-Does the law of producing a male child for a dead brother still apply in this New Testament age?

QUESTION: Does the law of producing a male child for a dead brother (Dt. 25:5-10) still apply in this New Testament age?

ANSWER: Just as it cannot contribute anything to his salvation, so the Law of Moses has no binding application to a Christian’s life. This is the force of the teaching of Paul’s epistle to the Galatians. Writing to Timothy, the apostle clearly states that “we know that the Law is good if one uses it lawfully, knowing this: that the law is not made for a righteous person, but for the lawless and insubordinate” (1 Tim. 1:8-10 NKJV). The New Testament clearly teaches that the provision of law given us in Deuteronomy 25:5-10 is not valid for Christians in this day of grace.

But let’s take this question a step further. When He was asked about divorce, and His questioners referred to the Law of Moses, the Lord Jesus went back much farther than the Law. He went back to the beginning, pointing out what God’s intention was in instituting marriage (Mt. 19:3-9).

Not only divorce, but many things never put there by God, have been introduced into the divine institution of marriage. Some other examples are: polygamy, unfaithfulness to one’s spouse, and purchasing a bride. We see the origin of some of these things very early in the Bible as men departed from God’s plan for their lives. Others, like the system of dating so prevalent in the western world, but equally a departure from God’s original plan, are associated with certain cultures.

“Christ … loved the Church and gave Himself for her … that He might present her to Himself” (Eph. 5:25-27). Christ’s pattern is a transaction of love, not economics! Christ acquired a Bride (the Church) at the cost of His life for what she might be to His heart. So it is not just a matter of paying some cows, goats or bolts of cloth to purchase a wife for my benefit – to tend my garden, cook my meals, bear my children and enhance my family and relationship.

Israel’s blessings were for this earth. Every family had its inheritance in the land of promise. Therefore, it was important that each family name be carried on. Where goods or money were paid for a wife, the wife had an economic value to the family and one did not want to forfeit this lightly. These ideas support the thought of purchasing a wife, and factor into the custom of taking a childless brother’s widow to raise up a child for him. They may seem practical, but our question is not whether they are practical but whether they are God’s thoughts for His people.

As in all of God’s Word and particularly in those portions that have no literal bearing on our lives, there are valuable spiritual lessons and applications for us. But when we contrast the things that man has introduced into marriage with God’s original design, the superiority of God’s design shines brightly. The woman is not an object. She is a person created by God to meet the need of man’s heart and to complete him. She is much more than an economic asset, more than a source of sexual pleasure, more than a vessel for procreation. She is not to be purchased for the benefit of a family, nor is she to be bequeathed to a relative at the death of her husband – and surely not to become his polygamous second or third wife!

God associates marriage with love rather than economics, lust, patterns of society or the continuation of the human race. All these things and more may well be components of marriage, but none of them should be distorted into being its primary goal.

By Eugene P. Vedder, Jr.

With permission to publish by: Sam Hadley, Grace & Truth, 210 Chestnut St., Danville, IL., USA. Website:


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