The other day, I came across another “atheist -vs- Christian argument”. The atheist posted several biblical passages that do not paint Christianity in a very good light. You’ve seen them all - the one where you are told that you are supposed to stone your new bride to death on her father’s doorstep if you find out she’s not a virgin on your wedding night. Or, the one where Job’s daughter’s got their father drunk so he would sleep with them.
When the Christian replied, he wrote this:
“You confuse the narrative with the imperative”.
That was it.
I’m not really sure what he meant, but I can read into this (just like most Christians do with the bible) and “interpret” that he meant the actual words and phrases used in those passages really mean something different from what is immediately obvious to the casual observer - you know, “allegory”. In other words, God didn’t really mean what he wrote - so, what did he write?
Sometims I’ll be barraged with lame answers like “it’s all about context”. I’m sorry but I can’t think of any other way to interpret “you are supposed to stone your new bride to death on her father’s doorstep if you find out she’s not a virgin on your wedding night” when the words say exactly that.
Sometimes I am deflected, like “open up your heart to God and all this will make sense to you”, or “why do you hate Jesus and God so much? Why do you LOOK for the bad?”
I come across this sort of thing a lot and I’m trying to find a clear, concise way to respond…any suggestions?
Thanks again -
“If your eye causes you to sin pluck it out.” Jesus being hyperbolic.
Narrative conclusion: A bunch of blind sinners.
Imperative conclusion: Don’t sin.
This is possibly an accurate interpretation for the above (Jesus could have been a fanatic on the other hand). However, using the analysis above someone like the Christian you mention can create a relativistic blanket hermeneutic whereby he/she can cherry-pick whatever they want as being allegorical or literal usually in order to defend their belief or their God. Your “virgin” example is not allegorical but an imperative itself. Witness contemporary stoning for adultery today in another Abrahamic religion. It’s only this subjective relativistic methodology that creates a moderate Christianity and keeps us relatively safe today. But then you could still be the subject of discrimination from the quite but still active belief. If you are gay you may not be killed but you may be looked down upon, not get that job and tagged for hell.