Sex

Take My Kids Instead

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Salon's Louis Bayard poses the question of the day: When a biblical literalist cites the book of Genesis in a protest against sodomy, is he or she in turn advocating parent-sponsored pedophilia?

Genesis 19…is also the source of all the trouble. Lot's house has been surrounded by the men of Sodom, "both old and young," crying: "Where are the men which came in to thee this night? bring them out unto us, that we may know them." Lot, rather alarmingly from modern perspectives, tries to appease the mob by offering his own daughters. The mob refuses. Whereupon Lot's male guests, angels in disguise, strike their would-be ravagers blind. Fire and brimstone follow; Sodom is no more.

Blasts from the past: Managing Editor Jesse Walker's response to the landmark civil liberties case, Lawrence v. Texas; Jacob Sullum on the anti-agists at the Yearning for Zion Ranch; and the legal team that forgot to include scriptural references in its defense.

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  1. LOL!

    Literalism is pretty silly.

  2. Actually, it is my understanding that this story is supposed to illustrate the Middle Eastern virtue of hospitality.

    The angels-in-disguise were previously offered hospitality by Lot. Lot’s offering of his daughters to appease the crowd is supposed to demonstrate that Lot is so virtuous in his hospitality that he would rather the crowd take his daughters than his guests.

    I know, it’s still kind of silly.

  3. It’s for the children.

  4. Actually, it is my understanding that this story is supposed to illustrate the Middle Eastern virtue of hospitality.

    That’s definitely the key, and it also helps to understand a very similar story later in Judges (19-21).

    Otherwise one is lead inexorably to the notion that rape is morally preferable to sodomy in the Biblical paradigm…which it isn’t.

  5. Thanks a Lot.

    ROFL!

  6. I don’t know what makes you think you can reference this tale and not link to Brad Neely’s Bible History #1. It’s criminal negligence:

    http://www.superdeluxe.com/sd/contentDetail.do?id=D81F2344BF5AC7BB77D6A0E55069BD0A9B3A52CB005FA7D7

  7. Yeah, we’re going to need to get that “World’s Greatest Dad” mug back from you now.

    (Joke totally stolen from a cartoon I can’t remember the author of.)

  8. Actually, it is my understanding that this story is supposed to illustrate the Middle Eastern virtue of hospitality.

    As did I, but it’s a sick hospitality which ignores a girl’s presumed right to not be gang-raped.

    Just goes to prove my theory that those who claim to take the Bible literally never actually read it.

  9. Lot’s Daughters:

    I think this is where you pilfered the joke from…

    I much prefer pointing out the “God sends bears to eat children for making fun of a bald guy” story…

    Nephilium

  10. Lot’s daughters were probably adults, you know. Indeed, later in that chapter, two of them copulate with Lot and conceive the ancestors of the Moabites and Amorites, as the story goes, a serious dig at two of Israel’s rival neighboring nations in later centuries.

    Also, just because Lot does something does not mean the writer thinks it’s right. He’s not the star of that part of Genesis, his uncle Abraham is.

  11. Excellent! Atheists turned armchair theologians. Much of the Bible is history (or legend, if you are so inclined.)

    The fact that a historian chronicles an event does not mean that he endorses the actions of the protagonists.

    reason, stick to libertarianism. You have no idea what you are talking about.

  12. Seriously, Genesis has lots of people behaving badly (pun actually unintended). Those same daughters are used in a hillbilly-incest joke aimed at the Moabites and the Ammonites.

  13. Otherwise one is lead inexorably to the notion that rape is morally preferable to sodomy in the Biblical paradigm…which it isn’t.

    Uh, if they had sodomized the two guys in his house, that would have been rape also, right? Again, the portrayal of Lot in Genesis is that of a well-intentioned idiot whose messes his uncle is constantly having to clean up.

  14. I think later on Lot’s daughter get him drunk and fuck him. One can only assume that god approves. Who knew that god was such pedophilic, incestuous pervert or that allowing a gang bang of your daughters was considered hospitality.

  15. Lot’s daughters were probably adults, you know. Indeed, later in that chapter, two of them copulate with Lot and conceive the ancestors of the Moabites and Amorites, as the story goes, a serious dig at two of Israel’s rival neighboring nations in later centuries. Also, just because Lot does something does not mean the writer thinks it’s right. He’s not the star of that part of Genesis, his uncle Abraham is.

    And yet Sodom and Gomorrah were destroyed for the immorality of their inhabitants. However, the man who offered to let his daughters be gang-raped was the ONE man considered virtuous enough to be saved. The writer might not have approved of Lot’s actions, but God apparently did.

    However, if the daughters had voluntarily had sex with a man, they probably would’ve been killed for sexual immorality.

  16. damn, CP beat me to it.

  17. One of the themes of the bible is that God often uses horribly flawed people to do his deeds.

    Moses
    David
    Peter

    to pick a big 3 right off the top.

  18. lunchstealer, that’s all right — apparently I was confusing the Amorites and Ammonites, anyway. They all look alike to me… πŸ˜‰

  19. CP,

    The Amorites are in the list of peoples that the Jews were supposed to wipe out completely. Confusing them and The Ammonites could have got them in a heap of trouble. πŸ™‚

  20. And yet Sodom and Gomorrah were destroyed for the immorality of their inhabitants. However, the man who offered to let his daughters be gang-raped was the ONE man considered virtuous enough to be saved. The writer might not have approved of Lot’s actions, but God apparently did.

    Absolutely. God was taking time out of his busy day to personally intervene on Lot’s behalf because he was virtuous. Also, don’t forget the god is omniscient. So he had to know what was, or would, go on and, therefore, approves of it. So yeah, god is a pedophilic incestuous pervert.

  21. As did I, but it’s a sick hospitality which ignores a girl’s presumed right to not be gang-raped.

    I think that the setup of the story was that Lot was faced with a choice of either the gang rape of the “young men” vising him or the gang rape of his daughters. I think we’re supposed to think of neither choice as very good, but of heterosexual gang rape as slightly preferable to homosexual gang rape.

    Or were you under the impression that the “young men” visiting Lot would voluntarily submit to the advances of the mob outside the door?

  22. For those who like pointing our odd distinctions in the bible, Duteronomy 20 contains the list of peoples that are supposed to be completely destroyed. When their cities are taken, everything that breathes that they own is to be killed. Men, women, children, animals. Everything.

    The next few verses talk about how during seiges they shouldnt cut down fruit trees.

    Trees >>> Canaanites

  23. Seamus,

    More that hetero vs homo, I think it was Lot was willing to take on the shame of having his daughters raped as a sacrifice in order to protect his guests.

    As you said, neither was a good choice.

  24. Excellent! Atheists turned armchair theologians. Much of the Bible is history…[blah, blah, blah]…reason, stick to libertarianism. You have no idea what you are talking about.

    jj, Notwithstanding the fact that there are a metric fuck-ton of theists that hang out around here, you have not one whit of a notion of the backgrounds or areas of expertise of anyone here, and as such you should take your prefab dismissal of opinions unlike yours and shove them into a tight, warm out-hole.

    The next few verses talk about how during seiges they shouldnt cut down fruit trees.

    Trees >>> Canaanites

    Well, you can eat a piece of fruit, but God damn you if you eat a Canaanite!

  25. Well, you can eat a piece of fruit, but God damn you if you eat a Canaanite!

    I think that is almost word for word what Deut 20 says. πŸ™‚

    The fruit trees will sustain you during the seige is the reason for their protection.

  26. Excellent! Atheists turned armchair theologians

    Oh wow, here is me thinking that ALL theologians would be of the ‘armchair’ variety considering none of us were around the time of the events in the bible. But, no, Im wrong, here we got ourselves JJ, the only remaining contributor to the bible and a non-armchair theologian. Geebusbepraised.

  27. I think that the setup of the story was that Lot was faced with a choice of either the gang rape of the “young men” vising him or the gang rape of his daughters. I think we’re supposed to think of neither choice as very good, but of heterosexual gang rape as slightly preferable to homosexual gang rape.

    If Lot wanted to make a sacrifice, he should’ve offered himself to the mob rather than hide behind his daughters and pretend that offering to have them hurt somehow means he’s making some noble sacrifice.

    And God help anyone who worships a God who’d say that offering your kids to be gang-raped makes you the ONE person worthy of salvation in a city of sinners.

  28. Jennifer,

    The act didnt make him worthy. It just didnt push him over the line. For Sodom, God was grading on a curve.

  29. I can’t imagine that Sodom was a very popular tourist destination given the proclivities of its citizens to gang rape visitors.

  30. The act didnt make him worthy. It just didnt push him over the line. For Sodom, God was grading on a curve.

    True, but it’s a sick curve which finds heterosexual gang-rape preferable to consensual sodomy.

    Of course, such stories are why I lost my childhood Christian faith in the first place. Even as a dumb teenager, I knew better than to worship anyone who spent more time obsessing over my genitalia than I do.

    I was a teenager trapped in a body filled with raging hormones. That’s my excuse for why I thought about sex so much. What was God’s excuse?

  31. consensual sodomy? – there was nothing consensual about it.

  32. 1st Little Pig,

    Or maybe it WAS a popular tourist attraction, for that very reason.

  33. Jennifer,

    As a percent of the whole, sex related topics are a fairly minor bit of the bible. Heck, the only thing that made the 10 commandments was adultery. And that is more about contract violation than sex.

  34. Fundies who take Biblican stories way too literally and ignore the background, and thereby miss the point have the excuse that their belief system requires them to.

    Atheists who do so are just being dicks.

  35. Er, Biblical.

  36. Re: 10 commandments

    Also coveting your neighbors wife. But that might not be sexual, maybe she is just a good cook. πŸ™‚

  37. I can’t imagine that Sodom was a very popular tourist destination given the proclivities of its citizens to gang rape visitors.

    They just got the bleedover traffic from the Gomorran felching festivals.

  38. Atheists who do so are just being dicks.

    Ok, so which passages should we take literally and which should we take metaphorically when discussing the Bible?

    If a fundie takes passages literally and I’m having a discussion with said fundie, how does interpreting the passage in question literally (for argument’s sake) make me a dick?

    Either way, some passages, like this one, are horrible whether taken literally or metaphorically.

    As an atheist I’m perfectly willing to take my opponent’s word whether a passage is literal or metaphorical. Note, I don’t believe in either interpretation (literal or metaphorical). But in order to have a meaningful discussion we have to agree on which route to take. Chosing one over the other doesn’t necessarily make one a dick.

  39. Being a dick is half the fun of being an atheist, joe.

  40. Fundies who take Biblican stories way too literally and ignore the background, and thereby miss the point have the excuse that their belief system requires them to. Atheists who do so are just being dicks.

    Joe, I don’t have to literally believe Aesop’s tale of the boy who cried wolf to comment on his point about lying and why it’s bad to do so. And I don’t have to literally believe the story of Lot in Sodom to find that value system utterly appalling.

    Seriously, folks: if you find yourself compelled to make excuses for why offering one’s daughters up for gang-rape isn’t such a bad thing, really, if you’d just look at the context … maybe you’re wasting mental energy on the wrong fight.

  41. Even if the Bible were against sodomy (and 7 years into academic study of theology, I still am not sure what it thinks), why should it be illegal? I guess the whole idea of letting people make decisions for themselves only has to do with whether they accept Jesus or not.

    Yay for Western Fundamentalist Christianity, removed from all historical understandings of Christianity since its inception!

  42. I’m perfectly willing to take my opponent’s word whether a passage is literal or metaphorical.

    That should have read:

    “I’m perfectly willing to take my debating opponent at their word whether a passage is literal or metaphorical.”

    Not very elegant grammar I know, but hopefully I’m making myself clear.

  43. Well, I’ve understood the Lot theme a bit differently. Long sieges were expensive and prone to failure, siege weapons had not really been invented, which leaves clandestine operations the most succesful means to take a city. Lot snuck in the angels(aka spies) and when the citizens found out, suspected them as spies. A mob goes to Lot’s house, but he attempts to placate the mob by using his daughters as whores(possibly were though no mention is rendered in bible, prostitution being a major source of income). Works until of course the angels/spies accomplish their mission and throw open the gates to the Israelites.

    *I was raised deep woods baptist but still view the bible as an interesting historical record*

  44. which should we take metaphorically when discussing the Bible?

    Definitely take most of the Book of Revelation as a metaphor.

  45. Joe, I don’t have to literally believe Aesop’s tale of the boy who cried wolf to comment on his point about lying and why it’s bad to do so.

    No, you don’t. You don’t even have to believe that it is good for little boys who lie to be devoured live by predators in order to comment on the point about lying – ie, the message of the fable, as opposed to the particulars of the story and the context in which it was written in order to convey that message.

    Nor do you have to believe that the moral code in Sodom is appropriate in order to figure out that the story is about hospitality.

    My God, Aesop wants young children to be ripped limb from limb for lying! What an appalling value system!

  46. Soda,

    Pretty much everything that is physically impossible – people turning into salt, for example – shouldn’t be read as if it was the minutes of a board meeting.

  47. You know, females didn’t exactly have a lot of value to society other than for sexual purposes 3000 years ago. Not even one’s on female children. Female children were commonly used for bartering by their fathers. That’s not exactly a newly discovered fact of history.

    So I can’t believe that anyone with any type of legitimate education would try to apply the old testament to today’s society. Even the Baptist church I grew up in taught us that the old testament was just that….ancient stories that tell us about the people of the time, but not how we are to live our lives now.

  48. joe,

    I’m an ex-fundy… do I get to make fun of the Bible? I studied the stupid thing for years, and was raised to believe that every word of it was the Literally True Word of God.

    Obviously, I no longer hold to that position.

    I will say that I don’t think the Biblical God is obsessed with sex, but with semen. Who it comes from, where it should be put, what the penalties are for using it wrong… God is hugely… umm… semenocentric. I figure there’s a reason God won’t let a man with an “injury to the stones” enter the Temple, and it’s closely related to the reason Onan had to die for failing to impregnate his brother’s wife.

    For God, it’s all about the man-seed.

  49. You don’t even have to believe that it is good for little boys who lie to be devoured live by predators in order to comment on the point about lying – ie, the message of the fable, as opposed to the particulars of the story and the context in which it was written in order to convey that message.

    Nor need you believe that virgin girls with asshole fathers deserve to be gang-raped to comment on the point about sexual morality — i.e., heterosexual rape is better than consensual homosexuality.

    As a percent of the whole, sex related topics are a fairly minor bit of the bible. Heck, the only thing that made the 10 commandments was adultery. And that is more about contract violation than sex.

    Read Leviticus and Deuteronomy and all its sexual freakouts. If a virgin is raped, she must marry her rapist, if a non-virgin is raped, she must be put to death … the sex of the Bible makes Ayn Rand’s sex scenes look downright healthy.

  50. Uh, before the reign of universal contraception, semen’s source and final destination was viewed as vitally important to the survival of human societies. Don’t impose our modern viewpoints on what was written by people in former times.

  51. Nor need you believe that virgin girls with asshole fathers deserve to be gang-raped to comment on the point about sexual morality — i.e., heterosexual rape is better than consensual homosexuality. That wasn’t the point, and the would-be sodomy wasn’t consensual.

    Read Leviticus and Deuteronomy and all its sexual freakouts.

    I like the bit about “Thou shall not boil a young goat in its mother’s milk.” If you were to take that literally, the Bible is a freaking cookbook. If you make an honest effort to find out what tell heck that was all about, you find out that such a practice was a religious ritual carried out by a group in the area; ie, it’s a prohibition against taking part in a non-Jewish religious ritual.

    I suppose you could make a point of not knowing that, for the purpose of talking about the crazy ideas the Jews had about cooking goats, if you’re point wasn’t to understand the Bible, but to make it easier to sneer.

  52. Jennifer,

    My Deuteronomy is a little rusty, but I believe the rule was that the death penalty was applicable only if the woman was raped in an inhabited area and didn’t call for help. Presumably this was meant to prevent women from engaging in consensual sex and then claiming it was rape to avoid the penalties for the former.

    Of course, I don’t agree with such a legal system, but it’s not like it was totally arbitrary.

  53. I like the bit about “Thou shall not boil a young goat in its mother’s milk.” If you were to take that literally, the Bible is a freaking cookbook.

    But the implication of your comment at 3:10 is that this SHOULD be taken literally; there’s nothing supernatural about this.

    My Deuteronomy is a little rusty, but I believe the rule was that the death penalty was applicable only if the woman was raped in an inhabited area and didn’t call for help. Presumably this was meant to prevent women from engaging in consensual sex and then claiming it was rape to avoid the penalties for the former.

    That was indeed the case. See, in those primitive times, man had not yet learned how to put his hand over a woman’s mouth, nor to hold a knife against her throat and say “One sound and you’re dead.” And perhaps the old Biblical writers hadn’t got around to noticing yet that the average man is much stronger than the average woman.

    And there’s still the whole thing about a God so squicked out by sex that he considers it a death-penalty offense. Doesn’t matter to me if those words are from God or Man; they’re vile all the same.

  54. Don’t impose our modern viewpoints on what was written by people in former times.

    Oh, I’m not. As an example (well, actually, a collection of examples) of ancient literature, the Bible can be highly educational; I don’t deny that.

    Of course, if someone in the 21st Century seriously wants modern laws and mores to be based around the Bronze Age sensibilities of said ancient literature… well, I think it’s fair comment to point out that the beloved Bearded Sky Fairy depicted therein loves him some man-seed.

  55. Did you ever consider that it was a stalling tactic that worked? “Oh, hey Village People, instead of assraping these guys, rape my daughters” knowing that’s not their scene while the angels are powering up their Frylock beams. Occam’s Razor.

  56. Anybody who believe tnat the Bilble is literally true is an idiot. Anybody who uncritically takes morality lessons from the OT has serious issues as well.

    Most Xians are smarter than that. We libertarians don’t like to be tarred with the Dondero brush, do we?

  57. I seem to recall that two thousand years later Jesus showed and offered a new way. In fact, I can’t recall any place in the New Testament that says we’re supposed to emulate Lot and the rest of the blundering sinful patriarchs.

  58. Please pretend I edited for spelling.

  59. Pretty much everything that is physically impossible – people turning into salt, for example – shouldn’t be read as if it was the minutes of a board meeting.

    I didn’t make myself clear. Obviously I agree that anything that is physically impossible shouldn’t be taken literally. Hell, even a lot of what is physically possible in The Bible is unreliable.

    The question is this. How I can know what a religious person takes literally or metaphorically other than asking and getting different answers from different people?

    Presumably the Resurrection and Ascension of Jesus are physically impossible. But even non-fundies believe in that stuff literally. Am I an asshole if for the purposes of discussion I start with the assumption that my religious debater believes in the literal truth of the Resurrection? If not, what makes the Resurrection any more crazy than parting seas?

    And note, volunteering your daughters to be gang-raped is physically possible. So that doesn’t fit joe’s literal vs. metaphorical rule of thumb.

  60. and it’s closely related to the reason Onan had to die for failing to impregnate his brother’s wife.

    Catholic revisionism! Onan died because God told him to knock her up and he pulled out rather than doing it. It had nothing to do with wasting semen; that was just invented to justify prohibitions against masturbation.

  61. It’s impossible to have an argument in good faith with people who want to define the same set of words as literal when it suits them and metaphorical when it suits them. The same goes for people who want to impose archaic values, but defend them as being above examination because they are archaic.

    Either the Bible says something to the modern world and is therefore open to critique emanating from the modern world, or it doesn’t and it isn’t. Cake, having it too, all that jazz.

  62. So I can’t believe that anyone with any type of legitimate education would try to apply the old testament to today’s society. Even the Baptist church I grew up in taught us that the old testament was just that….ancient stories that tell us about the people of the time, but not how we are to live our lives now.

    Except, apparently, certain rules interspersed sporadically throughout the text that religious leaders really have a boner for…

    It would be one thing if Christians were to simply claim that the OT is passe and done with (which the text does not support), but they do not. They like to pick fairly arbitrary rules from that barbaric time and claim that they apply now.

    And how many of *them* wear cloth of two different fibers, eh?

  63. Uh, it was Onan’s father, not God, who told Onan to put a bun in her oven, and this was before the law of the levirate was given by God in the Book of Exodus. Jews and early Christians took the passage to be about coitus interruptus rather than masturbation, anyway.

  64. heterosexual rape is better than consensual homosexuality.

    47000 people (okay, maybe 3) have already posted in thist thread that there is no consensual homosexuality in the Sodom passage being discussed and yet you keep bringing it up.

    Are you being an ass on purpose?

  65. SugarFree,

    I’m OK with simply saying that Lot is hardly portrayed as a role model in the Bible, so just because he does something doesn’t mean it’s supposed to be a good idea. There’s no need to invoke “different times, different places” for that.

    Also, I’d note that the few values I would wish to impose on other people without their consent (protection of life, liberty, and justly acquired property) I would defend based on nonreligious principles rather than on the Bible.

  66. It would be one thing if Christians were to simply claim that the OT is passe and done with (which the text does not support), but they do not. They like to pick fairly arbitrary rules from that barbaric time and claim that they apply now.

    Such as?

    I don’t see many fundies stoning women caught in adultery, do you? If you’re talking about homosexual behavior, there are condemnations of that in the New Testament as well.

  67. I don’t see many fundies stoning women caught in adultery, do you?

    You’re saying they don’t want to? Listen to a fundie sermon or two; you’ll find many pining for the good old days when virtue was enforced by bludgeoning people to shit with big fucking rocks.

    But if one doesn’t want to go there, then just settle on enforced patriarchy, war as a means to justice (read the infamous Land letter), children should be seen and not heard, rejection of evolution, justification for oppression of non-Christians, and on and on.

    And on the point of homosexuality in the NT, the translation for the Koine Greek arsenokoitai as “homosexual” is at best debatable, and given that the term appears literally nowhere else in contemporary texts, and also that Koine Greek already had a term for homosexuality, paiderasste, I find it very unlikely that the term was meant to be translated as such; there is a nuance of meaning that is undoubtedly lost in the translation (of which many scholars have opined diversely).

  68. Pretty much everything that is physically impossible – people turning into salt, for example – shouldn’t be read as if it was the minutes of a board meeting.

    That hardly worlks, the whole idea of god could be construed as physically impossible. As such, if the idea of god is a metaphor, then the whole bible falls apart. On the other hand, if one takes the concept of god and omnipotence literally then nothing is physically impossible and eveything in the bible could be read literally.

    So we continue to have people in funny hats, and prety much everyone else, picking and choosing ‘literal’ and ‘metaphorical’ stories, flip-flopping them and reintrepreting them to fit their current argument.

  69. arsenokoitai

    Are you pulling our legs?

  70. Don’t impose our modern viewpoints on what was written by people in former times.

    I would ask the same courtesy of those quoting people of former times to impose their viewpoints on us.

  71. Are you pulling our legs?

    No! Seriously, fucking Google it if you don’t believe me.

  72. L_I_T wins the thread, I think, with that bit of reversal.

  73. Elemenope,

    Thank you. The more I learn about the bible, the more I’m convinced it was written by the ancient versions of “political strategists” and “press secretaries”

  74. Elemenope,

    Sorry, was just pulling your leg to make a joke… It’s still funny though.

  75. The “arse” part, not your pulled leg.

  76. Interesting discussion. I have nothing to add, other than that.

    Oh and Naga Shadow, interesting idea that the Angels were really Isreali spies, who came to destroy the town.

    Anyone have anything to add about the Angels making it with humans making half breeds and that being the reason why God caused the flood in Noah’s era?

  77. the whole idea of god could be construed as physically impossible. As such, if the idea of god is a metaphor, then the whole bible falls apart.

    Really? You think so?

    Because the way I see it God is inevitably a metaphor. Even if there really is a God, it is for then, and still for now, a little out of our reach to explain.

  78. Also, does anybody have any theories about Noah living for 700 years?

  79. Also, does anybody have any theories about Noah living for 700 years?

    Do you want to start listing every crazy claim in the Bible?

  80. I can’t imagine that Sodom was a very popular tourist destination given the proclivities of its citizens to gang rape visitors.

    That’s why they needed a publicity campaign:
    http://cip.law.ucla.edu/cases/case_elsmeremusicnbc.html

  81. this is retarded. the author of a book doesn’t necessarily endorse all its characters’ actions! I don’t think Lot is ever portrayed as being virtuous or a role model

  82. the author of a book doesn’t necessarily endorse all its characters’ actions!

    Please go back in time and tell that to my fellow students in our Freshman Creative Writing class.

    Oh, and you’re a retard.

  83. the author of a book doesn’t necessarily endorse all its characters’ actions!

    The author of a nonfiction essay doesnt necessarily endorse all its points, either. Otherwise, that “Necessity of Terrorism” essay I wrote as a senior in high school (fortunately this was 86-87, I dont think it would go so well today) would have landed me in Gitmo. Or at least kept me from every being elected to public office (not that I would want that).

  84. All I have to say is that we all know what we believe and we don’t care what others believe unless they try to impose it on us, so what the hell does it matter how a fundamentalist interprets scripture? or if you agree with the God that they worship. I am a Christian but if you want to worship a God who runs around killing babies and eating them, I don’t care, just don’t make me follow the rules he creates.

    Surely that something any reasonable person can agree with.

  85. joe | June 12, 2008, 3:20pm | #
    I like the bit about “Thou shall not boil a young goat in its mother’s milk.” If you were to take that literally, the Bible is a freaking cookbook. If you make an honest effort to find out what tell heck that was all about, you find out that such a practice was a religious ritual carried out by a group in the area; ie, it’s a prohibition against taking part in a non-Jewish religious ritual.

    I suppose you could make a point of not knowing that, for the purpose of talking about the crazy ideas the Jews had about cooking goats, if you’re point wasn’t to understand the Bible, but to make it easier to sneer.

    You realize of course that this is still the passage upon which Kosher Jews base the law of not mixing dairy and meat products together right? This is not a past tense thing, it is still very much a part of being Kashrut today. Most Jews I have spoken with don’t know why the custom exists, so do they too sneer at themselves or do they just not want to understand the bible, eh?

  86. Most Jews I have spoken with don’t know why the custom exists, so do they too sneer at themselves or do they just not want to understand the bible, eh?

    Really? It has not been my experience that many (non-Reform) Jews were so ill-informed about the nature of and reasoning behind their laws and customs. Then again, America is fucking lousy with Reform Jews (they’re like Kosher Unitarians, I swear), so YMMV.

    And, just for the record, my sophomore roommate, who is a (non-Reform) Jew, did a whole lot of half-serious sneering at Jewish customs and law (he had a great bit about “dreaming of cheeseburgers”)…he just followed it, too.

    Sugarfree —

    Good to know. Most people make fun of the paiderasste, so I should have known something was up. πŸ˜‰

  87. All I have to say is that we all know what we believe and we don’t care what others believe unless they try to impose it on us, so what the hell does it matter how a fundamentalist interprets scripture?

    Because what fundies seem to read in the Bible fills them with a holy desire to cram this shit into law, down my throat, and into every other uncomfortable orifice, and that. makes. them. fucking. dangerous!

    It’s always helpful to know the doctrines of one’s enemies.

  88. LMNO, I’m with you, only substituting “opponents” for “enemies.”

  89. Um, Lot’s family was not considered a role model.

  90. Soda, Jennifer,

    “Literal vs. Parable” and “In context vs. isolation” are two different issues, and you’re conflating them.

  91. Kwix,

    Yes, I realize that. And since they expand that section into a much larger set of obligations, they’re obviously NOT taking it literally.

    Jews in 2008 keep kosher because it is a tradition that unites them as Jews, and reminds them to keep faith with God at every meal. Do you think Catholics still ring bells because they think it scares away the demons?

  92. Joe,

    Many catholic churches have done away with the bells. Most traditions remain simply because people don’t how to function without them. Traditions remind them of the well remembered comfort of the past, regardless of whether it was comfortable or not. The meaning behind the tradition has little to do with unity with others, just a comfotable complacency.

  93. Most have not.

    Anyway, congratulations on your impressive mind-reading abilities. Do they come automatically when you are of the superior breed of human being that stops going to church?

  94. yes joe, you do…

    since we’re both trying to explain things neither of us are qualified to do, why bother arguing about it? I speak from my experience, you speak from yours and I doubt we’ll agree. Perhaps semantically, we should have said something like “in my experience, I believe”, but since we’re both busy men, we didn’t.

    Congratulations on the snark btw, we’ll convert you to a libertarian yet.

  95. “Literal vs. Parable” and “In context vs. isolation” are two different issues, and you’re conflating them.

    If I am conflating I’m not doing it on purpose as I don’t know exactly what you mean. Even if I didn’t conflate (like you presumably don’t) I’m not sure how your original statement

    Atheists who do so are just being dicks.

    makes sense.

    Did you mean that atheists taking a literal interpretation out of a Bible passage just for kicks is a dick move? Sure, I guess. But it’s my experience than when an atheist takes a literal view of a passage is for purposes of discussion. Which is certainly the case of the original comment by the Salon author.

    If I’m conflating those 4 variables, by all means let’s uncouple them. Let’s say now we have 4 possible combinations:

    Literal in context
    Literal in isolation
    Parable in context
    Parable in isolation

    As an atheist I still have the same problem I had before. Which set does the believer choose as a basis for discussion and on what basis does the choice get made?

    For myself I let the believer take a stand and we take it from there. The fundies of this article took their stand. They stand or fall on literal interpretation of the Bible. Based on that, the atheist reads the Bible as the fundies choose to read it and the argument begins.

    And sorry, I still don’t get how I can assume a physically impossible Bible claim is automatically labeled as a “parable in context” or as you snarkily put it:

    shouldn’t be read as if it was the minutes of a board meeting.

    if fundies and non-fundies alike believe that miracles by God are fair game. That they may disagree on which miracles are real and which are not is one thing. But the mere fact that miracles are now “in-play” makes your rule of thumb not that useful in practice.

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