What The Bible Really Says: Some Shocking Statements
Thomas Ash

Particularly relevant essays to this elsewhere on Big Issue Ground are 'A Few Bible Contradictions' and 'Interpreting the Bible Today: A modern liberal Christian interpretation of the Bible'

Introduction

The Bible is widely seen in Christianity as 'The Good Book', a source of holy truth, a guide to God and a foundation for our knowledge of what is right and wrong. Across the Western world, children are taught the Christian ethic, supposedly embodied in the phrase: "Love thy neighbour". Apparently rather selective in their loyalty to this principle, many Christians use the Bible to condemn those who do not respect its commands as immoral.

But how moral is the Bible itself? Did you know, for instance, that it condemns castrated men (who for most of Christian history would have been castrated, while children, by the Church itself) to an eternity in fiery hell. Most people's reaction, when faced with this fact, is to say 'Oh - the Bible doesn't really say that...'

But it does. You can see for yourself, in the list here, that the Bible emphatically, literally, says that all women are inferior to men, that homosexuals and even effeminate men will be sent to hell, that God has killed thousands of innocent people at a whim, and - a personal favourite - that all non-Jews will go to hell. Where, you have to ask, does that leave Christians who take a fundamentalist perspective and believe in the Bible as literal truth? Sorry Pat Robertson, you're going to hell! I don't believe this of course. But the point is that, as a self-proclaimed fundamentalist, he must. Of course, most Christians, even if they say they believe in Biblical inerrancy, choose to ignore the hard passages, mainly because they are good and decent people who find rape and murder repugnant. This sort of pick-and-mix religion involves a deep inconsistency, however, as it holds the Bible to an external moral standard which Christianity does not necessarily permit.

You can see all these utterly shocking quotes below. Look them up for yourself... (But bear in mind that most of the quotes given here come from the old King James Bible, or else from a source as close as possible to the original manuscripts, like the New Jerusalem Bible. Some lily-livered modern translations ditch some of the more outrageous language, subsituting "servants" for "slaves" and so on, so your Bible may not match what I quote.)

Far from being the all-loving religion that many - who clearly haven't read their Bibles - claim, the morality that Christianity presents is in fact primitive and abhorrent.

To sum up, while my essay 'A Few Bible Contradictions' shows that having complete and utter faith in the truth of the Bible - the book brandished as Ultimate Truth by many - is, to be brutal, stupid (or at least intellectually lazy), these quotations show that it is something much worse: dangerous. See for yourself...

From the Bible...

"Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Be not deceived: neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind ... nor extortioners, shall inherit the kingdom of God." 1 Corinthians 6:9-10

"[The Jews] both killed the Lord Jesus, and their own prophets,and have persecuted us; and they please not God, and are contrary to all men." 1 Thessalonians 2:15

"Stone disobedient children" (Deuteronomy 21:18-21)

1 Timothy 2:15 says only women who have children will be spared hell

Men are worth more than women - Leviticus 27:1-7 actually provides dollar comparisons!

"Whosoever he be of thy seed in their generations that hath any blemish, let him not approach to offer the bread of his God. For whatsoever man he be that hath a blemish, he shall not approach: a blind man, or a lame, or he that hath a flat nose, or any thing superfluous, Or a man that is brokenfooted [sic] , brokenhanded [sic], Or crookbackt [sic], or a dwarf, or that hath a blemish in his eye, or be scurvy, or scabbed, or hath his stones broken; No man that hath a blemish of the seed of Aaron the priest shall come nigh to offer the offerings of the Lord made by fire: he hath a blemish; he shall not come nigh to offer the bread of his God." (Leviticus 21:17-21)

Men aren't allowed to trim their beards or shave their heads (Leviticus 21:5)

Wearing clothes intended for the opposite sex is forbidden (presumably making today's unisex clothing 'abonimable'):

"The woman shall not wear that which pertaineth unto a man, neither shall a man put on a woman's garment: for all that do so are abomination unto the Lord thy God" (Deuteronomy 22:5)

Clothing made of more than one type of fabric (e.g. nylon stockings) fare no better:

"Ye shall keep my statutes. Thou shalt not let thy cattle gender with a diverse kind: thou shalt not sow thy field with mingled seed: neither shall a garment mingled of linen and woollen come upon thee" (Leviticus 19:19).

The Bible says that the sole reason God created women in the first place was to provide company and service to men (1 Corinthians 11:9)

Matthew 13:10-14 suggests that Jesus doesn't want everyone to understand what he's saying, so he speaks in parables to his disciples and most of the rest will go to hell.

"When thou goest forth to war against thine enemies, and the Lord thy God hath delivered them into thine hands, and thou hast taken them captive, and seeth among the captives a beautiful woman, and hast a desire unto her, that thou wouldest have her to thy wife; then thou shalt bring her home to thine house; and she shall shave her head, and pare her nails; and she shall put the raiment of her captivity from off her, and remain in thine house . . . And it shall be, if thou have no delight in her, then thou shalt let her go whither she will; but thou shalt not sell her at all for money, thou shalt not make merchandise of her, because thou hast humbled her" (Deuteronomy 21:10-14)

"If a man also lieth with mankind, as he lieth with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination; they shall surely be put to death; their blood shall be upon them" (Leviticus 20:13)

Prostitution is punished by burning the woman alive according to Leviticus 21:9

Leviticus 25:44 tells Jews to enslave surrounding tribes

"And if a man smite his servant, or his maid, with a rod, and he die under his hand; he shall be surely punished. Notwithstanding, if he continue a day or two, he shall not be punished: for he is his money" (Exodus 21:20-21).

Exodus 21:7-10 says men can sell their daughters into slavery

Jews, Moslems, Hindus, Buddhists and everyone else who is not Christian will all go to hell "He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God" (John 3:18)

"Censuses are immoral - and God killed 70,000 innocent counted Jews to punish David for counting them... "And Satan stood up against Israel, and provoked David to number Israel, And David said to Joab and to the rulers of the people, Go, number Israel from Beersheba even to Dan; and bring the number of them to me, that I may know it. . . . And God was displeased with this thing; therefore he smote Israel. . . . So the Lord sent pestilence upon Israel: and there fell of Israel seventy thousand men" (1 Chronicles 21:1-14).

God killed every living thing in Soddom and Gomorrah for engaging homosexual acts in Genesis 19:24-25

Sexual immorality merits an eternity in flames, according to Jude 1:7

From the Bible... but not as bad as they seem

Not all the quotes from the Bible which circulate around the internet are quite as terrible as they seem. Some are at least arguably taken out of context. This is not true of most of the above, as I've checked their context and sometimes even consulted multiple translations. But if you can provide good reason for thinking that a less than unequivocally shocking quotation has slipped through the net, let me know so that I can move it down here.

One misunderstanding you hear repeated again and again is that, according to Revelation, only 144,000 people will go to heaven. Revelation 7:4-8 does indeed say that 144,000 Jews - 12,000 from each of the twelve tribes - will be saved. But one verse later we hear that there will also be "a huge number, impossible for anyone to count, of people from every nation, race, tribe and language".

Another example is the following injunction:

"If a man come to me, and hate not his father, and mother, and wife, and children, and brethren, and sisters, yea, and his own life also he cannot be my disciple" (Jesus in Luke 14:26)

This was plausibly intended to apply only when loved ones were holding someone back from giving their lives to God. In that case, 'hate' might not requiring wishing or bringing harm on the loved one in question, so much as turning your back on them - in Hebrew, 'hate' could sometimes signal this sort of total detachment. I'll leave it to the reader to decide whether this privileging of ideology over family is a good thing.

© 2001

About the author...
Thomas Ash is the webmaster of Big Issue Ground and Atheist Ground. He is a graduate student studying philosophy at Merton College in the University of Oxford. He received his BA in the subject from the University of Cambridge, where he was president of the University Atheist and Agnostic Society. As you may have guessed, he is an atheist - a positive one in fact. More information can be found here.

Feedback on the site, or on this essay, is always welcome. If it's complimentary, you may also want to put it in the Guestbook, for all to see!

 

Essays on related topics...

Christianity
 Title Author
Interpreting the Bible today: A modern liberal Christian interpretation of the Bible Kenneth Cauthen
Homosexuality and Religion Kenneth Cauthen
Christianity and Ecology Kenneth Cauthen
Christian Ethics and Civilization Kenneth Cauthen
Science And Theology Kenneth Cauthen
Modern Doctrines of God Kenneth Cauthen
Bio-Ethics In Christianity Kenneth Cauthen
Is The Bible Conservative? Steve Kangas [off site]
The Bible Doesn't Forbid Abortion Steve Kangas [off site]
The Reliability of the Gospels Timothy Minich

 

Criticisms of Christianity

 Title Author
A God of Suspect Praise Kevin Archer
Is The Bible God's Word? Muhammed Asadi
The Koran And The Bible: Is Jesus God? Muhammed Asadi
Islam and Christianity Muhammed Asadi
Paul And The Invention Of Christianity Muhammed Asadi
A Few Bible Contradictions Thomas Ash
What The Bible Really Says: Some Shocking Statements Thomas Ash
Bonhoeffer and the German Churches' Response to Nazism Thomas Ash
What's So Bad About The Ten Commandments Thomas Ash
Why Jesus? Dan Barker [off site]
Did Jesus Really Rise From The Dead? Dan Barker vs Michael Horner [off site]
Biblical Atrocities Steve Kangas [off site]
The Case Against Creation Science Steve Kangas [off site]
The Origins Of Biblical Morality Steve Kangas [off site]
Liberal Reasons Not To Celebrate Christmas Steve Kangas [off site]
Is Christianity Absurd? Michael Martin [off site]
Problems With Heaven Michael Martin [off site]
Atheism, Christian Theism and Rape Michael Martin [off site]
The Uniqueness Of The Bible Farrell Till [off site]

Atheism
Title Author
Is Morality Linked To Religion? Thomas Ash
Evangelical Atheism: Leading Believers Astray Dan Barker [off site]
What Is A Freethinker? Dan Barker [off site]
Is Science A Religion? Richard Dawkins [off site]
Could We Survive Our Own Deaths? Anthony Flew [off site]
The Presumption of Atheism Anthony Flew [off site]
Theology and Falsification Anthony Flew [off site]
Friendly Atheism? Michael Martin [off site]
Atheism, Christian Theism and Rape Michael Martin [off site]
Religion And Religious Belief Kevin Saldanha


Number of unique visits to Big Issue Ground so far...