Thursday, June 3, 2010
The First Talk
My wife, the daughter of a Baptist Preacher, finally pinned me down and forced out some answers. She asked me what my initial reason was for leaving the faith. After a great deal of hesitancy, I pointed out the abhorrent issue of slavery to start with. She stated that Jesus never advocated slavery and demanded that I produce some scriptural references. After a brief look at Evilbible.com, I pointed towards some scriptures which she basically blew off as being “out of context”. I showed her scriptures like Luke 12:47-48 where the author quotes Jesus talking about servants refusing to do their duty even though they were previously aware of their obligations. I pointed to scriptural text outside of the four gospels like Ephesians 6:5 where the author states that people should obey their earthly masters in the same manner as their heavenly master. Even if Jesus’ teachings were a bit cloudy on slavery, it’s important to note that he never spoke against slavery. A “god-man” in his position should have known better. Subsequently, the entire practice of slavery may have never had the fuel it needed to start to begin with. Jesus is, at the very least, guilty of remaining silent. But I think that scriptures such as 1 Timothy 6:1-2 make the New Testament’s position abundantly clear: “Christians who are slaves should give their masters full respect so that the name of God and his teaching will not be shamed. If your master is a Christian, that is no excuse for being disrespectful. You should work all the harder because you are helping another believer by your efforts. Teach these truths, Timothy, and encourage everyone to obey them”.
She also refused to make the irrefutable connection between Yahweh of the O.T. and Jesus of the N.T.. She stated that Jesus did away with the law after dying on the cross. If so, why do we have scriptures like Matthew 5:18-19 with Jesus supposedly speaking, “I tell you the truth, until heaven and earth disappear, not even the smallest detail of God’s law will disappear until its purpose is achieved. So if you ignore the least commandment and teach others to do the same, you will be called the least in the Kingdom of Heaven. But anyone who obeys God’s laws and teaches them will be called great in the Kingdom of Heaven”. There are a multitude of scriptures declaring that Christians are still under the O.T. law. Conversely, there are a multitude of scriptures rejecting the notion that Christians are under the O.T. law. (See http://www.skepticsannotatedbible.com/contra/otlaw.html for more scriptural references) This comes back to the contradictions of the Bible, and having to guess what the Bible is really trying to relay to Christians. Another scripture verse such as Romans 3:31 suggested that Christians continue to uphold the law through faith. “Do we, then, abolish the law by this faith? Of course not! Instead, we uphold the law”. If nothing else, the Bible convolutes things greatly and forces us to look at “authorities” to tell us what is really intended. As John Loftus might say, “we have a failure to communicate”. If god can’t communicate clearly, who in the hell can? Communication is the key ingredient to any relationship. In fact, it’s a failure to communicate clearly that leads many married couples to divorce.
Besides, we don’t really have to spend time on the convoluted passages of the N.T. to make our point if Jesus and god are essentially the same "being" expressed in different forms. We can simply refer to the concrete passages of the Old Testament. My wife had a difficult time coming to this conclusion. Christians want to dismiss the O.T. because they’ve been taught that Jesus came to lay out a better plan. But Jesus doesn’t get off the hook. He was here from the beginning and is considered to be just as much of god as god himself. Passages like John 8:5-8 and Luke 10:18 give a clear indication that Jesus has been around a lot longer than his earthly sojourn suggests. Other Scriptures, like John 10:30, state that Jesus and God are one. 1 Tim. 3:16 talks about god being manifested in the flesh and makes no distinction between Jesus and god. Therefore, scriptures of the O.T., such as slaves being beaten to an inch of their life are the responsibility of both parties. Exodus 21:20-21. Surely, a Christian would never say that Jesus ever disagreed with god or his “perfect” will for humanity. This would be akin to saying that Jesus disagreed with Jesus. There are many Christians who seem to disapprove of God’s O.T. actions in a roundabout way. They may admit that they disapprove of his treatment toward the O.T. surrounding nations, but still can see why he did it. I can see why Hitler killed six million people, but that doesn’t mean that it was a morally justifiable action either. They can hopefully also see how dealing with surrounding nations in the O.T. could have been done in a more humane manner.
My wife didn’t believe that such a scripture even existed when I referred her to the passages on beating slaves. She also made sure to read all the surrounding text in an attempt to make the argument that I took the scripture out of context. In the end, the point could not be repudiated and she had nothing further to say. Later, she asked me if I had any other objections. I spoke briefly about the O.T. killing of children, babies and pregnant women. I also pointed out that god permitted human sacrifice as an appropriate practice to bring god’s people back into alignment. I pointed out the bizarre idea of Thought Crimes and how one was guilty of murder and adultery just for thinking “inappropriate” thoughts. I assured her that these objections were only the tip of the iceberg. She really didn’t have anything to say to counter my disgust with genocide. But, what can someone say other than god’s ways are mysterious or some other answers that really fail to answer anything? Most people know that genocide is wrong but our own creator doesn’t. Most people are keenly aware that killing innocent children and unarmed women are atrocities. We know that slavery is an injustice but god sure didn’t. Jesus could have denounced it in a single sentence if he wanted to.
Don’t get me wrong, my wife is far from stupid but she is still subject to the Christian ideology in which she lives as I once was. Jesus is all about goodness, mercy and restoration in their opinion. He isn’t responsible for the past or the future. Hell is all on us and the O.T. demonstrates a society that had it coming to them.