God, Genocide and Slavery

I’m not sure what you think I was agreeing to. My point was, regardless of whether you consider the OT to be ‘divinely inspired’, its narrative gives God a fairly influential role, including a speaking part in which he, not infrequently, instigates atrocities.

This is where we would strongly disagree. We would need to pick a verse and discuss it.

I would have thought that the issue was fairly well known (given that there seems to be a body of Apologetics purporting to defend God’s excesses). And it is far beyond a single verse.

But let’s start with Numbers 25 & 31, where God commands genocidal war (“Treat the Midianites as enemies and kill them”), on the thinnest on pretexts (“They treated you as enemies when they deceived you in the Peor incident involving their sister Kozbi, the daughter of a Midianite leader, the woman who was killed when the plague came as a result of that incident”), ending in a massacre of captured women and children (“Now kill all the boys. And kill every woman who has slept with a man”), and sexual slavery (“but save for yourselves every girl who has never slept with a man”).

Let’s also take Exodus 7, and God hardening Pharaoh’s heart, in order to get a few more plagues in.

(These are just two examples among many, The Bible and violence - Wikipedia has numerous more.)

Then let’s take the death penalties for minor offenses in Leviticus, dictated by God to Moses.

We should also consider the Law of Moses in Deuteronomy, which codifies slavery. Not directly dictated by God, but given Moses’ central prophetic role as a ‘law giver’, hardly merely “how people failed”.

A lot has been written about those topics in many Bible commentaries, apologetics books and discourse forums. If you are genuinely seeking to understand some of the answers to those questions I could point you to another discourse forum where topics like those are discussed, or you could PM me for more information.

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Having just had my last post hidden/censored as “off topic”, I won’t be responding further (though I must admit to being confused why a post quoting @T_aquaticus was addressed to me).


May I point out that this entire thread has been off-topic for the last three days. I’m curious as to why I was singled out.

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But some of the Old Testament is God telling people to commit genocide, mass rape, etc, and other parts of it is God setting up rules for slavery, and for killing children who curse their parents.



  1. I wasn’t talking about “believing” anything. I was pointing out that your “how people failed” justification itself fails, when it is God himself commanding the excesses.

  2. If you want this thread to be solely about “discuss[ing] spiritual experiences”, then maybe you shouldn’t have been on here justifying OT excesses.

  3. In any case, most threads on this forum don’t stick rigorously to the declared topic.

  4. The OT has God commanding genocide, God declaring barabaric laws (like my example of the death penalty for cursing your parent). This is not merely the Bible being “the Word of God”, this is God’s own words in the Bible.


Well, we seem to have gained a new thread, and lost most of the context for it.

This all started with a post about polygamy, where @Mark10.45 responded: “Much of scripture is about how people failed, it is not permission to do the same.”

My point in response was that a lot of the behaviour in the OT, which might to a modern audience be considered “bad”, was at the instigation of God himself.

Now I’m sure that, taking a cast iron starting assumption that God is omnibenevolent, and some gymnastics of Theodicy, that a truly determined Christian Apologist can claim that it really was all alright. I’m not really sure however that such justifications are of much interest to anybody who is not already a Christian.

Addendum: It appears at least part (but not all) of the context has now followed us here (if out of order). I am amused however that this is considered sufficiently off-topic as to require a new thread, but the topic of polygamy, which spawned it, was not. :smiley:


Ah, well, make the best of it.

This seems a reasonable spot to park my inquiry of whether the Flood fits the definition of genocide.


I have a busy morning, but I promise to look into it later today.

Indeed, there has been a lot written on the topic. Earlier, we were told that God would never order someone to kill other people. I was only pointing out that this isn’t true.

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@Tim I’m just now catching this split thread, I missed a bunch of what you wrote, so I have to piece it back together…The “I’m glad you agree” comment was in regard to the reference of the bible being God’s words…Where I disagree to your comment about God commanding excesses is that often God’s perfect righteousness is not clearly evident to us, He is God and has all knowledge, we are not and don’t understand His wrath as part of justification. Jesus addresses this in John 3, that He didn’t come to condemn the world, it is condemned already, He came to save the world.

So if you truly want to break this down, I’m game…it could be a good exercise as I don’t have any preconceived notion on the topic, I am operating with only the bible and what I receive from the Spirit through revelation, but I will have to study. I also just started Hermeneutics, so good timing…I have a Dr. of Theology as an instructor I can discuss with.


Agreed…seems clear to me that God has commanded genocide. The flood does fit in my opinion @John_Harshman.

That doesn’t mean that it wasn’t warranted. Who are we to judge God? And it is clear to me that the rules changed dramatically when Jesus arrived on the scene. The next God commanded mass genocide is the second coming of Christ, which doesn’t look good for a lot of people, including many who call themselves Christians.


Of course, a key passage related to this issue is Romans 9:16-18:

16 It does not, therefore, depend on human desire or effort, but on God’s mercy. 17 For Scripture says to Pharaoh: “I raised you up for this very purpose, that I might display my power in you and that my name might be proclaimed in all the earth.” 18 Therefore God has mercy on whom he wants to have mercy, and he hardens whom he wants to harden.

I’ve participated in countless Internet discussions on God-and-genocide since the early days of the old Newsgroups back in the 1990’s. The debates tend to follow a familiar course which always ends up with the issue of whether God does or doesn’t have the right to deal with his creation as he wills and based upon his own omniscience. Some will insist that God does have that right (and is just to do so) and others will insist that Godn’t have that right (and it is unjust that he does so.) From there it never seems to go anywhere all that interesting other than give people an opportunity to insist upon the correctness of their own position. So threads on this topics tend to quickly degenerate into hardened reiterations of the same arguments again and again.

Other than my finding it utterly fascinating how some people on a typical forum will work so very hard to goad me into replaying the virtually-scripted debate on this issue—which ultimately comes down to a a person’s view of God and Jesus Christ—I lose interest quickly. (And I’ve got to prepare Zoom lectures tomorrow and Thursday. Nevertheless, have a good one.)


For me, the main issue has been using human categories like Genocide to describe God’s judgement.

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And why can’t we judge God? Either God doesn’t exist and the Biblical stories are fiction or the God of the Old Testament is a exactly what Richard Dawkins says

“The God of the Old Testament is arguably the most unpleasant character in all fiction: jealous and proud of it; a petty, unjust, unforgiving control-freak; a vindictive, bloodthirsty ethnic cleanser; a misogynistic, homophobic, racist, infanticidal, genocidal, filicidal, pestilential, megalomaniacal, sadomasochistic, capriciously malevolent bully.”

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For the same reason someone on the dock for crimes can’t judge a judge.

What you have is an opinion. Not a judgement (because you don’t have the authority to judge).

I think most people, if asked whether genocide was ever warranted, would answer in the negative. I bet you would yourself if God hadn’t been mentioned.

Moral agents, having metaphorically eaten the fruit of the tree of knowledge. Why can’t we judge God?

Yes, more genocide. We human beings judge genocide to be a bad thing, and I don’t see why God should be an exception.

In closing, Euthyphro.

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You are confusing moral right with power.


No. I am not.

Ummm…are so?

Was that just an attempt to prove @AllenWitmerMiller’s point by example?

You made a statement without any justification… I answered you.

If you wanna flesh out your claim, I will respond in more detail… till then we can do this not so/are so stuff…