Ethics in the Bible

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Ethics in the Bible
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{{short description|Ideas concerning right and wrong actions that exist in the Hebrew and Christian Bibles}}{{Bible sidebar |expanded=interpretation}}{{Under construction|11 August 2018}}{{Multiple issues|{{lead too short|date=August 2012}}{{faith primary|date=August 2012}}}}Ethics in the Bible are the ideas concerning right and wrong actions that exist in the Hebrew and Christian Bibles. Biblical accounts contain numerous prescriptions or laws that people use as guides to action.

Ethical themes in the Bible

Philosopher Alan Mittleman explains biblical ethics is unlike other western ethical theories in that it is seldom overtly philosophical. It presents neither a systematic nor a deductive formal ethical argument. Instead, the Bible provides patterns of moral reasoning that focus on conduct and character. This moral reasoning is part of a broad normative covenantal tradition where duty and virtue are inextricably tied together in a mutually reinforcing manner. It uses legal texts, wise sayings, commentaries, and narratives of ordinary people with specific issues, to offer rather than argue, a moral vision that is suggestive and case-based. Mittleman explains this leaves the reader to engage intellectually with moral reasoning of their own.BOOK, Mittleman, Alan L., A Short History of Jewish Ethics: Conduct and Character in the Context of Covenant, 2012, Wiley-Blackwell, Chichester, West Suffix, 978-1-4051-8942-2, {{rp|1,2}} Theologian John Murray adds that Biblical ethics are not simply individual, but are also corporate.BOOK, Murray, John, Principles of Conduct, 1957, Eerdmans Pub. Co., Grand Rapids, Michigan, 0-8028-1144-2, {{rp|13}}

Political ethics

Political theorist Michael Walzer says "the Bible is, above all, a religious book, but it is also a political book."BOOK, Walzer, Michael, In God's Shadow: Politics in the Hebrew Bible, 2012, Yale University Press, New Haven, Connecticut, 978-0-300-18044-2, There is no political theory, as such, in the Bible, however, the Bible does contain legal codes, rules for war and peace, "ideas about justice and obligation, social criticism, visions of the good society, and accounts of exile and dispossession." Therefore, Walzer says, it is possible to work out a comparative politics.{{rp|xii}} He goes on to say politics in the Bible is similar to modern "consent theory" which requires agreement between the governed and the authority based on full knowledge and the possibility of refusal.BOOK, Walzer, Michael, In God's Shadow: Politics in the Hebrew Bible, 2012, Yale University Press, New Haven, Connecticut, 978-0-300-18044-2, {{rp|5-6}} Politics in the Bible also models "social contract theory" which says a person's moral obligations to form the society in which they live are dependent on that agreement.{{rp|7}} This implies a moral respect for God and his laws which is not a result of law, but pre-exists law.{{bibleverse||Deut|4:6-8|HE}}. Walzer asserts this is what makes it possible for someone like Amos, "an herdsman and gatherer of sycamore fruit," to confront Priests and Kings, and remind them of their obligations. Moral law is, therefore, politically democratized in the Bible.{{rp|7-15}}

War and peace

(File:Figures Five Kings of Midian Slain by Israel.jpg|thumb|Figures Five Kings of Midian Slain by Israel)Warfare as a political act of nationhood, is a topic the Bible addresses ethically, both directly and indirectly, in four ways: there are verses that support pacifism, and verses that support non-resistance; 4th century theologian Augustine found the basis of just war in the Bible, and preventive war which is sometimes called crusade has also been supported using Bible texts.BOOK, Clouse, Robert G., War: Four Christian Views, BMH Books, Winona Lake, Indiana, 1986, 978-0-88469-097-9, {{rp|13–37}} Near Eastern scholar Susan Niditch says "...To understand attitudes toward war in the Bible is thus to gain a handle on war in general..."BOOK, Niditch, Susan, War in the Hebrew Bible: A study in the Ethics of Violence, 1993, Oxford University Press, New York, 0-19-507638-9, {{rp|5}} Pacifism is not in the Hebrew Bible, but an ethic of peace can be found there.BOOK, Sprinkle, Preston, Fight: A Christian Case for Non-Violence, 2013, David C. Cook, Colorado Springs, Colorado, 978-1-4347-0492-4, {{rp|278}} The term shalom (peace) is mentioned more than 2500 times in classical Jewish sources, with many references referring to peace as a central part of God's purpose for mankind. Political activist David Cortright writes that shalom is a complex word with levels of meaning, embodying the conditions and values necessary to prevent war: "social justice, self-determination, economic well-being, human rights, and the use of non-violent means to resolve conflict."BOOK, Cortright, David, Peace: A History of Movements and Ideas, 2008, Cambridge University Press, New York, 978-0-521-85402-3, {{rp|188}} Cortright adds that war is permitted within the Bible, but always in the context of the struggle against injustice and immorality.{{rp|188}} According to theologian Myron S. Augsberger, the Christian ethics of pacifism, and non-resistance, oppose war for any reason.{{rp|81-83}} Christian pacifism is based largely on the ethic advocated by Jesus in the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5). Yet references concerning peace, such as Micah 4:3, which says "They will beat their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks," are also often cited in support of pacifism.BOOK, Augsberger, Myron S., Clouse, Robert G., War: Four Christian views, 1986, BMH Books, Winona Lake, Indianna, 978-0-88469-097-9, Christian pacifism, {{rp|81-97}}BOOK, Siebert, Eric, The Violence of Scripture: Overcoming the Old Testament's Troubling Legacy, 2012, Fortress Press, Minneapolis, Minnesota, 978-1-4514-2432-4, {{rp|83}} Near Eastern scholar Yigal Levin, along with archaeologist Amnon Shapira, write that the ethic of war in the Bible is based on the concept of self-defense. Self-defense is necessary for just war.BOOK, Holmes, Arthur F., Clouse, Robert G., War: Four Christian Views, 1986, BMH Books, Winona Lake, Indianna, 978-0-88469-097-9, The Just War, {{rp|115-135}}BOOK, Levin, Yigal, Shapira, Amnon, Levin, Yigal, Shapira, Amnon, War and Peace in Jewish Tradition: From the Biblical World to the Present, 2012, Routledge, New York, 978-0-415-58715-0, Epilogue: War and peace in Jewish tradition-seven anomalies, {{rp|270}} Levin and Shapira say forbidding war for the purpose of expansion (Deuteronomy 2:2-6,9,17-19), the call to talk peace before war (Deuteronomy 20:10), the expectation of moral disobedience to a corrupt leader (Genesis 18:23-33;Exodus 1:17, 2:11-14, 32:32;1 Samuel 22:17), as well as a series of verses governing treatment of prisoners (Deuteronomy 21:10-14; 2 Chronicles 28:10-15; Joshua 8:29,10:26-27), respect for the land (Deuteronomy 20:19), and general "purity in the camp" (Deuteronomy 20:10-15) are aspects of the principles of just war in the Bible.{{rp|270-274}} In Exodus, Deuteronomy, Joshua, and both books of Kings, warfare includes a variety of conflicts with Amalekites, Canaanites, and Moabites.BOOK, Hunter, A. G., Bekkencamp, Jonneke, Sherwood, Yvonne, Denominating Amalek: Racist stereotyping in the Bible and the Justification of Discrimination", in Sanctified aggression: legacies of biblical and post biblical vocabularies of violence, 2003, Continuum International Publishing Group, {{rp|92-108}}BOOK, Ruttenberg, Danya, Jewish Choices, Jewish Voices: War and National Security, Feb 1987, {{rp|54}}JOURNAL, Fretheim, Terence, 2004, 'I was only a little angry': Divine Violence in the Prophets, Interpretation, 58.4, {{rp|365-375}}JOURNAL, Stone, Lawson, 1991, Ethical and Apologetic Tendencies in the Redaction of the Book of Joshua, Catholic Biblical Quarterly, 53.1, {{rp|33}} For the modern reader, the ethics of conquest is problematic. God commands the Israelites to conquer the Promised Land, placing city after city "under the ban," the herem of total war.{{bibleverse||Deut|20:16-18|HE}} This meant every man, woman and child was to be killed.BOOK, Ian Guthridge, The Rise and Decline of the Christian Empire, 978-0-9588645-4-1, Medici School Publications, Australia, 1999, .{{rp|319–320}}Ruttenberg, Danya, Jewish Choices, Jewish Voices: War and National Security Danya Ruttenberg (Ed.) page 54 (citing Reuven Kimelman, "The Ethics of National Power: Government and War from the Sources of Judaism", in Perspectives, Feb 1987){{rp|10-11}} This leads many contemporary scholars to characterize herem as a command to commit genocide.BOOK, Bloxham, Donald, Moses, A.Dirk, The Oxford Handbook of Genocide Studies, 2010, Oxford University Press, New York, 978-0-19-923211-6, {{rp|242}}BOOK, Grenke, Arthur, God, greed, and genocide: the Holocaust through the centuries, New Academia Publishing, 2005, {{rp|17-30}} Michael Walzer writes that herem was the common approach to war among the nations surrounding Israel of the bronze age, and Hebrew scholar Baruch A. Levine indicates Israel imported the concept from the nations surrounding it.BOOK, Chazan, Robert, Hallo, William W., Schiffman, Lawrence H., כי ברוך הוא: Ancient Near Eastern, Biblical, and Judaic Studies in Honor of Baruch A. Levine, 1999, Eisenbrauns, Winona Lake, Indiana, 1-57506-030-2, 396–397, {{rp|36-43}} There is sociological support for an exchange of culture having occurred between ancient Israel and its neighbors.BOOK, Crook, Zeba A., Esler, Philip Francis, Ancient Israel: The Old Testament in Its Social Context, 2006, Fortress Press, Minneapolis, Minnesota, 0-8006-3767-4, Covenantal Exchange as a Test Case, {{rp|79-90}} Walzer points out that verses 15 to 18 of Deuteronomy 20 are very old, suggesting "the addition of herem to an older siege law."{{rp|42}} He goes on to say the earliest biblical sources show there are two ethics of conquest in the Bible and two sets of laws supporting each.{{rp|36-43}} Beginning at Deuteronomy 20:10-14 {{bibleverse||Deut|20:10-14|HE}} there is a limited war (just war) doctrine consistent with Amos and First and Second Kings which, from Deuteronomy 20 on, are joined with the herem total war doctrine without one superseding the other.{{rp|42}} However, starting in Joshua 9, after the conquest of Ai, Israel's battles are described as self-defense, and the priestly authors of Leviticus, and the Deuteronomists, are careful to give God moral reasons for his commandment.{{bibleverse||Deut|9:5|HE}}{{rp|7}}WEB,weblink Violence in the Old Testament, Creach, Jerome, Jul 2016, The Oxford Research Encyclopedia of Religion, Oxford University Press, 23 December 2017, 10.1093/acrefore/9780199340378.001.0001/acrefore-9780199340378-e-154, 2018-04-11, {{rp|2}}

Criminal justice

Bible scholar Joshua Berman says Moses established a tiered court of magistrates while Israel was still wandering the wilderness. In Deuteronomy 16:18, Moses announces the need to appoint judges and officers in all thy gates, that is in every jurisdiction, once they are in the land.BOOK, Berman, Joshua A., Created Equal: How the Bible Broke with Ancient Political Thought, 2008, Oxford University Press, New York, 978-0-19-537470-4, {{rp|76-77}} Exodus 18:26 explains these judges of "tens, hundreds and thousands" saw to the small cases themselves, but the hard cases they brought to Moses, thus establishing the precedent for a central national judiciary authority.BOOK, Berman, Joshua A., Created Equal: How the Bible Broke with Ancient Political Thought, 2008, Oxford University Press, New York, 978-0-19-537470-4, {{rp|73-78}} Legal scholar Jonathan Burnside says biblical law is not fully codified, but it is possible to discern key ethical elements.BOOK, Burnside, Jonathan, God, Justice, and Society: Aspects of Law and Legality in the Bible, 2011, Oxford University Press, New York, 978-0-19975-921-7, {{rp|30}} Key elements in biblical criminal justice begin with the belief in God as the source of justice and the judge of all.BOOK, Swartley, Willard, Brenneman, Laura, Schantz, Brad D., Struggles for Shalom: Peace and Violence across the Testaments, 2014, Wipf and Stock, Eugene, Oregon, 978-1-62032-622-0, God's moral character as the basis of human ethics: Foundational convictions, Criminal justice scholar Sam S. Souryal says the Bible emphasizes that ethical knowledge and moral character are central to the administration of justice. Souryal says foremost among the biblical ethical principles that ensure criminal justice are those prohibiting "lying and deception, racial prejudice and racial discrimination, egoism and the abuse of authority."BOOK, Souryal, Sam S., Ethics in Criminal Justice: In Search of the Truth, 2015, Routledge, New York, 978-0-323-28091-4, 6th Edition, {{rp|xx}} In the Bible, human judges are thought capable of mediating even divine decisions if they have sufficient moral capacity and wisdom. Biblical criminal justice supports the fight to overthrow oppressors and liberate the oppressed, to put things right from God's perspective, and to put justice in the hands of the many and not just the few. It respects local courts, and involves a range of authorities in an effort to apply practical wisdom and a "divine" sense of justice.{{rp|103-104}}

Human life and personal relationships

{{see also|Eye for an eye}}Prescriptive utterances (commandments) are found throughout the Hebrew Bible and Old Testament, some related to inter-human relationships (the prohibition against murder) while others focus on issues of worship and ritual (e.g. the Day of Atonement festival). Rabbinic tradition classically schematizes these prescriptions into 613 mitzvot, beginning with "Be fruitful and multiply" (God's command to all life) and continuing on to the seven laws of Noah (addressed to all humanity) and the several hundred laws which apply specifically to the Israelites (such as the kashrut dietary laws). Rabbinic tradition also records the aforementioned distinction between commandments that relate to man's interaction with fellow man (בין אדם לחבירו) and those that affect his relationship with God (בין אדם למקום).{{citation needed|date=March 2013}} Many commandments are remarkable in their blending of the two roles. For example, observance of Shabbat is couched in terms of recognizing God's sovereignty and creation of the world, while also being presented as a social-justice measure to prevent overworking one's employees, slaves, and animals. As a result, the Bible consistently binds worship of the Divine to ethical actions and ethical actions with worship of the Divine.{{rp|1-14}}W. E. H. Lecky gives the now classical account of the sanctity of human life in his history of European morals saying Christianity "formed a new standard, higher than any which then existed in the world..."BOOK, Lecky, W.E.H., HIstory of European Morals from Augustus to Charlemagne, 2, 1920, Longman's, Green, and Co., London, England, Christian ethicist David P. Gushee says "The justice teachings of Jesus are closely related to a committment to life's sanctity..."BOOK, Gushee, David P., In the Fray: Contesting Christian Public Ethics, 1994–2013, 2014, Cascade Books, Eugene, Oregon,, 978-1-62564-044-4, 109, John Keown, a professor of Christian ethics, distinguishes this 'sanctity of life' doctrine from "a quality of life approach, which recognizes only instrumental value in human life, and a vitalistic approach, which regards life as an absolute moral value.BOOK, Wicks, Elizabeth, The State and the Body: Legal Regulation of Bodily Autonomy, 2016, Hart Publishing Co., Portland, Oregon, 978-1-84946-779-7, 74,75, Early Church Fathers of Christianity advocated against adultery, polygamy, homosexuality, pederasty, bestiality, prostitution, and incest while advocating for the sanctity of the marriage bed.Witte (1997), p. 20. The central Christian prohibition against such porneia, which is a single name for that array of sexual behaviors, "collided with deeply entrenched patterns of Roman permissiveness where the legitimacy of sexual contact was determined primarily by status. St. Paul, whose views became dominant in early Christianity, made the body into a consecrated space, a point of mediation between the individual and the divine. Same-sex attraction spelled the estrangement of men and women at the very deepest level of their inmost desires. Paul's over-riding sense that gender—rather than status or power or wealth or position—was the prime determinant in the propriety of the sex act was momentous.BOOK, Harper, Kyle, From Shame to Sin: The Christian Transformation of Sexual Morality in Late Antiquity, 2013, Harvard University Press, Cambridge, Massachusettes, 978-0-674-07277-0, 4, {{rp|12,92}} Over the first three centuries of the early Church, Christianity's ethic on sexuality was elaborated, an entire debate about free will was generated within the communities and in debate with people outside of those communities, and by around 300 BCE, the orthodox position had generally crystalized into seeing celibacy as best-—the Symposium of Methodius is an example of a Christian "philosophy distinctly apart from the machinery of society."{{rp|14-18;80–83}}Leviticus 19:18 includes "love your neighbor as yourself."

Economic ethics

The Bible gives images of social justice, economics and labor, and business ethics.

Environmental ethics

The Bible has a great deal to say on bio-ethics and animals.

Theological foundations of ethics in the Bible

Doctrine of God

The Bible assumes the existence of God.

Creation and its implications

File:Tiamat.JPG|thumb|right|upright=1.3|Neo-Assyrian cylinder seal impression from the eighth century BC identified by several sources as a possible depiction of the slaying of Tiamat from the Enûma ElišBOOK, Bromily, Geoffrey W., International Standard Bible Encyclopedia, 1988, William B. Eerdmans Publishing CompanyWilliam B. Eerdmans Publishing CompanyIn 1895 Hermann Gunkel observed that most ancient Near Eastern creation stories contain a theogony depicting a god doing combat with other gods thus including violence as normative in the founding of their cultures.BOOK, Gunkel, Hermann, Zimmern, Heinrich, Whitney Jr., K. William, Creation And Chaos in the Primeval Era And the Eschaton: A Religio-historical Study of Genesis 1 and Revelation 12, Eerdman's, Grand Rapids, 2006, For example, in the Babylonian creation epic Enûma Eliš, the first step of creation has Marduk fighting and killing Tiamat, a chaos monster, to establish order.BOOK, Mathews, "Kenneth A.", The New American Commentary: Genesis 1-11:26, 1A, 1996, Broadman and Holman Publishers, Nashville, Tennessee, 978-0-8054-0101-1, 92–95, Theologian Christopher Hays says Hebrew stories use a term for dividing (bâdal; separate, make distinct) that is an abstract concept more reminiscent of a Mesopotamian tradition using non-violence at creation. Old Testament scholar Walter Brueggemann says "God's characteristic action is to "speak"... God "calls the world into being... The way of God with his world is the way of language."BOOK, Brueggemann, Walter, Genesis: Interpretation: A Bible Commentary for Teaching and Preaching, 2010, Westminster Jon Know Press, Louisville, Kentucky, 978-0-664-23437-9, 24, Old Testament scholar Jerome Creach says Gen. 1:1–2:4a was normative for those who gave the Old Testament canon its present shape.BOOK, Creach, Jerome F.D., Violence in Scripture: Interpretation: Resources for the Use of Scripture in the Church, 2013, Westminster John Knox Press, Louisville, Kentucky, 978-0-664-23978-7, {{rp|4–5,16,18}} The world's first civilizations were Mesopotamian sacred states ruled in the name of a divinity or by rulers who were themselves seen as divine. Rulers, and the priests, soldiers and bureaucrats who carried out their will, were a small minority who kept power by exploiting the many.BOOK, Andrea, Alfred J., Overfield, James H., The Human Record: To 1500 Sources of Global History, eighth, 1, 2016, Houghton Mifflin Co., New York, 978-1-285-87023-6, 6–17, Believing in creation in the image of God by a deity that pronounced it good brings forth a sense of the value and sanctity of all human life.


Covenant and tradition

Salvation and the Holy Spirit

{{see also|Biblical law in Christianity|Christian ethics|Paul the Apostle and Judaism}}
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The Good Samaritan
The main dispute of the Council of Jerusalem, whether non-Jewish converts to Christianity should be considered bound to the Old Testament laws, is addressed elsewhere in the New Testament, e.g. regarding dietary laws:. (See also Mark 7)}}or regarding divorce:. (See also Mark 5)}}The central teachings of Jesus are presented in the Sermon on the Mount,The Sermon on the mount: a theological investigation by Carl G. Vaught 2001 {{ISBN|978-0-918954-76-3}} pages xi–xiv notably the "golden rule" and the prescription to (Matthew 5:44|"love your enemies") and "turn the other cheek".}}Elsewhere in the New Testament (for example, the "Farewell Discourses" of John 14 through 16) Jesus elaborates on what has become known the commandment of love{{according to whom|date=October 2014}}, repeated and elaborated upon in the epistles of Paul (1 Corinthians 13 etc.), see also The Law of Christ and The New Commandment.

Comparisons with other ethical systems


Several Biblical prescriptions may not correspond to modern notions of justice in relation to concepts such as slavery (Lev. 25:44-46), intolerance of religious pluralism (Deut. 5:7, Deut. 7:2-5) or of freedom of religion (Deut. 13:6-12), discrimination and racism (Lev. 21:17-23, Deut. 23:1-3), treatment of women, honor killing (Ex. 21:17, Leviticus 20:9, Ex. 32:27-29), genocide (Num. 31:15-18, 1 Sam. 15:3), religious wars, and capital punishment for sexual behavior like adultery and sodomy and for Sabbath breaking (Num. 15:32-36).The Book of Proverbs recommends disciplining a child: Simon Blackburn states that the "Bible can be read as giving us a carte blanche for harsh attitudes to children, the mentally handicapped, animals, the environment, the divorced, unbelievers, people with various sexual habits, and elderly women".BOOK, Ethics: A Very Short Introduction, Blackburn, Simon, Simon Blackburn, 2001, Oxford University Press, Oxford, 978-0-19-280442-6, 12, Elizabeth Anderson, a Professor of Philosophy and Women's Studies at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, states that "the Bible contains both good and evil teachings", and it is "morally inconsistent".Elizabeth Anderson, "If God is Dead, Is Everything Permitted?" In BOOK, The Portable Atheist: Essential Readings for the Nonbeliever, Hitchens, Christopher, 2007, Da Capo Press, Philadelphia, 978-0-306-81608-6, 336, Bertrand Russell stated that, "It seems to me that the people who have held to it [the Christian religion] have been for the most part extremely wicked....I say quite deliberately that the Christian religion, as organized in its churches, has been and still is the principal enemy of moral progress in the world."BOOK, Why I Am Not a Christian: And Other Essays on Religion and Related Subjects, Russell, Bertrand, Bertrand Russell, 1957, George Allen & Unwin Ltd., New York, 978-0-671-20323-8, 20–21,

Euthyphro Dilemma

A central problem in religiously motivated ethics is the apparent tautology inherent in the concept that what is commanded by God is morally right. This line of reasoning is introduced most famously in Plato's dialogue Euthyphro, which asks whether something is right because the gods love it, or whether the gods love it because it is right.

Moral relativism

{{see also|Argument from inconsistent revelations}}The predominant Christian view{{citation needed|date=August 2012}} is that Jesus mediates a New Covenant relationship between God and his followers and abolished some Mosaic Laws, according to the New Testament ({{bibleverse||Hebrews|10:15-18}}; {{bibleverse||Gal|3:23-25}}; {{bibleverse|2|Cor|3:7-17}}; {{bibleverse||Eph|2:15}}; {{bibleverse||Heb|8:13}}, {{bibleverse||Rom|7:6}} etc.). From a Jewish perspective however, the Torah was given to the Jewish people as an eternal covenant ({{bibleverse||Exod|31:16-17}}, {{bibleverse||Exod|12:14-17}}, {{bibleverse||Mal|3:6-7}}) and will never be replaced or added to ({{bibleverse||Deut|4:2}}, {{bibleverse-nb||Deut|13:1|HE}}). There are differences of opinion as to how the new covenant affects the validity of biblical law. The differences are mainly as a result of attempts to harmonize biblical statements to the effect that the biblical law is eternal ({{bibleverse||Exodus|31:16-17}}, {{bibleverse-nb||Exod|12:14-17}}) with New Testament statements that suggest that it does not now apply at all, or at least does not fully apply. Most biblical scholars admit the issue of the Law can be confusing and the topic of Paul and the Law is still frequently debated among New Testament scholarsGundry, ed., Five Views on Law and Gospel. (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1993). (for example, see New Perspective on Paul, Pauline Christianity); hence the various views.

Evil and God's benevolence

{{further|Theodicy}}A central issue in monotheist ethics is the problem of evil, the apparent contradiction between a benevolent, all-powerful God and the existence of evil and hell (see Problem of Hell). Theodicy seeks to explain why one may simultaneously affirm God's goodness, and the presence of evil in the world.Descartes in his Meditations considers, but rejects, the possibility that God is an evil demon ("dystheism").The Bible contains numerous examples seemingly unethical acts of God.
  • In the Book of Exodus, God deliberately "hardened Pharaoh's heart", making him even more unwilling to free the Hebrew slaves ({{bibleref2|Exod|4:21}}, {{bibleref2|Rom|9:17-21}}).
  • Genocidal commands of God in Deuteronomy, such as the call to eradicate all the Canaanite tribes including children and infants ({{bibleref2|Deut|20:16-17}}). According to the Bible, this was to fulfill God's covenant to Israel, the "promised land" to his chosen people.({{bibleverse||Deuteronomy|7:1-25|niv}})
  • God ordering the Israelites to undertake punitive military raids against other tribes. This happened, for instance, to the Midianites of Moab, who had enticed some Israelites into worshipping local gods ({{bibleverse||Numbers|25:1-18|niv}}). The entire tribe was exterminated, except for the young virgin girls, who were kept by the Israelites as slaves ({{bibleverse||Numbers|31:1-54|niv}}). In {{bibleverse|1|Samuel|15:3|niv}}, God orders the Israelites to "attack the Amalekites and totally destroy everything that belongs to them. Do not spare them; put to death men and women, children and infants, cattle and sheep, camels and donkeys." The Dominion of Love: Animal Rights According to the Bible, Norm Phelps, p. 14
  • In the Book of Job, God allows Satan to plague His loyal servant Job with devastating tragedies leaving all his children dead and himself poor. The nature of Divine justice becomes the theme of the entire book. However, after he got through his troubles his health was restored and all he had was doubled.
  • Sending evil spirits to people ({{bibleverse|1|Samuel|18:10|niv}}, {{bibleverse||Judges|9:23|niv}}).
  • Punishing the innocent for the sins of other people ({{bibleref2|Isa|14:21}}, {{bibleref2|Deut|23:2}}, {{bibleref2|Hosea|13:16}}).
  • In the Book of Isaiah, God created all natural disasters/the evil in the world. ({{bibleref2|Isaiah|45-7}})

The Old Testament

Elizabeth Anderson criticizes commands God gave to men in the Old Testament, such as: kill adulterers, homosexuals, and "people who work on the Sabbath" (Leviticus 20:10; Leviticus 20:13; Exodus 35:2, respectively); to commit ethnic cleansing (Exodus 34:11-14, Leviticus 26:7-9); commit genocide (Numbers 21: 2-3, Numbers 21:33–35, Deuteronomy 2:26–35, and Joshua 1–12); and other mass killings.Elizabeth Anderson, "If God is Dead, Is Everything Permitted?" In BOOK, The Portable Atheist: Essential Readings for the Nonbeliever, Hitchens, Christopher, 2007, Da Capo Press, Philadelphia, 978-0-306-81608-6, 337, Anderson considers the Bible to permit slavery, the beating of slaves, the rape of female captives in wartime, polygamy (for men), the killing of prisoners, and child sacrifice. She also provides a number of examples to illustrate what she considers "God's moral character": "Routinely punishes people for the sins of others ... punishes all mothers by condemning them to painful childbirth", punishes four generations of descendants of those who worship other Gods, kills 24,000 Israelites because some of them sinned (Numbers 25:1–9), kills 70,000 Israelites for the sin of David in 2 Samuel 24:10–15, and "sends two bears out of the woods to tear forty-two children to pieces" because they called someone names in 2 Kings 2:23–24.Elizabeth Anderson, "If God is Dead, Is Everything Permitted?" In BOOK, The Portable Atheist: Essential Readings for the Nonbeliever, Hitchens, Christopher, 2007, Da Capo Press, Philadelphia, 978-0-306-81608-6, 336–337, Blackburn provides examples of Old Testament moral criticisms such as the phrase in Exodus 22:18 that has "helped to burn alive tens or hundreds of thousands of women in Europe and America": "Thou shalt not suffer a witch to live," and notes that the Old Testament God apparently has "no problems with a slave-owning society", considers birth control a crime punishable by death, and "is keen on child abuse".BOOK, Ethics: A Very Short Introduction, Blackburn, Simon, Simon Blackburn, 2001, Oxford University Press, Oxford, 978-0-19-280442-6, 10, 12, Additional examples that are questioned today are: the prohibition on touching women during their "period of menstrual uncleanliness (Lev. 15:19–24)", the apparent approval of selling daughters into slavery (Exodus 21:7), and the obligation to put to death someone working on the Sabbath (Exodus 35:2).BOOK, Ethics: A Very Short Introduction, Blackburn, Simon, Simon Blackburn, 2001, Oxford University Press, Oxford, 978-0-19-280442-6, 11,

The New Testament

Anderson criticizes what she terms morally repugnant lessons of the New Testament. She claims that "Jesus tells us his mission is to make family members hate one another, so that they shall love him more than their kin (Matt 10:35-37)", that "Disciples must hate their parents, siblings, wives, and children (Luke 14:26)", and that Peter and Paul elevate men over their wives "who must obey their husbands as gods" (1 Corinthians 11:3, 14:34-5, Eph. 5:22-24, Col. 3:18, 1 Tim. 2: 11-2, 1 Pet. 3:1).Elizabeth Anderson, "If God is Dead, Is Everything Permitted?" In BOOK, The Portable Atheist: Essential Readings for the Nonbeliever, Hitchens, Christopher, 2007, Da Capo Press, Philadelphia, 978-0-306-81608-6, 338, Anderson states that the Gospel of John implies that "infants and anyone who never had the opportunity to hear about Christ are damned [to hell], through no fault of their own".Elizabeth Anderson, "If God is Dead, Is Everything Permitted?" In BOOK, The Portable Atheist: Essential Readings for the Nonbeliever, Hitchens, Christopher, 2007, Da Capo Press, Philadelphia, 978-0-306-81608-6, 339, Blackburn criticizes what he terms morally suspect themes{{qn|date=September 2015}} of the New Testament.BOOK, Ethics: A Very Short Introduction, Blackburn, Simon, Simon Blackburn, 2001, Oxford University Press, Oxford, 978-0-19-280442-6, 11–12, He notes some "moral quirks" of Jesus: that he could be "sectarian" (Matt 10:5–6),BOOK, Blackburn, Simon, Simon Blackburn, Ethics: A Very Short Introduction,weblink Very Short Introductions, OUP, 2003, 11–12, 9780191577925, 2015-09-11, Then the persona of Jesus in the Gospels has his fair share of moral quirks. He can be sectarian: 'Go not into the way of the Gentiles, and into any city of the Samaritans enter ye not. But go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel' (Matt. 10:5-6)., racist (Matt 15:26 and Mark 7:27), and placed no value on animal life (Luke 8: 27–33).

See also



External links


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