Question Of The Week: "The Bible"

by Conor Friedersdorf

A reader writes:

Without a doubt: The Bible. But not in a positive way.  

I was raised a devout Catholic. While in college, I read the Bible from cover to cover, and much of it twice.  I was absolutely astonished at the violence, vengeance, inconsistency, and pettiness of this supposed god.  Bluntly put, the Bible simply did not say what my Catholic education and upbringing said it did.  We were spoon-fed only certain portions and never encouraged to read the rest of the story.  As a nearly-50 adult, I look with dismay and disgust at the intentional damage caused by followers of this book.  That damage far, far exceeds any good that is directly attributable to it.  Followers of the Bible, especially fundamentalists, cherry pick phrases that allow them their biases and use them as a club to humiliate and exclude those who are not like them.  No other work has caused so much hatred, carnage, and downright meanness.

We all know that Leviticus describes homosexuality as an abomination.  But there are other things labeled with the same word that seem to be largely ignored: Wearing opposite-gender clothes (Deuteronomy.22:5) - no more jeans for women!  Lying (Proverbs 12:22).  Most trial attorneys (Proverbs.17:15).  A whole bunch of food (Leviticus 11:4-32) including pork, shellfish, and mollusks - so long Red Lobster!.  My personal favorite, Oppression of others, particularly the poor or vulnerable (Ezek. 18: 6-13)  There is a complete list here:  Oh, and the New Testament isn't immune either, because Jesus himself specifically says not to eat figs: Mark 11:12-14 - So long Fig Newtons!  Why is only ONE of these things reviled today, while the others are clearly celebrated?

Things that are clearly condoned in the Bible are now mysteriously prohibited, such as polygamy, concubines (well, fundamentalists seem to call their concubines mistresses these days), slaves, and incest.  Things that are celebrated, indeed the raison d'être of the New Testament, are totally ignored or even ridiculed, such as foregoing wealth, distributing wealth to the poor, rendering aid, forgiving trespasses, and simply loving one another.

Adherents of the Bible misuse it greatly, and few use it for good.

I'm sure I'll get rebuttals on this one – stay tuned.