Certain people came down from Judea to Antioch and were teaching the believers: “Unless you are circumcised, according to the custom taught by Moses, you cannot be saved.” This brought Paul and Barnabas into sharp dispute and debate with them….
After much discussion, Peter got up and addressed them: “Brothers, you know that some time ago God made a choice among you that the Gentiles might hear from my lips the message of the gospel and believe. God, who knows the heart, showed that he accepted them by giving the Holy Spirit to them, just as he did to us. He did not discriminate between us and them, for he purified their hearts by faith. Now then, why do you try to test God by putting on the necks of Gentiles a yoke that neither we nor our ancestors have been able to bear? No! We believe it is through the grace of our Lord Jesus that we are saved, just as they are.”
[From a letter written to the believers at Antioch, Syria and Cilicia:] It seemed good to the Holy Spirit and to us not to burden you with anything beyond the following requirements: You are to abstain from food sacrificed to idols, from blood, from the meat of strangled animals and from sexual immorality. You will do well to avoid these things. – from Acts 15
Sam Torode and his now ex-wife Bethany Patchin—when they were 26 and 21 years old, respectively—wrote a book called Open Embrace: A Protestant Couple Rethinks Contraception (2002) that vilified married couples’ using contraception; in 1999, Bethany had asserted that people shouldn’t kiss until they are married.
After having four children within six years, the couple realized that contraception wasn’t outside of God’s plan, got divorced, and now consider themselves liberal agnostics. Bethany is currently on the Pill.
Pharisees, Catholics and Protestants throughout the millennia “tie up heavy burdens, hard to bear, and lay them on people’s shoulders, but they themselves are not willing to move them with their finger.” Jesus calls these solipsistic teachers “children of hell,” “blind guides/fools,” “white-washed tombs,” “serpents,” and a “brood of vipers” because that’s what they are: marauders who masquerade as messengers of God.
Jesus claims that His yoke is easy; his burden, light. He beseeches Jews and Gentiles, the prudes and the whores, to approach His throne freely, to sit next to Him.
As the Word of God, Jesus brought creation into being for this purpose: God wants to dine with us as a father would with his children. The father does not invite his children to dinner, serve delectable food, and then lambaste the child sitting across the table for dropping a crumb on the linen. The father also does not require from his children a processional upon entering into the house; they don’t even have to wash their hands. But if they tip-toe into the house, cowering from their father, and refuse to join him at the table because they forgot to call beforehand that morning, it grieves the father.
Christianity has become a tomb of rotting flesh, even though Jesus Christ has overcome death and obliterated the grave. Why have we—His children, His followers, His messengers—noosed ourselves with a theology of lies, proclaiming that to enter the Kingdom of Heaven we have to behave according to impossible guidelines?
Don’t touch! Don’t watch! Don’t drink! Don’t speak! Don’t do! Don’t! Don’t! Don’t!
Scripture warns the believer that whoever claims to be in Christ must walk as Jesus did. Remember that His burden is light; remember that He has given us the precious promise and fulfillment of the Holy Spirit. It is through His power that our weakness is overcome. We are strong when we stop focusing on the rules and instead look to Him with an open heart, a heart that He wants to make whole.
Jesus speaks two commandments: ‘’’Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind’; and, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’” The apostles preach for believers to abstain from two unwise choices to live in freedom:
1. Food sacrificed to idols, from blood, from the meat of strangled animals
2. Sexual immorality
If I exegete the apostles’ commands practically and theologically, the practical argument reads that blood remains trapped in the bodies of strangled animals; blood contains toxins meant to be filtered through the kidneys. Therefore, don’t eat blood. Regarding sexual promiscuity, a strong argument can be made that people function physically, psychologically, and emotionally healthier in monogamous relationships, particularly with only one life partner. For example, see: sexually transmitted diseases. Furthermore, I’ve heard that men lose their spiritual strength—and ironically their virility—if they have sex with random women. Women perhaps bear the heavier burden: the majority of us find it difficult to enjoy sex without reciprocation of love and commitment. This is why brothels are typically patronized by men. Most women wouldn’t pay for removed sexual experiences that can’t even guarantee orgasms.
Also, adultery is the most vindictive rejection. It revokes a promise, it sabotages both spouses’ identities, and it spits out this lie: you are not worth my time and love. I’ve noticed that even when couples who aren’t married but who have been sleeping together break up, the pain feels like divorce—total separation.
Theologically, Craig W. Booth explains that the two (or four, if read otherwise) apostolic stipulations are really just one command that echoes Jesus’ mandate: avoid idol worship because it is a counterfeit of what’s truly available from the living God: “Drinking blood is the false wine of the idol’s communion cup. Strangled flesh is the false body of the idol’s communion dinner. And the temple prostitute is the false unity of the idol’s servants. The things listed are the false communion in the service of the idol.” 
The living God, made known through the shed blood of Jesus Christ and His resurrection, sacrificed His only son because of atonement. Humankind needs restoration. Most, if not every, civilization has a variation of temple worship and idol sacrifice that underscores this need: I am unworthy, yet I long for redemption. But if it is true that there is only one God, one creator of the heavens and earth, one messiah, one Lord, then wouldn’t it be fair of this Most High deity to require us to worship only Him? I wouldn’t want my daughters calling the woman down the street “Mommy,” especially when I’m present, willing to attend to their needs and desires. Not only is it a lie to assert that another woman is their mother, but it removes the inherent bond I have with them as the person who carried them within her womb, birthed them, and then nurtured them. For them to turn from me would be ignorant and cruel. But Christians are accused of being ignorant in their acknowledgement of Christ as their Lord; God often is seen as being cruel because we do not fathom the reality of this fallen world that He is trying to redeem.
Serving Jesus Christ is not a decision to abandon all freedom. It’s the opposite: by coming to Christ, one is reconciled to her creator, to the One who knows her best. In responding to her Creator, a person can thus be formed into her truest self: her secret desires will be found and granted; she will discover and flourish in her calling.
My compassion for the Torode-Patchkin situation recognizes their deception: sex, a product of God’s creation, caused them to amass children. The idea, however, that God forbids us to make choices about the size of our family is extreme. The couple became tangled in Pharisaical thinking and tried to sell it to others; once they realized the burden was too much for even them, they gave up.
We Christians need to stop tying ourselves down to unfair regulations that are really just flesh floggings. Christ isn’t holding the whip; you are. Put it down.
 Go read Matthew 23:1-26
 Genesis 1:3; John 1:1-5; Revelation 3:20
 “Never again worship idols by eating with the idolaters in the sacrificial meals, drinking the cup of blood at the idol sacrifice ceremonies, do not ceremoniously eat the flesh of animals strangled during the worship of idols, and abstain from ritual acts of fornication with temple prostitutes” (par. 22)
: Booth, Craig W. “These Essentials: Abstain from Idols, Blood, Strangled Meat, Sex:
Understanding the Prohibitions of Acts 15.” The Faithful Word. 25 Mar. 2005. Web. 14 Jul. 2011. <http://www.thefaithfulword.org/acts15copy.html>.