Imagine you are walking down the street, minding your own business, and a group of young children come up to you and start yelling loudly at you, calling you "Big Nose, Big Nose!" This angers you, of course. How dare these children mock you! What disrespect! They must have been poorly brought up, you think to yourself. You just happen to be packing an AK-47 fully-automatic assault rifle with you that day. In your mad rage, you open fire into the group of children, killing them all. The air is split by the loud clatter of gunfire, blood flies, the empty cartridge cases rain down upon the ground, and small bodies are shredded in gory chunks. Screams of small boys and girls fill the air-- they are filled with terror as they run left and right, trying to escape your bullets-- but to no avail-- they can't run fast enough. You're able to hit them all. You stand there looking with satisfaction upon the result of your act: piled heaps of small bodies, blood soaked and shredded; the bodies of children who were but moments before happy and carefree, playing in the sunlight.
How outrageous, how horrendous, this example is. It resembles the worst of the tragic modern news stories of multiple homicides in the halls of our public schools. It's a terrible thing to contemplate, and I hope that we never have to hear such a thing on the news again. I even apologize to you for using such violent imagery. But I really wanted to get your attention.
Let's think about this a little further. Is there any way that we can justify this bloodshed? The children in the above example were terribly disrespectful to an adult. They mocked you. They called you "Big Nose". They were defying your authority. Certainly, they would have grown up to be terrible people. The world is better off without them. They were wicked. Isn't there some way we can look at this situation to justify their deaths? Is there any circumstance that can make this mass murder morally acceptable?
But, you say, children are just like that. They tease, they make fun of people. It's just natural for kids to mock, especially when they get into groups. Kids tend to follow the pack, and want to go along with what their friends do. Surely, this is only common sense! Sticks and stones can break my bones, but words can never hurt me, right? You would think this is common sense, right?
Then, gentle reader, please be so kind as to explain to me why God himself, the Loving Father, did just such a deed as this.
Please open your bible to 2 Kings, 2:23-24.23: And he (Elisha) went up from thence unto Bethel: and as he was going up by the way, there came forth little children out of the city, and mocked him, and said unto him, Go up, thou bald head; go up, thou bald head.
24: And he turned back, and looked on them, and cursed them in the name of the Lord. And there came forth two she bears out of the wood, and tare forty and two children of them."
Understandably, our nation went into a shock and a long period of mourning after the Columbine shootings, where around dozen high school students were killed. But here, forty-two little children were just dismembered! Picture the red blood on the sharp white teeth of bears; the long claws slashing open their tender young bodies. Picture the pain on their faces. Think of the faces of your own children. What of the feelings of the 42 mothers, and the 42 fathers? Imagine what went through their minds when they first looked upon the torn bodies of their little children. Now imagine the outrage, the horror, if something like this happened today. It is practically unthinkable. One wonders why God would even create these children if he were going to destroy them in so violent a way.
But the Christian spin-doctors tell us that it's okay, and that I'm just taking this story "out of context". How dare I question these verses? How dare I even bring it up? But that is, after all, the job of the Christian apologist: to tell people like me that they've taken the horrible parts of the bible "out of context", and to contrive elaborate excuses explaining why the bible doesn't really mean what it says.
I must be taking it out of context, right? That's the only explanation, isn't it? God would never do something so heartless, so malevolent, would he?. Please, then, tell me what is the context? Read the verses before and after the ones above: read verses 23 and 25. How does the context lessen the horror that these verses convey? These lines shed no light on the atrocity-- they change nothing at all.
I would ask the Christian this: In what context does the slaughtering of children become acceptable? Is there any circumstance in which you can justify this act? If so, what is your definition of morality? How then is morality absolute? Does the bible continue to deserve the label of "The Good Book"? If you still think so, then read the passages to your 6 year old child as a bedtime story. Make no mistake-- 2nd Kings 2:23-24 describes an act of mass murder, perpetrated by God himself, and all the worse for being carried out on children.
The Living Bible translates the event using the words "a gang of young men". The Living Bible is a "feel good" bible which tries to soften up the scriptures. This instance is a good case in point. The Hebrew words "na'ar qatan" are used for "little children". The word used for "children" is na'ar, , which the Strong's Concordance defines as: "(concretely) a boy from the age of infancy to adolescence...also, (by interchangeable of sex), a girl (of similar latitude in age)". The word for "little" is qatan, , which Strong's defines as "diminutive, literally (in quantity, size or number), or figuratively (in age or importance)." What this means is that the Hebrew words used in the original bible verses, "na'ar qatan" absolutely, positively mean "little children". The writers of the Living Bible, in translating "na'ar qatan" as "young men" (and then further coloring the text using the derisive word "gang") are being dishonest. They're trying to take the edge off the story.
The truth is that this is a horrible story found in a horrible book-- one that you would never read to your children. It is a story that is never read aloud in church... a story that priests and ministers would just as well sweep under the carpet. They would get out their scissors and snip it out of every single bible, if they could.
But they can't. They're stuck with it. And to them, it doesn't matter. But this story serves to illustrate that the made-up God of the bible is a heartless monster, full of pride, and devoid of conscience and mercy. So strong is the power of belief, the desire for eternal reward, that Christians are willing to overlook this and the other atrocities in the bible. There is nothing too awful that they would doubt their religious beliefs. They try to twist logic and twist the text to turn this immoral act into a moral one, and to exonerate their God of the blame. Most people ignore this passage, or are unaware of it. It is my task to make sure they become aware of it.
We are told that God is a god of mercy, of compassion. Jesus said that we should strive to be perfect just as our Father in Heaven. But there certainly is no hint of compassion or mercy in this biblical story. It is a story more worthy of a demon, than of God. But they claim that our "human" concept of mercy and justice can't be compared with God's. Then what do those words mean? How can they continue to even say that God is merciful and just? Christians who use this excuse must cease calling God just and merciful, because they are using our "limited human vocabulary".
But before you claim the all-time cop-out phrase: "But that's the Old Testament", and thereby disown 90% of your "perfect Word", please read this.
According to the bible, isn't Jesus the one and only God? Did Jesus condemn any of his father's massacres? No, of course not. In Matt 5:48 he says "Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father in Heaven is perfect." (Matthew 5:48) I guess sending bears to tear apart 42 little children is "perfect" in Jesus' eyes. I think it's as far from perfect as Hitler.
In John 1:1, we read "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God." In verse 14, we read: "The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us." We are told explicitly that Jesus Christ IS THE GOD OF THE OLD TESTAMENT! But if you're a Christian, you probably already accept this. Therefore, by logical extension, you must also accept that it was Jesus Christ who sent two bears to chase down forty-two little kids and tear them limb from limb for just acting like kids. "What Would Jesus Do?"
So what does it all mean? It means that the loving God that Christians pretend to believe in is not the one portrayed in their own bible. Modern Christians have re-created the biblical God in their own, humanistic image. But of course they don't want to admit this. Killing children is wrong now, and it was wrong 2000 years ago. It is wrong if some deranged serial killer does it, and it is wrong in the pages of the bible. This kind of thinking is called moral consistency. They should try it sometime.
One more question for you to ponder, if you've gotten this far. As grisly as it is, I would like you to consider the situation one more time. Here it is: A representative of God is walking up a hill into a city, and he is mocked by little children-- and God slaughters 42 of them.
Under the same circumstances, what would a devil have done? Would he have done anything differently?
Think about that.