Today’s sermon, like any good sermon, features the Word of God. To follow along, visitÂ Bible GatewayÂ or The Good Book itself (80% of households have one, so chances are you do and, hell, even I do.)
Some people interpret The Bible literally; others take it with a grain of salt. Most view it through the lens of their own personalities, upbringing, and the social norms of their time-period/society. But according to Jesus:
“It is easier for Heaven and Earth to pass away than for the smallest part of the letter of the law to become invalid.” (Luke 16:17)
That said; let’s examine the parts of The Word that you normally don’t hear in church.
Let’s begin by opening our books to Exodus, where God has a special message for us about today:Â Â Â
Anyone doing work on Sunday should be put to death
Six days work shall be done, but on the seventh day you shall have a Sabbath of solemn rest, holy to the Lord. Whoever does any work on it shall be put to death. (Exodus 35:2)
I’m glad this one gets swept under the rug cuz I’m doing laundry today. Whew!
And while we’re on the topic of God’s favorite day of the week, better perform a cursory check before stepping into your Sunday best.
Those with damaged…er…goods can’t go to church.
No one whose testicles have been crushed or whose penis has been cut off may be admitted into the community of the Lord. (Deuteronomy 23:1)
Better guard those grapes!
And while we’re on the subject of penis protocol:
If a man lies in sexual intercourse with a woman during her menstrual period, both of them shall be cut off from their people, because they have laid bare the flowing fountain of her blood. (Leviticus 20:18)
God gives new meaning to the Scarlet Letter. Ahem.
The Bible offers God-inspired solutions to many evils that still plague us today. For example,
Rapists must purchase and marry their victims
If a man is caught in the act of raping a young woman who is not engaged, he must pay fifty pieces of silver to her father. Then he must marry the young woman because he violated her, and he will never be allowed to divorce her. Deuteronomy 22:28-29
Wow…just what I would want, to marry that guy in the dark alley with the knife.
Then there’s God’s take on the
Proper punishment for adultery
If a man commits adultery with another man’s wife, both the man and the woman must be put to death. (Leviticus 20:10)
And you thought all you could ask for was the house.
There’s also a plethora of parenting advice to be had in The Bible. Let’s have a look-see.
Disobedient children should be stoned to death
If a man has a stubborn and rebellious son who will not obey the voice of his father or mother, and, though they discipline him, will not listen to them, then his father and his mother shall take hold of him and bring him out to the elders of his city at the gate of the place where he lives. Then all the men of the city shall stone him to death with stones. So you shall purge the evil from your midst, and all Israel shall hear, and fear. (Deuteronomy 21:18-19, 21)
If I have children, I’ll be keeping this verse in my pocket to remind them how lucky they are that I merely open a can of whoop-ass when God says I can have them stoned.
The merits of striking your children
Withhold not chastisement from a boy; if you beat him with a rod he will not die. Beat him with the rod, and you will save him from the nether world. (Proverbs 23:13-14)
I guess this settles the spanking debate.
Proper business etiquette for selling your children as slaves
When a man sells his daughter as a slave, she shall not go out as the male slaves do. If she does not please her master, who has designated her for himself, then he shall let her be redeemed.Â He shall have no right to sell her to a foreign people, since he has broken faith with her.Â If he designates her for his son, he shall deal with her as with a daughter. If he takes another wife to himself, he shall not diminish her food, her clothing, or her marital rights. And if he does not do these three things for her, she shall go out for nothing, without payment of money. (Exodus 21:7-11)
Then there are those verses that are just my personal favorites. Such as:
Psychics should be put to death.
A man or a woman who acts as a medium or fortuneteller shall be put to death by stoning; they have no one but themselves to blame for their death. (Leviticus 20:27)
You should not let a sorceress live. (Exodus 22:18)
This is bad news for Sylvia Browne. Not that I care.
This one speaks for itself.
A man with long hair is a disgrace.
Does not nature itself teach you that if a man wears long hair it is a disgrace for him? (1 Corinthians 11:14)
Confession: including this verse was actually a cheap shot on my part because I don’t believe Jesus looked anything like this. When was the last time you saw a white guy born and raised in the Middle East? For more information on the subject (and some very interesting reading) check out this article.
Last, but not least, God wages a pre-emptive strike on Skepchicks, only to be foiled by Rebecca:
Women should listen and learn quietly and submissively. I do not let women teach men or have authority over them. Let them listen quietly. For God made Adam first and afterward he made Eve. And it was the woman, not Adam, who was deceived by Satan, and sin was the result. But women will be saved through childbearing and by continuing to live in faith, love, holiness, and modesty. (1 Timothy 2:11-15)
As in all the churches of the holy ones, women should keep silent in the churches, for they are not allowed to speak, but should be subordinate, as even the law says. But if they want to learn anything, they should ask their husbands at home. For it is improper for a woman to speak in the church. (1 Corinthians 14:33-35)
Okay, so these verses are funny at best and offensive at worst. I didn’t give fair representation to the many positive Biblical passages because those are the ones that get all the pressÂ – it’s these that truly don’t get fair representation. But the purpose of this post isn’t to rabble-rouse or put theists on the defense. There is a valid point to be consideredÂ – by theists and atheists alike.Â Â Â
The Bible is full of beautiful stories and terrible stories. It represents both a loving God and an unthinkably cruel God. It’s plagued with contradictions. The God that Christians recognize today looks and acts as our society finds acceptable. But he’s not the same God worshipped in the Old Testament or even in the New Testament. The face of God changes as people and cultures changeÂ – it is molded and remolded to fit various personalities, opinions, and social norms. But The Bible is not without merit. It is an interesting literary artifact, through which we can gain insight into the minds of men over many years and many cultures. There are many beautiful stories of love, redemption, and forgiveness – fables that convey the goodness of the human spirit. There are also many passages with claims that are unthinkable in our current society. The Bible is a collection of myths written by man. And man is good, man is bad, but most of all man is fallible. The Bible is an expression of that. To interpret The Bible literally, a person can’t honestly focus on the warm and fuzzy God in some passages and ignore the brutal, unthinkable God in others. So to truly embrace The Bible is to accept that within its pages is good, bad, and much that is influenced by the culture and time-period in which it was written. If you believe that The Bible is the Word of God and that God is omniscient, omnipotent, and omnibenevolent, then you must believe that his Word is timelessÂ – not bound by human cultures and social norms. You must accept The Bible in its entirety. Or, you can accept The Bible for what it truly is – a fascinating and breathtakingly flawed insight into the minds of our Christian and Jewish ancestors.
But what do I know…
Trust in the LORD with all your heart; on your own intelligence rely not. (Proverbs 3:5)