John Jonchuck obsessed over his Step-Mother's 100 year old Bible. Believing it to be holy, he even had his divorce lawyer carry it around with her. Maybe he thought it would ward off evil spirits. But John, like all of us, had thoughts in his mind; but like some, he thought these thoughts were voices. I've never trusted these thoughts because I can make them stop and say whatever I want them to. To me, they are simply our minds spinning about the things we think about and experience. But John thought these thoughts were God's voice speaking to him. The Bible certainly supports such nonsense, and many atrocities have be promulgated with such thinking. After all, the Bible relates the story of Elijah in I Kings 19 where Elijah was discouraged and had isolated himself. There was wind, an earthquake, and a fire, but Elijah did not see God in those things. But finally, in a "still small voice" he believed he heard God asking him what in the world he was doing out there. To this day, most Christians believe that God speaks to you in a still small voice inside your body. John did.
As I have have said in previous posts, such thinking is espoused by many in Christianity, and on occasion, some fundamental zealot acts on it. John believed his daughter Phoebe was possessed by demons. And finally, in a desperate move to save her, threw his 5 year old daughter off a bridge and killed her, because the voices in his mind told him to.
Many will rail and degrade John. But he was just a simpleton who acted on what his Bible said to him. But it reminds me of this hauntingly disgusting photo where someone made this poor child hold a gun to his head. Why would an intelligent God place his holy Word in a document compiled by many human beings over many years and then place it in the hands off all levels of humanity, where simpletons like John can obsess over it, hear voices in his head, and kill his beautiful daughter. I do not believe God would. And I do not believe the Bible is God's Word. I have explained in an easy-to-read format how the Bible came into existence, how it came to be seen as the Word of God, and why we need to change our long-held beliefs about it in my book Surrender of Sovereignty. You can get a copy of it at Amazon.com by clicking on this link: Get the book .
Family values today are obviously challenged. Parents murdering and imprisoning children, spouses murdering each other, and children murdering their parents all offer constant fodder for the news media. Why, is this nation, founded on principles derived from Judeo-Christian values, spiraling downward when it comes to the Family Unit. I believe the Bible offers a view of family that is unhealthy and can be harmful to families. I believe that recent generations are smart enough to see something is wrong, rejecting some traditional values, but naive enough to be swallowing the agenda of those who would use higher education as a breeding ground for hate, restlessness, and anarchy.
Let's take a look at five narratives in the Christian Scriptures that deal with family relationships. I think you'll see my point.
1. Job, God and his family
2. Jesus' teaching about one's priorities: loving him vs. family.
3. Abram (Abraham) and Isaac, and Paul's exhortation to emulate them
4. Old Testament and New Testament family values.
5. Judah asks his son Onan to sleep with his brother's wife.
Before discussing scriptures from the Bible, I think one needs to come to grip with exactly what the Holy Scriptures are. Depending on which Bible scholar one listens to, the Old Testament covers a period of 4000 to 6000 years before the Christian Era: Creation and the Garden of Eden constituting the leadoff stories. The people of God did not even have a written script or alphabet until about 1100 BCE, or for the first 3000-5000 years of the Biblical narrative. Scholars say they spoke Hebrew. Hebrew didn't develop an alphabet or script until about 900 to 1100 years BCE, and that was probably a spinoff from the Phoenician script. This means that the first 3000 to 5000 years covered in the Old Testament were just invented fiction or orally transmitted from person to person. As mentioned in my earlier posts, David and Solomon, interested in establishing a kingdom that could be respected among nations, commissioned the compilation and writing of a National History. The first writer of scraps of the first five books is know today simply as "J," that stands for Jahwist (Yahwist). This "commissioned writer," funded by the treasuries of Solomon, thought by many to be female, named her main character Yahweh. He was a colorful and slightly ornery character. He was depicted as God and Creator of the Universe. Over the next several hundred years these writings were edited, redacted, changed, and embellished three times by editors know today only as E (Elohist), D (Deuteronomist), and P (Priest.) They changed the name and character of J's Yahweh to their liking and added more material to his or her writings. The New Testament has undergone similar editing over the centuries through translation changes, redaction, additions and embellishments.
I mention all this before I begin to discuss how the Bible portrays family values, because I see the Bible as a very human document, not the infallible Word of God. I do not want to be understood as quoting the Bible as a holy authority. I quote it as a very human document which is wreaking havoc with modern society.
1. Job, God and his family.
This book begins portraying God and Satan bumping into each other in Heaven. God brags on his human servant Job and his faithfulness. Satan makes a bet with God that Job will not remain faithful if God removes his blessing from him. So God takes the bet, and Job loses his livestock, servants and all his children. Job was now a mess, but he didn't curse God. So God and Satan see each other in Heaven, and they discuss how Job is still hanging on to his faith in God. Satan makes a further bet that if God would remove his blessing and let him bring disease to Job that he would finally cave in and lose his faith. But after bringing calamity, painful sores and disease upon Job, even his wife and friends called on him to curse God and die. But Job hung in there and said that though God slayed him he would continue to trust him. In the end, God blessed him and gave him more wealth and family that he ever had before: his daughters were the prettiest in the land.
What family values does this teach? Trust God no matter what! His wife was a threat to his integrity. His friends were threats to his integrity. Children were replaceable. In fact it worked out great, the children who replaced the original kids were better looking. So the looks of your children are important. So much for the "Love Yourself" movement. Also, your integrity is more important than anyone or anything.
2. Jesus' teaching about one's priorities: loving him vs. family
Jesus clearly taught that one must value him more than family.
Matthew 10: 34-37 depicts Jesus' charge to his disciples. "Do not suppose that I have come to bring peace on earth. I did not come to bring peace, but a sword. For I have come to turn 'a man against his father, a daughter against her mother, a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law----a man's enemies will be the members of his own household.' Anyone who loves his father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; anyone who loves his son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me."
It is pretty clear. God first, before reason, family or wealth.
3. Abram (Abraham) and Isaac, and Paul's exhortation to emulate them
Abraham is the person whom the writer in 900 BCE, in Solomons court, depicts as God's man on the scene shortly after a world-wide flood 1000 to 2000 years before. God makes a covenant with Abram that he will bless him and make his offspring as numerous as the stars in the sky. As time runs on, his wife gets older and they fear she in infertile. So they agree for Abraham to sleep with his wife's Egyptian maidservant and start a family. This plan provides a son, but not one through his wife, and the plan runs amok and causes a lot of trouble (e.g. Israel vs Palestine). Eventually, the storyteller writes, Abraham's barren wife conceives a child and names him Isaac.
So as the young man grows up, God plans a test for Abraham's faith in him. He commanded Abraham to take Isaac up on the side of a mountain and slit his throat. Abraham obeys and takes his son to the mountainside, in keeping with God's overall plan: God first, then family. Just as Abraham goes to slit Isaac's throat, an angel appears and grabs Abraham's hand. A sheep is supplied and an animal sacrifice becomes the prototype offering for centuries to come. Now many extol the story from "J" the Yahwist about an event passed through tradition and word of mouth for a thousand years as wonderful, with Abraham's faith pointing forward in time to the day that God would give up Jesus to die on the cross.
Later in the New Testament, Paul discusses at length the faith that led Abraham to be willing to kill his son. In Galatians 3: 6 he admonishes all gentiles to have the faith of Abraham by saying "So those who have faith are blessed along with Abraham, the man of faith."
Faith in God is required above all else, just like with Abraham and Job. God first, family and everything else second. The Bible is read by many, some of who aren't the brightest bulb in room; and consequently every few years a story will appear where a parent takes a life of a child or keeps them locked up in a basement because of their religious beliefs. Children die because modern medical procedures and methods are withheld due to their parent's faith that God will bless and heal them. Transfusions are rejected because of some silly doctrine concocted from the writings of this unknown author in Solomon's court a thousand years BCE about fables and traditions thousands of years before that. Crazy! Families valued???
Abraham's descendants include the bigger than life figure Moses. When the Old Testament records the life of Moses, it also records that God wrote commandments on tablets of stone and later dictated the Law of Moses to be written down and kept in a book. It was a tall order a considering this bunch of people wouldn't even have a script or know how to read and write for a nearly a thousand years. But it fit well into the story of "J' around 900 BCE. Preposterous! Next we shall look at some of the family values in the Book of Moses.
4. Old Testament and New Testament family values
In the first 5 books of the Old Testament, Solomon's writer "J" and others depict how God gave commandments and rules to his people.
In these rules are family values like these:
Leviticus 20:9 If a child curses his father or mother, he must be put to death.
Leviticus 20:10 If a man commits adultery, both of them must be put to death.
Leviticus 20:13 If a man has sex with another man, both must be put to death
Leviticus 20:18 If a couple has relations while she is having her period, they must be cut off
Deuteronomy 22: 13-21 If on the wedding night a bride did not bleed on the sheet to prove her virginity, she would be stoned to death.
Matthew 5:27-30 Jesus says if your eye causes you to sin, gouge it out, and if your hand causes you to sin, cut it off.
These are some pretty strict family values coming from a God who did the following:
5. Judah asks his son Onan to sleep with his brother's wife
in Genesis 38:3-10 Judah has three sons. He found a woman named Tamar for his oldest son, Er. She bore him a son. But God did not like Er, so he killed him. Now Judah asked his second son, Onan to go sleep with is dead brother's wife, Tamar, so she could have a child. He did as directed but at the last minute, realizing that the child would never be his, pulled out and spilled his semen on the ground. This made God mad, and so God killed him. Family values, hrummphhh!
Such preposterous yet interesting stories "J" came up with around 900 BCE. Yet the religious world has added to, edited, redacted, and embellished these stories until they became viewed as Holy Canon. Some, drawing on it creates the New Testament and its edited, added-to, and embellished stories. And it too, with the help of the religious world and a laity of idiots, elevated it to Canon and Holy writ.
So today we have a country founded on Judeo-Christian values. Every church thinks a little differently, every believer thinks a little differently, and the masses occasionally kill a child, sibling or parent in the name of faith. If not killing each other they are forever trying to convince others that their way is right, or shun and ostracize them when possible. You may wish to buy and read my book that can be found at this link on Amazon.com . It explains where and how the Bible came into existence.
I fear for the most recent generations. They instinctively recognize something is amiss with traditional ways and the status quo. Increasingly, they are abandoning the old time religion. My belief is that they are the pawns of a larger agenda. They have access to instant information. They are not being well-grounded in history, not to mention that history is being altered to fit larger agendas. I think they are smarter than my generation in many ways, yet I fear they are naively being moulded and led by liberal institutions of higher and lower education; and many are filling an internal void by embracing anarchy, selfishness and hate.
This is my view of family values within the realm of Christianity. There is much about love in the Bible. But there are also disturbing inconsistencies regarding family behavior. One might say it was just a cultural thing and times have changed. But God, whom the Bible says never changes, is said within its pages to have participated in some of the most disturbing parts. I believe that when families are raised nowadays in the Christian atmosphere, it looks like it turns out pretty good most of the time. But when it doesn't, and something goes wrong you get Marilyn Mansons, Jim Jones, Charles Mansons, or families like the Turpins in California who kept 13 children captive for many years because God had a "call on them." I believe that the Bible contradicts itself, and most Christians are just able to accept traditional views and gloss over that. But inquiring minds sense the hypocrisy, and if nothing else is there to fill the void, bad things can happen. I believe this is why newer generations are rejecting religion increasingly. But the younger generations, with the help of instant information, are not buying the blind faith espoused and expected in the historical fiction known as the Bible, Torah or Koran. Feeling misled by their elders, they are naively walking out onto the battlefield of truth. Without some of the knowledge offered by history or growing up in an honest family unit, they are sitting ducks to repeat some of the errors of past civilizations
I think the least we can do is stop pointing to the Bible, the Book of Moses, the Koran, and other scriptures as the answer. I think we need to nurture the idea that we each have the potential to make this earth a better place. For example, even though the Bible speaks a lot about love, to a young mind that is filtering out BS, it doesn't practice what it preaches. I see some of these younger generations actually teaching their children virtue for the reason that it is the best thing to do. Amazing! It will make you happier and more fulfilled. But rubbing their face in religious dogmatism is driving them away, and I fear is one of reasons the family unit is failing. Read my book, recapture your sovereignty, and stop the nonsense.