(Originally published 3/8/12, by Mike Aus, aka paganpreacher)
Just a little inspiration from the “Good Book” to bless your week:
“When a man sells his daughter as a slave, she shall not go out as the male slaves do.” (Exodus 21:7) “Whoever curses his father or mother shall be put to death.” (Exodus 21:17) “Whoever sacrifices to any god, save to the Lord only, shall be utterly destroyed.” (Exodus 22:20) “You shall surely put the inhabitants of that city to the sword, destroying it utterly. all who are in it and its cattle, with the edge of the sword.” (Deuteronomy 13:15) “The Lord will smite you with consumption, and with fever, inflammation, and fiery heat, and with drought, and with blasting, and with mildew; they shall pursue you until you perish. The Lord will make the rain of your land powder and dust; from heaven it shall come down upon you until you are destroyed.” (Deuteronomy 28:22-24) “I will bring such distress on men, so that they shall walk like the blind, because they have sinned against the Lord; their blood shall be poured out like dust, and their flesh like dung.” (Zephaniah 1:17) “But as for the cowardly, the faithless, the polluted, as for murderers, adulterers, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars, their lot shall be in the lake that burns with sulphur and fire, which is the second death.” (Revelation 21:8)
And finally, everybody’s favorite:
“Happy shall he be who takes your little ones and dashes them against the rock!” (Psalm 137:9)
As we say in church, “The word of the Lord: Thanks be to God!” Have I taken these passages out of context? Of course I have. But even reading them in context does not make them any more palatable. Plus, all the “inspirational” scripture passages you see on bumpers stickers, billboards, and church marquee signs are also taken out of context. And when you read those passages in context, they frequently sound quite a bit less inspirational. But, you might protest, what about all the beautiful and lovely parts of the Bible that have brought hope to so many people?
Yes, even the Bible shows occasional flashes of genius. Some passages even approach the sublime. The treatise on human love in First Corinthians 13 comes to mind–which, by the way, does not contain a single reference to God. I’m just saying that if any book were written for the purpose of transmitting a divine message of eternal truth for humanity, it doesn’t make sense that you would have to look so hard to find the good stuff. How on earth could a book that is up to its eyeballs in divinely mandated blood, gore, and human suffering be considered in any sense, “holy?”
After serving in Christian ministry for twenty years–as a missionary in Japan and then as a pastor in the U.S–Mike Aus publicly came out as a non-believer on MSNBC in March of 2012. He is now the Director of Houston Oasis, a 501(c)(3) secular education and service organization in Houston, TX, which describes itself as “a community grounded in reason, celebrating the human experience.” Mike is a graduate of the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor and Luther Seminary (St. Paul, MN).