What do young Christians think of some of the most heinous biblical verses?

Website - 7 December 2005

One of the things I’ve noticed about young Christians is their over-reliance and indulgence in the New Testament only – the dreamy story of “love thy neighbour” and “turn the other cheek”. As an anti-theist I have an obsession with testing people’s religious faith and convictions – and so rather pretentiously I gathered together some of the most awful and bigoted verses from the Old Testament (verses that constitute murder, rape and genocide). I put these verses to some confirmed Christians (Catholic, C of E or other) to see what they thought…

Job 15:26 "Anyone who is born whose flesh is not circumcised on the eighth day is... to be smashed down and annihilated, to be uprooted from the face of the earth."

AY: I don’t know what to think. I don’t like it. It’s a bit rash.
SG: That’s a bit extreme.
BS: It’s a verse showing God’s anger when his children disobey him. It’s a good verse.
CB: Circumcision is old fashioned isn’t it? So that doesn’t really apply to modern life.
CH: That’s just. Well, God is just God.

Exodus 21: 5-6 "If a servant says, 'I love my master and my wife and children, I do not wish to be freed,' his master may bring him out to the door-post, bore a hole in his ear with an awl; and the servant shall serve him forever."

AY: Powerful. Gruesome. It shows commitment from a man who’s willing to have his ear pierced or whatever.
SG: I suppose that’s what they believed in so I can’t really pass judgement. Everything that is written in the bible are the basic morals which we live by.
BS: That’s cool too. The ear ring is the symbol of a free slave. He is allowed to be free, but if he stays with his master it means he’s good.
CB: There’s a ‘but’ that comes next, surely…
CH: Er… the same.

Leviticus 21: 14-40 "I shall make you eat the flesh of your own sons, I shall make you eat the flesh of your own daughters... You shall be scattered among your enemies and those that survive will live in such terror as to scream at the falling of a leaf."

AY: Woah. That’s powerful again, and moving. A great description and speaks of the time I suppose.
SG: That one’s strange…
BS: Again, a power verse showing God’s wrath for disobedience.
CB: Well, that has to be talking about wrong-doers.
CH: Harsh, but just.

Samuel 1:11 "I shall make your wives have sexual intercourse in broad daylight with all your neighbours."

AY: That’s context bound. Typical of Samuel.
SG: That’s just perverted!
BS: Again, God’s anger. An extremely fair reaction for a God-slinging world.
CB: Woah. My God’s pretty mean…
CH: Again, harsh but just.

Samuel 15:18 "Go and utterly destroy those sinning Amalekites, and fight against them until they are consumed."

AY: It shows us that God hates sin and we pay with sin with our death. Typical of the Old Testament.
SG: Just like modern day – someone does something, goes to war and tries to utterly destroy each other.
BS: Many great Godly men led armies against them, as God told them not to. It’s good.
CB: Those are fighting words.
CH: Just. They’re enemies of God’s people.

Genesis 6:6 "He regretted having made human beings and was grieved at heart”

AY: No response.
SG: I understand that one – human beings are so damn complicated so I see where he’s coming from.
BS: This is really sad, but quite beautiful. It shows that he is just as emotional as a human being.
CB: That’s because we sinned.
CH: Perfectly reasonable, we mucked up.