There has been lots of conversation lately in my circles about the violence in the Bible stemming from our 1 year series in 1-2 Samuel. All excellent conversation. Last night while speaking with Kevin and Aaron about the issues we realized that Christians have a particular issue with approaching issues of violence in the Bible.
You see, Christians approach the Bible with years and years of theology, experience, religion and worldview. All of this is the main filter that they have all conversations regarding anything to do with the Bible through. So when you ask a Christian what they think about violence in Old Testament you will get all sorts of answers.
- We just have to trust God
- God’s wrath needs to be justified
- God was just meeting humans where they were at
- God redeemed all violence through Jesus
The list goes on. Many Christians read absolutely everything through the lens of ‘their personal relationship with Jesus.’ So what ends up happening is you have many Christians defending God and whatever God is said to have done in the Old Testament because of this relationship. To anyone on the outside it just sounds like a whole lot of excuses. If we are honest. They are excuses for wrongdoing, something that shouldn’t happen, but somehow we think God is excused of this. Some things in the OT are just simply inexcusable for God, if they actually happened, and so we have to make up excuses. Kevin mentioned that it all sounds like a spouse in an abusive relationship and never leaving and just making excuses for their spouse. The violence was deserved. They were just doing their best with what they had. They make up for it later on by giving me a house to live in.
If Christians are just making excuses for God’s violence because we have a relationship with him then are Christians just lying to themselves because they need the security in this relationship? I’m just not sure the excuses are legitimate and in the end they certainly do not in any way get God off the hook for what went on. In fact, if we are content with these excuses, it makes us into victims of an abusive relationship that we need to make excuses for the other one simply based on the status of our relationship.
I don’t know about you, but I’m not comfortable making excuses for a violent partner and pretending it is OK. We need to approach this violence differently.