The Bible: "Now therefore kill every male among the little ones, and kill every woman that hath known man by lying with
But all the women children, that have not known a man by lying with him, keep alive for yourselves."
Geneva Convention: Persons taking no active part in the hostilities, including members of armed forces who have laid
down their arms and those placed hors de combat by sickness, wounds, detention, or any other cause, shall in all
circumstances be treated humanely, without any adverse distinction founded on race, colour, religion or faith, sex,
or wealth, or any other similar criteria. 2
"God is a being of terrific character...cruel, vindictive, capricious
and unjust." Thomas Jefferson
"Shall mortal man be more just than God? shall a man be more pure than
his maker?" Job 4:17
"Should not the Bible regain the place it once held as a
schoolbook? Its morals are pure, its examples are captivating and noble."
Fisher Ames, Massachusetts Congressman (1758-1808)
"...Great and marvelous are thy works, Lord God Almighty; just
and true are thy ways, thou King of saints." Revelation 15:3b
"...texts from the source we call Holy Scripture have been used
in the past to defend the divine right of kings and to oppose the Magna Carta; to condemn Galileo and to assert that the Sun does indeed rotate
around the Earth; to justify slavery, segregation and apartheid; to keep
women from being educated, entering the professions, voting or being
ordained; to justify war, to persecute and kill Jews; to condemn other
world religions; and to continue the oppression and rejection of gay and
lesbian people." Bishop John Shelby Spong 3 (He left out transgender individuals, probably because when he wrote the passage in 2005, at a time when promotion of equality for transgender persons had not reached a high profile)
"All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable
for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in
righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished
unto all good works." 2 Timothy 3:16-17
"The Bible has been used for centuries by Christians as a weapon of
control. To read it literally is to believe in a three-tiered universe, to
condone slavery, to treat women as inferior creatures, to believe that
sickness is caused by God's punishment and that mental disease and epilepsy
are caused by demonic possession. When someone tells me that they believe
the Bible is the 'literal and inerrant word of God,' I always ask, 'Have you
ever read it'?" Bishop John Shelby Spong. 4
The God of the Old Testament is arguably the
most unpleasant character in all of fiction. Jealous and proud of it; a
petty, unjust unforgiving control-freak; a vindictive, bloodthirsty
ethnic-cleanser; a misogynistic homophobic racist, infanticidal, genocidal,
filicidal, pestilential, megalomaniacal sadomasochistic, capriciously malevolent bully."5Richard Dawkins.
The problem with the Old and New Testaments is that they are both dated
pieces of literature that reflect the values and mores of those who wrote them
between 1000 BCE and 135 CE. Many passages in the Old Testament reflect a
tribal mentality that portrays God as hating everyone the people of Israel
hated. It also portrays God as killing the firstborn male in every household
in Egypt on the night of the Passover, justifies the institution of slavery
(except for fellow Jews), and defines women as the property of men. Note that
even the Ten Commandments exhort us "not covet our neighbor's house, his wife,
his slaves, his ox, his ass, etc." The neighbor is clearly a male, and the
things that we are forbidden to covet are all male possessions. These Hebrew
Scriptures, however, also define God as love, justice and as a universal
being. In the portrait of the "Servant" in Isaiah 40-55 the Hebrew Scriptures
portray human life as capable of giving itself away and even of acting in such
a way as to draw the pain out of others, absorb it and return it as love. The
New Testament portrays Paul as believing that slavery is good if it is kind.
Paul also reveals attitudes toward women that are today deeply embarrassing:
"I forbid a woman to have authority over a man." "Women should keep quiet in
church." Bishop John Shelby Spong. 5
Of the many thousands of essays on this web site, we regard those in this
section to be among the most important.
Almost everywhere else in our essays dealing with Christianity, we
compare conservative and liberal Christian points of view. This essay is different. Here, we compare various passages in the Bible with current standards of morality -- both secular
and religious. This section lists many events in the Bible that are
immoral by today's secular standards, including: genocide, murder of
people for their religious beliefs, mass murder of innocent children, transferring guilt and punishment from the guilty to the innocent, executing some hookers by burning them alive, etc.
They are sometimes called "hard passages" because they seem to
portray God as behaving in a way that would be considered highly immoral by most
Some of the early Christian groups, including many in the Gnostic tradition were so offended by what they viewed as profoundly immoral actions attributed in the Hebrew Scriptures (a.k.a. Old Testament) to Yahweh that they rejected all of the Hebrew Scriptures and/or even lowered the status of Yahweh to that of a demiurge -- an inferior deity who lacks moralilty.
The purpose and intent of this section is to show there are some profoundly
violent, immoral and unethical passages in the Bible when it is compared to
today's secular and religious ethical systems. These passages are casting
Christianity and Judaism a bad light. They are causing many potential Christians
and Jews to reject the Bible, and may be contributing to the legitimization of
violence throughout the culture, and the rapid abandonment of Christianity by older teens and young adults. Perhaps the most serious passages advocate the punishment of innocent people for sins perpetrated by the guilty.
Solving this problem is difficult.
Most religious liberals have long asserted that the Bible was written by
humans who were influenced by their tribal culture, regional violence, and lack of scientific knowledge.
Most liberals accept that the passages did not reflect the will of God at
the time, and are not the will of God today.
However, most conservative Christian and Orthodox Jewish leaders take a very strong stand
that the entire Bible reflects the will of God. Further, many believe that God does not change his mind. If they were to teach that
some biblical passages actually violate the will of God then their followers' faith
in the validity of the rest of the Bible might dissipate.
Included below is a link to a companion essay which discusses why it is
important to either change, reinterpret, ignore, or remove those passages in religious holy books
that are considered violent and unjust by today's standards