Let’s Make A New Testament Law Code!

Out with the Old and in with the New,

let’s figure this stuff out;

those who are in, those who are out.

Preachers and theologians routinely tell me that Paul argued for a post-Law community of Christians united not by the outward markers of faithfulness, but by an inclusive ministry of the Spirit that moved past traditional boundaries (some of which were set up by Scripture itself).

Because in Christ the Christians are Law-completed (Rom 10:4).

Because the only covenant marker of any value is “faith expressed through love” (Gal 5:6).


Yet some of these preachers and theologians will turn around and fashion a law code from Paul’s own words. Obviously they don’t call it a “law code,” because they’ve been trained by Paul to look beyond law; Faith alone! Christ alone! they shout from the mountaintop, yet quickly descend to hand out copies of their commandments, fresh and updated.

1. Thou shalt attend church.

2. Thou shalt give 10% or more of your money.

3. Thou shalt not believe in evolution.

4. Thou shalt not be gay.

5. Thou shalt keep thy women out of ministry.

6. To those ends, thou shalt demonstrate thy gender clearly.

7. Thou shalt not question thy elders.

8. Thou shalt not seriously consider other religious perspectives.

9. Thou shalt not doubt.

10. Thou shalt not mock our precepts on thy blog.


In ironic fashion, perhaps because we’ve missed the point, the Law’s restraint on our community has been removed by tremendous effort only to be cleaned up and promptly reinstated in new ways, rather than replaced by a “faith expressed through love.”

But maybe this happens because love is, in some ways, harder than law.

Allen Marshall O'Brien

Allen Marshall O’Brien is the pastor of a UCC church in Northern California and co-host of the Irenicast. He believes in the importance of education, peace, and ecology, throws things to his border collie Sonata, and writes for multiple platforms.

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2 thoughts on “Let’s Make A New Testament Law Code!

    1. Hopefully this article points out an inconsistency we can work through. I’m all for discussing what a post-law community looks like and thought of this as a light-hearted jumping off point.

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