Why Was the Rebellious Son Stoned?

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Some argue that the Bible cannot be true because it was immoral for God to command the stoning of rebellious sons. The argument is that the punishment is very disproportionate to the crime.

Deuteronomy 21:18-21 – Why Was the Rebellious Son Stoned?

“If a man has a stubborn and rebellious son who will not obey the voice of his father or the voice of his mother, and, though they discipline him, will not listen to them, 19 then his father and his mother shall take hold of him and bring him out to the elders of his city at the gate of the place where he lives, 20 and they shall say to the elders of his city, ‘This our son is stubborn and rebellious; he will not obey our voice; he is a glutton and a drunkard.’ 21 Then all the men of the city shall stone him to death with stones. So you shall purge the evil from your midst, and all Israel shall hear, and fear.

Deuteronomy 21:18-21

The Answer – Why Was the Rebellious Son Stoned?

The Crime Is More Serious Than Some Think

The crime of the son who should be stoned in Deuteronomy 21:18-21 is more serious than those who make this argument think. A son was not stoned for merely one act of disobedience, but rather for being “stubborn and rebellious.”

This is a son who continuously disobeys and rebels, which is a blatant violation of the fifth commandment to obey one’s parents. The son’s crime was serious, and the punishment God commanded was not disproportionate to the crime, especially since all sins deserve the punishment of death.

The Nation of Israel Was a Unique Theocracy

The nation of Israel was unique in history because it was a theocracy ruled by God, and it was God’s plan to preserve the Israelite nation, both as a nation and in holiness. To preserve the holiness of the Israelite nation, God established strict laws concerning obedience that would set apart the Israelite nation from all of the other nations around them, and that would demonstrate that the Israelite nation was God’s uniquely holy people.

Because of this, the punishments for particular sins of disobedience and unholiness was different for the nation of Israel than they would be for a different nation, such as our own. Just because God commanded something for the Israelite nation does not mean that exact command applies universally, or still applies today.

All Sin Deserves Death

The Bible teaches that all sin deserves death, so God would be just to take any human life at any time. That most humans do not receive the punishment they deserve immediately is a testament to God’s patience and mercy. The fact that God sometimes ends human lives earlier than when they would have died naturally is not unjust, since God would be just to end every human life immediately because of sin.

Romans 6:23 tells us that “the wages of sin is death,” and James 2:10 tells us that “whoever keeps the whole law but fails in one point has become guilty of all of it.”

More Answers to “Contradictions” in the Bible

To read more answers to alleged and apparent contradictions in the Bible, see “Contradictions” in the Bible Answered.

These books are also excellent resources:

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