A few weeks ago my wife decided she wanted to go out to supper with a small group from her church. (They’ve been having these supper get-togethers for a number of years on Thursday nights.) She didn’t want to go by herself, though, so I went with her. She liked it so much that we’ve been going out each week since.
I’m usually uncomfortable with the conversation when it’s about the Bible and religious subjects, but I keep quiet; I’m a ‘guest’ and it would no doubt be rude if I expressed my feelings about the subjects being discussed.
Last night was no different, but I was so frustrated and disgusted by the ability of these people to completely overlook or ignore the horrible nature of the things being attributed to “God” that I decided to ‘vent’ today by means of a blog post.
Someone mentioned how ‘merciful’ God was to King David when he committed adultery with Bathsheba, and then had her husband Uriah murdered by sending him into the hottest part of battle and having his fellow soldiers abandon him in the thick of the fighting so he would almost certainly be killed. (This story can be found in 2 Samuel 11 and 12 in the ‘Old Testament’ of the Bible.) Someone else rather ‘snidely’ commented that David got away with murder. Nobody else seemed to notice that statement, but I thought: “precisely”. David got away completely without punishment for his adultery and murder (according to the Biblical myth/legend) – because “God” is so ‘merciful’ of course – but David’s newborn child (from the adultery with Bathsheba) had to pay the price by being murdered by “God”! (“God” caused the child to get sick and die). What kind of sick ‘mercy’ is that, I ask you? The criminal goes scot-free, while the innocent child is punished for the father’s crime.
Was this the same “God” who told Jeremiah and Ezekiel that the child will not die for the sins of the father, and the father will not die for the sins of the child – only the soul that sins will die?
No doubt some loyal Christian will defend the honor of “God” by claiming that murdering the child was actually being merciful to him: he got to go straight to heaven, rather than run the risk of sinning as he got older and perhaps ‘dying in his sins’! I’ll just have to assume that anyone making that ‘defense’ will certainly not join his fellow Christians in protesting against abortion; and surely he won’t consider that the parent who murders his/her young children has done anything wrong! He/she was just being ‘merciful’ to the child(ren)!
But that was really a minor thing compared with other instances of “God’s” “justice” (“mercy”?). As these good people at the supper pointed out, consider what happened when David angered the LORD by taking a census of his subjects (2 Samuel 24 and 1 Chronicles 21). The LORD is said to have given David 3 choices as to what God would do to him to punish him – except that none of the 3 choices involved anything being done to David himself. David couldn’t decide, so he left it up to the LORD to make the choice; and that choice turned out to be murdering (with a plague) tens of thousands of David’s subjects – who had done nothing –while again David went scot-free. Altogether, according to the Biblical story, 70,000 innocents died, while the ‘sinner’ went unpunished! How’s that for a ‘merciful’ “God”?
The thing is, that’s not an isolated incident in the “Old Testament”. There are multiple instances of “God” committing mass murder because “He” got angry at one person! Say some Israelite committed adultery with a woman from another ‘nation’; what do you suppose the ‘appropriate’ response from “God” would be? You got it: start indiscriminately killing Israelites by the tens of thousands until some ‘righteous’ Israelite murders the offending man and woman!
And what about the mass murder that God commanded the Israelites to commit – by killing those people (men, women, children) – as well as their sheep and cattle – who weren’t ‘fortunate’ enough to be born Jews and had the additional misfortune to be occupants of territory “God” had decided to give to the Israelites?
Is it really any wonder that some people might consider that the “adversary” of “God” – that is, “Satan” (which means “adversary”) – is in fact the ‘good guy’ in the Biblical narrative? One might even say that it is morally imperative to side with God’s adversary (“Satan”)! Could it be that “Satan” has been grossly misrepresented, and falsely charged with crimes actually committed by “the LORD”?? Well, you must judge for yourself, of course. 🙂
But if one wishes to stick with “God” and commit to a monotheistic religion, perhaps he/she should consider Islam. While Islam claims to worship the “God” of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, David, and Solomon (as well as Jesus and his disciples), its stories of this God do not contain those kinds of atrocities. Sure, the Qur’an depicts some pretty horrible punishments in the afterlife for unforgiven sinners, but at least it is the one who sinned who gets punished, not some relative or associate. And the only punishments prescribed for ‘sinners’ in this lifetime are to be inflicted only on the person who sinned. Those mass murders the Bible attributes to “God” form no part of Islam. I’m not Muslim myself, so I’m just saying if you feel you have to believe in and worship a “God” in the monotheistic tradition, perhaps Islam might be for you!
Of course, there are other choices that don’t portray a mass-murderer “God” also, such as Buddhism and Hinduism. Eastern religions, Islam, atheism, “Satanism” – pretty much anything is preferable to Judaism and any form of Christianity which traces its roots to Judaism and the “Old Testament”!