As a society we have normalized the bible. We know many “good christians,” or assume that the faith is all about love. “God loves us,” we’re told, and we accept it. Yet the bigot christian, the racist christian, the intolerant christian or the politicalized christian seems in stark contrast to these ideals. Each side of this spectrum (from the loving to the hateful) sources their ideals from the very same book.
I’m not hateful of christians. In fact I used to be one. Raised in the home of a minister, I really was a believer for many years. Even when I left the faith for other religions, I still held a warmth towards the faith. Time changed me. I began to re-evaluate my christian upbringing. I saw the inherent racism, bigotry and animosity within the churches. I saw the established political machine and the slavelike minds that simply obeyed the leadership.
In time I came to find some serious faults with the bible. In 2019, I burned the first bible I was given. I let go of the filter and the control it had over my life.
For those who don’t yet understand the problems in the bible, I will relay some highlights below:
In my article “Biblical Abuses of Women,” I read through a wide range of scripture (from the old and new testaments), which detail abuses done to women. These abuses are done in the name of god, or in the law of god.
Equally concerning are the verses in the bible pertaining to actions of violence, which I describe in my article, “Biblical Violence.”
Throughout the bible is a normalization of slavery. Sometimes it’s painted in themes of negativity, but the portrayal comes off as a “fact of life.” Slavery becomes the very goal of the believer. Even Paul addresses it. Wives should treat husbands, says Paul, as men treat their savior. Paul’s spiritual pyramid puts women below men, as men are below god.
Even more direct, Paul addresses women and calls them to be silent, obedient, never in authority over a man and most of all, to remain submissive to men.
Beyond gender dynamics, Paul addresses slavery directly, demanding slaves to obey their earthly masters. I address this in my article, “Biblical Slavery.”
Christian apologists will come up with a variety of counters to these terrible passages. They may throw it off as “the stuff of the ‘old testament.'” That doesn’t really hold water, when writings of Paul are sourced from the New Testament.
Other arguments will point to the fact that many christians are “good people.” This, some say, is evidence of the effectiveness of the faith. I disagree. I think “good people” can be found in many groups, irregardless of the content of their belief systems. People pull out of the bible, what they have inside themselves. There are verses in the bible to defend hatred, or love, the individual resonates with what they really are.
Another argument to the vile passages on god allowed rape and murder, is that those passages are not the teachings of Jesus. We should focus on the positive, they say, focus on the teachings of Jesus. It’s like saying, “you know this is a pie made out of cow dung, but there’s a cherry in the center. If you dig in deep, clean it off, it’s really delicious.” This is the so-called “red letter” argument (referencing specific bible translations that print the words of Jesus in red).
The problem with this argument, is that it neglects to understand the scope of Jesus, vs the bible as a whole. The bible has over 800,000 words in it, and of that Jesus is attributed to roughly 1024 words. That puts the message of Jesus at around 0.13% of the entirety of the bible. That’s a fraction of a percent of the overall bible.
Not to mention that the bible describes god, as the same god in the old testament that exists today. The only change, for the christian, is the sacrifice of Jesus (they believe he died for their sins).
In the end, how can anyone have certainty over a book that can be interpreted as hateful, or loving? As demanding the blood of innocents, or forgiving our enemies? At one time it says we should feed the hungry and at another time it says if a man doesn’t work, neither should he eat. The entire book is contradictory, and allows for massive amounts of cherry picking. Every christian frames a belief that is made from cherry picked verses. The KKK christian cherry picks Paul’s assessment of slaves, along with the harshness of the old testament. Whereas the liberal christian cherry picks a doctrine of forgiveness. If a book can be this varied, to cater to the whims of evil or good, then where is the value?