Sunday, 17 September 2017

Sunday School: Let’s look at Biblical morality

And there’s more, much more, where that came from!

As they say, if you’re a Christian who reviles misogyny, prejudice, rape child abuse and slavery then it clearly means you are not getting your morality from the Bible (and thank goodness for that). It means you’re getting the better part of your nature from somewhere much more wholesome.

So if you don’t get those ethics from that book, why on this green earth would you take any at all?


  1. "why on this green earth would you take any at all."

    Because Jesus rose from the dead. Beat that number.

  2. So you're saying "Jesus-rose-from-the-dead" => eating port, eating shellfish, homosexuality, wearing clothes of mixed fabric & shaving = evil.


    Yet =/= slavery, rape, child abuse, prejudice & misogny.


    Could you show us that complete causal connection?

  3. Yep. Read Mark:7. 14-23 and Romans:14 for an update

    1. I'd asked you to show all your working, but never mind.

      So your man reckons that eating burgers might be okay, just as long as it offendeth nobody. (And not sure what that has to do with a man being rescued from a tomb.)

      But you're still silent on homosexuality, wearing clothes of mixed fabric, shaving, slavery, rape, child abuse, prejudice & misogny.

      Which are not insignificant issues.

      And which (fortunately) most of us judge by a standard *other* than that tone to be gleaned from an 18-century old book of sayings.

  4. There is a reason why Christians don't hunt you down and kill you for blasphemy, Peter. It is because the New Covenant (that says Jesus procured our salvation rather than us earning it) superceeds the Old Covenant (that says you have to be part of a special people, Israel, and follow all the laws.) Stuff like not eating pork, not shaving or stoning homosexuals to death have all been done away with in the light of a free salvation offered by Jesus.

    Of course, you try to make out that Christians find slavery and rape acceptable - except that, if you knew the context of ancient history, you would realize that the laws surrounding these moderated the barbaric practices involve I'd slavery and the rape of female slaves. They forced the fledgling nation of Israel to treat slaves with dignity and respect. Female slaves who had been raped were offered either to be treated as wives or to be freed - an enormous change in custom for that era.

    You charge the OT with child abuse, which is absurd. The "rod of discipline" in the verse you quoted is a symbol of a father's authority, not something to beat a child with.

    The verse you cite for prejudice admonishes Christians to have no relationships with false teachers, not heathens. In fact, Christians were renown for their hospitality, turning away no-one, not even the poor and the homeless.

    Finally, we turn to the hoary old myth that Christians practice misogyny. Aside from the fact that, again, the New Testament assigned a higher value to women than any culture known to man at the time, the verse you are quoting applies the elders (spiritual leaders) in the church only. It does not stop women from preaching, teaching or holding any other office. Indeed, Women in the NT were very prominent and were often the driving force behind new church formations. I won't go into the reasons why eldership was a male preserve but it has to do with Authority and order and does NOT reflect on the value of women.

    1. Mac, sorry, I had to do several double takes at that...

      It does not stop women from preaching ??? Yes, yes it does. Females are barred from preaching in catholic and most major protestant denominations. Even in the baptist (and few Presbyterian) churches that they are not barred, they have not been around for more than maybe 100 years. That's 1900 years of Christians stopping women from preaching.

      you try to make out that Christians find slavery ... acceptable Once again, yes they do. Slavery was acceptable for 1800 years after Christ, all through the height of Christian power. Only once the church's power was diminished by a secular enlightenment was slavery abolished.

      ...and rape... rape inside marriage wasn't even a crime until well inside our lifetimes. Sex is, after all, the woman's duty and the mans right, as per the "good book" (as I assume you call it)

      Of course, you are correct on the child abuse thing, and I have to agree that Peter needs to be corrected. The OT condoned infanticide and child murder, but not abuse per se. So it's fine if you beat them, as long as you kill them. Preferably by stoning, or dashing their heads against rocks (or if you have a bear wandering around...). Just tell anyone who asks that they disrespected you.

    2. Female teachers have been around since NT times (Acts 18:26) and I don't know of a single Protestant denomination that bans them. Catholics are weird and do not follow biblical teaching in the regard.

      The prime movers behind the abolition of slavery were all Christians and the Church had been speaking out strongly against slavery for several hundred years prior to that. there is no support for slavery in the New Testament and little in the Old.

      There is no sanction in the NT for spousal abuse of any form, instead Christians man are told "husbands love your wives as Christ loved the Church" (i.e. Sacrificially, taking no thought for yourself). Christians opposed the marriage bill simply because it was an unwarranted intrusion into the family. I have heard of no-one convicted under this law and am doubtful of its utility. To be clear, no Christian approves of rape, in or out of marriage, but passage of this bill has encouraged further state intrusions into the family, as expected.

      Nowhere in the Bible does it condone infanticide and child murder - it is expressly banned. If you are talking about the imprecatory psalms, then those are simply an expression of anger and horror at the evils done to Israel (which includes barbaric child slaughter). They are not portrayed as an ideal reaction, merely as a real one. There are some pretty horrible things going on in the OT. None of them are presented as something for Christians to emulate.

    3. When did we go from preaching to teaching. Stick to the point.

      Some light reading:
      As I stated, all churches that allow female preachers only allowed it in the last 100 years (with the exception of American Presbyterians, which allowed it a mere 1870 years after Christ)

      You're right, the OT does not condone child murder. It straight up commands it:

      Leviticus 20:9 - For every one that curseth his father or his mother shall be surely put to death: he hath cursed his father or his mother; his blood [shall be] upon him.

      Deuteronomy 21:18-21
      18 If a man have a stubborn and rebellious son, which will not obey the voice of his father, or the voice of his mother, and [that], when they have chastened him, will not hearken unto them:
      19 Then shall his father and his mother lay hold on him, and bring him out unto the elders of his city, and unto the gate of his place;
      20 And they shall say unto the elders of his city, This our son [is] stubborn and rebellious, he will not obey our voice; [he is] a glutton, and a drunkard.
      21 And all the men of his city shall stone him with stones, that he die: so shalt thou put evil away from among you; and all Israel shall hear, and fear.

      Support for slavery in the new testament you say?

      Ephesians 6:5
      Slaves, obey your earthly masters with fear and trembling, with a sincere heart, as you would Christ,

      This sentiment is repeated in every book written by Paul. I'm not going to list all the verses here.

      The most interesting thing about slavery in the NT is what it doesn't say: There is no command, from either Christ or Paul, instructing Christians to free their slaves.
      Now, admittedly, they were the slaves at the time it was written, but God in his infinite wisdom gave no instruction as to what they should do once the tables turned.
      It's almost as if the writer of the bible could not foresee a time when the church would hold power over others...

    4. MacDoctor, you said, "There is a reason why Christians don't hunt you down and kill you for blasphemy, Peter. It is because ... stuff like not eating pork, not shaving or stoning homosexuals to death have all been done away with in the light of a free salvation offered by Jesus."

      Crikey, so if your man said otherwise, you would have leapt to my throat wit a sharp knife? Really, is that all that's holding you back? Or do you perhaps have better standards already regardless of your holy book.

    5. MacDoctor, you say "there is no support for slavery in the New Testament and little in the Old…" and "There is no sanction in the NT for spousal abuse of any form..." and "Nowhere in the Bible does it condone infanticide and child murder - it is expressly banned…"

      Now, you and I both know that is untrue. (I can post you the links if you like.) But we can both agree that there are some pretty horrible things going on in the Old Testament. But while none of them (you say) are presented as something for Christians to emulate (not quite true, but there you go), an honest person would hardly overlook them, or give them to young folk for guidance and expect sanity to follow therefrom.

      And nor should that honest man overlook the nastiness in the New Testament, either. He should instead reflect that he *knows* that stuff is nasty, and he knows it by a standard he gets from *outside* his holy book.

      And thank goodness he does.

      But if he gets that honest standard from a place outside his holy book, why then does he need the book at all?

    6. Roedolf: Leviticus and Deuteronomy are, obviously, talking about ADULT children, not six-year olds, so it is absurd to construe this as child abuse. Likewise, it is a gross misinterpretation of the passages on Slavery to make out that these condone it. They merely recommend that slaves should remain where they are and serve their masters well, in exactly the same way that soldiers were admonished to continue as they were, but act in a fair and just manner and wives were commanded to stay with their unbelieving husbands. Christianity has always been an internal revolution rather than an external one. I particularly like the story of Philemon (Phil 1) who owned a slave called Onesimus. Onesimus ran away (a crime punished by death at the time). Both he and Philemon became Christians under the witness of Paul and Paul writes to Philemon asking if he will take Onesimus back as a son, rather than a slave. The Internal bring the external change, not the other way round.

    7. Peter: No, nothing that I have said is untrue, though I'm certain your own unique interpretation of Scripture will deny this. I am always fascinated by the "honest standard" that atheists like to postulate. Where do these come from? What makes your idea of what is good better than mine. There is no objective standard you can point to. Your idea of what is right and proper is no more valid than Gengis Kahn's, given that it is based solely on human opinion.

    8. Macdoctor, you say that nothing you say is untrue, but it hardly requires any kind of unique interpretation of your book to see otherwise.

      You say for example that nowhere in that book does it condone child murder. Yet the tale is told in that book that when the prophet Elisha was taunted by some small children for being an old bald head, he prayed to his god for help and he was sent in response a bear that ripped all 42 children to bits.

      Nice story, and there’s many more where that came from in similar vein refuting your claim. (I’ll post many more of them at the next Sunday School post this weekend.)

    9. Macdoctor, you say too that you have no idea what standard there might be on which to base objective values except, by implication, the imprecations of some bloke in the sky. “There is no objective standard you can point to,” you say. And I agree with you — if that is the only source for morality you know (some stone tablets written on by a bloke in the sky), then you’re quite right: you would have no idea that an actual this-worldly objective ethics were possible.

      It’s not directly relevant to the point that most people don’t get their ethics from the Bible, but what if I were to tell you that there is indeed an objective standard on which to base values that makes that bogus book’s source irrelevant.

      The ethical standard by which all ethics should be judged is *life*. Human life: human life in all its many implications.

      Indeed, “It is only the concept of ‘Life’ that makes the concept of ‘Value’ possible. It is only to a living entity that things can be good or evil.”

      Or as another great thinker once said:
      "Life's too short to drink bad beer."

      In any case, all is explained right here -- or. at least, the beginning of such an explanation is made.

    10. Apologies, Macdoctor, I promised a post today (Sunday) showing your three claims above about what the Bible contains (or doesn't) to be totally untrue. But the scheduled post has disappeared, and the online draft is a much earlier version needing a substantial rewrite.
      So until I get a chance to do that, I invite you and other interested readers to take a look at the relevant sections of the online Skeptics Annotataed Bible (google it) which will tell you all you need about the holy book's attitude to slavery, to wives and women, and to infanticide (no, let's not 'Passover' that famous story either).

  5. Religion is like primitive voodoo just a load of bollocks.

  6. Macs been in and gone so >
    Pork, Shellfish, clothes. shaving, white girls as slaves , Misogyny if it suits, full on prejudice, questionable consent who asks, smacking bad children with weakest hand > all ticks > looks good do I pass?

  7. Material objective ethics don't exist as a ten minute conversation with a psychopath would tell you. Perfectly selfish and completely amoral. I've read a number of Rand's books and I find she overlooks the tendency for selfish people to be evil bastards. If you keep getting your moral value system from the material world, you will find the natural to be a crusl mistress. But I see we are not going to agree on this.

    A few observations on the rather curious story in 2kings 2. These are not little children, they are na'ar which means young men between 12 and 30. There are more than 42 of them (42 were mailed and some escaped) and they were insulting God's ordained representative with the equivalent of "F- you, grandpa". It is quite possible Elisha may have been is some danger from these young aggressive men. They were clearly making their rowdy mayhem right next to a couple of she-bears probably with young and paid the penalty. Note that the Bible does not say these young men were killed, only mauled and it is likely most of them got away with nasty claw marks to remind them that God is not mocked. It is still an odd story, granted, but it is not child abuse, nor is it a depiction of an excessively violent God as many Atheists try to make out.

  8. Macdoctor - Rand did not overlook “the tendency of selfish people to be evil bastards” rather she showed that being an evil bastard is not in anyone’s self interest. Her novels are chock full of evil bastards who may get what they seek in the short term, but end up defeated and pathetic in the long term. Those of us who have a rational understanding of what’s in our self interest know that when it comes to human interaction on any level, the best approach is to understand what’s also in their interests, and find a win-win outcome that you both benefit from. No sacrifice required, and no becoming a psychopath required. Surely human relationships built on positive win-win outcomes is superior to at least one of you having to lose?

    Rand also did not seek to get morality from the “material world” in the way you mean it, being the world excluding human thought. Man is part of nature too, and the key requirement of any rational morality is to have a good understanding of man’s way of functioning, and what he needs to flourish. Nature is only “a cruel mistress” when you exclude humans from nature. Like many religious people, you automatically assume the two are mutually exclusive, and so understandably see the only hope for morality lying in the supernatural. But there’s no reason to adopt that premise at the outset.


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