Religious texts often contain edicts, many supposedly directly from a higher power, calling for atrocities and oppression, a fact most Christian Americans are comfortable with when applied to the Qur’an or Hadith, less so when shown the Bible is not an exception.
Peaceful religious persons justify or explain these in many ways. Christians for example believe these ways of doing things were declared outdated, no longer necessary, after Christ appeared. That it was part of “God’s Plan” for it to be permissible to kill a homosexual in 200 B.C. but not A.D. 200 (see Either God Changes or He’s Psychotic: Comparing Testaments Old and New).
Seems morally dubious, especially for an all-loving being, and of course ignores the fact that slavery and the oppression of women were upheld in scripture written after Christ died, and that God still killed liars on the spot and Jesus threatened to kill children.
Others insist these edicts and God’s actions must be “taken in context.” While that is usually just a way to excuse the horrific and sickening things a deity, scriptural hero, or religious writer said or did, it is without question a necessity. The context is obvious: religious texts were written in ancient times by very primitive, barbaric tribesmen.
Holy books describe a culture and a culture’s deity during a particular age. While it is a great relief that gods are total fiction, brutal man is not.
Readers are encouraged to look at multiple biblical translations when double-checking verses, in order to find the version used in this piece.
DISTURBING SEXUAL FIXATIONS
In the Bible sexual perversion and depravity occur and are described with nary a second thought, helpful to those who wish to understand what people, societies, and religions were like long ago, but tragic for the victims of such evil.
Hebrew “men of God” delighted in polygamy (Esau, Jacob, Gideon, David, Solomon), including concubines (Abraham, Jacob, Gideon, Solomon). Solomon had 700 wives, 300 concubines (1 Kings 11:3).
Lot, the only righteous man God found in the city of Sodom, offered his two daughters to be gang-raped so a crowd of men wouldn’t gang-rape visiting angels (Genesis 19:7-8). In a vile twist of fate, the daughters later rape Lot on more than one occasion and get pregnant (Genesis 19:32-36). Moses orders that all Midianite boys and non-virgin girls should be slaughtered, but that virgins should be kept alive for his soldiers (Numbers 31:17-18). (They captured 32,000 virgins and “gave 32 of them to the Lord,” possibly to be sacrificed alongside the sheep, cattle, and donkeys they seized; see Numbers 31:32-41.) All a bit odd, since one poor Israelite-Midianite couple was run through with a spear for their involvement in Numbers 25:6-8. God warns his people to kill foreigners, “not intermarry with them” (Deut. 7:1-6). We commit a “great evil” and “transgress against our God in marrying strange wives” (Nehemiah 13:23-30).
The book devotes much space to private parts, genital mutilation, menstruation, sexual purity. You will see below that God personally threatens to expose people’s genitals.
God decrees that everyone who touches a woman on her period is “unclean until evening,” and any object that touches or is touched by the woman is also “unclean” (Leviticus 15:19-20). The woman is “unclean” while on her period, naturally (Leviticus 12:5). Not only that, she is unclean for seven days after her “discharge of blood,” and on the eighth day she must “take two turtledoves or two pigeons” to a priest, who will “offer one for a sin offering and the other for a burnt offering; and the priest shall make atonement for her before the Lord for her unclean discharge” (Leviticus 15:19-30). Menstruation is basically a sin. Men who have sex with their menstruating wives must be exiled (Leviticus 20:18).
Ezekiel 36:16-17 shows just how highly this god thinks of the natural body function that he created: “Again the word of the Lord came to me: ‘Son of man, when the people of Israel were living in their own land, they defiled it by their conduct and their actions. Their conduct was like a woman’s monthly uncleanness in my sight.'”
God says that if a woman grabs a man’s genitals to break up a fight, her hand is to be cut off (Deut. 25:11-12); some Egyptian men are lewdly described as having donkey-sized penises that ejaculate with the power of horses (Ezekiel 23:18-21); God discriminates against men with crushed testicles or a castrated penis (Deut. 23:1); Song of Solomon is about love and sex, and doesn’t even mention God, with many mentions of breasts, and likely oral sex (4:16, 7:8-9) and anal play (5:4); and King Saul wanted David to bring him 100 Philistine foreskins as a dowry (1 Samuel 18:20-30). He brought more.
Circumcision was a serious business: “You are to undergo circumcision, and it will be the sign of the covenant between me and you… Any uncircumcised male, who has not been circumcised in the flesh, will be cut off from his people” (Genesis 17:10-14). Moses’ wife saved Moses from being killed by God only when she cut off their son’s foreskin with a rock (Exodus 4:25).
Incest was common, for example Nahor married his older brother’s daughter, his niece (Genesis 11:29, NLT). Of course, if one trusts wholeheartedly this work, rampant incest was all part of “God’s Plan,” as Adam and Eve’s children had to populate the Earth somehow, as did Noah’s children later on.
THE OPPRESSION OF WOMEN
Obviously, the Bible reeks of thousands of years of patriarchal society that deemed women subservient, less intelligent, and less worthy of life. The language of the text marks it as a book by men and for men. “You shall not covet your neighbor’s wife,” for example, speaks to the only important sex. The record of the ancestral line tracks the only important sex (Genesis 5:1-32, Matthew 1:1-16), as did the Hebrew census (Numbers 1:1-2). Inheritance was for sons unless none existed (Numbers 27:8-11). God is male, naturally, and when Israel drifts from him it is often referred to as a whore (see Hosea 1:2, ESV). None of the 12 disciples are women.
Scriptural heroes and God himself, judging by the laws and punishments they designed, were violent sexists. Male domination has been a major theme throughout world history, and the Hebrews were no exception — even though guided by an “all-loving God.” Upon reading Leviticus and Deuteronomy it becomes obvious “God’s Laws” are much harsher toward women; they are given the death penalty with far greater frequency. You will notice this throughout this article, but particularly in the next section.
God dictates the oppression early on. After her sin, Eve is told her husband “shall rule over you” (Genesis 3:16).
God decrees that the woman who gives birth to a boy is somehow “unclean” for seven days, but if she gives birth to a girl it’s two weeks! She must then take 33 days to be purified if she had a son, yet for some reason it takes 66 days to be made clean if she had a daughter (Leviticus 12:1-5). God doesn’t exactly explain why giving birth to a girl makes you more unclean.
Of course, a woman is by nature unclean, from Job’s perspective. “How can one born of a woman be pure?” (Job 25:4). “Who can bring a clean thing out of an unclean thing?” (Job 14:1-4). “What are mortals, that they could be pure, or those born of woman, that they could be righteous?” (Job 15:14).
When followers were “dedicated to the Lord,” a man was worth 50 shekels of silver, a woman only 30 (Lev. 27:1-7). God’s own Three-Fifths Compromise.
Divorced couples cannot be remarried if the woman has been “defiled” (Deut. 24:1-4). In other words, a divorced woman who sleeps with another man is unclean. But women whose husbands died were forced to marry and have sex with their deceased husband’s brother (Deut. 25:5-6).
Even in the New Testament, women are forbidden to preach; they are told to be silent and “submissive” while receiving instruction (1 Tim. 2:11-15; “I do not permit a woman to teach or to assume authority over a man”). Woman was apparently made “for man” (1 Corinthians 11:8-9) and must submit to their husbands in everything (Ephesians 5:22-24). Colossians 3:18 says, “Wives, submit yourselves to your husbands.” Wives should submit to their men and let their purity show men the truth of the Word (1 Timothy 3:1-2). In the same way that “the head of every man is Christ,” the “head of every woman is man” (1 Corinthians 11:3). 1 Corinthians 14:34-35 reads:
Women should remain silent in the churches. They are not allowed to speak, but must be in submission, as the law says. If they want to inquire about something, they should ask their own husbands at home; for it is disgraceful for a woman to speak in the church.
Men are instructed not to marry a divorced woman, as this would be adultery (Luke 16:18); apparently divorced women are meant to be alone until death.
EXECUTION FOR NONVIOLENT CRIMES
Laws given by God dictated non-virgins, children, homosexuals, non-believers, and others be stoned to death, an excruciatingly painful death compared to alternatives (see Would a God of Love Order a Stoning?).
If you rebel as a youth against your parents and do not repent you must die (Deut. 21:18-21), if you curse your parents you must die (Lev. 20:9), if you commit adultery you must die (Lev. 20:10). At least if you sleep with a woman on her period you get to be exiled (Lev. 20:18).
A woman found on her wedding night to not be a virgin must die (Deut. 22:20-21).
If you are a psychic or a sorcerer you must be stoned to death (Lev. 20:27), if a priest’s daughter is a prostitute she must be burnt to death (Lev. 21:9), if your son gives false prophesy you must kill him (Zechariah 13:2-3), if you are deformed, blind, disabled, scabbed, a dwarf, have crushed testicles, broken limbs, or a flat nose you cannot go to the altar of God (Lev. 21:17-18); if you go too close to the Tabernacle you must die (Num. 1:48-51), and if you speak against these laws of God you must die (Deut. 13:5).
If your family tries to worship another god you must kill them (Deut. 13:6-10, 2 Chronicles 15:13); if you come upon a city that worships another god you must kill all the inhabitants (Deut. 13:12-15); you must kill anyone of a different faith in your own city (Deut. 17:2-7), and kill those who disrespect priests and judges (Deut. 17:12); if a girl is raped she must marry her rapist (Deut. 22:28-29), if you commit a homosexual act you will be put to death (Lev. 20:13), and if you work on the Sabbath you must die (Exodus 31:12-15).
One man made the mistake of picking up sticks on the Sabbath; he was executed (Numbers 15:32-36).
The Hebrews declared pregnant Samarian women must be “ripped open” and children “dashed” on the ground for disobeying God (Hosea 13:16, NIV). Coincidentally, a psalmist declared that exact action, dashing children on rocks, will make a person “happy” (Psalm 137:9). The author of Hosea prays for enemies to have “wombs that miscarry,” and God promises to “slay their cherished offspring” (9:11-16).
Women suspected of adultery were forced to drink a “holy water” that God would use to “make your womb miscarry” — in other words, abortion (Numbers 5:11-23).
Then there’s slavery. Paul told slaves to “obey your earthly masters in everything; and do it, not only when their eye is on you and to win their favor, but with sincerity of heart and reverence for the Lord.” That’s Colossians 3:22.
Verses upholding and outlining the rules of slave ownership can be found in Exodus 21. They are given directly by God (he begins speaking in Exodus 20:22 and continues throughout chapter 21). Exodus 21 verses 4 and 5 state children born to a man while enslaved will be the master’s property even after the man is freed (same with the wife), and if he wants to stay with his children he must become a slave for life.
When a man strikes his male or female slave with a rod so hard that the slave dies under his hand, he shall be punished. If, however, the slave survives for a day or two, he is not to be punished, since the slave is his own property. (Exodus 21:20-21)
Exodus 21:7-11 allows a man to sell his daughter into slavery, and, according to scholars, implies she will be a sex slave to her new master. The master can also give her to his son as a wife. Sarah gave her husband Abraham her slave-girl Hagar as a wife, forcing Hagar to let Abraham have sex with her and impregnate her (Genesis 16:1-4). When Hagar ran away after Sarah punished her for being haughty, the angel of the Lord tracked her down and told her to return to Sarah and submit to her (Genesis 16:9).
A thief can be sold into slavery as punishment (Exodus 22:3-4).
For a Hebrew man, one advantage of getting married was you got your bride’s slaves. Leviticus 25:44-46 says, “You may buy male and female slaves from among the nations that are round about you…you may bequeath them to your sons after you, to inherit as a possession forever.” Some translations (KJV, NLT, etc.) of 25:45 say children can be bought and sold too. But verse 46 cautions only foreigners should be treated this way, not the people of Israel, yet Exodus 21:2 makes clear Hebrews can enslave other Hebrews. In Deuteronomy 21:10-14, it is decreed that Israeli soldiers can take home beautiful women captured in war — and even though she is being taken by force, “you must not sell or treat her as a slave”! Conquered people will be subject to “forced labor” (Deuteronomy 20:10-14).
“Slaves, obey your earthly masters with respect and fear, and with sincerity of heart, just as you would obey Christ,” says Ephesians 6:5.
1 Peter 2:18 commands: “Slaves, in reverent fear of God submit yourselves to your masters, not only to those who are good and considerate, but also to those who are harsh.” 1 Timothy 6:1-2 declares:
All who are under the yoke of slavery should consider their masters worthy of full respect, so that God’s name and our teaching may not be slandered. Those who have believing masters should not show them disrespect just because they are fellow believers. Instead, they should serve them even better because their masters are dear to them as fellow believers and are devoted to the welfare of their slaves.
Titus 2:9-10 declares slaves should be “subject to their own masters in everything.” No escaping to freedom, no revolution for liberty.
In Luke 12:47-48, Jesus uses the “lashing” and “flogging” of a “slave” (NASB language) to make a point in one of his parables.
Why doesn’t the Bible simply ban slavery? Why didn’t Jesus? Would that not be most ethical? Perhaps because the Bible was concocted by pro-slavery men, in a culture and time when slavery was common.
WAR, CONQUEST, GENOCIDE, AND HUMAN SACRIFICE
God orders all these things.
The Israelites return from Egypt, and God commands them to “destroy” entire peoples in Canaan (Deut. 7:1-2 and 20:16-18; in the former he commands “no mercy,” in the latter, “do not leave alive anything that breathes”). He orders the same in 1 Samuel 15:3 (“put to death men and women, children and infants”) and includes instructions to also kill oxen, camels, sheep, and donkeys. “Slay utterly old and young,” showing no pity, God commands in Ezekiel 9:4-6, “both maids, and little children, and women.” “Utterly destroy,” he instructs in Jeremiah 50:21. Innocent people from city-state after city-state were slaughtered as Israel stole land and plundered, according to these tales anyway. This is genocide.
In Jeremiah 51:20-26, God promises to use the Hebrew armies to kill old men, women, and children. He promises “no mercy on helpless babies,” the rape of wives, and the murder of captives in enemy cities (Isaiah 13:15-18).
Only trees should be shown mercy: “When you lay siege to a city for a long time, fighting against it to capture it, do not destroy its trees by putting an ax to them, because you can eat their fruit. Do not cut them down. Are the trees people, that you should besiege them?” (Deut. 20:16-19). But for people? “Do not leave alive anything that breathes” (Deut. 20:16). This war god says he will “make my arrows drunk with blood, while my sword devours flesh” (Deut. 32:39-43).
Even when women and children are spared, men are not:
As you approach a town to attack it, first offer its people terms for peace. If they accept your terms and open the gates to you, then all the people inside will serve you in forced labor. But if they refuse to make peace and prepare to fight, you must attack the town. When the LORD your God hands it over to you, kill every man in the town. But you may keep for yourselves all the women, children, livestock, and other plunder. You may enjoy the spoils of your enemies that the LORD your God has given you. (Deuteronomy 20:10-14)
When a few Benjamites (one of the 12 tribes of Israel) rape and kill a Levite’s concubine, God orders the other 11 tribes to attack the Benjamites. Tens of thousands on both sides die (Judges 20). This is just one example of God punishing the many for the sins of the few. You will see more below.
God vows to “stir up” Jerusalem’s enemies: “They will cut off your noses and your ears, and those of you who are left will fall by the sword. They will take away your sons and daughters, and those of you who are left will be consumed by fire” (Ezekiel 23:22-25).
Even when it does not specifically state God ordered a mass murder, he does nothing to stop it.
David sacrificed 7 descendants of Saul to appease another tribe (2 Samuel 21:1-14). In Judges 21:10-24, Hebrew soldiers were sent to Jabesh-gilead to “destroy all the males and every woman who is not a virgin.” They rounded up and captured 400 virgins, later kidnapping more.
Joshua fought the battle of Jericho and the walls came tumbling down, then Joshua killed every man, woman, child, and animal inside (Joshua 6:21). He does it many more times in Joshua 7-11.
When Moses discovers his people worshipping the Golden Calf, he orders priests to take up swords, and they kill 3,000 people; God allows it and then joins in, sending a plague on the survivors (Exodus 32). He kills nearly 15,000 of his chosen people by plague in Numbers 16:42-49.
Human sacrifice was a part of Hebrew culture (Lev. 27:28-29). In Judges 11, Jephthah’s faith is put to the test when he promises to God to sacrifice the first person he sees after returning home from a big battle. That turns out to be his daughter. Jephthah is willing to go through with it (painfully obvious by the end of the story), but God doesn’t spare his innocent daughter, as he did Abraham’s son Isaac. She is burnt alive.
But how traumatizing for a boy like Isaac, as well, to think your father is going to kill you! And to live with that memory forever. In Genesis 22, God decides to “test” Abraham, and orders the human sacrifice, which Abraham is willing to do (how traumatizing for him, too, being forced to kill his own child). An omniscient god wouldn’t need to test anyone. He would know what Abraham would do. Perhaps it’s all for Abraham and Isaac’s benefit. What sort of being puts people through such things?
GOD LYING TO, KILLING, HUMILIATING, AND SELLING PEOPLE
Of course, God’s hands are directly responsible for slaughter, to fill humans with “horror” (Ezekiel 20:25-26). Fire from heaven destroys entire cities like Sodom and Gomorrah, children and all. A flood destroys nearly the entire human race (God, all-knowing, creates mankind knowing he will soon destroy it, as with all his other killings). God sends plagues during which Jerusalem’s enemies’ “flesh will rot while they stand on their feet, and their eyes will rot in their sockets, and their tongue will rot in their mouth” (Zechariah 14:12). God smites humans with “fever,” “burning,” “tumors,” “madness,” “blindness,” “boils,” and so on (Deut. 28:15-68), and even crushes them with rocks from heaven (Joshua 10:8-11). Estimates of the death toll in this text are in the millions.
Many Jews and Christians have few qualms about this because the victims were supposedly warned to shape up for years or even centuries before judgement arrived, or ignored the obvious power of God demonstrated to them by prophets. Even killing the children was justified: “You can’t leave them trapped in such a sinful place. They’ll grow up to be wicked. Killing them is an act of mercy!” So it’s all permissible, even with more moral alternatives available: God using his power to simply move enemies to another spot on the planet, the Hebrews raising infants as their own instead of slaughtering them, and so forth. Any justification for why God wouldn’t choose a more moral option is undermined by his omnipotence. “The Hebrews adopting child would have led to overpopulation or the corruption of the Jewish culture and faith!” God could have made this not so. This applies to everything else God orders or does as well. He doesn’t have to engage in oppression, pain, and death for this or that, he chooses to. (Why must nonbelievers be tortured for eternity in Hell? Why not a year for every year they lived on Earth, followed by the relief of execution? Why not for a week? Aren’t those more moral options? Isn’t skipping the torture and just snuffing sinners out of existence more moral still?) Because of God’s omnipotence, because he had alternatives on the table that would have done less harm, God is immoral.
On a related note, it does seem difficult to justify calling one faith the only way to God (John 14:6 is cited often) and calling God a moral being. The philosopher Daniel Dennett reminded us that no matter what religion you belong to, the vast majority of humanity doesn’t share your beliefs. Two billion people may belong to Christianity, but nearly six billion do not. Same with Islam. Most humans will be born, live, and die without accepting or even hearing about the “one true religion,” whichever that is — and a higher power that would torture or even mildly punish people for that can hardly be called “good.”
It might also be said that God is an immoral being because he allows innumerable horrible things — rape, disease, starvation, murder — to occur day to day. (Generally, good things that happen to us are “God’s will,” bad things are simply allowed.) Can a divine being truly be good if it just sits by and watches, all while having the power to end such things? At the least, such a god seems less moral than a being that wouldn’t allow trauma, pain, and death on an unimaginable scale. Standard responses about free will and punishment for Adam and Eve’s original sin don’t seem to change this fact. Further, those responses are undermined when one considers miracles. See, God at times does interfere with free will and humanity’s eternal punishment. Can a being truly be good if it prevents some horrific things from happening to some people but not other horrific things from happening to others? A god that interfered in all circumstances for all people sounds more moral than one that is selective, letting some innocent people get tortured or paralyzed in car accidents or killed in the gas chambers of concentration camps. Further, the awful justification that “all terrible things are used by God for good” clearly doesn’t help. God is an omnipotent being. So the Holocaust or a child being raped will somehow bring about Good Thing X…but we know that an all-powerful deity could have brought about Good Thing X without such horrific events! A being that chooses the former path instead of the latter one is not moral — or at least is less moral than a being that would take the latter. Moving on.
This god frequently destroys innocent people for the crimes of others. An angel kills the innocent first-born of Egypt (and their livestock!) because of the pride of one political ruler; he even killed the first-born of Egyptian slave girls (Exodus 11:4-6, 12:29).
“I am about to unsheath my sword to destroy your people—the righteous and the wicked alike,” God tells Israel in Ezekiel 21:3-5.
All humanity is punished for the mistake of the first two humans. All women were given painful childbirth for Eve’s sin (Genesis 3:16-18), and God promises to punish generations of descendants for those who worship other gods (Exodus 20:3-5). He believes in “visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children, and upon the children’s children, unto the third and to the fourth generation” (Exodus 24:6-7, in the 10 Commandments). “I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God,” he says in Deuteronomy 5:8-9, “punishing the children for the sin of the parents to the third and fourth generation.” He promises to kill the children of sinners (Leviticus 26:21-22). All this is repeated in Exodus 34:6-7, Numbers 14:18, 1 Kings 21:28-29, Isaiah 14:21, Jeremiah 29:31-32 and 31:18, and elsewhere.
God visits a plague that kills 24,000 Israelites because a few people slept with Midianites, who worshipped Baal (Numbers 25:1-9). God doesn’t call off the plague until Phinehas commits murder (Num. 25:9). Saul killed Gibeonites during his reign, so God inflicted a three-year famine during David’s reign (2 Samuel 21:1). When David takes a census (apparently a grave sin), God sends a prophet to let David choose between three punishments; a plague kills 70,000 people (2 Samuel 24:10-17, also 1 Chronicles 21:8-14). But “what have they done?” David laments.
5 farmers looked inside the Ark of the Lord, and God killed either 70 or 50,000 people to get even (1 Samuel 6; translations differ). David sinned, so God killed his child via illness (2 Samuel 12:13-18). God also murdered Jeroboam’s son for Jeroboam’s wickedness (1 Kings 14:9-12). The households of Korah and his followers, who challenged Moses’ authority, were eaten up by the earth (Numbers 16:1-35). During the slaughter of the End Times, Jesus will destroy cities that ignored his miracles while he was on Earth (Matthew 11:20), even though all those foolish people are long gone. A “bastard shall not enter into the congregation of the Lord; even to his tenth generation” (Deut. 23:2)! God will not show love to children of adulterers (Hosea 2:4) — can they help who their mothers were? “The Lord had kept all the women in Abimelek’s household from conceiving because of Abraham’s wife Sarah” (Genesis 20:18).
It is also interesting that at times God hardens people’s hearts, making them less interested in letting the Hebrews live in freedom and peace. So God hardens Pharaoh’s heart (Exodus 7:3), Pharaoh refuses to free the Hebrews, and God gets to send plagues that cause mass torture and death. Wouldn’t a loving deity have softened Pharaoh’s heart, helping the Jews go free and saving Egyptians from pain? God specifically states that “I have hardened his heart and the heart of his officials in order that I may show these signs of mine among them” (Exodus 10:1-2). He wants to continue his horrors. Between Exodus 9:28 and 14:4, Pharaoh agrees to free the Hebrews four times, and four times God hardens his heart to make him change his mind! In Joshua 11:19-20, it’s revealed nearly all nearby cities refused to make peace with Israel, but “it was the Lord himself who hardened their hearts to wage war against Israel, so that he might destroy them totally, exterminating them without mercy…” In Deuteronomy 2:30-31, God likewise hardens the heart of King Sihon so the Israelites could conquer his kingdom.
God’s other crimes are even more disturbing. In 2 Kings 2:23-24, after a bunch of youths made fun of Elisha’s baldness, God sent bears to kill 42 of them. Job faces “evil that the Lord brought upon him” (Job 42:11). God allows his family to be massacred, his fortune to disappear, and his health to deteriorate (painful boils) all to win a bet with Satan that Job would stay faithful. God sends lions to kill non-believing Assyrians (2 Kings 17:25). When Onan didn’t listen to Judah and declined to impregnate Onan’s sister-in-law, instead spilling “the semen on the ground,” God was displeased and killed him (Genesis 38:8-10).
This deity burns people alive in Leviticus 10:1-3, Numbers 11:1-3, Joshua 7:15-26, 2 Kings 1:10-12, Numbers 16:35, and Psalm 78:59-63.
God admits to creating evil (Isaiah 45:7, KJV), speaking evil (Lamentations 3:38, KJV), dispatching an evil spirit (Judges 9:23-24, NASB), sending evil upon people (Jeremiah 11:11, ASV), sending poverty (1 Samuel 2:6-7), deceiving or misleading humans (Ezekiel 20:25-26, 2 Thess. 2:11-12) and even killing a person he deceived (Ezekiel 14:9), hating sinners not the sin (Malachi 1:2-4, Hosea 9:15), making people eat bread cooked over fires burning human poop (Ezekiel 4:12-13), and threatening to smear poop on people’s faces (Malachi 2:3)! God will “turn away from you” if you don’t “cover up your excrement” in your camp (Deuteronomy 23:12-14). Diarrhea is even a chosen curse in 2 Chronicles 21:14-15: “The Lord is going to strike your people, your sons, your wives and all your possessions with a great calamity; and you will suffer severe sickness, a disease of your bowels, until your bowels come out because of the sickness, day by day.” God afflicts people with “tumors” or “hemorrhoids” in 1 Samuel 5:6; translations differ.
When God tells a man to slap a prophet, and the man refuses violence, God sends a lion to kill him (1 Kings 20:35-36). A “man of God” was killed by a lion for eating and drinking at the wrong time and place, but an old prophet who lied to him went unpunished (1 Kings 13:16-24). God kills another for touching the Ark of God to ensure it didn’t fall (2 Samuel 6:3-7). When two people lied in the New Testament, they were struck dead (Acts 5:1-11). God vows to “send wild animals against you” to “rob you of your children” (Leviticus 26:21-22).
God even finds reason to “afflict sores on the heads of Zion’s women…and expose their private parts” (Isaiah 3:17, ISV; the original Hebrew word is “poth,” meaning vagina, literally “hinged opening”; see Godless by Dan Barker). In Exodus 20:26 (NIV), God warns, “Do not go up to my altar on steps, or your private parts may be exposed.” In Jeremiah 13:24-27 (MSG), God says, “I’m the one who will rip off your clothes, expose and shame you before the watching world.” He will strip the adulteress naked (Hosea 2:3). People “have been stripped and raped by invading armies” for their “many sins” (Jeremiah 13:22, MSG). God declares, “I will lift your skirts and show all the earth your nakedness and shame” (Nahum 3:5, NLT). “You will tear out your breasts,” God vows in Ezekiel 23:34 (NET).
Perhaps most horrifically, God himself threatens to bring calamity on David by giving his wives to other men to have sex with “in broad daylight” (2 Samuel 12:11-12). God vows to sinners that he will “give their wives to other men” (Jeremiah 8:9-10).
God even sees cause for cannibalism. When God is destroying people, it will be so terrible, “You will eat the flesh of your sons and the flesh of your daughters” (Lev. 26:29). Another time, during a siege, “…you will eat the fruit of the womb, the flesh of your sons and daughters the Lord has given you. Even the most gentle and sensitive man among you will have no compassion on his own brother or the wife he loves or his surviving children” (Deut. 28:47-57). He promises that “parents will eat their children, and children will eat their parents” in Ezekiel 5:8-10. God says he “will make your oppressors eat their own flesh” (Isaiah 49:26) at one point and “I will make them eat the flesh of their sons and daughters, and they will eat one another’s flesh because their enemies will press the siege so hard against them to destroy them” (Jeremiah 19:7-9) at another. Cannibalism by God’s design.
God intentionally gave or sold his people into slavery multiple times to punish them (Judges 3:8, 4:2-3, 6:1, 13:1). “I will sell your sons and daughters to the people of Judah, and they will sell them to the Sabeans, a nation far away,” God promises in Joel 3:8.
Jesus seems tolerant of beating slaves, castrating yourself (Matthew 19:12; implied in Matthew 5:29-30), or killing fig trees that won’t grow fruit out of season (Mark 11:13-14). In Revelation 2:18-23, Jesus threatens to kill the children of an adulteress in Thyatira. It was he who declared the man who marries a divorced woman is an adulterer (Luke 16:18). He also believes in thought crimes (Matthew 5:28). In Matthew 15:4-10, Jesus is upset that “human rules” have “nullified the word of God,” specifically, “Anyone who curses their mother or father is to be put to death.” He says the same in Mark 7:5-15. In Matthew 5:21-22, Jesus says anyone who calls his brother a “fool” is in danger of burning in Hell! More extreme punishment for nonviolent crimes. It is also interesting that in Mark 14 the disciples have more concern for the poor than Jesus does; the messiah waves off their idea of selling an expensive ointment and giving the profits to the poor in favor of allowing the ointment to be used on his own feet.
Jesus uses the same violent language seen in the Old Testament: “I tell you that to everyone who has, more shall be given, but from the one who does not have, even what he does have shall be taken away. But these enemies of mine, who did not want me to reign over them, bring them here and slay them in my presence.” He resorts to violence in John 2:15, driving moneylenders from the temple with a whip and overturning tables.
Jesus does not seem to mind killing animals, like the God of old (who, after killing nearly all animal life in the flood, thought Noah’s burnt animal offering had such a “pleasing odor” that he decides to never do it again; Genesis 8:20-21). In Mark 5:12-13, Jesus casts demons out of a person into pigs, who promptly kill themselves. One would think an all-powerful being could have accomplished his tasks without animal abuse.
For a text many believe to be the infallible Word of God, it seems to have man’s fingerprints all over it, his cruelty and ignorance.