To the editor:
Pastor Ed Skutshek (The Heart of Easter, March 21 ad) tells the story of King David and Bathsheba, except, in the way typical of ministers of the church, he only tells part of the story leaving out any bits that show God to be a less than pleasant character.
David had seduced Bathsheba, the wife of Uriah, one of his trusted generals and then arranged for Uriah to be killed in battle. These days he would probably have been thrown in prison for life but God allowed him to confess his sins and be forgiven. The punishment for the adulterous couple, which Skutshek conveniently neglects to mention, was to kill off the child that resulted from their illegal coupling. (2 Samuel 12:14)
How is it that God allowed the pair to avoid being stoned to death, the usual punishment for adultery, (Deut. 22:21-24) while taking out his wrath on an innocent child?
Those who have been sufficiently awake while reading the Old Testament, admittedly not an easy task, will know that God appears to have a particular distaste for children. For example, he sends two bears to tear to shreds 42 children for taunting some old man because of his baldness. (2 Kings 2:23-24).
A little harsh, don’t you think?
But then God is fond of harsh. Several times he demands the slaughter of entire populations. Not just the men, but the women, (saving any young virgins for yourself!) the children and even the cattle. (1 Sam. 15:3) What the poor animals had done to displease God is anyone’s guess.
In some instances children are to have their heads bashed against rocks and the unborn ripped out of their mothers stomachs. (Hosea 13:16). The Conquistadors must have relied on that verse to justify smashing the heads of native children in South America after they first baptized them. Baptism was a thoughtful touch, I suppose. The watching parents would have really appreciated that.
No, the biblical God is not a pleasant character, but then he is the creation of primitive nomads who had little understanding of reality and relied largely on myth, magic and superstition.
Those who preach to their flock on Sunday are well versed in how to edit all the negative bits or they would soon be looking for another job.
Happily growing numbers are finding more rewarding employment with the support and help of the Clergy Project. Started just two years ago by Daniel Dennett and Richard Dawkins, the organization already has several hundred no-longer-believing ex clergy members. If you attend church, you may well know a pastor considering making the move.