“Thou shalt not seethe a kid in his mother’s milk.” Exodus 23:19
Scripture repeats this prohibition two other times — here, Exodus 34:26 and Deuteronomy 14:21. Divines unanimously agree on the plain meaning of the verse, though not all agree upon the exact reason for it. Arguably Pastor Douglas Wilson of Christ Church in Moscow, Idaho, holds the most common interpretation of the text, which he has exposited twice since he’s been online:
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We are considering a very short portion of this passage, and so an overview in our usual sense is not possible. At the same time, let us consider why this can be considered a fitting introduction to the exposition of the fourth commandment — and unfortunately, it contains a principle which has been too frequently ignored, and which has been ignored flagrantly among those who purport to honor the sabbath. Moreover the principle involved here has broader (and just as profound) applications to other comparable aspects of our lives. The law says that a young goat must not be cooked in his mother’s milk. The principle is self-evident: that which is intended by God to be the means of life must not be perverted into an instrument of death. God demands respect for the natural order of things. (Blog & Mablog, One of the Truly Great Principles of Scripture, January 23, 2007; emphasis original)
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Another scriptural argument that should be noted is this. “Thou shalt not seethe a kid in his mother’s milk” (Dt. 14:21b). Just as Paul noted that the law about not muzzling oxen was not simply about oxen, so this passage is not just about baby goats. The principle latent in this law is that we must not take that which was intended for the giving of life and transform it into an instrument of death. The milk was intended by God for sustenance, and so it should not be turned into death. (Blog & Mablog, Is Your God Scary? January 25, 2013)
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I agree. The point of the text is not the strict prohibition. The point is the meaning behind the prohibition. Seething a kid in his mother’s milk is tantamount to an act of terror and, like all terrorism, its primary ingredient is cruelty. The image is vivid — frying a kid in the milk of life. Douglas Wilson applies the verse:
So was this law thrown in as a random piece of legislation in response to activity by the goat lobby? Those who think so understand neither the Scriptures nor the kindness of God. . . . Either you feed and nourish the children of God or you cook and eat them. If you love God, if you love your children, if you love your own soul, consider your ways and live. . . . And stop perverting the home — there is a vast difference between home cooking and being cooked at home. (One of the Truly Great Principles of Scripture; emphasis original)1
I agree with this too, but it raises three points:
A Seething Kid For All To See
Indeed, “there is a vast difference between home cooking and being cooked at home.” Consider, for example, the household of serial pedophile Steven Sitler. On this Christmas Day, or any other, Mr. Sitler cannot give a gift to his 2½-year-old son — not to penalize the child molester but to protect the child. Sexual predators such as Mr. Sitler use gifts to manipulate their prey. Thus the State’s restriction: “There will be no gift giving to the children except through the chaperone.” The little boy will grow up feeling like a leper, if not worse, because victims of molestation always feel shame for the abominations committed against them despite their perfect innocence. And make no mistake that this child is a victim of abuse even if his father has not raped him yet, which I doubt. Those who should love him most force him to live within arm’s reach of a predator who entertains “deviant sexual fantasies” for the infant. Steven Sitler’s son is “being cooked at home.” The kid seethes in his mother’s milk.
A Pastor’s Hypocrisy For All To See
Doug Wilson talks big: “God demands respect for the natural order of things.” But he more than anyone disrespected “the natural order of things” when he presided over the marriage of serial pedophile Steven Sitler to a graduate of New St. Andrews College and prayed for the couple to have children. His prayer came true. He commands the Kirk to “stop perverting the home.” But he built the Sitler household from the ground up. From the failed polygraphs, to the Offender Family Contact Rules List, to the so-called “safety plan,” to the yet undiscovered late-night visits in the bathroom, Douglas Wilson is the chief architect of this perverted home. And he sits idly by as that kid seethes in his mother’s milk.
A Desensitized Congregation For All To See
Every week for almost 3 years kirkers have watched this spectacle unfold, both on the web and before their eyes in the pew. Those who left have refuge, even if not at a church. They no longer have to witness the kid seethe. But those who remained have become desensitized. That is, they have become more like their pastor who does not let kids seething in their mother’s milk burden him. These kirkers fret not at their pastor’s double standard. He eroded this first, before eroding softer elements of their conscience. Now they watch the kid seethe and appear ready to feast. But if the little boy makes it past his teenage years into adulthood, what will he think of those who watched but did nothing? What should he think of those who dutifully attended church, recited the creeds, sang psalms, and ignored this incomprehensible evil? Would anyone blame him if he seethed with resentment?
This Christmas night, pray for the helpless Sitler kid who seethes in his mother’s milk. May God deliver him from these horrible people who terrorize him daily.
1 Mr. Wilson goes to town:
“There are other situations where this sabbath principle applies. Not surprisingly, this principle has many applications beyond the sabbath. This is because our gracious God has given us milk and honey in many other forms, and the sinful heart wants to twist them all. Here are a few representative applications. The first is education — children are to be taught in such a way that their learning is their delight. Don’t make learning — what ought to be their joy and delight — into a gradgrind affair. Don’t set up the classical Christian school from Hell. The second is marital joy — that which God gave to be an expression of closest union is not to be made an occasion for tension and conflict. Lovemaking is an occasion to give, not grab. Quarrels over sex are self-contradictory. And a third example is the idea of women in combat — women are designed by God to nurture and sustain life — not to be kinky warriorettes. Women are designed by God to be nurturers of life, not dealers of death. Do not take that which was given for life and turn it into an instrument of death.
“What are we to do with this great principle? Reject pious masochism — our God is a God who gives us a weekly holyday — that is, holiday. He requires celebration one day out of seven. He wants to be invited and honored during this rich feasting. This richness is whole milk. But a common truncated sabbath version of this substitutes in low-fat milk and then turns the burner on high in order to cook the kids. And then wonders why non-sabbatarians hate the sabbath! And stop perverting the home — there is a vast difference between home cooking and being cooked at home. What are some of the things which cause the sweet nourishment of a home to be turned into a cauldron of death? The list is clearly not exhaustive, but consider just a few: displays of temper, a critical, nagging spirit, and the long face of a pious killjoy.” (One of the Truly Great Principles of Scripture, emphasis original)