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Christians: Can you defend these verses of the Bible?

Discussion in 'Religion and Lighthearted Discussion' started by Disco Volante, Apr 26, 2008.

  1. Disco Volante

    Disco Volante Rookie

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    This is not an attempt at trolling - rather a curiosity on how Christians defend the following contradictory parts of their scripture, which were compiled in a essay I read online.

    Man is greater than woman - so much to the point she can't even speak amongst the other men? Slavery accepted? Innocent children not allowed into heaven? Quite frankly I find the text above me absolutely repulsing.

    Yet Christians say - we were all created equal?

    How does a Christian defend this? Again, not trolling – yet wanting to understand these views.
  2. fierce

    fierce Rookie

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    #87 Jersey

    Well let's see... Genesis, Leviticus, Exodus and Deuteronomy are all old Testament Hebrew books shared by Jews, Christians and Muslims. Basically 90% of the earths Religions. 1 Corinthians was written by a Jewish scholar who was using the "Scripture" (Old Testament) as his reference. Why all the hate at Christians bub?
  3. Den-in-NH

    Den-in-NH Rookie

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    Hey Disco,

    I'm going to attempt to put these passages in some context - as their meaning can only be understood by understanding the world at the time of their authorship.

    Not a lot of time at the moment (will be heading to Vince's Draft Day Party soon) - so let me tackle them one at a time for awhile.

    Will start with Dueteronomy. This is a book comprised largely of certain restriction and prohibitions set forth by God and given to the Jews who had escaped slavery in Egypt. It was relayed through Moses.

    Remember that these people were the same ones who had fallen in to all sorts of sins - idolatry, adultry, violence upon one another.

    The prohibitions set forth in the verse you quote are meant to prevent the early Jews from slipping back into these sins. This specific verse is in regards to adultery. "bastards" are prevented from entering an assembly (keep in mind this is not Heaven refered to, but rather an earthly gathering of Yahweh's belivers). This was done to keep the people chaste and faithful. No one wanted to bear a child that would be seen as an "outcast" by their society - the idea of "shame" or be ostracized was of high importance to these people.

    Similarly, the reference to crushed testicles and cut off penises was meant as a deterrent to would be adulterers because it was common for scorned wives to try to attack the genitals of their cheating husbands!

    Most importantly, however, recognize that this was a covenant between God and his original Chosen People. The enterance of Christ into the world created God's New Covenant and changed many of the rules for followers. Thing like those listed in Dueteronomy and the requiremnt of circumcision are not neccessary to participate in the New Covenant. The only requirement is to accept Jesus as your personal Lord and Savior.

    I hope that helps - we'll talk more soon.

    -Den
    Last edited: Apr 26, 2008
  4. jcdavey

    jcdavey Rookie

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    nothing to defend

    people looking for a fight will just keep looking
  5. Den-in-NH

    Den-in-NH Rookie

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    Let's give someone the benefit of the doubt and assume that Disco is genuinely concerned about the meaning of these passages. They do appear at first (without a contextual understanding) to be quite severe.

    A defense is not the right term. An explanation is certainly required.

    -Den
    Last edited: Apr 26, 2008
  6. Disco Volante

    Disco Volante Rookie

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    Thank you for taking your time to explain Den, much appreciated.

    Also my mistake for specifically titling the thread “Christians”. Only done because I was reading up on Christianity and wanted their specific followers views.
  7. Lifer

    Lifer Banned

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    Thank you for bringing these questions up.

    I find the best way to read up on Christianity is to go right to the source, the Bible itself. I find by reading the words that Jesus said himself in the 4 Gospels, Matthew,Mark, Luke, and John, I get the best explanation of what it is that Christians should strive to be, how to live, and how to think.

    http://bibleresources.bible.com/bible_niv.php
  8. Harry Boy

    Harry Boy Look Up, It's Amazing PatsFans.com Supporter

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    That was then this is now, The Muslims and the Kennedy's treat their women worse than that, they still buy and sell women and children in Africa & Asia, Muslims still Behead people and Stone Women to death. Muslims still Fly Planes into tall buildings, Gang Bangers in Los Angles shoot little old ladys and kids, Uncle Teddy Kennedy Waterboards Young Women With His Car, this sh!t is all going today.

    :bricks:
  9. Harry Boy

    Harry Boy Look Up, It's Amazing PatsFans.com Supporter

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    I didn't mean to be rude, but the bible is a very confusing book and it is so screwed up that it makes one believe that there just might be something to this "God Stuff"

    When you sit by yourself in a field on a bright starlit night and look up you have to realize that all that
    sh!t up there just didn't happen with a big bang and if it did, where did the "big bang" come from--:confused:
    Last edited: Apr 28, 2008
  10. Den-in-NH

    Den-in-NH Rookie

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    Good point, but please - no more caps!


    If you are looking for answers do not gett bogged down by the seemingly archaic statues of the Old Testament.

    Read the Gospel of John - you will find the answers you seek.
  11. PatsFanInVa

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    Harry, I like you so much better when you're asking questions than stating answers :)

    Of course, we must still recognize that the idea "where did THAT come from" applies to God as well. So there you are. An unmoved mover... but all you've done is removed the question by saying "Here's the rules of God: God was always there and can do anything. NOW... doesn't it make sense that all those stars were caused by something?"

    So we've put the bit that our rational minds can't get around in a God-shaped box, and I think for many people, that is what God is, the ultimate answer to questions with no answers -- something we can point to at the end of reason. Not such a scandalous statement, since reason is by no means the only faculty at our disposal -- it is just the one we can best check for truth.

    But back to the OP - Disco, I think your questions are fantastic, and all believing Jews and Christians should be answering them. Muslims have different versions of Hebrew bible stories, not the Hebrew bible itself, but they should be asking similar questions.

    I can give you my answer:

    One must look at the bible as a book written by men.

    The thinking believer must look at that book as encapsulating the times in which each story was written.

    We all stand on the shoulders of giants, so this is no knock against ancient men. But their minds were full of what I shall have to call sludge.

    Our minds are less full of sludge. It is more like murky gutter water.

    Now: As an individual, your favorite prophet, psalmist, messiah, etc., could have been worthy of having his insights preserved. The sludge of his mind, as it were, was ambient sludge, born of the times in which he wrote.

    But his writing turned sludge into, let's say, watery mud, for the people of his times.

    Similarly, a modern man can be born into a time when nice brown gutter water is the order of the day -- much clearer than sludge. His own mind can be completely sludgy by comparison to his contemporaries. Yet very few people say that once you get to the clouds in an airplane, you should start looking for the throne of God, or that there are four corners to the earth. We all know better. The ambient sludge is greatly reduced.

    For the thinking believer, we have to look at biblical stories as products of their times. With apologies to the fundamentalists, we also must therefore understand that a good deal of what we read is flat out wrong and quite bad. I am not sure I count the passages recounted here as among the unsalvageable. For example, if you have a law that says you can kidnap a neighbor, be he of your people or not, and sell him into slavery, you are up yet a worse creek than to say, during the biblical era, that slavery is condoned under some circumstances

    (By the way, the "peculiar institution" as practiced in the ancient Jewish theocracy was different from "slavery" as you know it. "Servant" might be more accurate, in practice. But that's a bit nitpicky. In the modern state we wouldn't allow it in the open, and certainly would not say it has God's imprimateur.)

    But why are you better off to follow this biblical notion to buy a slave from the aliens among you, or from the nations.... than to just say you may buy a slave?

    Well, first of all, you didn't make a slave of one of your own people, but you are willing to take advantage of another people which will do so.

    Ergo, you are defining yourself as unwilling to enslave your own.

    And in the 12th century BCE, "your own" was a pretty damn important concept.

    Now, in the 21st century CE, "your own" has grown to include, hopefully, all peoples. Your ambient level of morality has grown, and can therefore be enhanced all the more -- but only for the thinking believer.

    The thinking believer has to look at underlying principles: why were things forbidden? Why were other things permitted?

    In the case of slavery, why it was forbidden among one's own people is obvious. Why it was explicitly allowed vis a vis aliens among one's people is another matter entirely. It means only that the Hebrews can not make slaves, but, given that others are making slaves all the time, they could buy and use slaves.

    Hardly a defensible position, in a vacuum; but at the time, other peoples could make and buy slaves. Now ask yourself one question: If every people followed the passage in Leviticus, from whom would you buy a slave?

    In any event, it is a rationalization. It is the rationalization of an ancient people among other ancient people, with a dawning moral imagination. But the implication is clear: It is wrong to make a man a slave. It is perhaps wrong to buy or use a slave as well, but, as you note in the translation, it is permitted.

    Several things become apparent from such an analysis:

    1) The analysis is fragile. Texts contradict one another. Exodus 21:2-6 lay down the rules for freeing servants every seventh year -- but specify "When you buy a Hebrew servant." We must understand the passage from Leviticus, therefore, to be an "improvement" on the Exodus law, which had hitherto pertained. Taken as a "blueprint" for modern living this seems like the purest hypocrisy.

    2) However, when one considers a development over time, the Hebrews went from a slave people, to a slaveholding and slavemaking people, to simply a slaveholding people. What is the next step in the progression? The realization that slavery itself is the underlying evil. What are you most likely to see celebrated in the modern Jewish Passover? A festival of liberation for "all who are hungry," and "for all who are in bondage."

    3) Such analyses are the crux, no pun intended, of the modern discussion of whether the bible is blueprint or inspiration. If it is to be inspiration, we must interpret. So anybody who says "I go by the word of GOD, not man's interpretations," is full of bere****, as we might say in Hebrew (that's just the Hebrew name for Genesis, literally meaning "in the beginning.")

    4) Such analyses offer the possibility of squaring biblical monotheism with modern sensibilities by way of a developing morality. They also point to ancient scripture as similar to other competing ancient scriptures. The thinking believer, therefore, has to say he is studying his religion, not "the best" religion, since we have established that the value of these scriptures is in the motion of morality over time, both within the scriptures, and through the community's development even after the canon is established. The same, I am sure, could be said for believers in other scriptures. They may be holy to somebody. They are just not holy to me.

    5) whoever said that Islam, Christianity, and Judaism define 90% of the world's religions is a big dum dum head (that's a technical term.) Hinduism, Buddhism, and Confucianism alone make up wayyyyy more than 10%. Include communism (as some do,) and it's an even sillier statement. Worse yet, if you are talking about the number of religions, rather than the number of adherents, these three faiths, taken together, are but a drop in the bucket (even if you include every schismatic variation.)

    So to summarize: For the believer, the bible must be something extraordinary. But for the thinking man, it can not be the literal word and will of God, particularly in cases where it contradicts itself.

    For the thinking believer, it is a document - or more accurately, a collection of documents - that show a journey from the most primitive concept of relation to the Other, toward a oneness with the other.

    PFnV
    Last edited: Apr 28, 2008
  12. PatsFanInVa

    PatsFanInVa PatsFans.com Supporter PatsFans.com Supporter

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    By the way: Den's reply that God was basically an "Angry Young God" in the Hebrew bible, who only gave the Jewish people the Torah as some sort of joke, or at best as a buggy beta version of the "New Testament," is a standard Christian response, but does a poor job of explaining your passages from Corinithians, written by Christians for Christians (except, of course, when he basically blames Corinithians on Jews).

    Hey bub! We got enough trouble explaining Leviticus!

    Heh

    PFnV
  13. Disco Volante

    Disco Volante Rookie

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    Wow thanks a lot for taking the time out to answer in depth guys, much appreciated.

    Will finish reading tonight.
  14. Den-in-NH

    Den-in-NH Rookie

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    PFnV,

    If you actually read my response you will see that I specifically stated I was only adressing the one verse from Dueteronomy at the time. To say that I did a "poor job" explaining the verses from Corinthians is laughable considering, at the time, I made NO attempt to explain the verses from Corinthians. You are criticizing my performance on something I have not undertaken.

    To summarize my statement as a reference to an "angry, young God" who set forth commandments to the Jews as a "joke" is not only inaccurate; it is also insulting. I made no statement which even implied such.

    Your statement that indicts me of "blaming Corinthians on Jews" is, I believe, a reference to the post above mine - a post which I did not author. For someone who is so quick to pounce upon even the most minute errors of others, perhaps you should be more conscientious in attributing the statements you are attacking to the correct author.
    Last edited: Apr 29, 2008
  15. Lifer

    Lifer Banned

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    PFIV, what is with this constant use of the word "thinking", as in "any thinking person", a "thinking believer"... Are you so insecure in your beliefs you have to continually beef up what you say by basically calling into question the intelligence of anyone who disagrees with you? I find it childish. You are smart enough that you dont need to do it.
  16. PatsFanInVa

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    Den, I re-read that (my) post, and I apologize. I was thoroughly tongue-in-cheek and blowing off some steam in the wake of a long earnest response.

    I went from memory and in haste as to who said what, and having re-read my post, there is no way of telling from the outside that my intent was basically teasing rather than meant to seriously indict. And I did in fact write that without checking who wrote what, so that's on me, whether I mean to be teasing or not (if in fact you did not posit a replacement theology.) Ditto the Corinthians quote.

    We've had a fairly civil and productive discourse, and I would hate to lose that. I was being flippant, but I do believe I was also being an a s s.


    Lifer - I use "thinking" man or "thinking" believer to indicate that it is my belief that scripture and many other religious subjects raise inescapable questions. A Christian who addresses those questions with intellectual honesty may be a "thinking" believer, as may be a Jew, a Muslim, or a Buddhist, in their own traditions.

    The pious (or orthodox) believer is not necessary the opposite of the thinking believer. But to say the questions do not need to be asked or addressed, or to minimize their import, is intellectual cowardice.

    Speaking of insecurity, you may note that I did not point a finger at any particular believer here, nor did I mean to. I do lose respect for those whose thinking is formulaic and disregards fundamental nettles such as the ones raised by the OP -- although I do agree that most of these nettles are as problematic to Judaism as to Christianity.

    PFnV
  17. SammyBlueCat

    SammyBlueCat Rookie

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    Note to thread starter: if these things truly do interest you, perhaps you can purchase a book about "Hermeneutics" from Amazon.
  18. Den-in-NH

    Den-in-NH Rookie

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    Accepted.

    Agreed.
  19. gomezcat

    gomezcat It's SIR Moderator to you Staff Member PatsFans.com Supporter

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    It's nice to see some self-regulation going on here, guys. Keep it up; a moderator with nothing to moderate is a happy one! :D
  20. stlrtruck

    stlrtruck Banned

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    I don't stick to the "That was then, this is now" application to the bible. If that was the case then I'm sure God would have commanded a new bible be written every so often. I mean let's face it, some authors re-write their book every year or every 5 years just to pocket the money.

    So with that in mind, we have to realize that God has given us a step by step guide on how to live for Him. And truly that's what we should be wanting to do, assuming you have accepted Jesus Christ as Lord and Saviour.

    First, the Old Testament was for the times before Jesus Christ and while we can still apply God's principles from that period to today's living, the laws were made void when Jesus Christ died on the cross. As for the verse in 1 Corinthians, I did the service a year ago on Father's Day and I quoted this verse, not as a means to say that "Men are better than women" but instead that Men need to have an understanding of the bible and God's word so that when the moment arises, they should definitely have Godly answers and be able to apply Godly principles to life situations.

    Second, we have to be careful of two things. One is that we are reading a translated copy of the bible and sometimes the translations are not accurate. Two is taking bible verses out of context without having an understanding of audience of the intended author.

    Finally, it takes blind faith to know that God is infallable...I've learned that many people today can blindly trust their coach or favorite team but lack even 1/10 of this trust in God.
    Last edited: Jun 2, 2008

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