God: Love and Justice

According to the Bible, God is love. This looks like a ‘hand in glove’ trick, the hand (or fist) being the justice of God, and the glove being the love of God… and so disguising or ‘dressing up’ the so-called justice.

In the Old Testament, “love” is truly an alien word. In context, love for God almost always means cowering commitment, self-denial, and sacrifice, not a freely chosen joyful adoration… God requires his lovers to fear him, which turns adoration into a compulsive disorder. (Dan Barker, God: The Most Unpleasant Character in all Fiction, 2016)

According to the Bible, God commands us to love him. It is the same as in any abusive relationship… “you must love me”.  What about the notion that God is just? Well, it is more of the same. Here is a short list of God being ‘just’ (and presumably being love at the same time):

  • God punishes children for the ‘crimes’ of their parents. The parents worshiped the ‘wrong’ gods (e.g. Deuteronomy 5:8-9).
  • Babies and unborn fetuses are killed because their parents have rebelled against God (Hosea 13:16).
  • Babies are killed and wives raped to punish pride (Isaiah 13:11-16).
  • Sons and daughters (children), are sold off or killed off for offending God (e.g. Joel 3:8).
  • Children born of a ‘forbidden’ marriage are discriminated against (Deut. 23:2).
  • Egyptian children are killed because of the actions or in-actions of the Pharaoh (whose heart God hardened!).
  • King David is punished for his sin by God, by God arranging to have David’s wives raped by the neighbors (2 Samuel 12:11).
  • King David is forgiven his sin, but irrespective of that his next born child must die (2 Sam 12:13-14).
  • David’s wife criticizes him for exposing his genitals to other women, so God punishes the wife with barrenness, i.e. not being able to have children. (2 Samuel 6:20-23).
  • God punishes a whole nation with a three-year famine, because Saul slew Gibeonites (2 Sam 21:1). Saul hands over seven of his men to the Gibeonites to be hanged, which ends God’s famine punishment.
  • God deliberately makes bad laws (impossible to obey) to ‘scare the shit out of’ people, and so that they will “know that I am the Lord” (Ezekiel 20:25-26).
  • God indiscriminately kills both the righteous and the wicked (Ezekiel 21:3-5).
  • A person is killed for believing a lie, not the person who told the lie (1 Kings 13:18-24).
  • God deceives a prophet, then kills him for being deceived (Ezekiel 14:9).
  • God discriminates against the physically handicapped (Leviticus 21:16-23).
  • Everybody 21 years and older, is to be taxed the same amount (a half-shekel), both the poor and the rich (Exodus 30:14-15).
  • Cursing a parent is punishable by death (Exodus 21:17).
  • If a person has sex with an innocent animal, both the person and the beast are put to death (Leviticus 20:15-16).
  • Witches must be put to death for being witches (Exodus 22:18).
  • God causes environmental degradation and destruction (punishes the planet) because of people’s wickedness (several stories).
  • God drowns all living things and people on the planet, apart from the fish or course… one family of humans… and a boat-load of animals, because of the great wickedness of the human race and their evil thought-crimes (Genesis 6-7).
  • One ‘sin’ erases a lifetime of goodness (Ezekiel 33:12-13).
  • Nonbelievers, and believers in other gods, should be put to death (Exodus 22:20; 2 Chron. 15:13; Psalm 78). God is jealous of these other gods getting attention.
  • The property (including the wives) of nonbelievers are confiscated (Jeremiah 8:9-10).
  • God persecutes and kills people for not listening to him (Jeremiah 29:18-19).
  • God’s racism is a just reason for commanding divorce, and genocide! Genocidal rape is also okay.
  • You may charge a foreigner interest, but not a brother Israelite (Deut. 23).
  • If you enter your neighbor’s vineyard, you may eat all the grapes you want, but you can’t take any home (Deut 23).
  • Slavery is okay, and sometimes commanded by God. It is not once in the Bible condemned or considered unjust. There are laws on how to treat slaves nicely. Sexual violence against female slaves is okay, by forcing them into marriage. But if they no longer bring you pleasure then you can ‘free’ them from slavery and send them away (Deuteronomy 21). Young virgins are a special prize (Numbers 31). Daughters can also be sold as slaves (Exodus 21:7).

Perhaps we could get a little more philosophical about God’s justice and consider the amicable conversation between God and Satan over Job’s loyalty. In order for God to prove his point, justly of course, he allowed his debating partner to basically destroy Job’s life and cause him a great deal of suffering. Anything to win a wager eh?

Finally I come to the Christian claim that Jesus is the incarnate God of the Old Testament. Need I say more, or just sing as I did in Sunday School, “Jesus loves me, this I know, for the Bible tell me so.” Here is a ‘country’ rendition that might bring back indoctrination memories.