Tag Archives: Genocide

Did God Really Command Genocide?

If you’ve been a regular reader of this blog, you’ve seen this Bible passage before:

When the Lord your God brings you into the land you are entering to possess … you must destroy [the inhabitants] totally. Make no treaty with them, and show them no mercy. (Deuteronomy 7:1-2)

Or this:

…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 … 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)

Do those sound like commands to commit genocide?

Even most Christians would say they do. In fact, during my church-going days I heard more than one sermon that spiritualized these passages by saying, “Just as God commanded Israel to completely wipe out the Canaanites, so we must completely remove sin from our lives. Just as any Canaanites that were allowed to live might one day tempt Israel to idolatry, so any sin that we tolerate in our lives could one day prove to be our undoing.”

Paul Copan, in his book Is God a Moral Monster?: Making Sense of the Old Testament God, offers a different take.

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The Devil Made Me Do It

In my childhood, comedian Flip Wilson was big. His Grammy-winning album, The Devil Made Me Buy This Dress, took its title from this routine he performed on the Ed Sullivan Show:

Flip is playing the character of a preacher who wants to know why his wife, Geraldine, has bought a third dress in the course of a week. Their interchange is an enlightening study in the theory of knowledge, or epistemology.

GERALDINE: I didn’t want to buy this dress. The devil made me buy this dress.

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