Thursday 9 January 2014

God is Love: Wholesome Christian Values

I had an interesting conversation with my father the other day. He's currently attending a series of lectures which attempt to analyse when and why man invented god.

During our talk, he told me that his own belief is there's nothing after death. We die, and that's it. This was interesting because it made me wonder why he chose to indoctrinate my brother and I into the Christian religion, and I took this opportunity to ask him.

His response was that it was important to be taught the beliefs of one's culture and that it offered us roots and values. In fact, values was the most important thing to get out of the Fibble.

I was doing a little research on the Fibble recently about the events surrounding Jesus' birth, and I'd amassed a lot of other notes about what this particular god was supposed to have taught us. I could see that when it comes to values, it was really far from clear how this belief system offered us a good guide to how any society should behave, at least one that claims to be loving and supporting. Since I have three daughters, I have a particular interest in how women are treated, but I've also touched on other aspects to hopefully offer a clearer picture of the kind of society Jehovah wants us to have.

There ain't nothing like a good stoning...
You’re No Son Of Mine

Let's start with kids. It's clear that "spare the rod, spoil the child" is a saying that's pretty close to Jehovah's heart. Well, it would have to be wouldn't it, since it's part of the Fibble (Proverbs 13:24).

If your son is stubborn or rebellious, and doesn't listen to you, you can stone the little blighter to death (Deuteronomy 21:18-21). Should he dare to curse, you might as well start procreating again, because the sentence is, again, death. (Exodus 21:17).

The bear necessities?
It goes without saying that such extreme punishment can be quite traumatic on a family, so it's good to know that god will be happy to step in and help out. He can send ravens to pluck out your son's eyes if he dares to mock you (Proverbs 30:17). And keep an eye out (if you've got any left) for bears if you plan on teasing a stranger for being bald, for if you do, god will send two of his furry friends to finish you and your friends off. (2 Kings 2:23-24)

Being a kid can't have been much fun in those days, but have you noticed that these references to children are actually to sons? Does that mean that daughters behaved better and didn't need to be punished? Well, not quite...

Your Lot in Life

To understand how women are treated in the Fibble, let's take a look at Lot.

"Mos Eisley. You will never find a more wretched
hive of scum and villainy", except maybe in
Sodom... and Gibeah...
Lot lived in Sodom, a depraved city. From what I heard, it was even worse than Tatooine's Mos Eisley. Lot and his children were spared its destruction thanks to the help of two angels, so the way he behaved must've been viewed by god to be decent and honourable. After all, you don't call someone Righteous for nothing. And indeed, he was brave and courageous: according to Genesis 19:4-5, the men of Sodom heard that Lot was sheltering two strangers and went to his house demanding he brought them out so they could rape them. Lot refused and protected his guests. Pretty cool, eh? I'd feel safe if I were his guest... But not if I were his daughter. You see, the story continues and Genesis 19:6-8 tells us Lot offered his own virgin daughters as an alternative. Don't rape my guests but rape my daughters? Those two strangers - who were in fact angels - didn't let that happen, but Lot had no way of knowing that when he made the offer.

Take my wife!
In fact, a very similar event took place in the village of Gibeah, when a Levite and his wife were enjoying the hospitality of an old man. Judges 19:22-28 tells us some men demanded the Levite be brought out so they could rape him (sound familiar? Looks like Sodom was far from unique). Just like Lot, the old man refused, protected his guest, and offered his own daughter and the Levite's wife instead. I guess there were no angels to save the day this time though: the Levite himself sent his wife to the mob, she was raped to death, and he left the next day. This is just a taste of how the Fibble treats women. How do you think of it so far?

Let's go back to Lot, because his adventures weren't over. He may have survived the destruction of Sodom with his two daughters, but he lost his wife in the process. How on earth would he be able to have sons and further his line? Why, by incest, of course! It's not like incest is unheard of in the Fibble, after all once Adam and Eve were cast out of Paradise, they had to populate the Earth, so all their grandchildren had to come from somewhere... And the same with Noah's family. How are you expected to repopulate the planet if you've only got your own family to draw from? So according to Genesis 19:30-38, Lot's daughters got him drunk, had their evil way with him and each produced him a son.

If you think that was a rather racy passage for the Fibble, you'd better look away because here comes Ezekiel 23:11-21, were we find a description of sex involving multiple partners, a graphic representation of their manhood, and how much semen these butch lovers were able to produce. It's there for all to see. If such passages were read more often, I probably would've attended church regularly as a teenager!

Shut Up, Just Shut Up, Shut Up

A woman's subjugation is never done...
Lot's story shows us that being a woman is clearly a serious disadvantage in this world, and the rest of the Fibble doesn't really get better for them.

The Fibble talks about rape a lot and provides means of dealing with it. For instance, Deuteronomy 22:28-29 states that if a man sleeps with a woman and they are discovered, then he has to pay her father 50 shekels and marry her. Mary your rapist, how loving is that? Of course if he's not discovered, we have to assume that he's free to carry on raping. Exodus 22:16-17 says pretty much the same thing, although the size of the monetary recompense is left open, possibly allowing for fluctuations in the market.

Stoning is a popular punishment in the Fibble and it pops up in Deuteronomy 22:13-21 where we learn that a woman should be killed if it's discovered she'd lost her virginity prior to getting married.

Further, if a woman is married and were to be assaulted in a city, both her and the man who raped her are to be, you guessed it, stoned to death according to Deuteronomy 22:23-24, he for defiling another man's wife and she for not speaking out.

We can probably conclude that if you're a woman, it may be safer for you not to interact with any men you don't know so you can live a nice productive life. Well... not quite. For one thing, 1 Corinthians 14:34 states that you must keep quiet in churches - you are not permitted to speak there.

But that's only in churches. The rest of the time, everything's ok, right? Not accordingly to 1 Timothy 2:12; women should be silent at all times, they should not challenge the authority of men, nor are they allowed to teach. Don't you just love patriarchy?

A woman can’t even run to the aid of her husband: if he’s in a fight with another man and his wife happens to touch the opponent’s genitals as she prises that thug off her husband, he’ll have her hand chopped off (Deuteronomy 25:11-12).

Essentially, women are the property of men, they should shut up, show no initiative, and do as they're told. If they're ever raped, they'll most likely get punished for it. It makes me wonder why any woman would willingly want to be a Christian. It might also explain our society's apparent casual attitude towards rape.

You've Got a Slave in Me

Slaves, obey your masters (Colossians 3:22)
So, we've established that women are pretty much slaves, but how are actual women slaves treated in the Fibble? According to Leviticus 19:20-22, unlike raping a city or country girl, raping another man's slave doesn't sound too bad. The woman must be punished of course (and by punished, I mean killed), but that same passage explains how the man can atone for his action, and it doesn't sound like such a big deal. After all, how hard can it be to offer a priest an unblemished ram from his flock as a guilt offering?

But hold on a second. Slavery? In the Bible? I mean the Fibble? I'm afraid so. Not only is slavery mentioned, it's condoned. Leviticus 25:44-46 tells you the kind of slaves you can have and that your children can even inherit them, since they're property. Exodus 21:1-11, goes into greater detail, like what to do if you free a slave but his wife and children are still your property (hint: he must either leave them behind or remain with them and be your slave until his death). Even worse, Leviticus 27:3-7 makes it clear how much you're expected to pay for the different types of slaves; males, females, children, and elderly. What was that again about the god of love?

All The Lovely People

How does god feel about disabled people?
Well, god and love don't seem to mix too well. Heck, he doesn't like most of his creation. Leviticus 21:16-24 states that anyone with so much as a blemish will not be offered "the bread of God". And let's face it, who hasn't got a blemish? Of course, the blind and the lame are excluded too. Flat noses aren't in favour, nor are hunchbacks or little people. And if you’re disabled, well, you get the picture. So much for being made in his own image. The mirror was obviously warped, and something went terribly wrong in the replication process.

Don't be Selfish with the Shellfish

It doesn’t stop there. Jehovah is ever so picky when telling his favourite creation how to behave. Of course, we all know that being a homosexual is a big no-no. Leviticus 18:22 and 20:13 amongst others make that perfectly clear.

Read the Fibble fully before getting a tattoo...
But the Fibble reaches deep down and tries to control every facet of your life (whatever happened to free will?). You shouldn't, for instance, wear gold jewellery (1 Peter 3:3) - I wonder how the makers of all those gold crucifix necklaces think about that, let alone the people who wear them!

And that's not all. Leviticus 10:6 states that your clothes must be in good nick and that your hair must not be unkempt. Also, don't trim your beard (Leviticus 19:27), get tattoos (Leviticus 19:28) or wear clothes made of mixed fabrics (Leviticus 19:19).

So sinfully delicious...
Wait, there's more! The Fibble controls your diet too. Don't even think of eating anything from the sea that hasn't got fins or scales (Deuteronomy 14:9-10), so you better put that prawn cocktail down. Fat and blood? Sorry, no (Leviticus 3:17). Camels, rabbits, hare and pork are also off the menu (Leviticus 11:4-7), but I didn't see any mention of horse, so that Findus lasagna should still be ok.

All of these edicts mean that most people who call themselves Christians are actually going against their god's wishes every day of their lives. But many of these certainly do know that homosexuality is a sin in the eyes of their god, and clamour about it to any who won't listen. As far as I understand, you can't pick and choose which verses to follow and which ones to ignore; it's a whole or nothing kind of deal (Deuteronomy 12:32 and Revelation 22:18-19 among others). What was that saying about letting the one who is without sin cast the first stone? (John 8:7)

Of course one of the most famous quotes of the Fibble can be found in Luke 6:31 and Matthew 7:12: "Do to others as you would have them do to you." It's a great sentiment, and words to live by for sure, but putting them in context next to the rest of the Fibble, and looking at all the above examples, you may start to wonder how good and wise those words actually are.

We don't really think it's ok to kill a child because he's rude to his parents, or to rape a woman and treat her as an object without a mind of her own who should do as her owner desires, nor do we think slavery and incest are acceptable, so why do we think a series of books which condones all of the above and more besides, written centuries ago by an incredibly brutal and primitive society, is seen as a shining example of wholesome values that should still be applicable today? Isn't it time we let go of the past and look to the future, or at least teach our kids what the Fibble truly says rather than what we think it says?

Let's grab that single line from Luke 6:31 and discard the rest. It's the best thing that came out of a belief system that mentions unicorns (Isaiah 34:7), dragons (Revelation 12), and follows the exploits of a deity who couldn't even defeat a neighbouring tribe because its chariots were made of iron (Judges 1:19). 

Considering all this, my dad should never have looked to the Fibble if he wanted to teach his sons good, decent values. In fact, teaching us the roots of our society would’ve been better achieved by singing to us that "Every Sperm is Sacred"...

Thanks to @VirgoJohnny, the best ordained Spock on Twitter, for all his help, to @ATHE1STPOWER, @BromynameisJack, @g1rad, @thom_roland, and @Eschertology for pointing the way, and apologies and a huge thank you to anyone I might've forgotten.

Further reading

Little Baby Jesus (13 December 2013)

Going Round in Circles: God Versus Evolution (23 November 2013)

In God We Trust ? (22 October 2012)



  1. Before anyone reads this and thinks "this is all from the Old Testament, it doesn't concern Christianity, so we can ignore it", please read what Jesus said himself in Matthew 5:17-18:

    "17 Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfil.

    18 For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled."

    and also in Matthew 23:1-3:

    "1 Then spake Jesus to the multitude, and to his disciples,

    2 Saying The scribes and the Pharisees sit in Moses' seat:

    3 All therefore whatsoever they bid you observe, that observe and do; but do not ye after their works: for they say, and do not."

  2. I thought I'd add a very interesting quote from Numbers 5:11-21, for all those devout Christians who are so against abortion saying god would never condone it. Pay particular attention to verse 21:

    11 Then the Lord said to Moses,

    12 “Speak to the Israelites and say to them: ‘If a man’s wife goes astray and is unfaithful to him

    13 so that another man has sexual relations with her, and this is hidden from her husband and her impurity is undetected (since there is no witness against her and she has not been caught in the act),

    14 and if feelings of jealousy come over her husband and he suspects his wife and she is impure—or if he is jealous and suspects her even though she is not impure—

    15 then he is to take his wife to the priest. He must also take an offering of a tenth of an ephah of barley flour on her behalf. He must not pour olive oil on it or put incense on it, because it is a grain offering for jealousy, a reminder-offering to draw attention to wrongdoing.

    16 “‘The priest shall bring her and have her stand before the Lord.

    17 Then he shall take some holy water in a clay jar and put some dust from the tabernacle floor into the water.

    18 After the priest has had the woman stand before the Lord, he shall loosen her hair and place in her hands the reminder-offering, the grain offering for jealousy, while he himself holds the bitter water that brings a curse.

    19 Then the priest shall put the woman under oath and say to her, “If no other man has had sexual relations with you and you have not gone astray and become impure while married to your husband, may this bitter water that brings a curse not harm you.

    20 But if you have gone astray while married to your husband and you have made yourself impure by having sexual relations with a man other than your husband”—

    21 here the priest is to put the woman under this curse—“may the Lord cause you to become a curse among your people when he makes your womb miscarry and your abdomen swell."

    1. I suggest you read this link in reply,


  3. Steve, Briliant summary of exactly what is wrong with the Fibble (clever, that) - all of its inconsistencies. I was raised a fundamentalist protestant in the 1950s/1960s - there were no female "ministers" - wives, yes, all "help-meets" - Deaconesses (sic) to get the church cleaned, flowers arranged, unleavened "bread" made, foot-washing arrangements set up - play the organ - generally keep things humming along - but preaching - nope! There was no jewellery - the US influences would have seen wedding rings proscribed but that in our society the wedding ring was a kind of "protection" - hands-off - I'm already "spoken for" kind of aura. Food was exactly as you outlined - Leviticus Chapter 11 governed our diet. Not till I stepped away from it all in my late teens (the disconnect between what I was being told I had to do to reach the kingdom of god and what I saw those doing the telling actually themselves doing suddenly Saul-of-Tarsus-like becoming blindingly clear) did I eat bacon or pork/ham, fish with scales, oysters/prawns… I decided that I could nonetheless be a moral person without anyone or anything else telling me what to do. From a good 20 years later I had almost a further 20 years in Japan. Where I found another version of the Golden Rule which you have lifted from the Fibble as its essence best! "The World is a Mirror"! (How one looks/what one does - is reflected back. "Sekai-wa kagami") Along with two other sayings I had found in Japan I felt I needed nothing more as an expression of my life: "The World is Narrow" ("Seken-wa semai" - or It's a Small World - we are all connected once we get the conversation going - no "them" and "us"); and from a famous 16th-century tea-ceremony master: "One Time One Meeting" ("Ichi-go Ichi-e") that we treat each encounter as the one and only time - not to waste the conversation in trivial matters - but to get to the deeper things of our lives - and if the meeting with someone was with an old friend - there was always the sense that it could be the last chance to be with that person - so to treat it as such! In my last years in Japan - a kind of countdown to my return - to Australia - those three sayings guided my sensibilities very strongly - with new friends and with my classes, indeed, too.