Jesus claimed that his morality came from the only scriptures he knew, those Christians now refer to as the Old Testament. Here’s how he puts it in Matthew 5.18 & 19:
Do not think that I have come to abolish the law or the prophets; I have come not to abolish but to fulfil. Whoever breaks one of the least of these commandments, and teaches others to do the same, will be called least in the Kingdom of heaven; but whoever does them and teaches them will be called great in the Kingdom of heaven’.
Today’s believers like to pretend that they too derive their morality from the Bible. One Christian web-site tells us that ‘the Bible becomes our source of morality because the Bible is the very Word of God in written form.’ Overlooking the fact, for now, that the Bible is not, for a whole host of reasons, ‘the Word of God’, what sort of moral guidance does it provide us with? Here’s a small sample:
Stone to death anyone who works on the Sabbath. (Exodus 35.2 and Numbers 15.32-36)
A slave is his master’s property; if you beat him so severely that he takes a day or two to die, you won’t be punished. (Exodus 21. 20-21)
Kill publicly children who dishonour their father or mother. (Leviticus 20.9);
Stone to death anyone who blasphemes the name of the Lord. (Leviticus 24.16);
Execute a married couple who have sexual intercourse during the woman’s period. (Leviticus 18.19);
Put to death those involved in adultery. (Leviticus 20.10);
Execute any man who lies with another man, as with a woman. (Leviticus 20.13)
Stone to death at her father’s door any woman who is not a virgin on her wedding night. (Deuteronomy 22.13-14 and 20-21).
Cut off ‘without pity’ a woman’s hand if, during a fight, she seeks to rescue her husband by grabbing his opponent’s testicles. (Deuteronomy 25.11-12)
Isn’t this just the kind of ‘morality’ promoted by the Taliban? Well, the good news is Jesus approves! And he’s got some corkers of his own. How about these for great moral teaching?
Wherefore if thy hand or thy foot offend thee, cut them off, and cast them from thee: it is better for thee to enter into life halt or maimed, rather than having two hands or two feet to be cast into everlasting fire. And if thine eye offend thee, pluck it out, and cast it from thee: it is better for thee to enter into life with one eye, rather than having two eyes to be cast into hell fire. (Matthew 18.8 & 9 AV).
So, no, very few Christians today get their morality from the Bible. Their moral sense has evolved, like that of the rest of us, without the Bible’s assistance and without any reference to god. Thank goodness for that, even if there are some who would like to see a return to the kind of moral barbarism the Bible, and Jesus, promote.
Very good article. I’m experiencing some of these issues