Opponents of LGBT rights often use the Bible to fuel their hateful agenda: After all, the Old Testament says homosexuals should be put to death, right? And a woman in men’s clothing “is detestable in the sight of the Lord.”
But should we really use the “Good Book” as a barometer of what’s morally acceptable? There’s a lot of practices God condones in the Bible condones that would get you thrown in prison in the 21st century. Here’s just a few.
So many of the Old Testament forefathers had multiple wives and mistresses: Abraham had Sarah and Hagar, Jacob had Leah and Rachel (and their handmaidens Bilhah and Zilpah). King Solomon reportedly had 700 wives, including Pharaoh’s daughter.
It’s funny when you consider how evangelicals insist the Bible defines marriage as between one man and one woman.
While the Bible doesn’t celebrate sexual assault, it suggests marrying your victim and paying off her family will square the deal.
According to Deuteronomy 22:28–29, “If a man happens to meet a virgin who is not pledged to be married and rapes her and they are discovered, he shall pay the girl’s father fifty shekels of silver. He must marry the girl, for he has violated her. He can never divorce her as long as he lives.”
Some religious scholars claim that, having lost her virtue, the victim would otherwise be subject to life of destitution and scorn. So making her marry her rapist is actually saving her life.
Here’s an idea: Maybe the Bible could’ve commanded the Israelites NOT to scorn the victim of sexual assault? Just a thought.
Having sex with your children
In the story of Sodom and Gomorrah, Lot and his family are spared the destruction of the cities because they are righteous. But after Lot’s wife gets turned into a pillar of salt, his daughters decided to cheer him up by having sex with him.
“Our father is old, and there is not a man on earth to come in to us after the manner of all the world,” the eldest says to her sister in Genesis 19. “Come, let us make our father drink wine, and we will lie with him, so that we may preserve offspring through our father.”
So that happened.
Stoning peoplePHAS/UIG via Getty
If the Bible is to believed, you didn’t just stone people willy-nilly. The Mosaic Law specified that, there had to be a trial where at least two witnesses testified.
But stoning is cited as an apt punishment for paganism, necromancy, manslaughter, adultery (with a married woman), breaking the sabbath, male homosexuality, cursing a parent, contempt of court, and giving false testimony in a capital crime, among other offenses.
Though Exodus recounts the tribulations of the Israelites while they were slaves in Egypt, the Old Testament actually condones slavery. In fact, there are strict stipulations on how slaves should be treated: An Israelite slave would be released after six or seven years of servitude, but a foreign slave could be bequeathed to the owner’s family for life.
In I Samuel 15:3, Samuel tells King Saul that God wants him to kill the Amalekites so that the Israelites wouldn’t assimilate their evil ways. “Now go and smite Amalek, and utterly destroy all that they have, and spare them not; but slay both man and woman, infant and suckling, ox and sheep, camel and ass.”
Throughout history, some have claimed the plight of the Jews can be blamed on letting some Amalekites live.