As I mentioned here, I’ve written a book for teenage atheists. My manuscript ran long, and I had to cut some parts. One deleted passage countered the claim that the Bible is a perfect guide to morality by noting some of the book’s uglier passages.
Here, for the first time in public, is that deleted piece of the book.
The Bible recommends love, mercy, and kindness, but it also teaches some nastier lessons. If they represent God’s idea of morality, then God has some explaining to do.
Second Kings 2:23-24
As [the prophet Elisha] was going up by the way, there came forth little children out of the city, [who] mocked him and said to him, “Go up, you bald head; go up, you bald head.”
And he turned back and looked on them and cursed them in the name of the Lord. And there came forth two she-bears out of the wood, and tore forty and two children of them.
Yep, a prophet called out bears to rip up some kids for making fun of his hairless dome. And he gets away with it. God considers him righteous and doesn’t smite him or anything.
If a man have a stubborn and rebellious son who will not obey the voice of his father or the voice of his mother, and when they chasten him will not hearken to them:
Then shall his father and his mother lay hold on him and bring him to the elders of his city and to the gate of the place;
And they shall say to the elders of his city, “This, our son, is stubborn and rebellious; he will not obey our voice.” . . .
And all the men of his city shall stone him with stones, so that he die.
In other words, don’t talk back to Mom and Dad, or your neighbors will kill you. With rocks.
This isn’t the only time God commands the death of kids who mouth off. Check out Leviticus 20:9’s Every one that curses his mother or father shall surely be put to death.
Moses is leading the Jews from Egypt to Palestine. They run into the people of Midian. Midianite women seduce Jewish men into pagan rites so wild that a plague breaks out and kills 24,000 Jews. Apparently the Midianitesses were bubbling over with germs.
So God tells Moses to take revenge against the Midianites. Moses’s battle plan for his troops says, among other things:
“Kill every male among the little ones, and kill every woman that has known a man by lying with him.
“But all the women children who have not known a man by lying with him, keep alive for yourselves.”
You read that right: murder all little boys and most of the women, and take the virgin girls for your own purposes.
Want more Biblical examples of cruelty in God’s name? Try First Samuel 15:2-3 (which includes killing babies and animals), Hosea 13:16, Isaiah 13:16 and Deuteronomy 7:1.
If a man smites his servant or his maidservant with a rod, and he [the servant] dies under his hand, he [the servant’s master] shall surely be punished.
Notwithstanding, if he [the servant] shall continue a day or two, he [the master] shall not be punished; for he [the servant] is his [the master’s] money.
This one says that you can beat your servant nearly to death, as long as the servant stays alive for a day or two after the beating.
FYI, the business about the servant being his master’s money hints that God allows slavery. So do other parts of the Bible, like Leviticus 25:44-45. Exodus 21:7-11 even tells you how to sell your own daughter as a slave.
Happy shall he be that takes and dashes your little ones against the stones.
The context for this gem is that God’s followers would rather kill their children than let the kids grow up in a strange land.
Psalms are essentially songs, so you can allow for poetic exaggeration. Still, claiming that you’d be happy to bash babies is a weird way to say that there’s no place like home.
First Timothy 2:12
I suffer not a woman to teach, nor to usurp authority over the man, but to be in silence.
This bit of sexism isn’t alone. The Bible has other passages against women, like the First Corinthians 14:34-35, Deuteronomy 22:13-21, and the notorious Deuteronomy 25:11-12: When men strive together one with another, and the wife of the one draws near to deliver her husband out of the hand of him that smites him … then you should cut off her hand.