I wrote yesterday about religion-based bigotry versus the world of facts and I’m going to touch on that subject again today. It is important that we question the GOP closely on this issue since it’s one so important to them that they insist we all abide by it as well, regardless of our own religions beliefs (or lack thereof). Look at this headline from Right Wing Watch as an example of the recent rhetoric:
James Dobson takes to WorldNetDaily to blast Obama over his support for marriage equality: “I hope you live to regret ripping into the institution of marriage, which has been foundational to the social order of all nations.”
Leaving us some questions about this “institution of marriage” thing. Avaaz.org asked the other day, “What defines a real marriage?” The Republican Party spouts the fundamentalist Christian line that there is something called “traditional” marriage and they like to point at the Old Testament for proof. They like to claim that the “institution” of marriage is between one man and one woman. But their claim and the Old Testament do not line up – there is no “traditional marriage” in the Old Testament as the above graphic (from Upworthy and Unicorn Booty) demonstrates. As Avaaz.org points out, “they should probably stop relying on the Old Testament as backup.”
We see the same bizarre claims made in Republican opposition to abortion, that the Bible somehow backs them up, these God opposes the “slaughter of innocents” when in fact God readily, gleefully and repeatedly engages in the slaughter of not only men, but women, children, unborn children, and their animals. You will see blog after blog claiming that in every instance abortion is mentioned in the Old Testament that it is condemned but again and again abortion is carried out on orders from God and orders from Kings who serve God, as any person who actually bothers to read the Old Testament will see.
2 Kings 15:16: ”He [Menahem, king of Israel] sacked Tiphsah and ripped open all the pregnant women.” Menahem did here exactly what God himself does repeatedly in the Old Testament: he threw a hissy fit because Tiphsah refused to open its gates to him. Their punishment included mass abortions for the women of the city. The Bible does not condemn his actions. How could it? God orders this exact behavior time and again.
Genesis 38:24: Tamar is pregnant. This is found out only 3 months later, proof she had been bumping uglies with somebody. She is a widow. So since she is pregnant, she must be a prostitute, right? We know how this works out in right-wing morality. Her father-in-law orders her to be burned alive, which of course includes burning the fetus alive. Twin fetuses, in fact. No problems there. Toast the little suckers! Then this dirty old man finds out he is in fact the father and changes his mind about crisping them. There is no indication that the fetuses are people or that there is anything wrong morally with murdering them in the womb. Fundamentalists make a big deal about killing “innocent unborn babies” but the fetuses here as elsewhere obviously carry no guilt but are killed or sentenced to die anyway.
Numbers 5:12-31: As Ray Madeiros pointed out in here in March, it is perfectly permissible to put a curse on a woman – if the husband believes she has been adulterous – that will result in miscarriage in the event of her guilt.
Numbers 31:17-18: ”Now, kill all the boys. And kill every women who has slept with a man, but save for yourselves every girl who has never slept with a man.” Moses issues this order on behalf of his god while engaging in genocide against the Midianites.
We find the following examples of God’s love in Hosea:
Hosea 9:14: “Give them, O LORD: what wilt thou give? give them a miscarrying womb and dry breasts.”
Hosea 9:16: “Yea, though they bring forth, yet will I slay even the beloved fruit of their womb.”
Hosea 13:15-16: “I will have no compassion…the people of Samaria…will fall by the sword; their little ones will be dashes to the ground; their pregnant women ripped open.” It should be obvious here that God is not commanding across-the-board Caesarian sections for the pregnant women of Samaria. He is ordering their wholesale, violent forced abortions. He does not say he loves the “unborn babies” but that he has no compassion. He is killing innocent unborn fetuses because the adults turned away from him – in other words, a fit of anger at being dismissed. We would not think a human who did this was sane. And in fact, God did not like it when others did this exact same thing to his people, as shown in Amos 1:13: “I will not revoke the punishment because they have ripped up women with child in Gilead, that they might enlarge their borders.” Genocide was a way of life in the ancient Middle East and it was a game God played with the best of them.
A fetus wasn’t safe from God’s wrath even after it escaped the birth canal. In 2 Samuel 12:14 when God gets mad at mommies and daddies he sometimes kills their newborn babies: “Because by this deed thou hast given great occasion to the enemies of the LORD to blaspheme, the child also that is born unto thee shall surely die.”
God of the Old Testament cares nothing for human life. In fact, human life is less than nothing to him and his repeated and violent tantrums mark him as nothing less than a sociopath, ordering the raping, murdering, and enslaving innocent people, including fetuses. If he took human form, he would have to be arrested and put away for life; he would make Ted Bundy look like an amateur. These are the facts of the Old Testament.
Liberals and progressives must be armed and ready with the facts to dispute the false claims of gullible conservatives as they canvas for votes. Ask them to explain these various and conflicting types of “traditional” marriage. Demand that they cite for you the passage in the Old Testament where “traditional” marriage is defined. When they ask for your vote, whip out your chart (like that above) and ask them which of those forms of “traditional” marriage they’re asking you to support.
Ask them to explain and justify the various examples of God’s violent behavior toward women and unborn children. They will no doubt cite you their favorite passages; let them. Then ask them to explain the above passages to you. Print them out as a handy aid and reference guide. Point to the various biblical passages cited. If abortion is an abomination, why does God order it? Ask them how ripping out unborn babies is a sign of God’s love and opposition to abortion. Demand they justify their claims that God is pro-life.
It isn’t anti-Christian of us to ask these questions and to demand answers. We have a right, and if they wish this to be policy, they have an obligation to explain their reasoning every bit as much as if they were talking about taxation or jobs.
We know that the Bible – Old Testament and New – is full of contradictions, that it is an imperfect document written by imperfect humans over many centuries and often long after the incidents described. In this it is no different than the Iliad. But fundamentalist Christians believe it is the inerrant word of God and as such it can have no contradictions. But if this is so, how to explain side-by-side passages supposedly against and passages clearly for abortion? Unless somebody is lying about what God said, and that can’t be possible in a perfect Bible, how is it God is pro-abortion?
The simple truth is that if, as they claim, Republicans were really demanding that we return to God’s will per the Old Testament, the United States would become a pretty violent place and an international pariah, as you can see from these examples. It wouldn’t be gays being targeted but all men who shave their beards (Leviticus 19:27), for in God’s Old Testament eyes one is as much an abomination as the other. When was the last time you saw an unshaven, thickly-bearded Republican candidate pushing the Bible down your throat? Mitt? Rick? Newt? Ron?
No, not so much….
Fundamentalist Christians aren’t really demanding a return to the Old Testament but to what they think is the Old Testament, a sort of bastardized version of Jewish history to go along with their bastardized interpretation of more recent history. Their love of history as it should have been includes a fantasy Israel.
It is a vision born of ignorance, in most cases, willful ignorance. Nobody is forcing them to pretend they have read and understand the Bible. Most of what they think is in there is not and much of what they don’t think is in there, is. They don’t know this because they haven’t bothered to read the damn book and if they do, they will lie about it anyway because it has to say what they believe it says.
They don’t base their beliefs on the Bible but their beliefs are beliefs about the Bible, which is not at all the same thing. It is certainly for them a mark of shame that atheists, and Heathens like me, know their holy book better than they do themselves.
Hrafnkell Haraldsson, a social liberal with leanings toward centrist politics has degrees in history and philosophy. His interests include, besides history and philosophy, human rights issues, freedom of choice, religion, and the precarious dichotomy of freedom of speech and intolerance. He brings a slightly different perspective to his writing, being that he is neither a follower of an Abrahamic faith nor an atheist but a polytheist, a modern-day Heathen who follows the customs and traditions of his Norse ancestors. He maintains his own blog, A Heathen’s Day, which deals with Heathen and Pagan matters, and Mos Maiorum Foundation www.mosmaiorum.org, dedicated to ethnic religion. He has also contributed to NewsJunkiePost, GodsOwnParty and Pagan+Politics.