A reader named Jen left this comment on the recent article, What is the Wrath of God?
Is God bloodthirsty and violent?
So here is my question: You believe the parts in the Bible about God’s love and God is Love, and all the feel good parts about God. But when it comes to the anger of God and all the terrible curses and mass slaughter and such, it is either “this is only what people thought God was like and have attributed to Him” or it is explained by evil doers not liking the light. We are only supposed believe the good things about God and cherry pick over the unpleasant stuff that doesn’t make sense?
On the spiritual plane the hiding from the light and sending yourself to hell makes sense. But when you read in the Bible that supposedly God told his people to go into a city and kill everyone right down to the infants and the cows, it is kind of hard to accept.
So why do you believe the Love stuff and not the vengeance and physical violence stuff about God in the Bible?
Jen is not overstating the case about the violent marching orders given by God in the Bible. Here are just two of many examples:
However, in the cities of the nations the Lord your God is giving you as an inheritance, do not leave alive anything that breathes. Completely destroy them—the Hittites, Amorites, Canaanites, Perizzites, Hivites, and Jebusites—as the Lord your God has commanded you. Otherwise, they will teach you to follow all the detestable things they do in worshiping their gods, and you will sin against the Lord your God. (Deuteronomy 20:16–18)
This is what the Lord Almighty says: “I will punish the Amalekites for what they did to Israel when they waylaid them as they came up from Egypt. Now go, attack the Amalekites and totally destroy all that belongs to them. Do not spare them; put to death men and women, children and infants, cattle and sheep, camels and donkeys.” (1 Samuel 15:2–3)
Sometimes the women and children were spared. Usually the livestock was taken as booty. Regardless, the God of the Old Testament is presented as a warlike and bloodthirsty God, who commands the wholesale destruction of Israel’s enemies. And as with the commandment to destroy the Amalekites, the stated motivation is often vengeance for previous attacks and wrongs against the Israelites.
How is this compatible with a God of love?
Did God really command the Israelites to commit genocide?
It is indisputable that the Bible says that God did so.
And can people who adhere to such violent, bloodthirsty religions really be considered God’s children? Are warlike, murderous, and genocidal people really living in the spirit of a God of love?
Or is God not always loving? Does God actually want whole clans and even whole races of people to be wiped out, as the Bible says?
And finally, can people who commit horrible acts of violence as commanded by their religion really go to heaven?
For more on violent religion and a bloodthirsty God, please click here to read on.