God is a moral relativist

Since every Christian loves to apologize for their god’s evil acts, God gets a pass for his Old Testament wrath. No one dares stand up and say, “What God did was wrong. We should admonish bad acts regardless of who commits them.” Aside from implying that morality does not come from God, such a statement would show imperfection in God. So rather than admit the obvious truth, Christians do some mental gymnastics so that their claims about God will stand up despite his contradictory actions.

And where does that leave Christians and their god? It leaves them wallowing in moral relativity. They have to argue that what God did in the ancient past was somehow not evil, and the way they accomplish this is to say that his actions and commands were particular to a time and place. If that isn’t moral relativism, I don’t know what is.

Let’s take Deuteronomy 22:28-29 as an example:

28 If a man happens to meet a virgin who is not pledged to be married and rapes her and they are discovered, 29 he shall pay her father fifty shekels of silver. He must marry the young woman, for he has violated her. He can never divorce her as long as he lives. [NIV]

I am struggling with how I want to word my objection. Instinctively, I want to express that it is obviously wrong to force a rape victim to marry her rapist, but that does not adequately reflect how messed up this passage really is. The idea here is that it is the rapist, not the victim, who is being punished. He must marry her. What’s more, he is stuck with her for the rest of his life. The poor fella.

But all that aside, the way Christians overwhelmingly choose to get around this problem is to say it was a different time and place. I agree, and we need to have some perspective when we go to judge past cultures, but this isn’t about the particular culture. God told people that the punishment for rape is a fine and marriage. Even if I grant that at least he said rape is wrong (even if the punishment is inadequate), he still said marriage was an appropriate solution. I don’t care what the time or place is, that is wrong. It is wrong because it robs autonomy from the perfectly innocent woman. (It can be said it robs autonomy from the rapist as well, despite his guilt and everyone’s desire to not care about his rights.)

If we say forced marriages, especially one’s of a rapist-victim nature, are wrong today, it is because they have always been wrong. Christians don’t get to play on both sides of the fence, first claiming their god is an objective source of morality, and then second turning around and excusing him on the grounds of moral relativism.

Deuteronomy is just weird

Whenever I want to delve into the world of the bizarre I read one of three things: what Scientologists actually believe, what Mormons actually believe, or the bat shit crazy stuff that is written in Deuteronomy (the whole thing is weird, but chapter 22 has always been a favorite of mine for its especial craziness).

6 If you come across a bird’s nest beside the road, either in a tree or on the ground, and the mother is sitting on the young or on the eggs, do not take the mother with the young. 7 You may take the young, but be sure to let the mother go, so that it may go well with you and you may have a long life.

…what? I mean, really? An all-powerful being is concerned with something so bizarre?

20 If, however, the charge is true and no proof of the girl’s virginity can be found, 21 she shall be brought to the door of her father’s house and there the men of her town shall stone her to death. She has done a disgraceful thing in Israel by being promiscuous while still in her father’s house. You must purge the evil from among you.

There’s the God we all know. Penis in vagina = bad. But before marriage? = death.

I don’t think I’m really exposing anything not already recognized as silly, but it doesn’t matter how many times I see it, the weirdness never jades me.

Examining Deuteronomy 22

I was glancing through Deueronomy 22 and noticed a few odd items. The first is that the dual use of an oxen and a donkey while plowing is prohibited by God (22:10). It displeases him. The second is God’s Sarah Palin-like attitude toward rape victims.

23 If a damsel that is a virgin be betrothed unto an husband, and a man find her in the city, and lie with her;

24 Then ye shall bring them both out unto the gate of that city, and ye shall stone them with stones that they die; the damsel, because she cried not, being in the city; and the man, because he hath humbled his neighbour’s wife: so thou shalt put away evil from among you.

I guess God’s rape kit is a handful of stones and a pocket full of hatred.

Here’s the clear interpretation of this: a man who rapes a woman in a city should be stoned to death. Okay, immoral enough reaction in itself, but there’s more. The woman, because she did not scream for help, should be stoned to death as well.

and people claim God is a source of morality? I wonder if the guy even has a clear idea of what constitutes a moral system. Life is not being black & white (as most conservatives think it is, incidentally). Aside from being a rape victim, the woman could have been afraid, mute, gagged, or threatened. God seems to assume by not screaming that the woman liked it. Illogical fella, no?

But, this deity isn’t all evil. He has some empathy for country rape.

25 But if a man find a betrothed damsel in the field, and the man force her, and lie with her: then the man only that lay with her shall die.

26 But unto the damsel thou shalt do nothing; there is in the damsel no sin worthy of death: for as when a man riseth against his neighbour, and slayeth him, even so is this matter:

27 For he found her in the field, and the betrothed damsel cried, and there was none to save her.

Since the woman couldn’t scream out for help, she’s in the clear. What if there was a farmer? Shouldn’t the woman have screamed to him? Simply being in a field does not necessarily change the situation. The principle in 22:23-24 seemed to be that the woman had help available to her yet did not seek it. Given that not all fields are empty and devoid of humans, she should have screamed out, even if it was to no avail. It’s almost as if people who lived in highly rural areas where it would be uncommon – in their personal experience – to see a farmer wrote this. Hey, crazy idea! Maybe people did write this fundamental evil? I’d expect God to cover a few more angles. Like, all of them.

So let’s break down what’s important here. It’s perfectly fine for my point to grant that the coming of Jesus somehow changes the immorality we see here. It’s a common tactic of Christians: the Old Testament should be interpreted through the lenses of the New Testament. Okay, sure, whatever. But there still remains the problem that at some point in time, God was telling people to stone rape victims. Even if it is granted that the New Testament changes how we should interpret these words insofar as how we should act now (i.e., we do not stone rape victims because we recognize that as evil), there still remains the problem that God told people to murder women who were raped. He still did these things. God is still guilty of these crimes, even if he corrected his misbehavior down the line.