Inerrancy and mass slaughter

But did Satan create himself or was that God’s idea. If the latter then you have to think God keeps him around for a reason.

Seriously though is it really necessary to personify evil? It does seem to detract from the monotheism in my opinion.

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Dear Mark,
The big problem with many who believe in monotheism is there are many, not just one, that are leading people astray. To ignore the existence of evil spirits means you can be blindsided by them. People who think they are doing God’s work, are actually doing Satan’s and they do not recognize it. That is why the story of Abram is so important. He lived before the 10 commandments and was faced with this dilemma - was it really God speaking to me?
Best Wishes, Shawn

Everyone is susceptible to deception. Genesis 3 shows his subtle perversion of God’s Word. That is why it is so important not to read into the word. The first “apple” Eve bites is relying on something other than God’s Word.

God: And the Lord God commanded the man, saying, “You may surely eat of every tree of the garden, but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die.” 2:16-17

Eve: "… but God said, ‘You shall not eat of the fruit of the tree that is in the midst of the garden, neither shall you touch it, lest you die.’”

And the decpetions just roll, cooperatively, from there. Sin has entered and the act of sinning is soon to follow.

Thank you for your note.

[quote=“Daniel_Fisher, post:291, topic:40629”]

I certainly owe you reading a book, after you so kindly read my suggestion. I don’t have time to read it with my eyes, --all my reading (except to my family at bedtime) is now by Audible. I can’t find that on Audible. Would “Taking God Seriously” be OK? Or is it on audio version somewhere else? Thanks.

There are many layers and facets involved in the question, but if we simplify the variables involved and assume that there is no doubt or question as to whether it was God who was speaking… that this in matter of fact was a command from the very mind and mouth of God?

Then an absolute and unequivocal yes. I’m would even go so far as to kill my own child if I was absolutely certain that this was a very direct command from God. And I would obey that even without any assurance that it would “turn out” OK. And I trust you can see why I think this perspective not so “unbiblical”?

Why? Because God is my king. If God exists, then he is good, and I trust him to never do or command anything less than is truly good. And if I come to a place where he commands something that I would normally think immoral, I.e., where my moral compass is different than his (and it is not a matter of me misunderstanding him, which in any real scenario would be a real possibility) then I trust that it is mine that must be faulty, and I dare not refuse to obey any command of God on the basis that my morality is superior to his.

(All that said, Abraham was an example of arguing and questioning God about his morality - as was Moses and Job and others - but at the end of the day all them were willing to obey whether or not they had won the argument or no).

One significant clarification I must make. I object in the strongest terms to the use of the word “rape” to describe what happened in Numbers 31. There is simply no description of God commanding anyone to go and have sex with any of the young women or girls there against their will. In good faith I’m assuming you simply picked up the idea from somewhere and repeated it, as the accusation on its face is flat-out dishonest. There is no “rape” in the passage.

The idea of capturing all the young women who would then be available to be married to the men (along with what protections even at that would time given to wives) may not fit with our modern sensibilities, but can we refrain from calling it rape? Honestly, can anyone in good faith claim that this similar passage and procedure from Deuteronomy is describing “rape”?

When you go out to war against your enemies, and the Lord your God gives them into your hand and you take them captive, and you see among the captives a beautiful woman, and you desire to take her to be your wife, and you bring her home to your house, she shall shave her head and pare her nails. And she shall take off the clothes in which she was captured and shall remain in your house and lament her father and her mother a full month. After that you may go in to her and be her husband, and she shall be your wife. But if you no longer delight in her, you shall let her go where she wants. But you shall not sell her for money, nor shall you treat her as a slave, since you have humiliated her.

Mr Fisher, I apologize about the way I posed the questions. I was unwise in the wording.I am retracting them. We can talk about this more by personal message if you like. Thanks.

There is no direct command to rape girls. There is a direct command to kill all the boys and women who aren’t virgins, and “save for yourself” the virgins:

“17 Now kill all the boys. And kill every woman who has slept with a man, 18 but save for yourselves every girl who has never slept with a man.”

Do you imagine a scenario in which young women who have just seen their families massacred by enemy invaders and are classified as “plunder” (32 The plunder remaining from the spoils that the soldiers took was 675,000 sheep, 33 72,000 cattle, 34 61,000 donkeys 35 and 32,000 women who had never slept with a man.) had anything close to our modern idea of “consent” when it came to their sexual relationships and/or marriages with their captors? I didn’t see any thing in the passage you quoted about the woman having any voice or vote in the matter. If you do, I think you are kind of deluded. Using a woman for sex is using a woman for sex, whether you marry her or not. What do you think virgins taken as plunder were used for? It flat out says in the passage you typed out that they “were humiliated.” If they were just intended to help with the housework, they could have spared the more experienced workers.

This is not such a great situation for victims by today’s standards, let’s just acknowledge that.


And the culture at the time had arranged marriages where brides also didn’t have the same level of “consent” we do today. Ought we describe every woman who married as part of an arranged marriage as having been “raped”?

I don’t believe anything I said could have been taken as a suggestion that having your parents killed, your culture destroyed, your land and possessions lost, and to be left with little alternative than marrying into the family of the enemy conquerors responsible for all your pain was some delightful bliss that would be what every young Canaanite girl dreamed of. My only point was and remains that calling this “rape” is simply not an accurate description of what is described.

It does depend on your definition, and yes, it is harder to define rape in cultures where the concept of consent does not exist. But I have to disagree that rape is not an accurate description. I and many women I know would describe sex imposed on a girl or woman who did not want it and did not consent as rape. Date rape is rape. Statutory rape is rape. Incest is rape. Forcing a bride to have sex is rape. A slave owner visiting the slave quarters at night is rape. Whether or not the woman outwardly protests or has to be held down is irrelevant.

I realize that in many cultures certain forms of coerced sex are normalized and men are not (and maybe should not be) held morally accountable for them. In other words, just as there are cultures where good men have multiple wives, there are cultures where good men rape women. Where I live and work, girls as young as twelve are traditionally sold into marriage by their fathers. I have never met a girl in this situation who has willingly entered this arrangement. Sex is forced, and it is just as traumatic and painful for them as it would have been if they were not married. It’s rape. Do some such marriages result in couples who grow to love each other and build fulfilling lives with each other? Yes. But let’s not sugarcoat the trauma or pretend it doesn’t happen.

Anyone who reads the Bible passages on this thread and isn’t disturbed by them is not reading them very carefully. It should be very disturbing that God commands people to take virgins as plunder and commands men to marry the women they rape. It should be extra disturbing to people trying to maintain a doctrine of inerrancy that sees those words as 100% truthfully representing a command from a loving God.


Exactly. Understanding the context of the time is one thing, but it doesn’t mean it wasn’t rape just because it was common in the culture anymore than incest isn’t rape just because its in the family. Rape is and always has been morally wrong, even when the culture makes it okay and even when the Bible says it is permitted. Looks like inerrancy is not tenable.

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We’ll have to agree to differ in our definitions, then. And I would hardly minimize the various problems that you are also aware of. But given that the concepts and scope you are using of “consent” in marriage is a distinctly modern invention, your view seems to require me to believe that the vast, vast majority of marriages that were consummated before the modern invention of our Western, individualized, romance oriented dating system was a rape. That would include such as Isaac and Rebekah, Joseph and Mary, and lots of others that operated within the arranged marriage or betrothal system, who I’m not comfortable calling “rapists”.

Well, it’s good to know you’ll draw the line somewhere. Killing anybody/everybody is fine (if you’re convinced God commands it), but rape crosses the line.

Okay - that was a bit snarky on my part. But to help soften my sarcasm just a bit, I’m just making the point that you’re really no different than any of us in having a well-instilled sense of justice that you think is God-given and you are offended at the suggestion that God would ever see fit to cross it. Good! I’m only pointing out that some of us also feel that same revulsion at the suggestion that God delights in human sacrifice or any oppressive violence.


No you are misunderstanding. You don’t need romance for consent. Many women are willing partners to arranged marriages. When I taught ESL, I knew quite a few Muslim and Hindu women who met their husbands at their wedding. They were fine with that. They were adults and had agreed to the marriage. It is different with children being sold into marriage. It is different with war captives being plundered into marriage. Surely this is not a difficult distinction to see. Life has not been fair for women for much of human history and in many cultures, and there it is definitely part of humanity’s “sin” problem, not a neutral cultural component that we have made into a sin because of our modern ideas.


Yes, having a moral instinct, and the resultant revulsion at certain things, is absolutely real and certainly valuable… it is a reflection of the image of God… but broken and sinful as we are, I’m only saying it should not be trusted as the final and ultimate arbiter of all things good and evil.

When it comes to killing, my instinctive revulsion is to a certain extent challenged by what I read in scripture. upon further reflection, I recognized that I did not find the same sense of moral revulsion when I thought of God droning the countless children in the flood, or an angel killing the firstborn (including children) in Egypt or the various children angels have been recorded to kill. This and the rest of the items discussed on this page brought me to where I recognize that the revulsion I have at killing in general simply can’t be extrapolated to definitively decide that “God would never command such a thing.”

When it comes to rape, my instinctive revulsion is confirmed by what I read in Scripture. The lack of any approval whatsoever of such behavior, the disapprobation attributed in every single case, the 100% no exception condemnation, the death penalty for rapists (or lifelong responsibility to provide for a dishonored virgin who had thereby lost prospects for marriage)

No disagreement there. Any war and all its ramifications are a result and consequence of sin and is going to be terrible, Numbers 31 included. This is at least something I know a bit of. No one would suggest that having your parents slaughtered and being married off to their slaughterers is some kind of “God’s ideal for your life.” The fact that such a situation even existed whatsoever is entirely a result of sin, granted.

I want to move on and get back to Randy’s main question, but I am curious what you would suggest by way of alternative, given the situation. For right, wrong, good or bad, all the men, boys, women, and older girls are dead. You show up to advise Moses just after all these have been slaughtered; all that remains of Midian is a group of say, a thousand girls age 12 and under.

Without importing wholesale some radical cultural change… given the reality of life and culture and the situation they found themselves in, what would you have advised Moses to do? Surely not slaughter them as well; certainly not just abandon them to either starve as destitute or find themselves a target of rape from other bandits and nomads without protection. Do you set up a ”Midianite survivors convent” where the girls can hang out together in relative isolation? Have them adopted into individual families? Do you forbid them from marriage to any Israelite? Give them option to refuse said marriages?

Peterson and [Jewish] Ben Shapiro had an interesting discussion in a November Rubin Report (I linked to it in the Peterson thread). In it there is quite a bit of discussion and a new (for me) take on the whole sacrifice of Isaac situation that has been so discussed on this thread. When one gets the Christian-sympathetic Peterson in the same room with Jewish Shapiro, it seemed to me to be a fruitful proliferation of thoughts around all that.

I rather respect their take on the Abrahamic situation but will wait to comment on that (either here or in the other thread) until others have had a chance to listen in for themselves.

[discussion of sacrifice of Isaac starts at about 1 hr : 20 min. though at around 1 hr they are also discussing atonement.]

Mr Fisher, why do you think that Moses called for slaughter of babies and boys, and leaving only the virgin girls? Was there some mandate for girls to survive only? It sure sounds like this was a mandate to save them for sexual use.

In regard to how to care for them, this seems an odd question–is it right to force sexual contracts because they killed everyone else (again, because some Midianite women had seduced some Hebrew men)?

The definition of rape is “the crime, typically committed by a man, of forcing another person to have sexual intercourse with the offender against their will.”

In regards to the question of what they could have done–if they had not intended to save only the girls for sex–if God had indeed commanded this, it was a theocracy, and He could have taken care of them; or, certainly, keeping boys for servants and slaves was not unheard of. they could have done that, too.

The Bible also condemns murder in the strongest possible terms–except when it is to kill enemy women and children with the men. The laws referenced above appear to have been given for peace time.

Regarding marriage by arrangement, I love Ravi Zacharias’ story, “I, Isaac, Take You, Rebekah”–I have given copies to friends because it’s got a great moral of “love is a choice.” However, that’s the point–Ravi’s brother and his wife both chose to marry.

The history of child and forced marriage is a very sad one. I grew up in Africa, as I told you, and I have heard stories of how young, bubbly girls became sad after marrying and bearing young. I have known some of them personally. I told you of a time when a 40 year old man offered to buy my (then) 12 year old sister; and the horror I had of that. That would certainly have been against her will, and by definition, rape.

One thinks that the conservative Muslim culture I lived in would have a low divorce rate, but reportedly, at the time I was there, it was comparable to, and higher than, ours.

I think we have to avoid an over optimistic idea of what a forced marriage was; and it certainly wasn’t the same Ravi’s brother’s arranged marriage.

If we don’t ascribe a given morality to God, that He is held to, how do we tell the difference between him and Satan?

C S Lewis posed that question in “The Last Battle,” when the Calormenes set up a false god, Tashlan, who was cruel. The Narnians said, “Why, we wanted Aslan to come back,” in shock, when they realized this wasn’t at all like the good Aslan they knew of.

Thank you for your dialogue.


That’s a good question. And that’s exactly why I’d say that if anyone I knew told me that God told them to kill their child – I’d be calling CPS on them in 0.5 seconds, and hope anyone would do the same to me. :stuck_out_tongue:
[edited to add, I don’t actually see this type of thing come up regularly, but it’s probably worth asking why, and what methods we use to determine how we’d know whether God was speaking to us.]

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I want to add that in every way possible I think of you as a gentleman and a lover of God, and respect you. I am learning from our discussions!

I appreciate your dialogue.

Great discussion. I was reviewing it wit my wife, who is a bit more on the conservative interpretation side, and it is really thought provoking I am reminded of a case a few years back where a mom killed her children, saying God told her to do so. She was obviously mentally ill, but quite sincere in her belief of God’s direction.