Conservative Christian blogger:
When attacking atheism, Christians will say without God, there is no objective right or wrong. With no divine lawgiver, everything is permitted. Rape might be taboo, but there is no way the atheist can say that it is truly evil. If the skeptic knows a bit about the Old Testament, they might be glad you brought up the R-word. “Oh really!? Well, then how can morality be based on a divine lawgiver that condones and allows rape?” Admittedly, there is some funky sounding stuff in the Old Testament. For example:
- We read in Judges that the Israelites hatched a scheme to allow the pathetic Benjaminites to essentially rape 400 women at Jabesh-Gilead so their clan’s population wouldn’t die out. (Judges 21:10-24)
- Moses seems to have made room for female POWs to be war trophies. (Numbers 31:17-18, Deuteronomy 20:10-14)
- And we read in Deuteronomy that God “punishes” rapists by paying a bridal fee while the victim has to marry her rapist! (Deuteronomy 22:28-29)
When was the last time you heard these passages taught in Sunday school? There’s no sense in hiding from these verses, so let’s deal with them head-on.
…God isn’t involved with [these] actions, and nothing is being prescribed. These verses no more endorse rape than Lamentations 4:10 authorizes cannibalism. These are horrible tragedies reported about a nation that forgot God and became like the nations around them. …You can’t just rip these verses out of the Old Testament without an understanding of the cultural context and God’s original intention. This tactic is one of the skeptic’s favorite ploys to make God out to be the bad guy, but after closer inspection, we’ve seen that God isn’t supporting rape at all. Jesus is the ultimate standard for morality. On atheism, there remains no objective standard to even judge what they find immoral in the Bible. And using Old Testament passages out of context as clobber verses is just a red herring.
Another possible explanation for the development of “morality” is that it is a cultural phenomenon. If humans are mammals, most mammals live in packs or herds. Scientists believe that the “herd” developed because it gave a greater chance of survival for the individual members of the herd. But for any herd to function and survive it must have rules of conduct for its members. If a member repeatedly violates the rules of the herd he is expelled or killed. Human societies also developed rules of conduct for their “herd”. These rules of conduct were eventually called “moral behavior” or morality. Societies define what is moral and what is not. We see this in the Bible. At one time in the Jewish culture it was “moral” to stone a bride for not having an intact hymen on her wedding night. Having a non-intact hymen on your wedding night is no longer a stoning offense in Jewish culture. Morality changes based on the time and the circumstances of the “herd”.
There are other verses in the Bible that are more troubling than what you have mentioned. The Hebrew god, Yahweh, allegedly ordered the slaughter of every man, woman, and child in the camp of the Amalekites. Is it ever moral to target children and infants for slaughter?
Conservative Christian Blogger:
…What I’m saying is that it’s possible this one time in history there were morally sufficient reasons to bring judgment on Canaan, and in my post here I’m saying that God regulated the behavior of fallen people and Jesus pointed us to the correct, objective standard and gave man through his Spirit the power to do it. I think you’re quite right to point out that certain things are normally morally wrong, objectively speaking. But that’s a claim well beyond morality being a socio-biological adaptation.
I am not suggesting that rules of conduct (morality) are absolute. They are always subjective, even in the stories of the Bible. In the Bible, it is always immoral to kill children of one’s own herd (Israel) but it is sometimes moral to kill the children of someone else’s herd (Amalekites). Therefore, even the Bible has no absolute moral rule against slaughtering children and infants. In the Bible, the morality of killing children is subjective/conditional. One thing to notice about Jesus is that he never once condemned these acts of genocide, yet he taught his followers to be pacifists; to turn the other cheek. To me this shows that even Jesus saw morality as subjective; moral standards change with time and conditions.