We have often discussed how Christians cherry-pick from the Bible according to what suits their own thinking, and to support their version of the oxymoron “Biblical truth”. Looking back to the 1600s, we can read in most history books how Christians would use “evidences and justifications” from the “Good Book” such as “Thou shalt not suffer a witch to live” (Exodus 22:18) for their cruel and barbaric acts against other human beings. Today’s fundamentalist Christians and many moderate Christians use passages from their mythology books to support their bigotry against homosexuals. Leviticus 20:13 "If a man also lie with mankind, as he lieth with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination: they shall surely be put to death; their blood shall be upon them.” Thank human goodness we now have laws that (ironically in a “Christian” nation) prevent Bible literalists from carrying out most of the horrendous acts that are prescribed by the evil commands of an ancient text.
In all the years I sat in church services in a number of different churches of varying denominations, I heard numerous variations of Hell, where one would go after we died if we did not say the magic words prior to our death to get us a ticket to heaven. However, looking back, I realize I never heard from the pulpit “If a man have a stubborn and rebellious son, which will not obey the voice of his father, or the voice of his mother…all the men of the city shall stone him with stones, that he die…. (Deut. 21:18, 21), or Leviticus 20:18 “And if a man shall lie with a woman having her sickness, and shall uncover her nakedness; he hath discovered her fountain, and she hath uncovered the fountain of her blood: and both of them shall be cut off from among their people..” or Leviticus 20:10 “And the man that committeth adultery with another man’s wife, even he that committeth adultery with his neighbour’s wife, the adulterer and the adulteress shall surely be put to death.” (Just to name a few of hundreds of passages that are regularily ignored by clergy and congregations alike, thank human reason and goodness!)
We have had discussions with Christians where we bring up the point about the atrocities of the Bible and are blown off, or some make excuses like “that was then and this is now” and “those parts don’t apply to today’s world.” I remember during Bible studies when people brought up certain violent and cruel passages and they received responses like those mentioned above, or they were conveniently ignored and they would sidestep the subject and move on to other more pleasant topics.
Mark Twain, in his “Letters from the Earth” wrote a little story which illustrates just what I am talking about.
Man’s inhumanity to man
Makes countless thousands mourn!
I will tell you a pleasant tale which has in it a touch of pathos. A man got religion, and asked the priest what he must do to be worthy of his new estate. The priest said, “Imitate our Father in Heaven, learn to be like him.” The man studied his Bible diligently and thoroughly and understandingly, and then with prayers for heavenly guidance instituted his imitations. He tricked his wife into falling downstairs, and she broke her back and became a paralytic for life; he betrayed his brother into the hands of a sharper, who robbed him of his all and landed him in the almshouse; he inoculated one son with hookworms, another with the sleeping sickness, another with gonorrhea; he furnished one daughter with scarlet fever and ushered her into her teens deaf, dumb, and blind for life; and after helping a rascal seduce the remaining one, he closed his doors against her and she died in a brothel cursing him. Then he reported to the priest, who said that that was no way to imitate his Father in Heaven. The convert asked wherein he had failed, but the priest changed the subject and inquired what kind of weather he was having, up his way.
Mark Twain’s “Letters from the Earth” were withheld from publication until 1962. The biting criticism of religion was considered so inflammatory by his daughter that she prevented its publication for more than 50 years.