A couple of weeks ago someone wrote an article on News24 making strong statements about the so-called inconsistency of moral standards in the Bible. Statements like these: “The Bible is not a moral code …”; “The bible in no way reflects how we should live our lives …” and “Moral teachings from the bible is a lie, read the bible and see for yourself …”. In the article certain verses from Scriptures were quoted, all of them “well-loved” and popular among those who make it their business to discredit the integrity of Scriptures and of those believers who are naïve enough to take Scriptures seriously.
One of the texts quoted (from the NIV translation) was Deut 21:18-21:
If someone has a stubborn and rebellious son who does not obey his father and mother and will not listen to them when they discipline him, his father and mother shall … bring him to the elders at the gate of his town. They shall say to the elders: This son of ours is stubborn and rebellious. He will not obey us. He is a glutton and a drunkard. Then all the men of his town are to stone him to death. You must purge the evil from among you. All Israel will hear of it and be afraid.
The writer of the article was expressing his disgust that the Almighty would actually command parents to stone their children to death. In his view, this was not a command coming from someone who is serious about high moral standards and true ethical behaviour. And because of verses like these, he reckoned, we can absolutely do without the Bible. As humans beings, we are far more morally inclined than the Almighty Himself! As far as this writer is concerned, “the Bible (only) took some morals that humans already possessed and put them into text”.
The article does not only express disgust at some of the “laws” given by the Almighty (similar to the one in Deut 21), it also criticizes and questions the fact that the Almighty is seemingly not doing anything to prevent or to wipe out immorality in our societies. One of the statements being made in this regard is: “God is not interested in Morality, if he was, he would simply put a stop to immoral acts that occur daily. Why not intervene? Not intervening is the opposite of moral – allowing rape for example”.
How should we respond to the ever increasing number of voices nowadays, questioning the moral integrity of the One who inspired the writers of Scriptures? How can we answer those who accuse Yahweh of being immoral, inconsistent and unsympathetic towards the people of this world? Of course, it is not our primary duty to try to defend the Almighty against the attacks of people who find belief in Scriptures unacceptable, and even repulsive. Primarily, we are not his defenders, He is our Defender! He will stand up for us and fight our battles for us. This is a clear promise that we have in Scriptures. But at times we are put in situations where the Name and the integrity of the Almighty are being questioned point blanc and right into our faces. When this happens, I believe, we should not stand back but, instead, stand up and speak out on behalf of his Name and his Truth!
This is not the place to draw up a list of all the possible arguments that may be used to counter the view expressed in the News24 article. Such a list will take up more time and space than what we can manage here and, what is more, a list of arguments will most probable NOT succeed in making non-believers change their minds. However, a few thoughts based upon Scriptures and our own walk with Yahweh, may help us to come to a place of increased clarity in our own minds. And what is more, these thoughts may also be of help to others, if we use them in the spirit of 2 Tim 2:24-25: “A servant of the Master should not quarrel but be gentle towards all, able to teach … in meekness instructing those who are in opposition, lest somehow Elohim gives them repentance unto a thorough knowledge of the truth.”
First of all, Yahweh is the supreme source of all knowledge of good and evil. The mere suggestion that man has the ability to distinguish between good and evil within himself, without the Almighty having anything to do with it, is foolish and arrogant. What we know about righteousness and moral values, we have essentially received and learned from our Creator. The problem is that since the time of Adam and Eve human beings have proved to become proud and selfish and self-righteous the moment they acquire more knowledge, especially the knowledge of good and evil. Only those ones who acknowledge Yahweh and are willing to humble themselves in his sight, will come to a proper understanding of what is morally right. They are also the ones who will be motivated and inspired to DO what is right and to live according the principles of the Word, even if these principles are unacceptable to some.
As human beings we are in no position to predict or dictate how the Almighty is supposed to act in this world. What do we know or understand about the bigger picture of what Yahweh is planning for this world and why He has allowed certain things to take place in this world? What do we know or understand about love and loyalty and free choice? Even us human beings would not force someone to do something that he or she simply cannot do, because it goes against the very grain of their beings. But then we blame Yahweh because He is not forcing people to stop their acts of immorality and thereby act contrary to their own nature. What do we know or understand about Yahweh’s plan of salvation? The writer of the News24 article said the Bible is a get out of jail free ticket for any sin, because a raping child molester who “loves Jesus” can go to heaven. But who made us the judges of who should be saved and who not? If Yahweh, who knows our hearts, adjudicates that someone has turned his back on immorality and has embraced the righteousness that He prefers, and therefore deserves to be saved, who are we to question his judgement? If Yahweh chose to incorporate the principles of favour and forgiveness into his plan of salvation – the very principles that human beings find so extremely difficult to live by – who are we to question his moral integrity?
To say that the Word of Yahweh is not serious about morality and that nothing was further from Yahweh’s mind than morality when He inspired his prophets and apostles to write the words of Scriptures, is to ignore 90% of what is written in these writings. It is to allow oneself to be blinded (and robbed of ones faith) by a handful of texts that were written in a time and a context and an idiom that are often sadly misunderstood by modern-minded people. We should do what the apostle has suggested, by listening to Scriptures as a whole, for “all Scripture is breathed by Elohim and profitable for teaching …” (2 Tim 3:16). Let us remind ourselves of some of these teachings (restricting ourselves to six verses out of a few thousand available):
Ps 11:7 For Yahweh is righteous, He has loved righteousness; The upright shall see His face.
Isa 5:7 For the vineyard of Yahweh of hosts is the house of Yisraél, and the man of Yehudah is His pleasant plant. He looked for right-ruling, but see, oppression; for righteousness, but see, weeping. Jer 9:24 Let let him who boasts boast of this, that he understands and knows Me, that I am Yahweh, doing kindness, right-ruling, and righteousness in the earth. For in these I delight, declares Yahweh. Mat 5:6 Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, because they shall be filled. Act 10:35 In every nation, he who fears Him and works righteousness is accepted by Him. 1Tim 6:11 But you, O man of Elohim, flee from all this, and pursue righteousness, reverence, belief, love, endurance, meekness.
Maybe the writer of the News24 article was right in one respect, after all. Maybe the Word of Yahweh was not intended to be a moral code. It was mostly intended as a source of inspiration. It was intended to introduce people to the One who created them and to give them a glimpse of his supreme kind of righteousness that they have never encountered before. But it was also intended to give them a glimpse of the Creator’s heartbeat for those He had created and to kindle within them a profound and deep desire to connect with Him and to please Him and to honour Him. In this manner, unlike any other other motivational system that one may find in this world, people from all backgrounds in life discover within themselves an unparalleled urge to return and remain loyal to their creator, called Yahweh the Almighty.