Galatians 3

–from Zach Gleason

Galatians 3

Who has bewitched you…? …Did you receive the Spirit by the works of the Law, or by hearing with faith? Are you so foolish? Having begun by the Spirit, are you now being perfected by the flesh…

As many as are of the works of the Law are under a curse… The Law is not of faith…

What I am saying is this: the Law, which came four hundred and thirty years later, does not invalidate a covenant previously ratified by God, so as to nullify the promise. For if the inheritance is based on the law, it is no longer based on a promise…

Why the Law then? It was added because of transgressions, having been ordained through angels by the agency of a mediator until the seed would come to whom the promise had been made. Now a mediator is not for one party only; whereas God is only one. Is the law then contrary to the promises of God? May it never be! For if a law had been given which was able to impart life, then righteousness would indeed have been based on law. But the Scripture has shut up everyone under sin, so that the promise by faith in Jesus Christ might be given to those who believe…

But now that faith has come, we are no longer under a tutor. For you are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus. For all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free man, there is neither male nor female.

I’ve heard the argument that the New Testament explicitly sets aside Levitical dietary law, but the laws against men “lying” with other men are not explicitly set aside. This claim is simply false. It sounds plausible only because of misdirection. Sure Leviticus 20:13 is not explicitly addressed in the New Testament. But the very idea of Law itself is! How obvious exactly does Paul need to make this point? Is the Law the work of God? Of Moses? No, says Paul, it is the work of angelic middle-men. Of course this directly contradicts Exodus 31:18. And of course Paul would have been well aware of that fact. He’s not mincing words.

Law plays a role for Paul, but here are some things it does not do. It does not save. It does not give insight on who is to be included in the church. It does not determine who is more apt to receive “inheritance” in Christ. It does not have any bearing on one’s relationship to the promise that is by faith(fullness).

That should be enough. A Pauline understanding of Law should be enough to quiet objections to LGBTQ inclusion. But then Paul goes on to include a little gem (possibly not his own but a commonly recited early church liturgy): “There is neither male nor female.” Let’s pause to appreciate the repercussions of this passage upon the issue of LGBTQ inclusion.

 

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