“Teacher,” they said, “Moses told us that if a man dies without having children, his brother must marry the widow and raise up offspring for him.” Matthew 22:24

In the following verses, we see the Sadducees make up a fictitious, ridiculous situation to make a point to support their own view about the resurrection. They didn’t seem to give any thought as to why Moses would tell men to marry their brother’s widow, which was to protect women who were widowed early in their lives and give them economic security.

It’s disturbing to see Christians do this today, that is, take a passage of Scripture and twist it to reinforce their own preconceived beliefs and ignore the original meaning. Until we examine what the original readers understood by a particular command or practice it’s hard to apply it to our own lives.

Many of the prohibitions in the Old Testament were because God didn’t want his people to do those things which the nations around Israel did as part of their pagan worship. For example, “‘Do not cut the hair at the sides of your head or clip off the edges of your beard … or put tattoo marks on yourselves” (Leviticus 19:27-28). These were practices that pagan nations associated with witchcraft. There was nothing wrong with these practices in themselves. The problem came when they were connected with forms of idolatry and demonic activities.

When we read the Scriptures, a commentary or other Bible guide is useful, particularly where the customs and practices are different to those in our society. When we investigate deeper we will discover that God’s heart for his people is always to act with kindness and compassion towards others and separate ourselves from practices that are detrimental to our physical and spiritual health.