The question comes up almost daily over at /r/Christianity (FAQ be darned), more or less phrased as such: "Hey, Christians, how come all Christians everywhere cherry pick which Old Testament laws to follow and enforce?" Then, depending on how polite/ trollish they are, it's usually followed with an example ranging from "LOL Y WBC NO PICKET RED LOBSTER?" to "You all wear clothing of 2 fabrics, right?"
With the exception of a few of the Jewish members of that sub, that last statement is true. Now, it's easy enough to point to the Council of Jerusalem in Acts 15 as a reason why we don't (as I have a habit of doing), but, as redditor and fellow blogger /u/afreshmind pointed out, Christians still do cherry pick their 'favorite sins,' at least to some extent.
One of the favorite justifications for this cherry picking is the 'moral, civic, and ceremonial' distinction. While there are certainly laws in the Old Testament that could fit into these categories, some more easily than others, the Bible makes no distinction between these 3. The fact of the matter is, these laws exist for the Jewish people, and no one else. This means all Jews, not just the religious ones (meaning, ethnic as well), including Jewish converts to Christianity (sorry guys).
In fact, I would go so far as to say that Gentiles (ie, everyone who isn't Jewish) are bound only by the 7 laws of Noah, and the words of Christ. But that's a topic for another day.
But, Mr. Trees, you may say, you still haven't talked about why some Christians cherry pick laws.
I'm getting to that, hold your horses.
"can you explain this to me? I never really got this. because aren't we all still kind of picking and choosing in many senses which Biblical instructions still apply to our lives?"
First, we need to consider what the Bible says about Gentiles following Old Testament law. Aside from Acts 15, Paul only mentions it a few times, and then, he's referring to the inability of the law to change a person, that they need Christ on the inside, which is a part of what was decided at the Council of Jerusalem.
Now, what are Christians bound by? If we are to let our lives be transformed by Christ (something that I, and the authors of the New Testament take to be self-evident (or at least that's how I read it.)), that obviously includes the words of Christ himself. So, anything Jesus said that was a command for us, we should follow.
Now, back to Acts 15.
"Instead we should write to them, telling them to abstain from food polluted by idols, from sexual immorality, from the meat of strangled animals and from blood." (Acts 15:20, NIV)
In a modern day first world country, I think that the command about sexual immorality is the only one really applicable to us, as I don't think they sell strangled meat at HEB, nor do people sacrifice animals to idols. Not to say they aren't still valid, just culturally irrelevant.
So, to sum everything up:
- Unless you're Jewish, the Old Testament law does not apply to you, not now, not ever (excluding the laws of Noah)
- As to commands in the Bible, the words of Christ, the 7 Laws of Noah, and the instructions of the Jerusalem Council are the only things that pertain to Gentiles like me and (probably) you.
- First and foremost, our lives should be guided by Jesus.
- Unless you're Jewish, you can eat that bacon and wear that t-shirt, guilt free.
PS: This is where my ambiguity about homosexuality comes from. I'm not a Jew, so the Jewish law doesn't apply to me, and the things in the New Testament are a bit unclear, at least in the translations I'm reading. I think a part of me is trying to be considered a "tolerant Christian." I don't know, that's one topic that can go on forever. Thankfully, there's still plenty of time to learn, and I'm still Figuring It Out (HEY LOOK THE TITLE OF MY BLOG).