Many apologies for not being around much for the last couple of weeks. I have a full-time job now and I have yet to get my schedule situated to allow for posting to this blog as I would like.
I’m a couple of episodes behind in watching “The Bible Rules”. The most recent one I’ve watched in the one on sex. As the show states, the bible has a lot about sex in it. That’s to be expected in a book from a culture that had high rates of infant and mother mortality as well as being a patriarchal society that was all-consumed about who mated with who. Again, perfectly reasonable for a primitive culture, not so much for a magical book written/inspired by a magical omnipotent, omniscient being. It is a bit surprising that not one chirp about homosexuality is mentioned. This hour is all about heterosexual sex.
The show unfortunately did not mention anything from the Song of Solomon, one of the more beautiful parts of the bible, that describes love, lust and sex quite poetically. Most believers are completely unfamiliar with it since they weren’t told about it in church or Sunday school and have never read the bible on their own. The ones that are familiar with it often try to claim that it is “really” about their god, the bridegroom being Jesus/God and the bride being the “church”. Which is pretty amusing if this church has breasts like two fawns, teeth like white sheep, a navel like a goblet, etc and this bridegroom is a “young stag” with locks of raven black hair and arms like rods of gold. It’s always great fun to watch believers pick and choose what they want to be literal and what they want to be metaphor. Incidentally, some Christians, the Mormons for one, have decided that the Song is not really supposed to be in the bible. Info about this and other trivia about the Song can be found here. Again, we see the religion as nothing more than the image of those who want to believe in it.
Let’s take a look at the episode. The experts are pretty much the same as those from the first episode. You can see references to them and their bona fides here on the review of episode one.
“11 “When men fight with one another and the wife of the one draws near to rescue her husband from the hand of him who is beating him and puts out her hand and seizes him by the private parts, 12 then you shall cut off her hand. Your eye shall have no pity.” -Deut 25: 11-12
This is the infamous verse about if a woman helps her husband in a fight and grabs the penis and testicles of his enemy, she should have her hand cut off no matter what. This is among other odd commands in the chapter, including the idea of Levirate marriage where the wife is handed to brother-in-law after brother-in-law if her husband dies to make sure she has a suitable son for inheritance. Of course, nothing about daughters comes into it. There’s also a bit about genocide and how the memory of Amalek will be removed from under heaven, something a little hard to do if one continues to write about it.
This verse shows that men are more important and even their genitals are more important than a woman. Rev. Dr. Lewis does seem to be astonished that the genitals of a man are more important than a woman’s hand in the bible. The show goes into the history of penis worship to explain how this was common in the ancient Mediterranean area. Dr.Allen-Hornblower from Rutgers talks about the history of this and we get to see lots and lots of images of penises, mostly of herma, images of the god Hermes with only a head and a penis and some shown here in the wiki entry on phalluses. The idea that an attack on a man’s genitals threatens the power of all men is put forward and does seem to make sense if one wants to keep a patriarchy in place.
“No one whose testicles are crushed or whose male organ is cut off shall enter the assembly of the Lord. “ – Deut 23:1 Also in this chapter, punishing the descendants of people for the actions of their forebearers; how nocturnal ejaculations make one “unclean”; again where one should have latrines because God can step in your poop; one good bit about how one shouldn’t give back an escaped slave; vows must be fulfilled no matter what, etc.
So, if you lose your penis or have your testicles damaged, you are not allowed into the “assembly of god”. Aka god hates those who are less than “complete” (also seen here in Leviticus 21 where the disabled are also not allowed into the temple or be near this omnipotent/omniscient god). The show postulates that this is why it’s so bad for a woman to grab the genitals of an enemy because he couldn’t then be approved of by god.
This can be understood that in the bible injury, sickness, etc is because one is cursed by this god. If one is hurt in some manner, they “deserved” it. (see Genesis, 1 Cor 11, Prov. 17, etc) because they are “sinful”. Unfortunately, that depends on the belief that supernatural things cause illness and injury, and not viruses, bacteria, etc. We know now that magical spirits are not behind the plague, AIDS, getting caught in a piece of farm equipment or being torn apart by an improvises explosive device in a war.
The show does make mention of other religions making similar claims, the Rig Veda considering having a vagina to be a injury and curse, as well as mentioning the practice of making men eunuchs to be servants outside of a patriarchal system.
One of the quotes from the show makes the case clear. (alas I don’t recall who said it) “If you are missing any part, you are simply out.” The idea of the perfect being related to gods is common, but it doesn’t make much sense if this god is not interested in the physical form as some Christians claim. As usual, this is more evidence that the bible is nothing more than a book created by humans. It also makes circumcision a problem. If one is not to have lost any of God’s own body parts, then why are people supposed to cut the foreskin off? Is it a mistake of God’s? :)
““When a man is newly married, he shall not go out with the army or be liable for any other public duty. He shall be free at home one year to be happy with his wife whom he has taken. “ – Deuteronomy 24:5 This chapter is also home to rules on divorce, how to magically attempt to treat leprosy, how to make loans, how to treat the poor and this verse ““Fathers shall not be put to death because of their children, nor shall children be put to death because of their fathers. Each one shall be put to death for his own sin.” Which contradicts all of the verses where this god says that the descendants of various people will indeed be punished for the sins of their ancestors (here for examples).
In this verse, new husbands are to be left out of the army and spend time with his new wife. While seeming nice and romantic, it seems to be solely to get her pregnant quickly and as many times as possible because of maternal and child mortality. The show again goes into lots of detail on how lethal the times were, which again shows that there is no reason to believe in any gods.
Hey, we finally get into the NT! “But I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lustful intent has already committed adultery with her in his heart.” – Matthew 5:28 This is the chapter of the sermon on the mount, parts of which are popular as the subject of sermons now. It does have some problems with contradictions where one is told to allow folks to know of your good works (as opposed to not), keeping *all* of the laws of the bible, not just the ones you like; divorce, turning the other cheek; and love your enemies.
This is one of the more popular parts of the bible, and one that causes a lot of problems with many Christians. The idea that thought is as important as act gets in the way of free will arguments, the words saying that the laws are all in place until the earth and heaven are gone gets into problems with what believers should follow, etc. Christians disagree on just what is meant in this chapter and just how much thought gets someone in trouble and how literal to take the words of JC when it comes to mutilating the body. Rev. Susan Sparks “I worry for the souls of the 28 million people who read the Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue. Are they going to go burn in hell?” If one believes what the bible says, yep they will. She does seem to agree when she nods her head. Whether she thinks that they should do a little cutting is unknown.
Incidentally, there are a lot of essentially soft porn images in this show, nothing untoward for cable television. Of course, the man is much more covered than the woman.
The show does vaguely mention the other laws in the bible where if a “man sleeps with a woman who is not his wife” in the city, the woman is killed because it is assumed that the sex is consensual and doesn’t consider anything else. It also mentions that if woman is “slept with” outside the city, then she might not be killed because no one might hear her if she cries out. Of course it doesn’t mention that the man just has to pay a penalty to get out of that too. For more on rape in the bible, one can go here. Later episodes of “The Bible Rules” may mention some of these since there will be an upcoming episode about war. In addition to these mentions but not quoted verses is test of adultery in Numbers 5. A woman who is suspected of adultery, or if her husband is only jealous, is required to drink a poison, “water of bitterness”. If she survives, she’s innocent, if she writhes in pain and suffer other vague conditions, she’s guilty. Rather reminiscent of the other “tests” that the religious use on those they assume are guilty, pressing to death, drowning, fire, etc, isn’t it?
When one says a thought is equal to the action, there are bound to be problems with how this can work. Can or should one be punished for thoughts if they result in nothing? The show does have the expected excuses on why the bible didn’t really mean that thinking was the same as doing. It becomes, per the handsome Catholic priest, that it “really” means if you keep thinking about it, then you might do it and that’s what the problem is. I can see why he might have that excuse because it tries to avoid the problem of why this god does not immediately smite those who simply think of harming others, thus stopping them from actually harming anyone. Of course, this god doesn’t do that anymore either with the advent of people not blindly believing in stories and any punishment is now promised to be after everyone is dead.
In a break from sex, we get a side mention of the bible and food. Yes, we get that God hates shrimp! “10 But anything in the seas or the rivers that does not have fins and scales, of the swarming creatures in the waters and of the living creatures that are in the waters, is detestable to you.” – Leviticus 11:10. This chapter has a lot of the dietary prohibitions in it. The argument is that the ancients noticed typhoid, from filter feeders in a sewage stream, and anaphylactic shock, plus perhaps red tides and thus the rule against shellfish. This certainly could be the case, just like making it a religious laws about making latrines. However, it is not consistent with other prohibitions. If this was only about observed disease, why no problems with critters that can have anthrax or other nasty diseases? The more agreed upon reason by the experts seems to be that it is more about foreign foods than disease, a way to separate “us” from “them”.
“They (priests) shall not marry a prostitute or a woman who has been defiled, neither shall they marry a woman divorced from her husband, for the priest is holy to his God. “– Leviticus 21:7
Entertainingly, the show observes that one doesn’t make laws for things that don’t happen. There is some question if this means just any kind of prostitute or if it means temple sex workers. We do get the “experts”, especially good ol’ Southern Baptist guy, insisting that any religion other than their own are “cults” when it comes to discussing how other temples and other religions didn’t have the same sex laws as the Israelites. These “cults” are just as much religions as Christianity, Judaism., Islam, etc.
“8 You shall not uncover the nakedness of your father’s wife; it is your father’s nakedness. 9 You shall not uncover the nakedness of your sister, your father’s daughter or your mother’s daughter, whether brought up in the family or in another home. “ – Levitucus 18:8 This chapter is a lot about whose “nakedness” one shouldn’t uncover. It also seems to indicate that “uncovering nakedness” means have sex with. This seems to confirm the idea that when Ham saw his father”s “ nakedness”, he was getting busy with Mrs. Noah. Which makes on wonder about this god’s choice of people to repopulate the earth with. Additionally, if one reads the chapter and all of its exhaustive detail on who can’t sleep with whom, one combination is missing: the man and his own daughter. Creepy, eh? This goes with the creepiness that the experts seem to think that just because if one lived in an extended household, the relationships could get “blurred”? Really?
Levirate marriage is mentioned again and a very odd story about how this was done by WWII pilots is referred to. I can find no references to this other than in one book about “swingers” by Terry Gould. It seems a little far-fetched. It is also mentioned that the love that springs up between two people who have lost the same beloved person could also be considered a form of levirate marriage, an idea which, to me, seems to do nothing but devalue those relationships.
One of the liberal pastors says that one has to go between “extremes”, and search for that middle ground in the bible. In other words, it seems that anything that is uncomfortable or ridiculous should be ignored and something else made up as what this god really meant for modern humans. That’s nothing new to anyone who has read the bible and who has observed the believers.
Next up, War.