Genesis 17 — God likes genital mutilation

Wednesday, January 07, 2009

Automatic for the People
By R.E.M.
Everybody Hurts
see related

Genesis 17 — God likes genital mutilation

God created us so perfectly (in his image, right?), that he decides in Genesis 17 that genital mutilation is mandatory for all his male believers.

Yes, billions of baby boys (and adults, too) everywhere have suffered this pain at God’s command. I guess when we go to the Pearly Gates, God asks us to drop ’em and checks to see if we’re circumcised. No shirt, no circumcision, no salvation.

Sure, some will argue that was the Old Testament. Some New Testament verses speak out against it (e.g. Galatians 5:2). But Jesus himself was allegedly circumcised (many churches even have this glorious day on their calendar, including Catholics) and he did not speak out against it, even though he had a good opportunity to (John 7:21-24).

Not only do all male babies have to be circumcised to keep God’s covenant, but one’s slaves/servants as well. Talk about adding insult to injury: you’re bought as a God-sanctioned slave, and then you have to have private parts mutilated. And the babies can’t even talk yet to protest.

I guess this is one case where women can praise the Lord for being sexist, since women are not told they need to be circumcised (unlike some other cultures and religions, including some forms of Islam).

God praises Abram (yet again) and gives him and his wife new names, Abraham and Sarah. Then God tells Abraham that he and Sarah will have a son. Telling from his reaction, Abraham apparently forgot about this (God promised this in the last chapter, but apparently over a decade has passed based on comparing his age in the two chapters). Even Abraham laughs at God for suggesting that two near-centenarians can have a baby. Fortunately God’s apparently in a good mood that day and doesn’t seem to mind being laughed at.

Abraham is able to squeeze out a little mercy for his other son, Ishmael, who had been cursed in the previous chapter. God promises Ishmael fertility and fathering 12 rulers. Why did God have a change of heart about Ishmael? I guess because Abraham circumcised him! (Even though God comes out and indicates in verse 21 that he’s establishing his covenant with Abraham’s upcoming son instead. Doesn’t make sense Ishmael would have to pay the price for the covenant but not be included!)

It seems silly that God would want people to mutilate themselves (or worse yet, their babies) for him. But that’s what God wants, and billions of babies have suffered the consequences of it. Some people think it’s necessary and even cleaner for boys to be circumcised. Besides the fact that there’s apparently no consensus that this is true and that circumcision has other negative side effects (google it if you want; I want to keep my blog more family-friendly than the Bible is)—even if it were true that it’s better to be circumcised, why couldn’t God just get it right the first time then when he created us?

Why does God like to see people suffer?

Genesis 5 — Be begotten, not forgotten?

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Genesis 5 — Be begotten, not forgotten?

Genesis 5 is pretty easy to blog. Mostly a lot of "begats" in some attempt apparently by God’s chosen people to keep a history of their ancestors. There is nothing wrong with doing this of course, it might even be considered a noble sort of pursuit, provided the information you keep is accurate and not just made up.

God was apparently so mad at humans after Adam’s fall that he originally let humans live up to 969 years. As the Skeptic’s Annotated Bible points out, this was despite the fact that God promised Adam he would die the day he ate of the fruit of knowledge. God was only hundreds of years off, which is a lot more accurate than his faithful young-Earth creationists likely being billions of years off about the age of the planet!

Was this reprieve a blessing or a curse for Adam and Eve? Genesis 5:2 says that God "blessed them". This is the same God who threw them out of paradise and condemned them to suffering and death for all their descendants, all on account of eating some fruit that made them smart. And then after this, God lets them suffer for hundreds of years!  Genesis 5:29 correctly reminds readers that God "cursed" the ground. So it doesn’t seem like such a blessing to me. What on Earth did Adam and Eve, and their ancestors, do with their lives for hundreds of years? Struggle to survive, I suppose. I would think with having very little else to do in those days (few people around to talk to, no pay-per-view…) that it may have been worse than death. Maybe that was God’s idea, to keep them around to suffer even more?!?

I’m glad this is a fictional account, otherwise it would be rather cruel. You could actually see someone enjoying living 900 years nowadays if their health permitted it, but just wandering around the desert for hundreds of years must not have been pleasant. Fortunately, there is no reason, besides the Bible itself, to believe humans used to live (and suffer) that long. I used to take "for the Bible tells me so" as proof enough for anything the Bible said, but realize now that you shouldn’t based your entire worldview on one grossly unproven document, no matter how much it (or other people) tells you it’s true.

About all the people born in this chapter, as far as I know, we find out little to nothing about most of them. Why are they included in the Bible, then? What good is just having someone’s name if you’re trying to remember your civilization’s history? How does a list of random names fulfill God’s holy purpose? God really needed an editor to cut the bloat out of this thing.

We do see that Adam (and presumably Eve) had some daughters in this chapters, though they go unnamed (since women aren’t really all that important). So this may answer how the human race got started: it was brothers and sisters having sex. Don’t try this at home, folks, it’s just some good ol’ family values from the fictional Bible.