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So does this mean then that parents today are still supposed to kill unruly children just in a less barbaric way because the Bible commands it? In addition to when the commandment was made, I found that it was also important that I consider to whom the commandment was given. In studying this more, I began to discover that some commandments were given to certain people and not to others. More than that, I also found that there were commandments given to a group of people for a specific point in time, but those same commandments were not necessarily applicable for those same people at a later point in time.

This concept is present in our society today. Consider the commandment: “You may not enter the White House in Washington, D.C.” This commandment is applicable to some, but not all. It doesn’t apply to most American people today, as any citizen can tour the White House upon obtaining proper authorization. But non-citizens might be denied entry. Shortly after 9/11, White House tours were suspended, so this commandment applied to most all people – even people who were previously permitted access. I found that it just wasn’t intellectually honest to say that everyone who claims to follow the Bible (written over a period of 1500 years) must abide by every commandment, even ones that don’t apply to them today.

So considering when and to whom this commandment was given helped me make sense of a practice that I consider pretty barbaric by today’s culture. But that really doesn’t help me with my biggest question. Why would a supposedly loving God ever command something so seemingly repulsive in the first place?

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