“God Condones Violence”. Does He Now?

This is something that I’ve been meaning to study for such a long time but to be honest I’ve been worried that I won’t find the answer—or that if I do, it won’t be the answer that I want.

The UK is fast going the way of France in that secularism is the flavour of the month. I know people who claim to be atheist but are so concerned with religion it makes me wonder if they are anti-the system or anti-God Himself. Because there is a difference: you can’t hate something if you don’t believe it exists. It’s popular now to just hate God, to mock the Bible and anything resembling religion, not because people are angry at religious intolerance or corrupt clerics (because if they were then they would start a movement or campaign or something, not mock well-to-do people on internet forums) but because everyone else is doing it and at the moment it’s fun.

As this has become a popular standpoint for a lot of people, so-called Voices of Rational Thinking have emerged, skimming over Bible passages, picking out the ones that sound odd and making entire theories and speculations about them. They extrapolate Bible texts and share their “solid” theories with others who will never search for themselves to even check if the passage is in the Bible. This is passed onto others until a warped image of God is established. This is why God gets blamed for all of the world’s ills; why people get angry at God for the Holocaust and not Hitler, or the one from which minds like Hitler’s are created.

Something that I’ve come up against of late is this idea that God condones violence. I’m sure every Christian has heard this:

If God is so loving, why does he condone slavery, rape and genocide in the Old Testament?

As the Christian, what have you said? There are websites dedicated to “exposing the truth” of the Evil Book. Anti-theists have used these texts as a trump card of sorts.

Once upon a time I used to get really angry at it.

Now I feel pity.¬†They don’t actually know God. They know of Him, but they’ve never prayed and asked for an answer. They’ve read the Bible but they’ve never studied it. If I were in their shoes I’d probably be just as angry upon reading these texts, because Christians don’t talk about them.

It was an atheist that brought those passages to my attention. Why hadn’t these texts been explained in church? Why aren’t there any Bible studies on them? We may want to bury our heads in the sand about them but it won’t stop people from demanding of us what they mean. For a lot of people, the Christ they do or don’t see in a Christian can make or break their relationship with Him, so we need to be well versed in the Old Testament, in the passages that make us uncomfortable so we may educate and explain.

Or … I wonder if these passages aren’t explained because people don’t understand them? This baffles me to no end. Whilst I know that there will be some things we just won’t understand about God, He hasn’t hidden anything from us. It’s all in the Bible for us to know about. “Come let us reason together” remember? I’m someone who’s always inquiring about something; I love knowledge and I love finding new things so I find it odd that some people can be in church for 20+ years and never ask about certain things. It’s just … weird.

I know God doesn’t condone violence. I know he abhors rape. I know that the Bible that was used to defend the slave trade was the same Bible that was used by abolitionists to end it. I know that God wasn’t rubbing His hands in glee during Rwanda, Armenia, Darfur. So what do these passages mean?

If there was ever a time for Christians to study their Bible, it’s now.