Smut for Smut Exchange


Hello, folks,
Sorry, I haven’t been updating here much – life and school have kept me busy.

I was recently browsing the internet, and found this link: http://www.examiner.com/x-10853-Portland-Humanist-Examiner~y2010m3d4-Religion-Students-swap-Bibles-for-porn-Video
There is an Atheist group exchanging religious texts (they seem to focus on the bible, but they’ll take anything) and exchange that text for pornography.  This doesn’t bother me, but their logic behind the exchange may have some merit to people.  So, how are Christians to respond to this if someone were to challenge your faith about the contents in the bible?

Here is how I would approach the problem, in this order.

  1. Relax.  People bring this up to make Christians more angry than challenged.  Atheists, for the most part, don’t care about “is there a God?” – their goal is to disprove God to you.  If you are angry or harsh towards them, that is just another reason why they won’t consider Christianity.  Also, some of Atheists are people who have been, in the past, hurt by the church, or are connected to people who the church has rejected or hurt – we need to be able to validate that, that the church, throughout history, and even today, has done some really stupid things.  So, relax about the challenge.  NEVER lash out in anger; this is counter-productive, and does not help any situation.  If you are going to get upset about it, then tell the person(s) that are challenging you that you will get back to them, and take time to cool down, get your head on straight, and then go for it.
  2. Put the ball in their court.  Have them find the references for you.  This doesn’t mean you don’t look for them, too, but challenge them to go beyond “I heard this,” and have them find it for themselves.  As Christians, we should be well versed in both “friendly” verses, and “obscure/hard to handle” verses.
  3. Now, they have a list of verses, and presumably, you have at least one bible that you can systematically go through these verses.  Pay special attention to the context, and use some big picture thinking.
  4. Never ever say you have all the answers, or even imply it.  As Christians, it’s easy for us to puff ourselves up from reading in scripture that we have authority.  People miss that we have authority and strength through Christ, not of ourselves.  Sometimes, it’s perfectly okay to say to someone that you don’t know how to explain something in the bible.  This is part of being human.

So, how do you handle certain topics in the bible that may be questionable.  From our perspective, it is easy to say that God does whatever He desires to do, because He is the creator, and is not subject to the desires of creation.  (Un)Fortunately, people outside of Christianity will definitely think this is the worst cop-out answer you could give.  Here are a list of things you may find helpful

God is a Murderer/Promotes Killing

Looking through the Old Testament, we see a lot of death.  No question about it.  Lets look at one case that Atheists jump on, 1 Chronicles 21:9-14.  Here, we see God allowing 70,000 people from David’s kingdom die.  Let me quote what’s relevant to the situation:

(1)Then Satan stood up against Israel and moved David to number Israel.
(2) So David said to Joab and to the princes of the people, “Go, number Israel from Beersheba even to Dan, and bring me word that I may know their number.”
(3) Joab said, “May the LORD add to His people a hundred times as many as they are! But, my lord the king, are they not all my lord’s servants? Why does my lord seek this thing? Why should he be a cause of guilt to Israel?”
(4) Nevertheless, the king’s word prevailed against Joab. Therefore, Joab departed and went throughout all Israel, and came to Jerusalem.
(5) Joab gave the number of the census of all the people to David. And all Israel were 1,100,000 men who drew the sword; and Judah was 470,000 men who drew the sword.
(6) But he did not number Levi and Bejamin among them, for the king’s command was abhorrent to Joab.
(7) God was displeased with this thing, so He struck Israel

(12) either three years of famine, or three months to be swept away before your foes, while the sword of your enemies overtakes you, or else three days of the sword of the LORD, even pestilence in the land, and the angel of the LORD destroying throughout all the territory of Israel.’ Now, therefore, consider what answer I shall return to Him who sent me.”
(13) David said to Gad, “I am in great distress; please let me fall into the hand of the LORD, for His mercies are very great.  But do not let me fall into the hand of man.”

(16) Then David lifted up his eyes and saw the angel of the LORD standing between earth and heaven, with his drawn sword in his hand stretched out over Jerusalem. Then David and the elders, covered with sackcloth, fell on their faces.
(17) David said to God, “Is it not I who commanded to count the people? Indeed, I am the one who has sinned and done very wickedly, but these sheep, what have they done? O LORD my God, please let Your hand be against me and my father’s household, but not against Your people that they should be plagued.”

Does this look familiar to anyone.  Does it seem to be the opposite of what happens in Numbers 1:1-3?  Lets take a quick peek.

(1) Then the LORD spoke to Moses in the wilderness of Sinai, in the tent of meeting, on the first of the second month, in the second year after they had come out of the land of Egypt, saying,
(2) “Take a census of all the congregation of the sons of Israel, by their families, by their fathers’ households, according to the number of names, every male, head by head
(3) from twenty years old and upward, whoever is able to go out to war in Israel, you and Aaron shall number them by their armies.

So, why is God angry and David, but not at Moses and Aaron.  I’ve read some people exegeting these passage, and they don’t seem to connect these two events at all.  The biggest issue here is a question of who’s authority David wishes to be under.  In 1 Chronicles 21:9-14 (and paralleled in 2 Samuel 24), we clearly read in verse one that David is not taking the command from God.  We even see Joab struggling to accept his job, as he remarks that God can make them great and that they don’t need to know the number.  He questions the order.  He questions why God would do this.  What does it mean, “Why should he be a cause of guilt to Israel?” – the new living translation uses “Why must you cause Israel to sin?”  Did God say for them not to count their numbers?  Here, I’m going to point out that David wants to “know their number,” probably for his own pleasure, to know his military strength, so this makes it a problem with motivation, not a problem with the action, and Joab obviously knew this wasn’t something God desired.
So, right now, we know what the problem is, but why did this result in 70,000 people dying by God’s hand (in the form of a plauge).  I read somewhere that this was God punishing Israel for relying on their own strength.  Does anyone else have a problem accepting that as an answer.  The bible doesn’t say this was a problem with Israel, it says it’s a problem with David.  This death is a result of David’s own choosing, where he desired himself over the people of God.  In verse 13, we see David saying essentially, “Do anything you want, just don’t hurt me,” even though we can clearly see that David is the problem.  So why did God give David the choice?  God knew that David was only after #1, himself.  God gave David options; he could have repented, he could have chosen himself to take his own punishment, but instead, he chooses his own security.  David sinned, and biblically, the only way to deal with sin is death.  David could have sacrificed himself, his army, or his people.  David didn’t want to come to harm, and his pride in his military was too great, so he chose what he believed to be the least damaging.  God is true to His word and the choices He gave to David.  There was still room for repentance, though, as we see at verses 16 and 17, David and the elders, both recognizing something was wrong, moved into repentance, and God ceased His judgement.

What’s the big picture here?  God wants our obedience.  God does not want us to follow Satan.  This demonstrates God’s strictness in His holiness, and God’s desire to follow through with His Word.  Do I have difficulty justifying that?  Absolutely, but it’s not my job to justify God’s action – also, God gave the options and a way out…God responded to David’s repentance, and that’s all it took from the beginning.  Sin isn’t a little issue.  Sin is a BIG deal.  The problem is that sin is so common to us, we have no idea how bad it really is.  I have no idea.  Only God does, because He lives in 100% holiness.

God is okay with rape

An atheist website I have visited made a similar statement, using Judges 21:10-24.  Before I take you through the scripture, I want to give some context about Judges.  Basically, Israel kept turning away from God and did some stupid things, then God would send a judge (which I think is fair to equate with a prophet in a kingly position).  With that in mind, this is a terrible bit of scripture to use to justify this position, but I’ll use it anyway, as an example.  The scripture goes like this:

(10) And the congregation sent 12,000 of the valiant warriors there, and commanded them, saying, “Go and strike the inhabitants of Jabesh-gilead with the edge of the sword, with the women and the little ones.
(11) “This is the thing that you shall do: you shall utterly destroy every man and every woman who has lain with a man.”
(12) And they found among the inhabitants of Jabesh-gilead 400 young virgins who had not known a man by lying with him; and they brought them to the camp at Shiloh, which is in the land of Canaan.
(13) Then the whole congregation sent word and spoke to the sons of Benjamin who were at the rock of Rimmon, and proclaimed peace to them.
(14) Benjamin returned at that time, and they gave them the women whom they had kept alive from the women of Jabesh-gilead; yet they were not enough for them.
(15) And the people were sorry for Benjamin because the LORD had made a breach in the tribes of Israel.
(16) Then the elders of the congregation said, “What shall we do for wives for those who are left, since the women are destroyed out of Benjamin?”
(17) They said, “There must be an inheritance for the survivors of Benjamin, so that a tribe will not be blotted out from Israel.
(18) “But we cannot give them wives of our daughters.” For the sons of Israel had sworn, saying, “Cursed is he who gives a wife to Benjamin.”
(19) So they said, “Behold, there is a feast of the LORD from year to year in Shiloh, which is on the north side of Bethel, on the east side of the highway that goes up from Bethel to Shechem, and on the south side of Lebonah.”
(20) And they commanded the sons of Benjamin, saying, “Go and lie in wait in the vineyards,
(21) and watch; and behold, if the daughters of Shiloh come out to take part in the dances, then you shall come out of the vineyards and each of you shall catch his wife from the daughters of Shiloh, and go to the land of Benjamin.
(22) “It shall come about, when their fathers or their brothers come to complain to us, that we shall say to them, ‘Give them to us voluntarily, because we did not take for each man of Benjamin a wife in battle, nor did you give them to them, else you would now be guilty.'”
(23) The sons of Benjamin did so, and took wives according to their number from those who danced, whom they carried away. And they went and returned to their inheritance and rebuilt the cities and lived in them.
(24) The sons of Israel departed from there at that time, every man to his tribe and family, and each one of them went out from there to his inheritance.

This verse was quoted saying God was okay with rape, murder and stealing.  Looking at that section of scripture, where does it say God commanded any of that?  Yes, these were supposed to be godly people, but they had fallen away.  This is how the book of Judges ends, showing an Israel who had forsaken God, and leads us into, after a book or two, Samuel, Kings, and Chronicles, and their struggles; sinful people trying to go about God’s will.
Also, as a side note, Jewish lineage is traced through the mother’s side, which means that the tribe of Benjamin technically didn’t continue, as there were no more women from that tribe, but this could be debated.

God is pro-sex slave

Exodus 21:

(7) “If a man sells his daughter as a female slave, she is not to go free as the male slaves do.
(8) “If she is displeasing in the eyes of her master who designated her for himself, then he shall let her be redeemed. He does not have authority to sell her to a foreign people because of his unfairness to her.
(9) “If he designates her for his son, he shall deal with her according to the custom of daughters.
(10) “If he takes to himself another woman, he may not reduce her food, her clothing, or her conjugal rights.
(11) “If he will not do these three things for her, then she shall go out for nothing, without payment of money.

There are a lot of issues people don’t take into account with this section of scripture.  The most important is historical and cultural context.  These people didn’t live in today’s society, so don’t directly bring this passage into our standard of living.  A major key, beyond context, is the opening word of “If.”  There is no where in the 10 Commandments that we see it is unlawful to have a slave, and in fact, there is provision in the law for if someone has a slave (Exodus 20 is where you can find the law, read through it).  God, nowhere, says slaves are good to have, but I think there is a general sense there are alternatives to slavery.  We also have to realize that, in most cases, this slavery could be equated to today’s servants.  They get paid a salary, and do the master’s bidding.
So, why are men allowed to be freed on the seventh year of service, and the women aren’t able to leave?  Well, she is able to leave, and in fact, she would have had more of a basis to leave.  Having women slaves wasn’t a sexual thing, but could be a means for marriage.  So, if marriage was not an option, or if there was any sort of loss of rights from the woman, she had a right to leave her master, as we can read in verses 9 and 10.

Conclusion

So, is the bible as bad as porn, as that article suggests?  Absolutely not.  The examples I chose are isolated, and if understood properly, show God’s love and provision and His desire for us to be made right with Him.  I don’t see needless anger or a vicious God who only desires destruction.  I see God, who is constantly providing a way from sin to His presence.  I read God’s mercy all over the bible, and would challenge people who don’t see the mercy to read the bible in both the light of an inclusive skeptic, and search out the truth and context.  Don’t just follow the atheist trend blindly.  Challenge yourself often, and prove what you believe.

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