Morality and Conditional Love

 

When most people think of the Bible they think in terms of it being a moral guidebook, but is it really? The Bible does not teach morality per say, it teaches obedience. Starting with its first book, the Bible declares the most important law is obedience, and shows that it was solely because of disobedience that Adam and Eve were banished from their garden paradise, cursed by Yahweh, and the cause of mankind’s sin. No lesson of morality is contained in this story, or taught in either their disobedience or the curses that were decreed upon them, just the actions of a vengeful god and his demand for obedience. Adam was told by Yahweh that death would be the outcome of eating from the Tree, yet death did not happen…rather curses were decreed upon them from an angry god for their disobedience. Eve was cursed for desiring to be wise, because she didn’t obey Yahweh’s command, yet Solomon was praised for desiring to be wise and given abundant wisdom…the only difference was gender and obedience.

Gen.3:6 And when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree to be desired to make one wise, she took of the fruit thereof, and did eat, and gave also unto her husband with her; and he did eat.

1King 4:29 And God gave Solomon wisdom and understanding exceeding much, and largeness of heart, even as the sand that is on the sea shore.

Throughout the Bible obedience is taught as the number one virtue to gain right-standing with God, which in most cases has nothing to do with morality. Even the Ten Commandments which are viewed as ten moral laws, for the most part have nothing to do with morality. Only three of the Ten Commandments have anything to do with morality…murder, stealing, and adultery.

1Sam. 15:22 And Samuel said, Hath the LORD as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, as in obeying the voice of the LORD? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to hearken than the fat of rams.

Jer.7:23 But this thing commanded I them, saying, Obey my voice, and I will be your God, and ye shall be my people: and walk ye in all the ways that I have commanded you, that it may be well unto you.

Even in the New Testament we find that obedience is held in highest regard and used as the standard to gain God’s love. The obedience Jesus learned through his suffering is the reason Paul gives for our righteousness, if we obey his words. Adam and Eve’s disobedience on the other hand is the reason for our sin.

Rom. 5:19 For as by one man’s disobedience many were made sinners, so by the obedience of one shall many be made righteous.

Heb. 5:8-9 Though he were a Son, yet learned he obedience by the things which he suffered; And being made perfect, he became the author of eternal salvation unto all them that obey him;

The theme of God loving his creation based solely on obedience is one that I think has been largely overlooked in favor of focusing on the unconditional aspect of salvation. The problem is that the gift of salvation is not really unconditional, because in order to participate in the benefits of salvation one must obey the command of belief, without the belief factor no salvation is acquired.

John 3:16 For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.

When something is truly given unconditionally – like how we love our children – it doesn’t matter if they believe certain things about us as parents, we still love them. The above verse poses a very important question in this regard, which is…if God loved the whole world why did he not spread the knowledge of himself equally to all humans, instead of to just one particular group of people? When truths are discovered in science about the world and how it functions they don’t just pertain to one race of people, they apply to all. The same should hold true for God if he does exist…there would be no reason for his presence to remain a secret, or a mystery revealed only to a select few, who then are responsible for spreading it abroad. The reality of God’s existence shouldn’t depend on the validity of ancient texts, or the mindsets of primitive people, yet this is exactly what has happened with religious doctrines that convince the believer that special or magical qualities are acquired only through belief in them.

Exo.19:5 Now therefore, if ye will obey my voice indeed, and keep my covenant, then ye shall be a peculiar treasure unto me above all people: for all the earth is mine:

Our moral intuitions seem to be hardwired into our brains and developed through our culture, which is why there is a continual cognitive dissonance between many of the seemingly immoral passages we read about in the Bible and our own internal sense of what is moral. I know for me it was an ongoing struggle to try and resolve the gross immoralities found in the Bible with my innate values of right and wrong. Another point of importance is the ever-changing value of biblical laws, while always giving merit to obedience no matter what the command.

2Cor. 10:6 And having in a readiness to revenge all disobedience, when your obedience is fulfilled.

The trap the faithful become locked into is that of obedience to authority, which supersedes the content of the orders in favor of obedience. The New Testament promotes the idea of strict obedience to those in authority, no matter what the nature of that authority. Slaves are to obey their masters in all things, women are to obey their husbands, and children their parents because obedience is the ultimate measure by which we are judged. One is not taught to be guided by moral intuitions, but solely by the rules that are meted out from those in positions of authority that have been arbitrarily given to them by their god. It is not because they earned their positions through merit, but for reasons such as being born male. A father must be given honor by his children no matter how abusive he is, merely because he is their father.

Col.3:18 Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as it is fit in the Lord…20 Children, obey your parents in all things: for this is well pleasing unto the Lord…22 Servants, obey in all things your masters according to the flesh; not with eyeservice, as menpleasers; but in singleness of heart, fearing God:

In all areas of life biblical rules give the utmost value and importance to obedience, which is why throughout history the Church has been able to inflict so much damage upon people, especially women. It matters not the nature of the rules they decree, only that they are obeyed.  The Bible declares that God will take vengeance upon those who do not obey the Gospel (the good news of Jesus) and will punish them with everlasting destruction…this is the message that is reiterated over and over again in the New Testament – obedience trumps everything!

2Thess.1:8-10 In flaming fire taking vengeance on them that know not God, and that obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ: Who shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord, and from the glory of his power; When he shall come to be glorified in his saints, and to be admired in all them that believe (because our testimony among you was believed) in that day.

1Pet.4:17 For the time is come that judgment must begin at the house of God: and if it first begin at us, what shall the end be of them that obey not the gospel of God?

The conclusion that must be drawn from the opening question, “Is the Bible a Moral Guidebook?” is that one is indeed hard pressed to find much related to morality within the pages of the Bible. Obedience is the key focus, and all benefits come from being obedient, while on the other hand moral commands are occasionally found as bi-products of the many laws and rules given by Yahweh. So, what it really comes down to is either being obedient to Yahweh’s commands, or following your own innate sense of morality…and let me tell you there will be many times that the two will conflict, because what your conscience tells you is right will go against what the Bible tells you is right.

The Bible would be better classified as a “military handbook” instead of a moral guidebook, because what it teaches is obedience to orders without questioning the morality of those orders. The mindset of the men who authored the Bible was that of military leaders where obedience to authority was of prime importance. All the sacrifices and all the killing of pagans was only about obedience, it had nothing to do with morality. In fact many times it was quite the contrary, much of the killing and raping of women that God commanded was horribly immoral, yet the Hebrew’s were told to OBEY!

Conditional Love:

 

The differences in motherly love versus fatherly love become quit clear if one digs into the nature of each. A mother’s love for her baby begins as one of an unconditional nature; she must love her offspring regardless, because without that unconditional love her offspring cannot survive. This unconditional love continues all through the childhood years, and more often than not a mother’s love remains unconditional for a lifetime. Motherly love is unconditional, it is the love given to a child with no expectations; it is not earned, and requires no work. Nothing is done to deserve this love; it is given merely because the child exists. The child is loved because he is, “I am loved because I am”…one finds this unconditional kind of love sorely lacking in the pages of Scripture.

Fatherly love on the other hand is many times based on a “conditional” love that must be deserved, it can be lost if one does not do what is expected. In the nature of fatherly love lies the fact that obedience becomes the main virtue and disobedience the main sin…its punishment the withdrawal of fatherly love. Since this love is conditional the child can do something to earn it, acquire it, or work for it. Its principle is “I love you because you fulfill my expectations” it says, “You did wrong and you must change your ways if you want me to like you.” The child is loved because he has earned it. This conditional love is the type of love one finds in the male god Yahweh, who is portrayed as, and called Father in Scripture. Jesus says of his father in John 12:26If any man serve me, let him follow me; and where I am, there shall also my servant be: if any man serve me, him will my Father honour”, showing the conditional aspect of earning God’s love.

Throughout the Bible one finds that God’s love is based on the condition of obedience, starting in the Garden of Eden and ending with the Salvation story. The earning of love through obedience is very clear in the story of Adam and Eve and their punishment is the withdrawal of god’s presence and banishment from the garden. Most who are familiar with Christian theology readily accept the principle of conditional love as applied in the Garden story; it is only when applied in the New Testament that the waters get a bit murky. Most Christians who think of God’s love in the New Testament do so in terms of it being unconditional, by quoting verses like John 3:16For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” which on the surface seems to be unconditional in the sense that God’s love applies to everyone, but…does it really? Upon closer inspection the answer is in the negative. The subtle condition that is smuggled in without notice is that of belief. Only those who “believe” in God are granted everlasting life, so the condition of receiving his love is belief in him…otherwise you will be punished with denial of eternal life. Anytime a requirement is given, the term unconditional cannot be legitimately used, because a condition must be met before the offer will be given. Another verse that reveals the type of conditional love that God has is in John 10:17Therefore doth my Father love me, because I lay down my life, that I might take it again.” Here Jesus reveals the conditions of why his father loves him; it is because he was obedient in laying down his life, which leads me to another point…

John 12:25 He that loveth his life shall lose it; and he that hateth his life in this world shall keep it unto life eternal.

One can only love another to the extent that one loves themselves, never can it be more. This holds true for loving God, one can only love God to the extent that they love themselves, so if a person cannot love his own life and retain eternal life how could one possibly love God? One can only love God if one can love themselves. Even the greatest commandment of loving God seems to be explicitly saying that one must love God with everything they have in themselves, and then love their neighbor as themselves, so ultimately you “love” your neighbor and God with the same self-love.

Mark 12:33 And to love him with all the heart, and with all the understanding, and with all the soul, and with all the strength, and to love his neighbour as himself, is more than all whole burnt offerings and sacrifices.

We are taught from the Bible to love God unconditionally and with everything we have, yet we find throughout the pages of Scripture that God loves us in return only conditionally. Does that not seem odd? Maybe it’s time to re-think some of the things we’ve been taught about the quality of the Biblegod’s love to get a clearer picture of his true nature. What if we compared the nature of God’s love to how a mother loves her baby, I think you would be surprised to find that the type of love God expresses in the Bible is not the unconditional love of a mother, but rather it is a conditional type of love most commonly found in fatherly love, which once again is totally in keeping with his masculine portrayal by the male minds that created him.

 

 

Killing of the innocent

 

This section is being devoted to the killing of the innocent. I have gathered together a good number of verses that speak of the direct slaughter of infants and children recorded in the Bible as being ordered by Yahweh. The first question that arises is how can a god be considered moral that purposely targets children to be tortured and killed? This is a question that many faithful Christians have struggled with. One of the common conclusions that people arrive at is the trite adage of “God’s ways are higher than ours” which in my opinion is an obscene justification for horrendous immoral behavior. My list begins with the story of Flood in which Yahweh is said to have flooded the earth and destroyed all life except for Noah, his family and the animals on the ark. Supposedly this mass destruction is done because Yahweh is disappointed in the continual wickedness of humans. I’ll close this chapter with a short list of some of the most horrific verses that deal with Yahweh slaughtering the innocent.

Gen.6:17 And, behold, I, even I, do bring a flood of waters upon the earth, to destroy all flesh, wherein is the breath of life, from under heaven; and every thing that is in the earth shall die.

Num.31:17 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.

Josh 6:20-21 So the people shouted when the priests blew with the trumpets: and it came to pass, when the people heard the sound of the trumpet, and the people shouted with a great shout, that the wall fell down flat, so that the people went up into the city, every man straight before him, and they took the city. And they utterly destroyed all that was in the city, both man and woman, young and old, and ox, and sheep, and ass, with the edge of the sword.

1 Samuel 15:3 Go, now, attack Amalek, and deal with him and all that he has under the ban. Do not spare him, but kill men and women, children and infants, oxen and sheep, camels and asses.

Psalm 137:9 Happy shall he be, that taketh and dasheth thy little ones against the stones.

Isa.13:13,16-18 Therefore I will shake the heavens, and the earth shall remove out of her place, in the wrath of the LORD of hosts, and in the day of his fierce anger…Their children also shall be dashed to pieces before their eyes; their houses shall be spoiled, and their wives ravished. Behold, I (the Lord) will stir up the Medes against them, which shall not regard silver; and as for gold, they shall not delight in it.Their bows also shall dash the young men to pieces; and they shall have no pity on the fruit of the womb; their eye shall not spare children.

Isa.14:21 Prepare slaughter for his children for the iniquity of their fathers; that they do not rise, nor possess the land, nor fill the face of the world with cities.

Jer.13:12&14 Therefore thou shalt speak unto them this word; Thus saith the LORD God of Israel,…And I will dash them one against another, even the fathers and the sons together, saith the LORD: I will not pity, nor spare, nor have mercy, but destroy them.

Hosea 13:16 Samaria shall become desolate; for she hath rebelled against her God: they shall fall by the sword: their infants shall be dashed in pieces, and their women with child shall be ripped up.

Nah.3:5 Behold, I am against thee, saith the LORD of hosts; and I will discover thy skirts upon thy face, and I will shew the nations thy nakedness, and the kingdoms thy shame…10) Yet was she carried away, she went into captivity: her young children also were dashed in pieces at the top of all the streets: and they cast lots for her honourable men, and all her great men were bound in chains.

Exo.10:1 And the LORD said unto Moses, Go in unto Pharaoh: for I have hardened his heart, and the heart of his servants, that I might shew these my signs before him:…11:5 And all the firstborn in the land of Egypt shall die, from the firstborn of Pharaoh that sitteth upon his throne, even unto the firstborn of the maidservant that is behind the mill; and all the firstborn of beasts…12:29-30 And it came to pass, that at midnight the LORD smote all the firstborn in the land of Egypt, from the firstborn of Pharaoh that sat on his throne unto the firstborn of the captive that was in the dungeon; and all the firstborn of cattle. And Pharaoh rose up in the night, he, and all his servants, and all the Egyptians; and there was a great cry in Egypt; for there was not a house where there was not one dead.

 

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