A recent article I posted here disturbed a good friend of mine who is a Christian. He said it appeared as though I was accusing preachers of being deceptive. I am sorry that I gave the appearance of making that accusation. I am sorry that I was not clear. I believe that most preachers are deceptive and many are outright liars.
Where to start? Let’s start with one of the biggest lies told by preachers, laypersons, and politicians courting the favor of Christian voters. The lie is that the Bible is a source of morality or that the Bible can be used as a basis for establishing individual morals. Preachers sometimes describe the Bible as a moral compass, pointing the way for people to live moral lives.
Before stating why I think this is a lie, let us consider what is meant by morals and by something being a source or basis for morality. What is a moral compass?
Morals are ideas about the rules of right conduct or the distinction between right and wrong. This is simplistic, but it is a place to start.
A book that is a source of morals or morality should help people develop rules of right conduct or distinguish between right and wrong. Anything that claims to be a moral compass should point in the direction of morality without any ambiguity. A compass whose needle swings all over dial is useless.
The question becomes, “Does the Bible do this? Can a person read the Bible and know how to behave in a given situation?”
With that statement about what morals are and what a source of morals should do, we can look at the Bible and determine if it is a source of morals. I claim that the Bible is at best ambiguous as a basis for figuring out how to be moral and at worst, causes or is an example for immorality. As a moral compass, the Bible points in more than one direction.
Preachers and others generally state that the Bible’s Ten Commandments (Exodus 20) are an important source of morality. This is why so many Christians support the idea of posting the Ten Commandments in public places. Politicians, kissing up to Christians, give this argument when defending their decision to post or erect the Ten Commandments on public property.
Do the Ten Commandments give people aid in distinguishing between right and wrong? Well, yes and no. The first four Commandments tell people to how to worship God. The fifth Commandment instructs people to honor their parents.
The last Commandments tell people that killing, stealing, adultery, lying, and coveting are wrong. Killing, stealing, adultery and lying all involve more than one person and leave traces, like dead bodies or missing candlesticks, as evidence of wrongdoing. Coveting is a thought crime. You might say to someone, “I would like to have Micah’s stud camel,” or you might just think it to yourself but both instances are examples of coveting. While the Ten Commandments forbid coveting, it is probably a victimless sin with no evidence of wrongdoing.
So far, okay. I can accept those rules as being fairly clear and would allow most people to decide if a particular course of action is right or wrong. “If I take Micah’s camel without his permission it would be stealing. That is wrong.”
However, there are some things I consider wrong that are not in the Commandments. There is no Commandment saying that human sacrifice is wrong, that child abuse is wrong, that rape is wrong, or that slavery is wrong. Indeed, the Bible seems to endorse each of things. In Judges 11, we read the story of Jephthah, who kills his daughter as an offering to Yahweh, at least three verses in Proverbs encourage beating children with a rod or staff to discipline them, Leviticus and Exodus spell out the rules for buying and selling slaves, and Deuteronomy spells out a definition of rape that makes it the woman’s fault based on whether or not she screams. Deuteronomy also says that a man who is discovered while raping a young woman who is not engaged shall pay 50 pieces of silver to the woman’s father and the rapist must marry the woman.
Even on the acts prohibited in the Ten Commandments, the Bible does not show us good examples for interpreting how to behave.
Consider David, extolled as a great leader and the founder of the lineage of Jesus. Bathsheba was married to Uriah, one of David’s soldiers. David covets Bathsheba after seeing her bathing. He seduces her and commits adultery with her. When she becomes pregnant, David lies in an attempt to get Uriah to go home and have sex with her so that Uriah will think the child is his. When Uriah shows his loyalty by staying to defend David, David schemes with another soldier to leave Uriah vulnerable to the enemy during a battle and Uriah is killed. God is not happy with David, but the punishment of God is to kill the love child of David and Bathsheba.
√ Covets Bathsheba, another man’s wife
√ Commits adultery with Bathsheba
√ Lies to cover up his affair and his love child
√ Arranges to have Bathsheba’s husband killed
David has broken four of the Ten Commandments. Is this the mark of a great leader?
Usually at this point, Christian apologists try to make the point that David was human and humans have failings. I will grant both of those points, but if the Bible is supposed to help people be moral should it honor so highly someone who is so immoral?
Can we look higher than humans for examples in the Bible?
Consider God, Himself. God creates humanity and is then surprised to find that humans behave like humans. He kills all but a handful by drowning them like unwanted kittens. Moral? Killing is okay if what you are killing has been behaving badly? Is it okay if I kill my child because he or she breaks some or all of the Ten Commandments? Actually, Deuteronomy 21: 18-21 says that children who refuse to obey (refuse to honor?) their parents should be stoned to death.
Again, the apologists may jump in and say something like, “You’re just looking at the Hebrew Testament. Jesus died for our sins and changed all that.”
Really? Jesus changed all that? Jesus said that the Hebrew Testament no longer applied?
In Matthew 5:17-18, Jesus says, “Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfill. For verily I say unto you, till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled.” (KJV)
The bottom line is that the Bible is not a moral compass; it does not point the way to living a moral life. Anyone who lived their life based on what the Bible teaches would and should be locked up.
The preachers know this but every Sunday they sermonize on the virtues of living your life by following the Bible’s moral compass. They lie, and they know better. They lie for many reasons, but that will be another article.
The slideshow that accompanies this article are illustrations of slavery, human sacrifice, child abuse, rape, and the genocide of the flood.
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