Killing in the Name.
I have to admit that I am having a big problem at the minute and feel a confession coming on. It is a confession that will be judged on where I am and probably on issues in my own life, but I believe in a good healthy asking of questions. I am not looking for answers but just need to have a little rage and rant to get it off my chest and out there. I am finding it increasingly difficult to align the God revealed to us through Jesus, the God of love, the God of grace, the God of forgiveness, with the God that is sometimes revealed to us through the Scriptures. I am particularly perplexed by the God who one minute tells us not to murder and then the next minute tells the race of God to involve themselves in an act that can only be described as mass genocide to get hold of some land that he had promised to them. This included the order to murder every living being, man, woman, child, animal. Now they are amazingly exciting stories that we heard from our childhood, a good bit of killing is great stuff for a story to a young boy growing up, the thought of all that slaughter and blood was so much more exciting than a story about loving each other. But is that the God revealed to us through Christ? Is that the God of love we preach today? I know we should not question the canonical Scriptures or the story of the Jews and the lineage of the people of God, the sort of stories that still perpetuate the need to kill people for land in the middle east because Israel should have all that land, but if murder is wrong is it okay in the name of God, and if so how do we determine which God to kill for? Killing for Mohammed is wrong while killing for the one true God is right. We criticise the suicide bombers for getting their verses about killing from the Koran but miss that our own God commanded just as much genocide in the Old Testament Scriptures. Does it just depend on whose name you are killing for. That is why the majority of Christians are up in arms when a rocket from Palestine hits Israel but inside cheer on the Jews for killing a few Arabs. This just seems so wrong to me.
If someone stands up today and says God told them to go to war and slaughter a whole Nation, leaving no one standing what would we think? Disturbed mentally maybe? So what makes it right to hear this from our history. Many question the Crusades and the holy wars of Constantine but do not question the crusades of Joshua, why? Was God different back then? Was He different before Christ? Is it okay because Joshua said it was okay because God said it was okay? But what if he said it and did it today? What makes it different? Is there ever a place for a holy war? I know some people believe that the God of the Old Testament, who seemed to love war and genocide, is different from the God of the New. But maybe the same God was misrepresented by his people? Maybe they just used God’s name to give what they did weight in battle just like people do today? I do not know. Does this discredit our Scriptures? No because I think the God of love and grace is glimpsed between the accounts of a Nation trying to be the people of God and yet so often misrepresenting Him. It is a history of a people and God. A people who put the name of God to battles and who knew that saying God said kill them added weight to a orders that would seem ridiculous otherwise. This still goes on today. Not just at the level of wars but whenever a leader wants his people to jump through hoops just say God said jump. The jump happens without question. When the leaders said kill these people or God will not be happy and even punish you, killing seems like the better option all of a sudden. Mix that with charismatic leaders shrouded in mystery, authority and legendary status, and these people will pick up arms at the drop of a hat.
Add to this the murder of witches, that at points in our history has caused many to be drowned just because they may have mental disorders, death for adultery and fornication, non-believers, blasphemers, working on the Sabbath and not listening to the priests, just a small selection of people who can be stoned, killed, dead and buried for acts against God’s laws. Some of these laws in the same law as the one that says do not murder! Confused? You bet I am confused. Wipe out everyone not like you. That is the foundation of much of the Old Testament. Does this align with a Jesus who came and said ‘he who is without sin cast the first stone’? Maybe Jesus came to put the record straight about a God who wanted to wipe the failures from the earth. In a Bible where murderers were heroes, from Samson to David to Joshua, to Jesus who refused to take up arms but instead preached forgiveness and love and peace and hope. Do you think when God took on flesh He had a change of heart and character or maybe what we have recorded are legends that we thought represented Him but instead represented a fallen mankind eager to do exploits, gain land, gain recognition, gain followers and become powerful household names? As I said at the beginning I come with not answers but loads of questions. I have no fear that my God will strike me down for asking questions because I know a God of love and grace, one that has been misrepresented too many times through history. You may be able to marry all this together, sweep the issues under the carpet, accept it all with blind faith, after all we just have to accept the Biblical accounts and what God did through His people. A God of blood or a God of love? I know which one I choose to serve today.