Does the God of the Bible espouse murder and rape?

Friend:
So I got into another debate with a liberal on Facebook—gotta stop that, about abortion and the liberals endorsing it.  So, this woman tells me that God espouses murder and cites the following scripture (i.e. Judges 21:10-24, Numbers 31:7-18, Deuteronomy 22:28-29, Deuteronomy 22:23-24, Deuteronomy 21:10-14).  Do you have any context to that?

James:

My responses to your request for context are below. Let me know if it helps or not.

The Discourse

Skeptic:

No i do not nor would i believe in such a backwards sexist misogynistic sadistic murderer as a god.

James:

The irony in the skeptic’s strategy is that the critical adjectives that she employs (e.g.  backwards, sexist, misogynistic, sadistic, murderer) presuppose and appeal to a standard that only has a legitimate basis in the Bible. 

Skeptic:

My beliefs are much older than christianity. In fact christians culturally appropriated quite a number of them. I belong to the Vanatru, To both the Aesir and Vanir but much more to the latter than the former.

James:

It is one thing to make outlandish and indefensible claims such as the frivolous assertion that Christianity “culturally appropriated” various pagan belief systems. It is quite another thing to actually demonstrate this claim which the skeptic has yet to do. No one should be impressed by a person who makes wild claims without defending them since anyone can do this.

Yes your god does espouse murder. I’ve lost count of the number of examples in your own bible in which that is the case. As a few pieces of evidence to show your god’s brutality. Judges 21:10-24 The rape and massacre of a settlement. Numbers 31:7-18 rape and murder of the midianites. Deuteronomy 22:28-29 endorsing the action of not only raping the victim but forcing them to marry their rapist. Deuteronomy 22:23-24 Murder of a rape victim if they happen to be betrothed. Deuteronomy 21:10-14 Rape of captives.

James:

The skeptic here is confused regarding the definitions of words. The God of the Bible does not espouse murder. God is simply doing what He sees fit to do with His own property. Therefore none of the examples cited where God is seen as the initiator of the retaliatory action involves any instance of murder.

As far as the accusation that God’s actions are brutal, this is an observation that should cause the skeptic to reflect upon the nature of God’s judgment. If God is real then He created and thus owns each person and is entitled to do as He pleases with them therefore it will not do any good to defiantly spout accusations about how mean one thinks God is. Actually, God is a God of love as demonstrated by the fact that He withheld not His own son (i.e. Jesus Christ) but allowed Jesus to take on the guiltiness of the entire world so that anyone (see Will God ensure that everyone gets a chance to hear the Gospel—even the aborted baby?) who cares enough to believe in His Son, can in turn take on Christ’s righteousness. 

Yet, in the Bible God is also described as a God of Judgment. Skeptics do not like the idea that God should have the prerogative to judge His creation so they hurl His judgments back at Him while accusing Him of committing various crimes. By doing so they betray a serious misconception about the biblical God. They fail to realize that He is a potentate (1 Timothy 6:15). Meaning, He is the only person Who is unrestrained by law. The irrationality of accusing a potentate of law-breaking is as absurd as unwittingly relying upon the Bible’s moral code in order to mount an offensive against the Bible.

Skeptic:

Numbers 31:7-18 rape and murder of the midianites.

James:

The events of Numbers 31:17-18 was considered a war of judgment, ordered by God Himself to avenge His honor and that of His people (Numbers 31:1). There is no rape mentioned in the passage cited by the skeptic. God instructed Moses and the Israelites to carry out judgment against the wickedness of the Midianites. That judgment included the execution of all Midianites except young virgins willing to become Israelites and turn from idolatry. These captives were to be dealt with according to the Mosaic law which forbade rape and afforded the captives with legal rights. The lesson however of Numbers 31:17-18 is that God judges the wickedness of men according to His own prerogative. Was His judgment harsh? Yes, but then so is Hell yet that doesn’t make either less real. Was His judgment deserved? Yes. The atrocities of the Midianites included the seduction of Israel into fornication and idolatry. Was this murder? No. Because murder involves the breaking of a law and the God of the Bible being a potentate is not subject to laws as if He were a creature or given to the task of obedience. 

Skeptic:

Judges 21:10-24 The rape and massacre of a settlement.

James:

The activities recorded in Judges 21 were not commanded by God but are a demonstration of what happens when “every man did that which was right in his own eyes. ” (Judges 21:25) By including this verse as an purported example of God condoning murder, the skeptic has demonstrated an inability or unwillingness to abide by the context of the verses in question.

Skeptic:

Deuteronomy 22:28-29 endorsing the action of not only raping the victim but forcing them to marry their rapist.

James:

Any verse employed out of its context can be made to illegitimately say or support the vilest of actions. This is the case with the skeptic’s use of Deuteronomy 22:28-29 without the context of its preceding verses. Contextually speaking, Deuteronomy 22:28-29 says that if a virgin and her boyfriend are discovered having sex then the boyfriend must pay the father a dowry, marry the woman, and never divorce her. Because this verse depends upon verse 25 which demands capital punishment for the crime of rape, then it cannot be rationally argued that Deuteronomy 22:28-29 endorses rape.

Skeptic:

Deuteronomy 22:23-24 Murder of a rape victim if they happen to be betrothed.

James:

The woman of Deuteronomy 22:23-24 contextually speaking is not a rape victim, but an engaged woman playing the harlot. The Mosaic laws in Deuteronomy 22:23-24 imply that in order to be considered a rape victim the woman has to actually resist the intercourse (i.e. cry out for help). Of course, the Mosaic law explicitly denounces  rape as a capital crime (e.g. Deuteronomy 22:25) but the skeptic is not interested in a careful examination of the alleged proof text.

Skeptic:

Deuteronomy 21:10-14 Rape of captives.

James:

Again, the skeptic is grossly ignorant of the text and its context. Mosaic Law required that captives not be treated in a manner inferior to that of slaves. This meant that captives actually had rights under the Mosaic Law. Even in the case of being a captive of war, the Mosaic law did not allow any forcible possession of female captives. Moreover, all of the protections afforded to slaves (e.g. freedom could be bought by relatives (Lev 25:49), the servant could buy his or her own freedom, whether the master WANTED to let them go or not (Lev 25:49), every 7th year (the Sabbath year), all servants were to automatically go free–without ANY payment of money to the master, Minor injuries due to abusive treatment automatically resulted in immediate freedom (Exodus 21.26), when freedom was granted at the Sabbath year or Year of Jubilee, the master was obligated to send them out with liberal gifts–to allow them to occupy the land in sufficiency again (Deut 15:13) etc.) by the Mosaic Law applied to captives because they were considered the property of their captors. Though the passage quoted by the skeptic speaks from the vantage point of the captor, the clear implication from the entire system of Mosaic law within Deuteronomy is that the captive was not compelled to enter into marriage with the captor, and if she did, she was to be afforded the full rights of a wife and nothing less. Hence, contrary to what was alleged, Deuteronomy 21:10-14 speaks nothing of rape. For more information about this see The Bible and Slavery.

The skeptic’s comprehension of the three Deuteronomy verses demonstrates a severe misunderstanding of the text. Deuteronomy contains the laws given to the Israelites by Moses under God’s direction. One of the purposes of these laws is to prevent Israel from adhering to the practices of the surrounding heathen nations. Many readers confuse or take the Mosaic Law’s remediation of societal ills to be a tacit endorsement of those ills. For instance, the bible states in Malachi 2:16 that God hates divorce, yet, what we find in the Mosaic Law are instructions in regards to how to properly execute a divorce (Deuteronomy 24:1-4). Does this mean that God condones divorce? Of course not! But bad behavior in God’s congregation must still be regulated so as not to approach the licentiousness of their heathen neighbors. Yet, some skeptics see this mere regulation of impropriety as something more. This confused reasoning leads to the sort of objections leveled here by the skeptic.

Skeptic:

I can go on and on with the examples of murder and violence that are encouraged by the bible.

James:

It is pointless for the skeptic to multiply examples especially if the skeptic does not have a correct understanding about how to comprehend the multitude of verses hurled at the bible believer. If the answer to a problem is wrong it doesn’t matter how many pages the answer provides.

Skeptic:

Not to mention that in the US christian extremists are the greatest threat of any group for terrorist actions. Like they have done in the past. Ranging from bombing abortion clinics to burning mosques and synagogues as well as the untold number of hate crimes against other demographics including trans folk as well as the rest of the LGB community. I have personally received more violence and hate from christian extremists than any other demographic.

James:

I would imagine that any serious high school student spending one to two hours examining news clippings at their local library could easily falsify the audacious claim that “in the US, Christian extremists are the greatest threat of any group for terrorist actions.” The skeptic is either being dishonest about her claim or unable to apprehend the world around her. Neither situation is enviable.

Skeptic:

Your mars example doesn’t hold any water. The potential cellular life on mars has a pertinent fact that you love to ignore. Cellular life is not dependent on another life form to sustain it. In regards to your mars example.

James:

The skeptic does not appear to understand that her claim is unprovable. There is no Scientist living today who can even offer a biological explanation as to why people die let alone how and why matter is selectively animated.

Skeptic:

A Fetus is not alive yet in regards to being able to sustain life of it’s own accord.

James:

Based upon the skeptic’s definition of life, not even adults (who depend upon the sun, moon, stars, water, food, etc.) should be considered alive. If adults who require nutrition in order to live are alive then why should a fetus who requires the same be deemed as non-life?

Skeptic:

As i’ve said before you love cherry picking you science. You enjoy when science makes your life easier but when it provides evidence and facts contrary to your ancient mythology you can’t bear it. So yes it makes you a hypocrite, only using what science makes your life easier and pretending the science that proves how you choose to believe in your god is factually incorrect is magically less valid.

James:

The skeptic should provide at least one example that demonstrates “science” proving the Biblical God incorrect. Until then, we must remind the skeptic that Science is not the arbiter of truth;  God is. To quote the famous British philosopher, Karl Popper: “We know that our scientific theories always remain hypotheses…In science there is no knowledge, in the sense in which Plato and Aristotle understood the word, in the sense which implies finality; in science we never have sufficient reason for the belief that we have attained the truth.

Skeptic:

I will state this here so you, or others, don’t get the wrong idea. I’m not saying that religion and science are exclusionary systems It’s been done time and time again by christians, hindi, jews, and muslims, among other religions and spiritualities (which my system falls into a spirituality rather than a religion) of believing in both science and religion…since science isn’t a system of belief that requires faith it has evidence and facts to support it.

James:

The skeptic is again confused about the nature of the discipline referred to as Science. In the words of Dr. Paul Davies, a theoretical physicist: 

“The worldview of a scientist, even the most atheistic scientist, is that essentially of Monotheism. It is a belief, which is accepted as an article of faith, that the universe is ordered in an intelligible way.

Now, you couldn’t be a scientist if you didn’t believe these two things. If you didn’t think there was an underlying order in nature, you wouldn’t bother to do it, because there is nothing to be found. And if you didn’t believe it was intelligible, you’d give up because there is no point if human beings can’t come to understand it.

But scientists do, as a matter of faith, accept that the universe is ordered and at least partially intelligible to human beings. And that is what underpins the entire scientific enterprise. And that is a theological position. It is absolutely ‘Theo’ when you look at history. It comes from a theological worldview.

That doesn’t mean you have to buy into the religion, or buy into the theology, but it is very, very significant in historical terms;  that that is where it comes from and that scientists today, unshakably retain that worldview, as an act of faith. You cannot prove it logically has to be the case, that the universe is rational and intelligible. It could easily have been otherwise. It could have been arbitrary, it could have been absurd, it could have been utterly beyond human comprehension. It’s not! And scientists just take this for granted for the most part, and I think it’s a really important point that needs to be made.”

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