33. Excuses for God
I admit I lose patience with those who try to make a “moral point” by quoting the Bible. While there are many wonderful and truthful passages in the Bible which can serve as good advice and words of wisdom, such as many passages found in Proverbs and Psalms, there are plenty of other passages which are not so nice, kind, or loving. This fact is what makes others’ use of scripture to justify their “moral points” and claims of the “righteousness” of God and the “inerrancy of scripture” all the more irritating to me. Time and again scripture passages which show the “light” side of God are quoted in church, while those “darker” passages are either ignored completely, or cleverly rationalized. It is amazing how many excuses we make for God, and also for Jesus, as I discussed in the last chapter, “Without Sin.” The very fact we have to rationalize or make any excuses at all on their behalf only confirms the non-truthfulness of this “god.” As we have discovered previously several times before in this book, all notions of any “gods” or “beings” are ultimately illusions since the self-concept from which all of these other concepts originate, is an illusion to begin with. So in that sense, it really doesn’t matter whether we are referring to Jesus, Yahweh, Jehovah, Vishnu, Krishna, or Zeus, since all gods are equally imaginary. It is not a question of which god is “real” or “authentic.” It is about discovering the fact that the very concept of gods itself is imaginary.
To quote only the “positive” scripture passages in the Bible, while ignoring or rationalizing the “negative” scripture passages in the Bible is hypocritical. It destroys all would-be evangelists’ credibility because such omissions are dishonest. To not look at both sides of their God and the Bible honestly – the truth, instead of cherry-picking only the “good” parts of the Bible is pure rationalization in our desire to defend the idea of an “only good” God – an idea which clearly does not exist in the Bible when we examine its scripture honestly and objectively. Everyone is at least subconsciously aware of the inherent hypocrisy of religious belief, which is why the Church’s membership continues to decrease. As long as people continue to question more, and apply their critical thinking skills in the area of religion, as they do with any other aspect of life, the truth behind the motivations of religious belief will become increasingly clear to more and more people. Of course, this is precisely why the religious do not look at their faith critically, nor read or pay attention to both sides of the complete Biblical story. If they did, they too would uncover its actual truth, which would not correspond to what they have been brainwashed into believing from the pulpit and in Sunday school.
Let us look at the area of “sexual morality.” If ever there was a group of people hung up on the “do’s” and the “do-nots” of “proper sexual expression,” it is Jews and Christians. Everything from homosexuality to fornication is condemned under all circumstances, revealing how their scriptures utterly fail to account for the incredibly complex nuances and subtleties of varied human sexual expression. I find it hypocritical how Christians speak so fervently of God’s will for us to have only “one man, one woman,” while this same God who said King David was “a man after God’s own heart,” had multiple wives and concubines. Apparently the kind of man God loves – a man “after God’s own heart,” is a man who defies God’s plan for “one man, one woman” by enjoying multiple sexual partners. At the same time we also know from Old Testament Biblical scripture that polygamy was allowed, even after God supposedly “designed” us to have only “one man, one woman” for life. While it would be ideal in many ways for there to be only “one man, one woman” for life, virtually everyone knows this almost never happens, and is also in many ways contrary to our natural sexual nature. I would prefer Christians not be so hypocritical and simply admit the fact people are or at least can be sexually attracted to multiple people. The reasons for this make perfect sense when one considers the fact that for both men and women, having multiple partners make it possible to spread our genes far more successfully than having only one partner. Of course, there are myriad reasons why having multiple sexual partners is not often practical and in many ways, not desirable for human beings, especially in our modern world, but it is nevertheless a primal drive, as we are animals at the core, regardless of how “moral,” and “sophisticated” we arrogantly assume ourselves to be. While human beings can and do make choices animals cannot make, we are still animals while being rational beings at the same time, whose animal instincts don’t simply “disappear” just because we evolved into an extremely intelligent species. It would be refreshing to hear someone simply honestly and openly admit these facts instead of hiding behind absurd hypocritical ideologies which bear no resemblance to reality. To quote scripture passages from the Bible which speak to the idea God wants us to have only “one man, one woman” is hypocritical and meaningless, especially since this same God also allows for polygamy and the taking of concubines.
Genesis 32:22, “That night Jacob got up and took his two wives, his two female servants and his sons and crossed the ford of the Jabbok.”
2 Samuel 5:13, “After he left Hebron, David took more concubines and wives in Jerusalem, and more sons and daughters were born to him.”
While Christians are extremely critical and condemning of pornography, citing it objectifies and undervalues women, is sexist, and creates unrealistic expectations for men of what their sexual partners should be like, it is important to realize the fact the Bible does the same thing. Here are some sobering Biblical passages to illustrate this fact:
Deuteronomy 20:13-14, “When the Lord your God delivers it into your hand, put to the sword all the men in it. As for the women, the children, and the livestock and everything else in the city, you may take these as plunder for yourselves. And you may use the plunder the Lord your God gives you from your enemies.”
This is essentially a license to rape the women and steal the goods of a conquered people. A verse like this makes the creation and viewings of pornography by consenting adults seem tame by comparison. Would a “good,” “just” and “holy” God allow the murder, plunder, and rape of others? It seems a remarkable contradiction to say the least.
Leviticus 27:3-7,“set the value of a male between the ages of twenty and sixty at fifty shekels of silver, according to the sanctuary shekel; for a female, set her value at thirty shekels; for a person between the ages of five and twenty, set the value of a male at twenty shekels and of a female at ten shekels; for a person between one month and five years, set the value of a male at five shekels of silver and that of a female at three shekels of silver; for a person sixty years old or more, set the value of a male at fifteen shekels and of a female at ten shekels.”
Not only does this disgusting Bible passage set a monetary value on females being worth less than males, it also places a monetary value on the very young and the very elderly being worth less than those in the “prime” of their lives.
Deuteronomy 22:23-24, “If a man happens to meet in a town a virgin pledged to be married and he sleeps with her, you shall take both of them to the gate of that town and stone them to death – the young woman because she was in a town and did not scream for help, and the man because he violated another man’s wife. You must purge the evil from among you.”
According to these repulsive Bible verses, the “evil” among us includes not only the rapist but the raped woman as well. Really? According to this passage from “God’s inerrant Word,” victims of rape are to be given the exact same punishment as the rapist. We would never tolerate such an unjust punishment for a victim of rape from modern lawmakers, but since these words come from the Bible, which is supposedly the “infallible Word” of a so-called “just” and “holy” God, we hold passages like this to a double standard, somehow rationalizing how and why this passage is “okay” within its historical and Biblical context. There is absolutely no justification whatsoever for such a disgusting passage. Presumably a woman is considered “guilty” simply for being in a town when she is pledged to be married to another, and does not scream for help when a man sleeps with her, which is just another way of saying she wanted or asked to be raped. There is no consideration for the possibility she could not scream because she was gagged by the man, or did scream and was not heard. Also, there is no consideration whatsoever in these verses for the woman, but only for the man and the fact “his woman” – his property has been “stolen” from him. If we do not want to give mixed messages or be hypocritical, then Bible verses like this should prompt us to ask ourselves the critically important question why it is we give children copies of the Bible that contain so many brutal passages such as this which support a psychotic and unjust notion of “morality,” while holding it up as the “moral authority” for humankind at the same time. The fact we do this blatantly exposes the hypocritical contradictions and double standards we hold between our values in actual real life and some of the values espoused within Biblical scripture.
Corinthians 14:34-35, “Let your women keep silence in the churches: for it is not permitted unto them to speak; but they are commanded to be under obedience as also saith the law. And if they will learn any thing, let them ask their husbands at home; for it is a shame for women to speak in the church.”
This is an infamous scripture passage which blatantly reveals the unapologetic sexism of Christianity promoted by one of its greatest advocates, Paul.
The point is not whether or not homosexuality and pornography is “right” or “wrong,” or whether or not our actions and feelings are “right” or “wrong.” It is about the fact the Bible is not any more or less a “moral authority” than any other book on what constitutes “good” and “moral” behavior since it was at least partially written by sexist and primitive men to at least in part promote their conquering, violent, elitist, hateful, bigoted, sexist agendas, as evidenced by the scripture passages we examined above which only constitutes a tiny portion of similar passages throughout both the Old and New Testaments of the Bible. Therefore, those who would use the Bible as an authority to reference how we “should” behave only expose their ignorance and hypocrisy. Reading the Bible – the good as well as the bad is the only way to read this book honestly to see it for what it is – a book written by mere mortals, sometimes wise, sometimes not so wise. The oft-heard complaint that movies and television shows are filled with sexism, violence, and the objectification of women, combined with censoring their viewership from our children while handing them copies of the Bible at the same time is hypocritical, since there is really no difference between our “worldly” entertainments and the Bible in many ways. Like movies and television shows, the Bible is in truth, a mixed bag of wisdom and the grotesque, the sublime and the horrendous. If much of what is in the Bible was in a movie, many would be up in arms about the film’s sexist, violent, horrific content, but such criticisms are rarely heard in popular commentary on the Bible, and certainly never from an apologist. The double standard is striking. The truth is, just like our entertainments today, the Bible was created by imperfect humans, just like you and I, not an “inerrant” god. If we are going to criticize our modern entertainments for their “mixed bag” of good and bad, then if we are honest, we need to be consistent and apply that same critical standard to the Bible as well, instead of holding it to a double standard, giving it a pass for its darker side because we believe it is the “inerrant” Word of God.
If we want to be more honest and compassionate, than instead of the endless judgment of “rights” and “wrongs” of traditional religious ideology, we need to instead look honestly at the consequences of our actions and make our decisions accordingly. Perhaps we need to more carefully discern our choices of what we read and watch, whether it is movies, television, literature, or the Bible. What is most important is active awareness of what is, not blind submission to any “authority” and with it, judgment. For it is in truth, not judgment where the key to our true liberation is to be found.