Those wonderfully twisted folks at The Lutheran Satire explain the distinction between the moral law and the ritual purity law to internet atheists. It is an important issue and I have addressed it before:
A question arose yesterday in a thread, posed by Michael:
I have a real question. Homosexuality, as a sin an abomination, is mentioned in Leviticus. That book, however, also says:
– disrespect of parents should be punishable by death
– sleeping with a woman during her period should make both parties outcasts
– don’t eat pork
– shellfish are an abomination
So my question is, why are some of the verses ignored and others so important?
It is a good question and sometimes confuses Catholics and non-Catholics. The answer to the question is in the very earliest history of the Church. After the ascension of Jesus, the apostles went about the great task of making “disciples of all the nations”, and Christianity began to spread among Jew and Gentile alike. The question quickly arose as to whether Gentile converts would have to be circumcised (the males only of course!) and follow all of the Jewish laws regarding ritual purity. If they were asked to do this, it would mean a complete revolution in their life. They would no longer be able to even eat a meal with their Gentile relatives and friends. Like the Jews, the Christians would be a people set apart, cut off from interacting in the simplest ways with non-Jews for fear of violating the hundreds of laws of the Old Testament regarding ritual purity.