My Favorite Bible Verse

Many people think that because I believe that the Bible is fiction that it automatically means that I haven’t read it or that I do not like it. The fact is that I love the Bible… as a book if bronze aged fiction. As a book claiming to be divine and historical truth I think it is a pretty weak book. To demonstrate just how weak a book the Bible is on those grounds, I will take a page from one of America’s greatest patriots, Thomas Paine. In Paine’s work, “The Age of Reason part II” I discovered my favorite Bible verse. It seems that Paine found it amusing too:

“Now therefore kill every male among the little ones, and kill every woman that hath known man by lying with him. But all the women children, that have not known a man by lying with him, keep alive for yourselves.” – Numbers 31:17-18

Out of all the verses in the Bible this one is my absolute favorite. The reason? It is the most indefensible verse in the entire Bible. Here God has ordered Moses to murder then entire Midianites village except the virgins and then to rape the virgins. I try to bring this verse to the attention of many Christians that I talk to and over the years I have gotten a variety of attempts to explain away this most indefensible verse.

One Christian response that I have gotten a few times was, “it was war and shit happened.” But if Barack Obama or George W. Bush had told our US Generals to take the troops into Baghdad and kill ALL the men and ALL the women except the virgin women and then to have sex with the virgin women (i.e. rape) we would surely think that our leaders were horrible people. There is no way our soldiers would even follow those orders because those orders would seem so immoral and would be completely illegal. The President would be impeached in a second and on trial for war crimes. But if God gave those orders (and he did according to the Bible) no one seems to have a problem with that? In fact, people would still worship a perfect being that gave such a completely morally reprehensible order?

Then I get the “Context” argument from many Christians who seem to think this the argument for anything an atheist like me has to say about the Bible. The Bible clearly gives the context for why God gave the order of genocide and rape. The Midianites didn’t “hate” the Jews. They didn’t care about the Jews at all. They worshiped Ba’al Zebul a fertility God. Yahweh (aka Yam) was jealous God (by his own admission) and decided to order his people (the Hebrews) to wage war. The raping of the virgins was like an extra fuck you to Ba’al Zebul. Yahweh is your God. While the Bible makes mention of sexual atrocities that Midianites committed in the name of their deity that was very clearly not the reason Yahweh gave for his command. Besides, what possible injustice could anyone do in which mass murder and rape would someone be considered Just? I can think of no possible context, which would bring me to the conclusion that, “Oh mass murder and rape was a well deserved divine punishment for those people.” Rape is one of the few things in which there is no justifiable context for.

Next we have yet another attempted defense of this indefensible verse. This horrific verse is old. It was in the Old Testament and not the New Testament and for some reason we should ignore some of the verses, which we really don’t like, that are in the Old Testament despite the obvious fact that God is supposed to be perfect and some Bible verses even say that he can’t change, these Christians are claiming that even though he ordered this horrific act (and many similarly horrific acts in the Old Testament) now he is different. If Hitler were alive today and didn’t bother to say that he was sorry for the Holocaust, but just went around and told people to “turn the other cheek” should we forgive him for the Holocaust? Let me ask, how many times in the Bible did Jesus say Rape and Genocide were bad? The answer is zero, zip, zilch, none, not a one. Instead, Jesus defends the actions of Yahweh (God) many times. He even stated:

“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.” Matthew 5:18

The Christian claim that the Old Testament doesn’t count, but Jesus seems to think it does count. He seems to be saying that ever “jot” of it still counts. Besides, it is quite a big leap for God to claim that rape is cool and then to for him not to say anything against rape later and for Christians to somehow interpret that to mean that rape is sinful. Plus, Jesus always talks about doing his father’s work. If Yahweh were my father, I certainly wouldn’t be doing his work if he ordered genocide and rape to a bunch of people who worshiped Cupid.

And what about the big Ten Commandments? They are in the Old Testament and not a one of them states that, “Thou shall not rape.” Besides most Christians still think that the Ten Commandments are pretty worthy of following despite the fact that they are in the Old Testament.

Finally, some Christians claim that atheists take the Bible too literally. The whole claim to fame of the Bible was that it was written/inspired (through the holy ghost) by God the most perfect being to ever exist. Clearly, when the Bible talks about Jesus not coming to send peace but instead coming with a sword (Matthew 10:34) that is not to mean that Jesus is literally holding a sword. It is a metaphor. But what is it a metaphor for? If he had said that he came with a rose, I would assume that he meant love. But one does not love with a sword. A sword is a weapon of violence. Plus Jesus specifically stated that he didn’t come to bring peace. So that makes his metaphor pretty clear to me. And with my favorite verse, I think that story is supposed to be some sort of literal history and if that wasn’t the purpose, than I am at a loss for what such a metaphor would be saying. Moses is clearly the good guy in the story. We are supposed to be routing for him.

Fortunately, there has never been any evidence that suggests that the story of Numbers actually is a true account. Like the Mormon accounts of religious wars in the Americas, not one shred of archeological evidence has turned up to confirm these atrocities. But still, Numbers 31: 17-18 remains my favorite verse even though I am reasonably certain that it is a fictional account and that the Bible as a whole is fiction.

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8 responses to “My Favorite Bible Verse

  1. I have to say that it is refreshing to read that someone who self-labels as an atheist has read the entire Bible through. Thank you for giving that book and the ideas it contains at least that much consideration.

    Several things confuse me in general, but one thing in particular confuses me about your post here. Why would someone who believes the Bible is fiction take such joy in a verse that shows the ugliest of outcomes to a group of people following their God’s instructions? Is it because that verse makes Christians squirm in discomfort at the picture it paints of their loving God (who might be pictured as a “cosmic Santa Claus” by some…)?

    I believe the Bible is a factual account of things past and that it contains prophecy of things yet to come. As such, I take Numbers 31:17-18 and its context literally and factually. I believe it more than I believe George Washington was the first president of the United States and did the things American children are taught in school.

    God told the Israelites to go and possess the land, and he told them to exterminate the inhabitants of the land so that they could possess it fully. What a horrible thing! Why would God do such a thing?

    The Israelites are described as being God’s chosen people. He made them holy and called them apart from other people. God knew that if they didn’t exterminate the inhabitants of the land, the beliefs and values of the inhabitants of the land would infect his people and they would no longer follow him whole-heartedly.

    If it is fiction, it teaches that God takes very seriously the outside influences on his people. If it is fact, it shows the lengths to which God was willing to go to keep his people pure. Jesus raised the stakes considerably when he talked about the command not to murder and said that even if you call someone an idiot you are thinking murderous thoughts about them (which is sin).

    Oh, and by the way – God didn’t say to rape the virgins. He just said to keep them for themselves. If you re-read the whole Bible, you’ll see examples of where foreigners are permitted to live among the Israelites by God’s command without harming them in any way.

    You’re right – many Christians don’t have an accurate view of God and what he thinks about us and our behavior. The thing that they have right is that they believe God exists and they are willing to listen to his teachings and follow after Jesus, his son.

    (Yes, I’m saying that being an atheist is wrong. It is possible for two people to read the same information and for one to come to a correct interpretation and another to come to an incorrect interpretation. Sorry about that.)

  2. Pingback: Stupid Christians « Student of Many, Mastered by One

  3. far2old4this

    Jason,

    The world can be safe in the knowledge that one person knows. But how do we it’s you that knows? It might be me!

    In fact, I may as well come out and say it: it is me who knows the truth!

    Just engaging with you on your own terms, you understand.

  4. Pingback: Topics about Crimes » My Favorite Bible Verse

  5. The words you wrote are attributed to Moses and not the Lord. According to Numbers 31, the only command the Lord gave Moses was, “Avenge the children of Israel of the Midianites: afterward shalt thou be gathered unto thy people.” All the explicit commands you detailed were those of Moses. I do not think you read the bible. I think you just read Paine. Pity.

  6. Ben,

    Glad you’re standing up for your principles. Genocide? Fine. Taking concubines from the surviving women? That’s too far.

  7. The Science Pundit

    WRONG!!!!

    2 Kings 2:23-24 is the best bible verse!

  8. lol.. why does he think it’s funny??

    Because it shows that Christians are willing to bend things every which way to make it fit whatever they want… and that’s funny.. and scary.

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