Old Testament Morality

Pardon the extended absence. As MBE reminds us “trials are proof of God’s care” (S&H 66:6, 10-11), while I’m fairly sure “God” had nothing to do with the incidents that have plagued our household this month, the quote still sticks firmly in the back of my mind.

Christian Science (and most Christian religions in general) are really good at pulling Bible quotes out of context and manipulating them to serve their own purposes. Christian Science is particularly good at this because the entire weekly Bible lesson is made up of quotes pulled out of context and placed next to each other to line up with the “subject” of the week.

I happen to enjoy finding examples of abused Bible passages. Today’s example comes from Principia’s Moral Reasoning Seminar and an excerpt about the “purpose of morality.”

Purpose of Morality: to preserve the health, happiness, success and progress of the individual society.

  • What is the promise of morality in the Old Testament? (examples: Deut. 5:33, Lev. 26:3-12, Jer. 7:23, Is. 32:17; 33:5,6,15,16,20,22,24)

I will save my dear readers the trouble of looking up the passages for themselves and link to them so you can read them in their larger context.

  • Leviticus 26:3-12 is all sunshine and flowers, until you learn what God has in mind if you disobey. Thankfully these are “the laws and the regulations that the Lord established on Mount Sinai between himself and the Israelites through Moses.I don’t qualify.
  • Jeremiah 7:23 but I gave them this command: Obey me, and I will be your God and you will be my people. Walk in all the ways I command you, that it may go well with you. Then, a few lines later, the Lord is damning an entire generation. Fickle much?

Dubious pull quotes out of context aside, I take issue with Old Testament morality. The Old Testament is home to the Vengeful God who calls for Abraham to sacrifice Issac, is fine with killing EVERYTHING (except Noah, his family and two of each animal) to prove a point (and promises to never do so again and sends a rainbow, I bet he promised the same thing to the dinosaurs).

Most of the time the “chosen” people (Leviticus 26:46) are either enslaved, wandering around a desert, or taking over land that’s been “given” to them by something who refers to themselves as “the Lord.” This “Lord” gets very angry when questioned, and then dishes out morality ultimatums and consequences. The fate of those who are not chosen is often even worse (see how the Lord handled the Egyptians).

Furthermore, the Old Testament God is okay with slavery, rapists marrying their victims (after paying off their fathers), and human sacrifice. None of these things “preserve the health, happiness, success and progress of the individual society.”

I’m fairly certain if I had posed these questions during my Moral Reasoning Seminar I would’ve been deemed a “threat to the community at large” for having thoughts that did not align appropriately with the Office of Student Life and would have likely spent may hours in the Dean of Student’s office explaining myself.