September 4, 2015
Why Is There So Much Violence In The Bible? It's An Honest Book.
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The Bible has been criticized for listing, portraying, describing, and including violence. Would it be a credible book about the human condition if it did not?
Of course, the Bible has much to say about other topics: life, love, death, goodness, sin, holiness, faith, purpose, etc. When you are describing the human condition, you cannot escape a discussion of violence.
Violence has marked much of how we define human history. As a college student and a history major, I learned how much of what was defined as history was actually the record successive rulers and kingdoms. Their comings and goings were marked by violence: war, military conquest, genocide, and forced migrations. You cannot understand or address human needs without acknowledging we really aren't naturally good at heart. Original sin marks itself in our history through violence. God acknowledges this violence by giving us a revelation---the Holy Bible-- that clearly shows how violence has broken our hearts and wounded our spirits.
Instead, every ugly thing humans are capable of is described in scripture. But that is not the final word.
In all of our violence and meanness, God loves us and reaches out to us. His outreach is constant and unconditional. God's love comes to us despite personal violence, corporate violence, national violence, ethnic violence, gender violence, child abuse, sexual abuse, domestic abuse of all kinds, and even international violence.
This truth is consoling and hope filled. I am grateful God sees exactly what we are and what we have been throughout history. He names and shows us our wrongs. He acknowledges how we have been hurt. Then he says, "I love you anyway. Come, and be my child."
I doesn't get any better than that. Don't be turned off or offended by the violence in the Bible. Dive in, knowing there is nothing there that does not also exist in our real lives and our real world. Behind and through it all, God is waiting for you to reach back.
Proverbs 28:13 says "Whoever conceals his transgressions will not prosper. but he who confesses and forsakes them will obtain mercy."
In Matthew 11:28 and 29, Jesus says "Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls."
In the middle of all of this violence, God's mercy waits for you.
Here are some places to read the Bible online, at no cost:
Bible Study Tools