My Grandfather’s (both of them) were Southern Baptist Preachers. I grew up steeped in scripture. It was everywhere. Baptists can’t really help themselves. It flows from the blood.
But, as I grew older I realized that so much of what I thought my religion was, at it’s core … that is, the kind of passion that envelopes those who follow it … didn’t always jive with what the bible actually said … literally.
This is a good thing. Christians who base their belief’s on the Ideas inherent in the sayings of Jesus, are in a good position. He was a voice of reason and peace (though there are exceptions even to that, see below). But, much of the rest of the book is quite different.
If you were from mars, and had no cultural connection to these lines they’d likely give you pause:
Psalms 137:8-9 Oh, Daughter of Babylon, who are to be destroyed. Happy shall he be, who repays you as you have served us! Happy shall he be, who takes and dashes your little ones against the rock.
Matthew 10: 34-36 (These are the words of Jesus himself, Mr. Love): Do not think that I came to bring peace on earth. I did not come to bring peace, I came to bring a sword. I came to set a man against his father, a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her Mother-in-law.
Deuteronomy 7:2 And when the Lord your God delivers them over to you, you shall conquer them and utterly destroy them. You shall make no covenant with them nor show mercy to them.
Psalms 58:10 : The righteous shall rejoice when he sees the vengeance: He shall wash his feet in the blood of the wicked.
These lines (and the multitude of lines like them) troubled me deeply. They continue to. How does one reconcile the blatant violence, sexism, barbarism, and xenophobia that pervades the Bible with the obvious love, kindness, and forgiveness of Jesus and the other more positive portions of the book.
Western history is filled with examples of peoples and movements that contorted the words in that book for their own ends: The Spanish Inquisition, The Crusaders, Conquistadors, Manifest Destiny, etc.
In the end, The Bible is like the Force. It can be used for good, bad, or ugly. Many Christians don’t see these lines as precipitating violence, because they don’t WANT to see these lines as precipitating violence. But they are there. And the sooner we acknowledge that as a people, the better.