israel’s laws can still seem draconian.”  (page 104)

Do OT laws trouble you? Here are several past posts that may interest you:

Understanding weird or disturbing Old Testament laws

God Behaving Badly. Is the God of the OT angry, sexist, and racist? [book review]

Those crazy OT laws – a woman must marry her rapist?

An excerpt from Philip Yancey on harsh OT laws