Part of a series for our CWOTI study group, this session we are reading “Inspired” by Rachel Held Evans.
War Stories. War. Pain. Death. Blood. Violence.
The Israelites, with God’s promise of victory, with his command to take the land and slay all living things, women, children, cattle, and donkeys, went into the Promised Land and took it.
Later, in Judges, there is more violence. Young virgin girls are divided up like gold coins. Others are gang raped and dismembered.
Seriously. It’s all in there. And with God’s blessing. Or at least with His silence.
What. The. F*ck.
“If the Bible teaches that God is love, and love can look like genocide and violence and rape, then love can look like… anything. It’s as much an invitation to moral relativism as you’ll find anywhere.”
Ouch. Yeah. If love can look like anything, then people will make it anything. The God that can love your entire civilization to death, then he can love you personally with cancer and an abusive relationship and a government that wants to control your body parts.
Dude, that’s seriously messed up.
The author in this chapter is all over the place. She doesn’t seem to be able to find a path. In fact towards the end of the chapter she straight up admits that she still hasn’t figured out that to do with the “Texts of Terror” as she calls them and at the end she says that we can only see them through Jesus and leave it at that.
And while I get that, I don’t quite agree. She makes a couple of points that I feel are important:
“Israel told its war stories with flourish, using the language and literary conventions that best advanced the agendas of storytellers.”
“In other words, the authors of Scripture, like the authors of any other work … wrote with agendas.”
While inspired by God, in the end the Bible is a construction of man. And the stories told of the Israelites were written by the winners, and maybe generations after said events happened.
But again, why does God allow these stories to be preserved? Are they to be an example as some have claimed in their actions against indigenous populations in the 17th century and following? Or are they warnings? Preserved as examples of a stiff-necked people of the type of things we are NOT to do, claiming we have God’s blessing when we’re actually twisting what God said to match our own agendas?
I don’t know. These are painful things to read about and they certainly don’t match the God we see through Christ in the Gospels that says to love your enemies and lay your life down for your friends.
Chapter 3 has left me with more uncomfortable feelings than answers. If someone who has dug deeper into the meanings of these stories than I have doesn’t have a satisfactory answer for their existence, then what am I to make of them?
And what am I to do with those, in our modern age, who use the agenda of the Bible (in their own opinions) as a weapon against women, against the LGBTQIA+ community, against science and common sense?
Can’t get my brain around it. Other than to see everything through Christ and answer with patience and love.