I have been reading Gary North's commentary on the book of Exodus, "Tools for Dominion." It has been an excellent study of the case laws that Moses handed down from God. North's exposition is truly a blessing for those who wish to understand how society ought to be best ordered.
This morning's reading was on Ex. 21:18-19 and what it says about private conflict (i.e. if two men strive together and one is injured, but does not die). North expresses that fighting and duels are strictly forbidden by God. He then makes the point that the "winner" of such contests should be the economic loser in that he must now pay restitution to the one who has been injured.
In his discussion North makes the following comment, which is noteworthy given the continual stream of rioting that seems to be occurring in our nation today.
Peace is therefore a sign of God's blessing and also a means of attaining other blessings, such as economic growth. Men who strive together in private battle testify to their own lack of self-discipline, and a godly legal order must provide sanctions against such disturbances of public order.
I also appreciated how North applied this passage to modern forms of dueling, such as boxing and (had it been prominent when he wrote) mixed marshal arts. The Bible expressly forbids brutality towards your neighbor and these "sports" are purposefully intended for such things. The sole object is to so pummel your opponent that he cannot muster the strength or mental wherewithal to rise to his feet.
I've always said that one cannot at the same time punch someone in the face and demonstrate the love of Jesus. The command to "do unto others as you would have done unto you" speaks directly against such "fun" and entertainments. The boxer or MMA fighter may say, "I get punched in the face; it's part of the game." But if you press him/her, they will have to admit that they much prefer to not receive a blow to the noggin.
Note what is mentioned in that last line though: him/her. It is truly a mark of where our society is that we have women now in the ring battling it out. Such used to be termed "cat fights" and considered a horribly un-lady-like act. But now we encourage our girls to clobber each other and will even pay to see it.
To be sure, grappling with one another in fun is not wrong. And training in violent measures is necessary for those who will engage in war--or perhaps defend themselves/their homes. But when our aim is to injure a person for fun, we have cross a serious biblical line.
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