As the media storm around Dan Savage’s comments about the bible continues, and as the religious seem incensed by any criticism of their beloved scriptures, I find it, again and as always, extremely useful to actually read the scriptures in question.
As someone who was born and raised in Israel, I had the privilege of having to take twelve years of compulsory bible study, in its original Hebrew, while actually travelling to most of the places mentioned in it. I say ‘privilege’ because once you’ve actually had to read and study these ancient tribal scriptures, and once you’ve actually been to all the places mentioned, you have a fantastic opportunity to become inoculated against biblically inspired religions.
Let us, therefore, visit some selected passages from the Hebrew bible to see what all the fuss is about:
· “If anyone curses his father or mother, he must be put to death”. (Leviticus 20:9)
· “If a man commits adultery with another man’s wife—with the wife of his neighbor—both the adulterer and the adulteress must be put to death”. (Leviticus 20:10)
· “If a man lies with a man as one lies with a woman, both of them have done what is detestable. They must be put to death”. (Leviticus 20:13)
· “Your male and female slaves are to come from the nations around you; from them you may buy slaves. You may also buy some of the temporary residents living among you and members of their clans born in your country, and they will become your property “ (Leviticus 25: 44-45)
· “A man or a woman who acts as a medium or fortuneteller shall be put to death by stoning; they have no one but themselves to blame for their death”. (Leviticus 20:27)
· “Anyone who blasphemes the LORD’s name must be stoned to death by the whole community of Israel” (Leviticus 20:15)
· “If a priest’s daughter defiles herself by becoming a prostitute, she disgraces her father; she must be burned in the fire”. (Leviticus 21:9)
· “Anyone who is captured will be run through with a sword. Their little children will be dashed to death right before their eyes. Their homes will be sacked and their wives raped by the attacking hordes. For I will stir up the Medes against Babylon, and no amount of silver or gold will buy them off. The attacking armies will shoot down the young people with arrows. They will have no mercy on helpless babies and will show no compassion for the children“ (Isaiah 13:15-18)
· “Now therefore kill every male among the little ones, and kill every woman that hath known man by lying with him. But all the women children, that have not known a man by lying with him, keep alive for yourselves”. (Numbers 31: 17-18)
Now let’s get back to Dan Savage and his supposed insensitivity towards this bronze aged tribal brutality. The only criticism I have for Mr. Savage is that the word – bullshit – is way too light of a term to describe such utter barbarism. It is as if one would describe The Inquisition as hogwash or the Nuremberg Laws as horseshit.
Perhaps the most stunning part of the short clip displaying Dan Savage’s speech is seeing all those young teenagers proudly leaving the venue. It is so often the case that religious believers are mindlessly lead towards stupidity, like the flock of sheep they so proudly proclaim to be a part of. But not in this case. No, these promising young students are defying the norm and standing up for what they believe is right – genocide, rape, slavery, and brutal executions. It would take absolutely no effort to imagine how bright young Nazi teenagers would become offended and walk out of a lecture that criticizes brutal Nazi tactics. We would then, no doubt, be subjected to the various TV pundits who would proclaim that it’s one thing to criticize brutal injunctions and genocidal laws, but that respect needs to be granted to those who base their belief systems on such things.
If you are the kind of 21st century person who demands respect for blood-soaked, brutal, barbarian, racist, murderous, contradictory, capricious and nonsensical bronze aged tribal Middle Eastern scriptures, then you better get used to being disappointed.