Catholic FAQ


Latest Threads
newest posts



Go Back   Catholic Answers Forums > Forums > Apologetics
 

Welcome to Catholic Answers Forums, the largest Catholic Community on the Web.

Here you can join over 400,000 members from around the world discussing all things Catholic. Membership is open to all, Catholic and non-Catholic alike, who seek the Truth with Charity.

To gain full access, you must register for a FREE account. Registered members are able to:
  • Submit questions about the faith to experts from Catholic Answers
  • Participate in all forum discussions
  • Communicate privately with Catholics from around the world
  • Plus join a prayer group, read with the Book Club, and much more.
Registration is fast, simple and absolutely free. So join our community today!

Have a question about registration or your account log-in? Just contact our Support Hotline.

Reply
 
Thread Tools Search Thread Display
  #1  
Old Jan 25, '07, 8:26 am
Alex1 Alex1 is offline
New Member
 
Join Date: September 7, 2006
Posts: 18
Default How do you respond when people say God ordered genocide and rape in the OT?

What do you say to people that say God ordered genocide and rape in the Old Testament?

Here are some examples I need to respond to, but I'm not sure how to start:
1 Samuel 15 “Thus says the Lord of hosts, “I will punish the Amalekites for what they did in opposing the Israelities when they came up out of Egypt. Now go and attack Amalek, and utterly destroy all that they have; do not spare them, but kill both man and woman, child and infant, ox and sheep, camel and donkey”.

"And they utterly destroyed all that was in the city, both man and woman, young and old, and ox, and sheep, and ***, with the edge of the sword. Joshua 6:21

(Numbers 31:7-18 NLT) They attacked Midian just as the LORD had commanded Moses, and they killed all the men. All five of the Midianite kings – Evi, Rekem, Zur, Hur, and Reba – died in the battle. They also killed Balaam son of Beor with the sword. Then the Israelite army captured the Midianite women and children and seized their cattle and flocks and all their wealth as plunder. They burned all the towns and villages where the Midianites had lived. After they had gathered the plunder and captives, both people and animals, they brought them all to Moses and Eleazar the priest, and to the whole community of Israel, which was camped on the plains of Moab beside the Jordan River, across from Jericho.

Moses, Eleazar the priest, and all the leaders of the people went to meet them outside the camp. But Moses was furious with all the military commanders who had returned from the battle. "Why have you let all the women live?" he demanded. "These are the very ones who followed Balaam's advice and caused the people of Israel to rebel against the LORD at Mount Peor. They are the ones who caused the plague to strike the LORD's people. Now kill all the boys and all the women who have slept with a man. Only the young girls who are virgins may live; you may keep them for yourselves.

(Zechariah 14:1-2 NAB) Lo, a day shall come for the Lord when the spoils shall be divided in your midst. And I will gather all the nations against Jerusalem for battle: the city shall be taken, houses plundered, women ravished; half of the city shall go into exile, but the rest of the people shall not be removed from the city. (Zechariah 14:1-2 NAB)
Reply With Quote
  #2  
Old Jan 25, '07, 8:33 am
jemfinch jemfinch is offline
Regular Member
 
Join Date: March 13, 2006
Posts: 1,002
Default Re: How do you respond when people say God ordered genocide and rape in the OT?

It's His prerogative to punish people how he chooses, isn't it?

Jeremy
Reply With Quote
  #3  
Old Jan 25, '07, 8:47 am
Black Jaque Black Jaque is offline
Regular Member
 
Join Date: June 23, 2004
Posts: 1,243
Default Re: How do you respond when people say God ordered genocide and rape in the OT?

Quote:
What do you say to people that say God ordered genocide and rape in the Old Testament?

--"Ya darn right! Now....Whose side are you on?"
Reply With Quote
  #4  
Old Jan 25, '07, 9:07 am
Godefridus Godefridus is offline
New Member
 
Join Date: July 12, 2004
Posts: 97
Default Re: How do you respond when people say God ordered genocide and rape in the OT?

I don't think that such flippant answers do enough justice to the difficulty of the question, nor are they helpful in an apologetic context. You would think that, even if they were incorrect, the various irreligious people who object to certain divine commands in the Old Testament do so out of an admirable concern, both that God be a God of love, and that God not be self-contradictory.

Notice that the people who make this objection don't often bring up instances where God himself did the punishing directly; e.g., the drowning of the Egyptians, the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah, etc. I think that's because these cases don't create a logical problem--indeed, God is Lord over life and death, he has given/taken away, etc.

Objections that the OT God seems violent and cruel are not necessarily denying God's lordship over life and death. The apparent contradiction comes when God orders human beings to do things that we believe are objectively evil. Such seems to imply that evil is part of God's perfect will.

We should not mock the difficulty of this problem--unless you think it's a good evangelization programme to take cheeky delight in bloodthirsty exegesis.
__________________
Not Noteworthy - A little charity covers a lot of theology.
Reply With Quote
  #5  
Old Jan 25, '07, 9:16 am
runandsew runandsew is offline
Regular Member
 
Join Date: September 8, 2006
Posts: 1,146
Religion: Roman Catholic
Default Re: How do you respond when people say God ordered genocide and rape in the OT?

You might want to listen to Scott Hahn's "Our Fathers Plan"
He explains this.
real audio format
MP3 format

Real briefly he talks about how Moses allowed this from the book of Deuteronomy.
Israel kept falling into the sins of their neighbors, worshiping their Gods. Their Holiness was weaker than their attraction to Idols. They were supposed to convert the nations, but they ended up turning to idolatry. So Moses allowed a lesser sin to be committed, rather than a greater sin, because of the hardness of their hearts.
So in the book of Deuteronomy, Moses allowed Harem warfare (the killing of every man women and child), and allowed divorce and other things.
Though these were the commands of God, God didn't speak these directly to the Israelites, Moses passed these laws on to the Isarelites in a speech.

It two main sins that the Israelites commited were the worship of the calf in Exodus chapter 32, and the sin of Baal of Peor in Numbers chapter 25. These two sins led to the book of Leviticus , and the book of Deuteronomy.
Reply With Quote
  #6  
Old Jan 25, '07, 9:41 am
Malcolm McLean Malcolm McLean is offline
Banned
 
Join Date: October 4, 2006
Posts: 1,749
Religion: Catholic
Default Re: How do you respond when people say God ordered genocide and rape in the OT?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Alex1 View Post
What do you say to people that say God ordered genocide and rape in the Old Testament?
The "Evil Bible" argument. I don't think there's a pat answer to it.

To some extent we can say that the Old Testament reflected the people of Israel's poor theological understanding, "it was for the hardness of your ancestors' hearts that Moses wrote this commandment".

Another answer is that comfortable Americans don't have much sympathy with people living in the Middle East, fighting for very survival. When missiles are falling from the sky, you read these passages ina wholly different way.

Another answer is that the OT is largely mythologised history. We don't know what the actual history of the Exodus was, though it is likely that such an event did occur, and the Israelites had stories about it rather like Americans have Wild West movies which give a fictionalised account of a real event - the settlement of the American West - but with often unrealistic depictions of Indians and the settlers' relationships with them.
Reply With Quote
  #7  
Old Jan 25, '07, 9:43 am
Godefridus Godefridus is offline
New Member
 
Join Date: July 12, 2004
Posts: 97
Default Re: How do you respond when people say God ordered genocide and rape in the OT?

Quote:
Originally Posted by runandsew View Post
You might want to listen to Scott Hahn's "Our Fathers Plan"
He explains this.
real audio format
MP3 format
Thanks, I will listen. Hahn is solid enough that I don't think I need to fear using his material.

I made a post about this a couple of days ago. Mainly my issue is, how closely does the herem warfare in the Old Testament reflect God's perfect, direct will?
__________________
Not Noteworthy - A little charity covers a lot of theology.
Reply With Quote
  #8  
Old Jan 25, '07, 9:48 am
runandsew runandsew is offline
Regular Member
 
Join Date: September 8, 2006
Posts: 1,146
Religion: Roman Catholic
Default Re: How do you respond when people say God ordered genocide and rape in the OT?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Godefridus View Post
Thanks, I will listen. Hahn is solid enough that I don't think I need to fear using his material.

I made a post about this a couple of days ago. Mainly my issue is, how closely does the herem warfare in the Old Testament reflect God's perfect, direct will?
Yes I understand the question, and even after listening to this audio program, I still wonder about this issue, but when people say "thank goodness we don't have the God of the Old Testament anymore", I can give them a good reply, after listening to "Our Fathers Plan"
Reply With Quote
  #9  
Old Jan 25, '07, 10:34 am
Alex1 Alex1 is offline
New Member
 
Join Date: September 7, 2006
Posts: 18
Default Re: How do you respond when people say God ordered genocide and rape in the OT?

Thanks Godefridus and Mr. McLean. I do need a serious answer as I encounter this charge from non-believers on a regular basis. The lack of a good reply usually shuts down the argument leaving us (Catholics) looking like idiots.

I'll check the Scott Hahn link, and in the meantime I'm still hoping for some more helpful posts.
Reply With Quote
  #10  
Old Jan 25, '07, 12:12 pm
jemfinch jemfinch is offline
Regular Member
 
Join Date: March 13, 2006
Posts: 1,002
Default Re: How do you respond when people say God ordered genocide and rape in the OT?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Godefridus View Post
I don't think that such flippant answers do enough justice to the difficulty of the question, nor are they helpful in an apologetic context.
I remember a certain apologist, when confronted with a very similar question, simply replying, "Does not the potter have the right over the clay, to make some vessels for noble uses and some for profane use? Who are you, O man, to talk back to God?"

Perhaps not the most "enlightened" of apologetics, but certainly not an invalid one.

Jeremy
Reply With Quote
  #11  
Old Jan 25, '07, 1:14 pm
Aleii Aleii is offline
Junior Member
 
Join Date: October 2, 2006
Posts: 422
Religion: former Catholic, now Agnostic
Default Re: How do you respond when people say God ordered genocide and rape in the OT?

Quote:
Originally Posted by jemfinch View Post
Who are you, O man, to talk back to God?"
So we can't question things in order to get a better understanding otherwise its considered talking back to God? Is that really what that guy was saying?

The OP is one of the major problems that I have about the Bible, that has in turn directed me away from Catholicism over the years.
Reply With Quote
  #12  
Old Jan 25, '07, 1:37 pm
antimon antimon is offline
Junior Member
 
Join Date: October 3, 2006
Posts: 215
Religion: catholic
Default Re: How do you respond when people say God ordered genocide and rape in the OT?

well and how dou you reply to "Islamic terrorists are claiming that they are doing God's will too"? How do I explain the difference between Israelites doing violence in God's name and Islamic terrorists doing violence in God's name to an atheist? If I were the atheist I would laugh...
Reply With Quote
  #13  
Old Jan 25, '07, 2:15 pm
wisdom 3:5's Avatar
wisdom 3:5 wisdom 3:5 is offline
Book Club Member
 
Join Date: June 2, 2004
Posts: 1,173
Religion: Catholic
Default Re: How do you respond when people say God ordered genocide and rape in the OT?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Alex1 View Post
Thanks Godefridus and Mr. McLean. I do need a serious answer as I encounter this charge from non-believers on a regular basis. The lack of a good reply usually shuts down the argument leaving us (Catholics) looking like idiots.

I'll check the Scott Hahn link, and in the meantime I'm still hoping for some more helpful posts.
The trouble with this subject is that there is no short sound byte answer for it.

God's Plan is for Israel, the first born, to bring the other nations to God. But Israel keeps falling into the sin of worshipping the other gods. These other gods are brutal, wicked and immoral; Molech was worshipped by people putting their live children into the flames before the idol! In Gen 15:14 God tells Abraham that "the iniquity of the Ammorites is not yet complete" - God wasn't going to push the Ammorites out of the land at that point because they weren't too evil yet or perhaps they still had a chance of redemption, I don't know. But there comes a point when the cup is full and its time for God to deal with people. In this case the Ammorites had 400+ years to bring things around

When it is time for God to deal with the sins of the people He always gives signs and warnings:

The 9 plagues in Exodus, all before the deaths of the firstborn.

The crossing the Jordan before the destruction of Jerico where God stopped the flow of the Jordan. and all the time it took before they actually shouted down the walls (there was more than a week where anyone that wanted to leave the city could have gone and "saved themselves". maybe some did.

The phrase. "and I will drive them out before you" (said by God) indicates that Herem warfare was not waged against every city, only the most wicked.

So, some people don't have difficulty with God directly striking down a person, He is the Creator, its His will etc. But are bothered by man killing man "under God's orders". God works through us. He spoke through the prophets. God chastized Israel with exile and He used the Babylonians and the Assyrians to do it. And that's just the old testament. We are the body of Christ, remember Peter healed people in Acts, the poor were taken care of; we do the physical work of Christ on earth.
__________________
"What the world needs is a voice that is right not when the world is right, but a voice that is right when the world is wrong."
Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen
Reply With Quote
  #14  
Old Jan 25, '07, 2:22 pm
wisdom 3:5's Avatar
wisdom 3:5 wisdom 3:5 is offline
Book Club Member
 
Join Date: June 2, 2004
Posts: 1,173
Religion: Catholic
Default Re: How do you respond when people say God ordered genocide and rape in the OT?

Quote:
Originally Posted by antimon View Post
well and how dou you reply to "Islamic terrorists are claiming that they are doing God's will too"? How do I explain the difference between Israelites doing violence in God's name and Islamic terrorists doing violence in God's name to an atheist? If I were the atheist I would laugh...
Maybe they are . . . As I said in my previous post, God used the Babylonians and the Assyrians to chastize Israel for worshipping other gods.

I can think of many reasons our society would be chastized, Abortion being the top of the list.

Ironic how our western society which doesn't respect life (abortion) being terrorized by people who also don't respect life (so much so that they kill innocents).
__________________
"What the world needs is a voice that is right not when the world is right, but a voice that is right when the world is wrong."
Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen
Reply With Quote
  #15  
Old Jan 25, '07, 2:39 pm
Black Jaque Black Jaque is offline
Regular Member
 
Join Date: June 23, 2004
Posts: 1,243
Default Re: How do you respond when people say God ordered genocide and rape in the OT?

Quote:
The apparent contradiction comes when God orders human beings to do things that we believe are objectively evil. Such seems to imply that evil is part of God's perfect will.
Which is the point of my cheeky retort. If it's what God orders, then it ain't evil.

Perhaps it is an American phenomina that we've created God in the image of a "Disney Dad" that is erroneous and inconsistant.

There is an imbalance of "God is Love" statements made vs. "God is almighty" statements. Yet, curiously, there is a human desire to align ourselves with power and might. I suspect that is why young teen boys adorn themselves Heavy Metal T-shirts. They get a power trip out of making themselves appear to be angels of Satan.

Also, when you think how God might think, death is a doorway, not an end.

Or, perhaps, when you think like the people thought back then, enemy captives were given the same level of dignity as animals. Therefor, when God told the Israelites to destroy all, even women and children, perhaps this wasn't something that flew in the face of the Israelites innate sense of mercy; but rather this order flew in the face of the Israelites sense of greed. There would be no slaves, no concubines, no plunder, no wealth. Just making room for the Israelites to set up home. Maybe this was God's way of telling the Israelites to "take only what you need".

Suppose that God was right in giving the order. Then try to think from there. Instead, people seem to use these instances in the Bible to prove that God is not "all good".
Reply With Quote
Reply

Go Back   Catholic Answers Forums > Forums > Apologetics

Bookmarks

Thread Tools Search Thread
Search Thread:

Advanced Search
Display

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Forum Jump


Prayer Intentions

Most Active Groups
8304Meet and talk,talk talk
Last by: GLam8833
5071CAF Prayer Warriors Support Group
Last by: mountee
4358Devotion to the Sorrowful Mother
Last by: lsbar
4035OCD/Scrupulosity Group
Last by: 3DOCTORS
3853SOLITUDE
Last by: Prairie Rose
3616Let's empty Purgatory
Last by: RJB
3264Poems and Reflections
Last by: PathWalker
3212Catholic Vegetarians & Vegans
Last by: Rifester
3202Petitions Before the Blessed Sacrament
Last by: grateful_child
3069For seniors and shut- ins
Last by: Theresa DeSensi



All times are GMT -7. The time now is 11:51 pm.

Home RSS Feeds - Home - Archive - Top

Copyright © 2004-2014, Catholic Answers.