And having read it, I'm privy to a number of things that many Christians seem to have missed. For example, I know that Jesus commanded his disciples to hate their parents, wives, children, brothers, sisters, and themselves (Luke 14:26). I remember a particularly troubling story where a bunch of kids were making fun of Elisha's bald spot, and God retaliated by sending a couple of bears to slaughter them (2 Kings 2:24). And I recall God threatening to corrupt the seed of the Judah priests and smear shit on their faces (Malachi 2:3).
Since a lot of Christians haven't actually *read* the book on which they've based their entire lives, they have no idea this stuff is in there. They yammer on and on about how the Bible is the literal and unerring word of God "because it says so, right there in the Bible!" But when you bring up the miracle where Jesus pulled money out of a fish (Matthew 17:26) or that story of a prostitute who lusted after men with genitals like donkeys and emissions like horses (Ezekiel 23:20), they just look at you like you've lost your mind. And when you finally show it to them, they'll just claim that you're taking it out of context or that you somehow lack the ability to truly understand because you insist on thinking with your brain instead of your heart.
(And while we're on the subject, if one more Christian tries to tell me that the expression "God helps those who help themselves" comes from the Bible, I'm going to call Jesus collect and have Him revoke your salvation.)
One Bible story that used to bother me to no end comes from Exodus. Moses has just seen the burning bush, and is on his way back to Egypt with his wife Zipporah and infant son to confront Pharaoh. And then, this happens:
And it came to pass by the way in the inn, that the LORD met him, and sought to kill him. Then Zipporah took a sharp stone, and cut off the foreskin of her son, and cast it at his feet, and said, Surely a bloody husband art thou to me. So he let them go: then she said, A bloody husband thou art, because of the circumcision. (Exodus 4:24-26).I *eventually* figured out that Moses had forgotten to circumcise his son, which had apparently pissed God off. Even knowing that, it's still a creepy story. But I remember reading this passage when I was 12 years old, and thinking WHAT THE FUCK?
When I was working at Brinker back in 1997, I brought up this particular Bible verse to my friend Dave. Dave is a Mormon but, more importantly, he's smart and he has a sense of humor. I once tried to turn him from his sinning Mormon ways by giving him this Jack Chick tract, but Dave clung stubbornly to his faith. He's nothing if not devout.
Anyway, I mentioned this verse to Dave as an example of the weird, creepy stuff that people forget is in the Bible. And of course, Dave thought I was making it up. So we went to my computer, hopped on Nobel Prize winner Al Gore's Internet, and looked it up.
I'll never forget that moment. Dave just shook his head, laughing. "I've never read that before. I had no idea it was in there."
My officemate Brenda said, "You shouldn't ever argue religion with Irby. He really knows the Bible."
For some reason, this filled me with pride. I was actually beaming when I said, "Why, thank you."
Then Brenda added, "Of course, the Devil can quote scripture to suit his purposes."