“But as for the towns of these peoples that the Lord your God is giving you as an inheritance, you must not let anything that breathes remain alive. You shall annihilate them—the Hittites and the Amorites, the Canaanites and the Perizzites, the Hivites and the Jebusites-just as the Lord your God has commanded, so that they may not teach you to do all the abhorrent things that they do for their gods, and you thus sin against the Lord your God.” -Deuteronomy 20:16-18
If you love God then you should commit genocide? Do these sound like the words of God to you? They don’t to me either…yet when I bring these passages up in most fundamentalist contexts most fundamentalists I know have said that God really does command genocide. The scriptures do seem to give the fundamentalists and anyone else who is interested in laboring the point much evidence that we serve a genocidal God. So what are we who have met the love of Jesus to do when confronted with such a genocidal God in scripture? I think the only thing we can do is declare in unison, “Whoever that God is…it certainly is not the same God that I have met in Jesus.” I am tired of having these discussions where I am forced to talk about scripture as if I believe it all to be true. I don’t. I think that Jesus is the only thing in scripture that is true. I follow the words of Jesus not words that people thought they heard from God.
In many contemporary discussions people want to point to scripture to prove their point. I think progressive folk need to admit that the scripture condemns homosexuality, promotes sexism, grants instructions for human slavery and speaks favorably to a whole host of evils that we know to not be righteous. Stop arguing. The scriptures are plain and we can say with certainty the writers of scripture believed and did evil things…but these are not the words of God. How can we be sure? If it is not love then it is not God for God is love and love is God. This is revealed in the person of Jesus that I and countless others have met. We must deploy the hermeneutic of love that Jesus has given us. If it is love then it is the word of God. I refuse to participate in these silly games around defending words that we know that Jesus could not have uttered. Don’t waste your time anymore. Follow Jesus, love your neighbor as yourself and love your enemies. The God that is more real than all the words contained in scripture…will meet you there.