A Noahide, sometimes spelled Noachide, refers to those people who follow the Noahide laws. Many Jews feel these Noahide laws must be obeyed by Gentiles in order to be considered as sharers in the life to come. There are seven Noahide laws, which are thought to have derived from Noah, who is considered the father of all men. The flood saved Noah and his family, and thus, all people of the world derive afterwards from Noah, according to Genesis.
Though some people are not Jews, they may be considered spiritual brethren by strictly adhering to Noahide laws. However, strict adherence is often a difficult task and is open to much interpretation. Knowing the Noahide laws helps illuminate some of this controversy.
The Noahide laws are as follows:
1) No worship of false gods.
2) Murder is not permitted.
3) Stealing and Kidnapping are sins.
4) Sexual immorality is forbidden. This includes adultery and homosexual behavior, as well as incest.
5) Do not blaspheme God.
6) Do not consume any flesh torn from an animal that is still alive.
7) Establish a system of laws, courts, and police that is honest and effective.
Of these laws, a few put other religions into quite a tangle. For example, people who believe in the Holy Trinity may be thought to be worshipping more than a single God. Homosexuals, who may be active Christians in some denominations would by Noahide laws not be considered devout. A more loosely constructed interpretation, however, would allow for Trinitarians, such as Catholics to share in the next life. As well, some forms of Judaism view homosexuality as acceptable, and thus would consider homosexuals who followed the other Noahide laws as righteous.
It is believed by many Jews and others who follow Christian or Islamic religions that the Noahide laws are something that binds all the faithful who believe in one God together. In fact, Maimonides, the great medieval Jewish scholar argued strongly that Islam fits all the conditions of a Noahide religion and should be treated as such. Therefore, strife among these religions makes no sense given that all follow this code of laws and are righteous.
Perhaps the most binding force of the Noahide laws is the belief in a single God. Monotheistic principals and the fact that Jews, Muslims and Christians all believe in the same God should be considered a uniting aspect. However, Muslims and Christians may not take kindly to being considered as righteous gentiles. Instead, some Christians and Muslims may argue that Jews are wrong in this respect as the newer covenants established by Jesus or by Mohammed are more important prescriptives, they argue, than Noahide laws.
Some Christians see Noahide laws as a subset of the Ten Commandments. In the past few years, some formerly apostolic religions have abandoned the Nicene Creed as a violation of Noahide laws. Others still assert the value of the belief in the Holy Trinity and appeal to God in three forms, and also to the apostles and saints. In strictest definition they violate Noahide laws.