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Doug Stone wrote:

Dear AskACatholic,

In Leviticus 21 and Deuteronomy 23:1-2, the Lord disqualifies people on conditions that are more than likely not their fault. I believe the Church adopted this view at one time and disqualified people born out of wedlock or bastards from becoming priests.

I have two disqualifications:

  • being a bastard, and
  • having a mole (blemish) in my eye.

This is extremely offensive and hurts me. I cannot change being born out of wedlock. It also makes me question the Lord's justice and I'm not sure if He hates me or loves me less for something that's not my fault.

  • Is there a known reason why the Lord wanted these disqualifications?

Doug Stone

  { Why did the Lord put these disqualifications on candidates to the priesthood? }

Eric replied:

Hi, Doug —

First of all, these prescriptions are not relevant anymore; these rules applied only to Jews,
not to Gentiles, and even for Jews they have passed away.

Second of all, they didn't mean the Lord loved them less or hated them. They were merely ritual prescriptions. For example, a man became "unclean" when he had a nocturnal emission. That too, is not his fault, it was just a ritual uncleanness, not guilt. So don't confuse this condition for guilt.

The idea was to manifest holiness — being set apart for God — in various external signs not related to conduct so the Israelites could better understand. In other words, by disqualifying the externally imperfect (or socially taboo), God was teaching the Israelites that they must be sinless and holy in their conduct. It was a way of teaching what holiness was by analogy. It was a way of shaking them up and making them realize that God meant business and wasn't going to tolerate lack of holiness (in the way of sin).

This is also why Jews were not allowed to eat pork or shellfish, why they had so many laws, and so forth. A good analogy is boot camp — boot camp is oppressive for a reason, — to make a good solider. Similarly, all the arbitrary restrictions in the Old Testament were there to teach the Israelites holiness.

God certainly doesn't love you even less because of your situation — he loves you even more.

Eric

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