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.