Friday, May 27, 2005

Living Biblically

We hear from the pious people who are in charge of the country today that we should live our lives according to the wisdom given to us in the Bible. We are told that many of the most important questions that decided that national election in 2004 had to do with moral values, specifically homosexuality, and the sanctity of life.

The Bible does indeed condemn homosexuality, at least male homosexuality, although it is silent on female homosexuality. The Bible says specifically that men who have sex with men should be put to death. That seems inconsistent with the sanctity of human life, but when rules conflict, something has to give, I suppose. The Bible also says that people who do work on the Sabbath must be stoned to death.

The Bible is totally silent on abortion, although abortion was widely practiced in the ancient world. Indeed, the pagan Hippocrates maintained that physicians should not provide abortifacients, but for whatever reason, God never mentioned anything about it. (Some people maintain that a passage in Deuteronomy specifies a ceremony for inducing abortion in case a woman has been adulterous, but I'm not convinced by that interpretation. Certainly God never says anything against abortion.)

But, if we are going to live Biblically, according to the wisdom God has given us in the Bible, then we certainly ought to wage war according to God's commands. And in Deuteronomy 20, he tells us exactly how to go about it.

10 When you march up to attack a city, make its people an offer of peace. 11 If they accept and open their gates, all the people in it shall be subject to forced labor and shall work for you. 12 If they refuse to make peace and they engage you in battle, lay siege to that city. 13 When the LORD your God delivers it into your hand, put to the sword all the men in it. 14 As for the women, the children, the livestock and everything else in the city, you may take these as plunder for yourselves. And you may use the plunder the LORD your God gives you from your enemies. 15 This is how you are to treat all the cities that are at a distance from you and do not belong to the nations nearby.

16 However, in the cities of the nations the LORD your God is giving you as an inheritance, do not leave alive anything that breathes. 17 Completely destroy them—the Hittites, Amorites, Canaanites, Perizzites, Hivites and Jebusites—as the LORD your God has commanded you. 18 Otherwise, they will teach you to follow all the detestable things they do in worshiping their gods, and you will sin against the LORD your God.

19 When you lay siege to a city for a long time, fighting against it to capture it, do not destroy its trees by putting an ax to them, because you can eat their fruit. Do not cut them down. Are the trees of the field people, that you should besiege them? 20 However, you may cut down trees that you know are not fruit trees and use them to build siege works until the city at war with you falls.

So it is clear what the "sanctity of life" refers to: the life of fruit trees. According to Almighty God, it is our duty to slaughter human beings. I appreciate the opportunity to make that clarification.