Monthly Archives: December 2012
One of the major reasons for my de-conversion from Christianity is the ruthless cruelty of the Old Testament God. Here are some examples:
“If a man lies with a male as with a women, both of them shall be put to death for their abominable deed; they have forfeited their lives.” (Leviticus 20:13 NAB)
Death for Cursing Parents
“All who curse their father or mother must be put to death.” (Leviticus 20:9 NLT)
Death for Fornication
“A priest’s daughter who loses her honour by committing fornication and thereby dishonours her father also, shall be burned to death.” (Leviticus 21:9 NAB) (WHAT ABOUT THE GUY?)
Kill Women Who Are Not Virgins On Their Wedding Night
“But if this charge is true (that she wasn’t a virgin on her wedding night), and evidence of the girls virginity is not found, they shall bring the girl to the entrance of her father’s house and there her townsman shall stone her to death, because she committed a crime against Israel by her unchasteness in her father’s house. Thus shall you purge the evil from your midst.” (Deuteronomy 22:20-21 NAB)
Kill Men, Women, and Children
“Then I heard the LORD say to the other men, “Follow him through the city and kill everyone whose forehead is not marked. Show no mercy; have no pity! Kill them all – old and young, girls and women and little children.” (Ezekiel 9:5 NLT)
“This is what the Lord of hosts has to say: ‘I will punish what Amalek did to Israel when he barred his way as he was coming up from Egypt. Go, now, attack Amalek, and deal with him and all that he has under the ban. Do not spare him, but kill men and women, children and infants, oxen and sheep, camels and asses.'” (1 Samuel 15:2-3 NAB)
When I began noticing these sections of the Bible, I felt that I could no longer love this God. How can I stand in church and worship such a God who has commanded the slaughter of children?!
I have spoken to various church leaders and read a few books on this subject, and I continue to do so. One of the most common responses I get is that the Old Testament was an acceptable context for brutality. The tribes that were slaughtered were exceedingly evil anyway – sexually immoral, baby sacrificing, violent groups of people. I don’t see this as any excuse! There is no “context” where it is okay to slaughter children. An omnipotent, all-loving, creator of all would not allow this, let alone command it.
Another common response in relation to the laws that command the death penalty for homosexuals, fornicators, etc. is that they no longer apply to us because we are under the New Covenant and therefore these seemingly harsh rules are no longer relevant. But the thing is, I don’t care whether they are relevant today or not. I think they say something about God’s character. For me, it is impossible to love a God who ever commanded the death penalty for these things, whether it applies today or not.
A more reasonable answer to the challenges of the blood thirsty Old Testament God is that because God is the creator of everything, he has the right to destroy it if he so wishes. He is the creator of human morality and is thereby not subject to it. However, I feel that a God who cannot even meet the human standards of morality is hardly worth my worship.
I feel that I cannot maintain my moral integrity and love the child-slaughtering, cruel, brutal and cold God of the Bible.
Last Sunday was Suffering Church Sunday at my church. We watched videos from Barnabas Fund and took up a special offering. Article 18 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights was held up: “Everyone has the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion; this right includes freedom to change his religion or belief, and freedom, either alone or in community with others and in public or private, to manifest his religion or belief in teaching, practice, worship and observance.” They spoke of rights and freedoms, and I felt like it was all a bit rich.
Being a rather suppressed atheist in this community, (hence I attend church every week), I couldn’t help but notice their hypocrisy. Sure, there are Christians around the world going through immense suffering for their faith. This has been going on since the beginning of Christianity. But what about me? I have to read my Richard Dawkins and Christopher Hitchens in secret. Is that so different from Christians in China meeting secretly? Admittedly, the big difference is that I will not be tortured or martyred. But I am a disappointment to my family and community. I am an outsider, a dirty sinner and they all feel sickeningly sorry for me and my parents. I would almost prefer to be a known as the courageous martyr than the rebellious, selfish, failure that I am perceived as now.
I spent much time as an “in the closet” atheist because I did not feel I had the freedom to express my beliefs without ruining relationships and my reputation. They aren’t so keen on proclaiming freedom of religion (or lack thereof) when it’s not their own beliefs being promoted.
Throughout history, Christians have been the persecutors just as much as they’ve been the persecuted: the crusades, the inquisition, burning heretics at the stake, forcing conversion in colonial states, blackmailing children with the threat of Hell, persecuting Jews, advocating (and implementing) the death penalty for homosexuals.
In light of all of this, it is almost tempting to conclude that persecuted Christians get exactly what they deserve. But most Christians disapprove and/or condemn the violent actions of the church, so this conclusion is unfair.
So, as an atheist at church on Suffering Church Sunday, I did something interesting. I gave money to the Barnabas Fund. I also signed a petition lobbying the government to promote freedom to be Christian in other countries. This is why: despite the fact that I feel my own religious freedom has been limited, despite the fact that I passionately disagree with Christianity, I want people to be free to believe whatever they feel is true. I figure if I fight for the Christians freedom to believe, one day they might respect my freedom to disbelieve. Perhaps I’m being naïve and idealistic, but it’s a dream. I want to see the church and the atheists work together towards universal freedom of religion.
I even wondered about this when I used to be a Christian! But then dismissed it, God knows best, right?
I am an atheist. I go to church every week to stay on my parents’ good side. The above question is one I find myself asking quite often and this week’s sermon on 1 Corinthians 6:9-20 raised the same topic.
Confession: I am a fornicator. I am an 18 year old girl and I’ve been getting it on with my boyfriend since I was 16, despite my Christian upbringing and Christian education.
As a fornicator, I was angered by what the speaker had to say. He (no female speakers at my church) described those who are involved in sexual immorality as slaves to sin, as addicts. If you’re not doing it in the godly covenant of marriage, you’re a slave to the devil. This seemed to be consistent with the Bible. He mentioned Romans 6:20, where it talks about how non-Christians are slaves to sin.
The sermon made me think of Mark Driscoll’s neat little alliteration about sex: it is either god, gross or gift. You can watch his sermon here. I certainly don’t think sex is gross, and I don’t believe it’s a gift from God. Fornicators like me end up in the category of “god.” According to Driscoll, this means I am a slave to my sexual desires – it’s everything, an obsession. It’s my identity. Again, I am offended and angered by the nerve of Christians.
Now, I am not saying that people who are involved in ‘sexual sin’ are never in the wrong. Sometimes these things do become negative, controlling and an obstacle to building relationships. Cheating, hiring prostitutes, obsession with porn, sex addiction, may be examples of this.
But my boyfriend and I have a beautiful sex life. It is not okay for these Christians to tell me I am a “slave” to sexual sin. I’m not addicted. It is not the most important thing in our relationship. If we had to stop for whatever reason, we could. I argue that it is possible to have a healthy, fulfilling sex life through the sin of fornication. To most people this would seem obvious, but in my community, it’s pretty fucking radical.
A few years ago, I used to believe the things my church/school/parents taught me to believe. I thought fornication was disgusting sin. Now when I see couples that have been together for decades, but were never interested in getting a marriage certificate, I no longer think of them as dirty, sick, pagan god-worshippers (of course I only hated the sin, not the sinner). I now know that truly, they are normal, healthy people. Now I see that the people that are really hateful and sick are the ones who made me feel nauseous with guilt for wanting to express the normal, human, sexual desires that every teenager experiences.
Sex should be an expression of love. It shouldn’t be given to just anyone, but a piece of paper and a pretty ring on your finger is nothing in comparison to the importance of love and commitment. Surely a couple who have been together for twenty years and love each other deeply, is a better context for sex than say Britney Spears’ 55 hour long marriage. Marriage is overrated in the Christian message and love and commitment are not given their rightful place as the most important criteria for sex.