Is the Order to Kill Women, Children & Infants in the Bible the Action of a Loving and Gracious God? Part 1

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So here we go, lets see if we can tackle what I think is one of the most controversial and maybe difficult subjects in the Bible. The idea of God commanding the killing of woman, children and infants. I will say in being someone that interacts with Atheist both on line and off. This is one of the subjects that comes back over and over again, and with that being said I had to come to a understanding of “how could a just and loving God command the killing of these people”?

So here is how my quest started. When I was a young Christian and came across these text and sought out council, I would generally just get the “His ways are higher than ours and we can’t understand why God would do these things.” Or occasionally I would get the answer that “God had to protect His people from the heathen influence of these pagan worshipers.” Although neither of these answers really sat well with me I didn’t know where to find the answers or who to ask so I came to the point of just pushing it to the back of my mind.  It seemed almost impossible to reconcile why God would kill especially the little infants, it just made no sense. 

So lets look at one of these texts and talk about it, just in case someone wants to say no God doesn’t say that. Or what he means is young men and not children or infants, It is just not so.

1 Samuel 15:3 So then, go and attack Amalek and utterly destroy all that is his! You must not spare him, but kill both man and woman, both child and nursing infant, both ox and sheep, both camel and donkey.’” The Lexham English Bible makes it pretty clear as do all the other versions, everyone is to die. 

Normally I would spend a ton of time tying in context and trying to set the stage so people can see what is going on here, And normally this is where people trip up, they don’t understand context. But sot so much here; This is pretty straight forward. There are many amazing things to be gleaned from the story and Saul’s disobedience and crazy choices of who and what he chooses to spare. But God’s command is pretty clear, Kill everything.

So why? Why would God act so cruelly, or better yet have his chosen people act so cruelly? So lets go back to this idea that His thoughts are not our thoughts, they are higher, that God’s thoughts  are elevated and superior. Isaiah 55:8-9. This doesn’t mean that we can’t understand His thoughts, but that we have to reach, that we have to be intentional to have a mind that thinks beyond what we normally would and I don’t mean being so heavenly minded that we are of no earthly good.

Here is what I mean, So many of you know I have done a ton of  hot topic discussion groups where I would take on these types of issues with no prep and just let it fly. It really helped me over the years in developing a critical thinking process that deals with this type of issue more quickly and effectively. So now I look at this type of text and think hmmm let me look at this from multiple angles. Either God is cruel and vindictive or I am missing something. Let me do an inventory of my thoughts… Let me slow down and question what are my presuppositions, where are my emotions taking me? Am I in a good position to access the text before I start questioning God? So I ask…

#1: Could this be a loving act?

# 2: Do I have a proper perspective on death?

#3: Does this do something for those that are being killed (are they in a better position than if they lived)?

#4: Does this do something for those that do the Killing?

#5: Is this supposed to do something for us?

#6: Why kill the people and the animals? is there something to having these grouped together that I am supposed to see?

There are other question that could be asked of the text but this is a good start to clearing the hurdle of God’s character. 

So #1: Could this be a loving act for everyone involved? Of course it could. Now if it is or not has yet to be determined, But could it be, yes. It has to be said that when we say love we don’t mean affection in the sense of cuddling up in front of the  fire eating chocolates together. But commitment to the affect that the action has on someone. If God is loving then what he does is best for the objects of His Love / action/ commitment. Therefore if we can see that His action is what is best for the individuals being affected then it is loving.  If we start here  this places us in a position to receive with open mind and we can determine if this God is consistent with the God we want to trust with our souls. We will control our thought and not let our thoughts control us.

Our next post we will start to determine if this is a loving action that God has taken. So be ready for  #2 Do I have a proper perspective on death? And let me just say this will get really interesting, this one always forces people to do a double take!

 

A Response to “Former Minister Finds a New, Secular Mission” In the New Your Times

So New York Times Article  today and was immediately caught between feelings of great sorrow and frustration. Great sorrow because Teresa MacBain seemed at one time to be so committed  as you can see by her statement “For me, life was about being the person who loved God and wanted to be everything God wanted me to be.” And know she seems so confused and lost in who she is supposed to be.

But I am also so Frustrated because her view of God and the Bible could not be more misconstrued. I am not sure how she would be someone that took such pride in her teaching yet had such a lack of understanding. Let me show you what I mean here.

She says that “For me, the lesson was that doubting is sinful and wrong,” she said. “If you have these things come up, you suppress them, you ignore them, you pray them away. This natural inquisitiveness and questioning is just wrong. And if I did them, I was displeasing God.” So if you read the Bible God doesn’t Punish or condemn those that question. Look at Genesis 18:22-33, God doesn’t punish Abraham for questioning Him. He reasons with him. God doesn’t ask for a blind faith but a understanding and orderly one. God is not only the Author but perfecter of our faith. He wants us to have a Faith that has a solid foundation. God doesn’t want that we would run from him in our doubts but to him. He want to be known.

in the Article where it states  “Ms. MacBain ran aground on what seemed like irreconcilable messages in Scripture. In First Corinthians alone, for example, Verse 14:34 instructed women to be silent in church, while Verse 11:5 referred to women praying and prophesying. If text is divinely inerrant, as Ms. MacBain had been taught, how could both statements be true?” This is just a case of not understanding biblical context not a contradiction.

One of the First things that you have to understand in reading the second half of Corinthians is that we are receiving a response or answers to  questions or issues in a previous letter.  See (1Corinthians 7:1 Now concerning the matters about which you wrote)  You have to read the rest of the letter understanding that we don’t have all the information so we have to look at everything through this lens as well as understanding the cultural context of that time. Also we need to understand that the writing of biblical time were written to be read aloud. Most of the citizens of that time couldn’t read and there weren’t multiple copies available as there are today. That being said the beginning of the letter sets the context for the rest of the letter.  Therefore knowing 1 Corinthians 11 says woman were allowed to pray and prophesy in the Church. There were however conditions, these women were supposed to do so with an inward attitude and a outward expression of humility. And although there was a new freedom and authority for women in the Church, There were also boundaries that should be recognized.

So lets look at some of these boundaries, in 1Corinthians 14 We see in the beginning of the chapter that there were issues in the church of people getting carried away with expressing their sign gifts seeming to be more interested in their own edification or expression of spirituality than the edification of the Body, Paul is fairly firm that the congregation focus should not be on themselves but others and that their needed to be order and decency in these times of gathering . Then Paul seems to narrow in in talking about the structure and orderliness of a gathering. Now watch what happens, this is where people get confused.  Paul is writing this letter to the Churches in Corinth, at that time there were many teachers that would travel around and teach there would be individuals that came and said I have a word from the Lord that I would like to share with your gathering. The Church didn’t look like it did today, more often than not it met in homes. And it was in this context that we have to look at 1Corinthians 14: 29-30 Let two or three prophets speak, and let the others weigh what is said. 30 If a revelation is made to another sitting there, let the first be silent. 31 For you can all prophesy one by one, so that all may learn and all be encouraged. In this context we see that the there needed to be some authority given to the Elders that they may weigh what was said a to protect their flocks from false prophets. Part of the weighing was the the Jewish idea of midrash which means (investigation) and can consist of studying challenging and arguing,  As the Elders/ husbands might challenge or argue the ideas of the prophets the Women/Wives were to remain silent. The should refrain from challenging the others and they should wait to discuss and share with their husbands at home. It wasn’t that they had no value, it doesn’t seem like they weren’t allowed input. But there was a place and time for this to occur, in private. As I said this didn’t take away from a  woman’s ability to speak, pray or prophesy. It demonstrates that Paul is saying there are Male Elders appointed to maintain order, allow them to do their job.

It seems odd to me that even after Teresa MacBain Spoke at an American Atheist Convention that she was planning on keeping her Job as a minister. And that the NPR Article makes is sound as though she was turned against. Why would anyone keep an interview with a minister that said she is an Atheist? And Teresa I am sure that people felt betrayed and confused that you violated their trust and didn’t talk to anyone, or simply step down while you figured out what it was that you did or didn’t believe. But to book a speaking engagement and say I’m going to hell with you and then to expect to come back and take the pulpit… Although you are loved by God and His Children should love and embrace you. I can see how some may have been shook up

The Tension in the Battle of Gay Marriage (As I see it)

As an evangelical, Bible believing Christian; I find myself strangely disturbed in the battle against gay marriage. And not for the reasons that you might think. It’s not that I think people of the same sex should be married. I would actually say that I have a huge issue with that. It’s that as Christians we have really confused the issue.

Here is what I mean; I am an Ordained Pastor and perform a large number of weddings and one of the things that I Always represent is that Marriage is a religious institution. Now before you give me an Amen, Hallelujah. Understand that this is really a huge trap. As a conservative Christian we believe that marriage is to be an example to the world of Christ love for His bride the Church. Can you already see the problem here? Under that definition we should oppose all other forms of marriage, Islam, Buddhist, Secular, etc… Yet what we have done is gladly acknowledge and accept the liberties and rights given to us by our Civil authority and then we have said. “Well they (other cultures or religious beliefs) practice marriage we will allow them to practice here in our “Christian Country” or we will recognize the marriage that they bring as they immigrate from another country. Now, not only have we been silent in this issue we have never begun to squabble with our civil authorities in saying “hold on, I don’t want those Buddhist to share in the Civil liberties that our reserved for the religious institution representing Christ and His Body.”

Lets be honest, there are two different issues here, What is marriage? and what is our Civil authorities role in it’s support? If we insist that marriage is a Christian Institution. We may need to consider redefining that and forgoing the Civil Support and rights that come with it.  If marriage is not a religious institution; then we need to allow the civil authorities to define its recognition and practices.

Is marriage a precious representation of  Jesus and His love and sacrifice for the Church? If it is only that; we may need to redefine and be willing to turn away from the intermingling of Church and State. That is, if we are to have a voice. This would have to include any marriage outside of Christianity. All evangelical Christians would acknowledge that Baptism and Communion without Jesus are nothing more than a bath or a snack… Have we allowed the comfort of the imposed civil rights to soften up that we are willing to give marriage away?

But maybe we just need to say our marriage is holy and precious, yet we are willing to acknowledge that in the USA we are a melting pot of cultures, beliefs and people and we will allow out civil authorities to impart the civil rights of marriage to whom ever they feel is right?

I really don’t know if we can have it both ways… Marriage is ours! It is a religious institution! Yet we want the civil rights that the government distributes! Oh by the way anyone else regardless of belief can have them as well, unless of course your gay!!!!

In case you are wondering I will only perform marriages for professing Christian believers… Yet the idea of giving up all the rights afforded by our government is a scary one.

I am looking forward to your thoughts. I know this is controversial would love to hear other solutions that you may have, I know that I don’t have all the answers.

An Answer to a Reply to a Christian: Sam Harris

Council for Secular Humanism

Is this it? Is this the Question that Secular Humanism has for the theistic community?

The long and short of Sam’s article is this: if the Bible were true and inerrant, then the Bible would have the cure for cancer in its pages. It would also be a reference book for DNA, mathematics and it would lay out the specifics of prophecy.

First, I will assume that since Sam Harris is an educated individual, he has been informed that many of our history’s scientists have sought out answers and been amazed by information supplied in the Bible, specifically in the fields of hydrology, geology, astronomy, meteorology, biology, and physics.  I am SURE it is not as complete as Sam Harris would like it to be…  In reading his article it sounds to me that he is looking for a text book.

As far as the specifics of prophesy for things with regard to the internet: this is trivial to God – our hope and salvation is not.  This is why He gives gives us even greater details than you would have asked.  See Daniel 9 (crazy specific).

Here is how I see it –  what Sam is doing would be the same as if I were a great Hydrologist who had to move to Alaska to provide research for global warming.  If, during my visit, I wrote love letters to my beautiful wife and you, or Sam, happened to capture these letters – you would potentially find scattered details of my daily whereabouts or the research and findings that I was working on.  But, if you took this love letter as the proof needed to validate or discredit global warming – the proof you wanted would not exist.  You may even say that I was wasting my time there.  Or, you might even go so far as to question my qualifications as a hydrologist.  The reason is because hydrolology or the proof of global warming is not the intent of my letters.  They are to express the love and longing I have for my wife.  The desire to see her again and the plans I have for her when we are re-united.

I would challenge Sam Harris and his followers to go back and read the Bible for what it is.  A love letter to mankind.  The story of the Redeemer.  Sacrificing Himself for our insufficiencies, that we may be together.

In Mark 8, the Pharisees come to Jesus and ask Him for a sign from Heaven to prove Himself.  He denies them.  Why?  First, Jesus’ motive throughout the Bible, with regard to His miracles, was not to prove who He was.  His motive was to provide mercy and hope for the people.  Had a sign been what these men needed to truly believe, they would have more than likely received it.  Unfortunately, they were only trying to disprove who Jesus was.  They were not asking with a sincerity or desire to be convinced.  We must examine our own hearts, what is it that we are really asking when we investigate Jesus.  Are we seeking truth – wherever it takes us – or to only strengthen our own beliefs and positions.

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