You may have read this quote on a friend’s Facebook page, “If you ignore the rape, genocide, slavery, and murder in the bible, it’s all about love.” But maybe you did not know how to respond. Here are some ideas that may help you…
This type of statement is common among the “new atheists.” Here are a few issues with this objection:
Issue #1: NO ONE is claiming that the Bible is “all about love,” so the criticism is attacking a straw man. A straw man argument is a common type of argument based on the misrepresentation of the original topic of argument. To be successful, a straw man argument requires that the audience be ignorant or uninformed of the original argument.
So what is the Bible about? The Bible is about love, and sin, and judgment, and justice, and truth–all these things and much more.
Issue #2: This person doesn’t seem to be able to distinguish between the Bible recording something and the Bible condoning (accepting) something. In fact, the Bible records several rapes, but it ALWAYS condemns (never condones) rape.
- The distinction here is between prescriptive material and descriptive material.
- The Bible describes all kinds of immoral things (i.e. rape, incest, murder, deception, betrayal). But that does not mean that the Bible prescribes them. The Bible does not prescribe these things (rape, murder, etc…) as good things to do. If we were to follow this person’s logic, then the nightly news broadcast would be evil because it informs us of that day’s crimes!
Issue #3: The only valid point in the above statement is that there is violence in the Old Testament. God told tribes that they would be judged and destroyed if they didn’t repent of things like child sacrifice, sex with animals, human injustices, oppression, etc. When these people refused to repent, God demonstrated His justice on them (however, not before giving them a chance to repent).
At the end of the day, we must recognize God as the Supreme author of life. He has every right to destroy us if He sees fit. The Creator has the right to create and to destroy. God has the right to destroy all of us right now, if He wants to.
- Isaiah 64:8 says, “Yet you, LORD, are our Father. We are the clay, you are the potter; we are all the work of your hand.”
- Isaiah 10:15 explains it like this, “Does the ax raise itself above the person who swings it, or the saw boast against the one who uses it? As if a rod were to wield the person who lifts it up, or a club brandish the one who is not wood!”
According to the Bible, God’s justice demands judgment upon us, but His great love led Him to make the ultimate sacrifice for us. John 3:16 says, “For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not perish but may have eternal life.” Some Christians only cling to the happy part (the love), but judgment is in the Bible as well. One does not outweigh the other, they exist together in fair balance.