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“Why Doesn’t the Bible Specifically Forbid Certain Things?”

By David Kowalski

Some attacks on the Bible criticize not what the Bible says but what it does not say.  Some critics reason, for example, that any specific silence in Scripture on a topic of concern to them reveals a supposed indifference to that subject by the God of Scripture.

Years ago, I had a person suggest to me that the Bible was an evil book because it did not specifically condemn pedophilia (adult sex with children). This person insisted that if God were truly moral, He would have condemned pedophilia, and that the absence of such a condemnation was evidence that the Bible was not divinely inspired.

My reply was that though the Bible did not address pedophilia directly by name, Scripture did forbid such activity. Minute specification of an act is not necessary for it to be deemed wrong by a moral code.

No code of moral law is exhaustive. This would take an infinite amount of time and space. For example, our criminal laws cannot address every conceivable kind of fraud.


My Cymric

There is no law I know of that precisely addresses a cat breeder misrepresenting the exact age of a kitten for sale (some breeds such as cymrics tend to have physical problems that, if they are to manifest at all, will become evident within the first few months -- so they should not be sold too young). Still, any substantive misrepresentation by a breeder would be covered under more general laws already on the books.

The best lawmakers can do is to establish paradigms or principles that can be applied to various, specific acts. It is the same with the moral code presented in the Bible. The Bible clearly says that all sex outside of marriage is wrong:

 “You shall not commit adultery.” (Exodus 20:14) 1

You shall not commit adultery. (Deuteronomy 5:18)

Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived; neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor homosexuals, nor thieves, nor the covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers, will inherit the kingdom of God.( 1 Corinthians 6:9-10)

Pedophilia violates the narrow boundaries created by this limitation and is thus prohibited by the Bible. To give other examples, the Bible does not say that a person should not shoplift, commit arson, poison a neighbor's pet, or intentionally break another person's means of transportation. There are, however, sufficient paradigms and principles in Scripture to apply to these specific acts.

Shoplifting, while not specifically mentioned, would still be covered under the prohibition against theft:

You shall not steal. Exodus (20:15)

The other acts just mentioned are certainly prohibited in principle by the many commands to act in a loving way toward others:

Treat others the same way you want them to treat you.  (Luke 6:31)

A similar question often arises with regard to drug abuse. The Bible does not specifically forbid the use of methamphetamines or heroin, for example. Still, the principle of intoxication is covered in its most common form of drunkenness:

Let us behave properly as in the day, not in carousing and drunkenness, not in sexual promiscuity and sensuality, not in strife and jealousy. (Romans 13:13)

Now the deeds of the flesh are evident, which are: immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmities, strife, jealousy, outbursts of anger, disputes, dissensions, factions, envying, drunkenness, carousing, and things like these, of which I forewarn you, just as I have forewarned you, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. (Galatians 5:19-21)

And do not get drunk with wine, for that is dissipation… (Ephesians 5:18)

Specific omissions from any book of moral standards are not to be taken as any kind of endorsement of or indifference to the omitted specifics if these are already covered in principle. I don't know of any religious text that specifically addresses pedophilia.

Even texts that are largely neutral in regard to religion (such as the Analects of Confucius), and anti-religious texts such as the Communist Manifesto, and the two Humanist Manifestos are silent on this issue. It seems that pedophilia is so abhorrent to society that the authors of these texts presume the common condition of human conscience which sees such acts as abominable.

Pedophilia obviously violates the principles of Scripture. God has given us boundaries for sexual conduct and pedophilia is clearly outside of those. There is no deficiency in God’s standards and Scripture is not indifferent to this kind of sin.

© Copyright 2013, David Kowalski. All rights reserved. Links to this post are encouraged. Do not repost or republish without permission.

Written by David Kowalski


  1. All Scripture references come from the NASB

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This post was last updated: Feb. 10, 2013