Absolutely Horrific Things You Didn’t Know Were in the Bible

By  | 
via Wikipedia

via Wikipedia

Religious texts often contain edicts, many allegedly directly from a higher power, calling for atrocities and oppression, a fact most Christian Americans are comfortable with when applied to the Qur’an or Hadith, less so when shown the Bible is not an exception.

Peaceful religious persons justify or explain these in many ways. Christians for example believe these ways of doing things were declared outdated, no longer necessary, after Christ appeared. That it was part of God’s Plan for it to be permissible to kill a homosexual in 200 B.C. but not A.D. 200 (see this Weekend Collective article).

Seems morally dubious, especially for an all-loving being, and of course ignores the fact that slavery and the oppression of women were upheld in scripture written after Christ died, and that God still killed liars on the spot and threatened to kill children.    

Others insist these edicts must be “taken in context.” While that is usually just a way to excuse the horrific and sickening things a deity, scriptural hero, or religious writer said or did, it is without question a necessity. The context is obvious: religious texts were written in ancient times by very primitive, barbaric tribesmen.

Holy books describe a culture and a culture’s deity during a particular age.


Disturbing sexual appetites

So for example, in the Bible sexual perversion and depravity occur and are described with nary a second thought, helpful to those who wish to understand what people, societies, and religions were like long ago, but tragic for the victims of such evil (assuming such tales are not fictional).

Hebrew “men of God” delighted in polygamy (Esau, Jacob, Gideon, David, Solomon), including concubines (Abraham, Jacob, Gideon, Solomon). Solomon had 700 wives, 300 concubines (1 Kings 11:3). 

Lot, the only righteous man God found in the city of Sodom, offered his two daughters to be gang-raped so a crowd of men wouldn’t gang-rape visiting angels (Genesis 19:7-8). In a vile twist of fate, the daughters later rape Lot on more than one occasion and get pregnant (Genesis 19:32-36). Moses orders that all Midianite boys and non-virgin girls should be slaughtered, but that virgins should be kept alive for his soldiers (Numbers 31:17-18).

via Photobucket

via Photobucket

The book devotes much space to private parts, genital mutilation, menstruation, sexual purity. Everyone who touches a woman on her period is “unclean until evening,” and any object that touches or is touched by the woman is also “unclean” (Leviticus 15:19-20). The woman is “unclean,” while on her period, naturally (Leviticus 12:5). Men who have sex with their menstruating wives must be exiled (Leviticus 20:18).

If a woman grabs a man’s genitals to break up a fight, her hand is to be cut off (Deut. 25:11-12); some Egyptian men are lewdly described as having donkey-sized penises that ejaculate with the power of horses (Ezekiel 23:18-21); God discriminates against men with crushed testicles or a castrated penis (Deut. 23:1); Song of Solomon has many mentions of breasts, and likely oral sex (4:16) and anal play (5:4); and King Saul wanted David to bring him 100 Philistine foreskins as a dowry (1 Samuel 18:20-30).

Circumcision was a serious business. Moses’ wife saved Moses from being killed by God only when she cut off their son’s foreskin with a rock (Exodus 4:25).

Perhaps most horrifically, God himself threatens to bring calamity on men by giving their wives to other men to have sex with “in broad daylight” (2 Samuel 12:11-12).

And of course, if one trusts wholeheartedly this work, rampant incest was all part of “God’s Plan,” as Adam and Eve’s children had to populate the Earth somehow, as did Noah’s children later on.


The oppression of women

Obviously, the Bible reeks of thousands of years of patriarchal society that deemed women subservient, less intelligent, and less worthy of life. Scriptural heroes and God himself, judging by the laws and punishments they designed, were violent sexists. Male domination has been a major theme throughout world history, and the Hebrews were no exception — even though guided by an “all-loving God.”

via Wikipedia

via Wikipedia

In John 8, after a man and a woman committed adultery, who was brought before Christ to be executed? The woman. At times the male was stoned to death, of course, but upon reading Leviticus and Deuteronomy it becomes obvious “God’s Laws” are much harsher toward women; they are given the death penalty with far greater frequency. You will notice this throughout this article, but particularly in the next section.

Even in the New Testament, women are forbidden to preach; they are told to be silent and submissive (1 Tim. 2:11-15). Woman was apparently made “for man” (1 Corinthians 11:8-9) and must submit to their husbands in everything (Ephesians 5:22-24). Colossians 3:18 says, “Wives, submit yourselves to your husbands.” Wives should submit to their men and let their purity show men the truth of the Word (1 Timothy 3:1-2). In the same way that “the head of every man is Christ,” the “head of every woman is man” (1 Corinthians 3:11). 1 Corinthians 14:34-35 reads:

Women should remain silent in the churches. They are not allowed to speak, but must be in submission, as the law says. If they want to inquire about something, they should ask their own husbands at home; for it is disgraceful for a woman to speak in the church.

Men are instructed not to marry a divorced woman, as this would be adultery (Matthew 5:23); apparently divorced women are meant to be alone until death.

God decrees that the woman who gives birth to a boy is somehow “unclean” for seven days, but if she gives birth to a girl it’s two weeks! She must then take 33 days to be purified if she had a son, yet for some reason it takes 66 days to be made clean if she had a daughter (Leviticus 12:1-5). God doesn’t exactly explain why giving birth to a girl makes you more unclean.


Execution for nonviolent crimes

Laws given by God dictated non-virgins, children, homosexuals, non-believers, and others be stoned to death.

If you rebel as a youth against your parents and do not repent, you must die (Deut. 21:18-21), if you curse your parents, you must die (Lev. 20:9), if you commit adultery, you must die (Lev. 20:10). At least if you sleep with a woman on her period, you get to be exiled (Lev. 20:18), as mentioned.

A woman found on her wedding night to not be a virgin must die (Deut. 22:20-21).

If you are a psychic or a sorcerer, you must be stoned to death (Lev. 20:27), if a priest’s daughter is a prostitute she must be burnt to death (Lev. 21:9), if you are deformed, blind, disabled, scabbed, a dwarf, have crushed testicles, broken limbs, or a flat nose you cannot go to the altar of God (Lev. 21:17-18), if you go too close to the Tabernacle, you must die (Num. 1:48-51), and if you speak against God’s laws, you must die (Deut. 13:5).


via Huffington Post

If your family tries to worship another god, you must kill them (Deut. 13:6-10), if you come upon a city that worships another god, you must kill all the inhabitants (Deut. 13:12-15), you must kill anyone of a different faith in your own city (Deut. 17:2-7), if a girl is raped she must marry her rapist (Deut. 22:28-29), if you commit a homosexual act you will be put to death (Lev. 20:13), and if you work on the Sabbath you must die (Exodus 31:12-15).  

One man made the mistake of picking up sticks on the Sabbath; he was executed (Numbers 15:32-36).

The Hebrews declared pregnant Samarian women must be “ripped open” and children “dashed” on the ground for disobeying God (Hosea 13:16). Coincidentally, a psalmist declared that exact action, dashing children on rocks, will make a person “happy” (Psalm 137:9).

Women suspected of adultery were forced to drink a “holy water” that God would use to “make your womb miscarry” — in other words, abortion (Numbers 5:11-23).



Then there’s slavery. Paul told slaves to “obey your earthly masters in everything; and do it, not only when their eye is on you and to win their favor, but with sincerity of heart and reverence for the Lord.” That’s Colossians 3:22.

Verses upholding and outlining the rules of slave ownership can be found in Exodus 21. They are given directly by God (he begins speaking in Exodus 20:22 and continues throughout chapter 21). Exodus 21 verses 4 and 5 state children born to a man while enslaved will be the master’s property even after the man is freed, and if he wants to stay with his children he must become a slave for life. Further,

When a man strikes his male or female slave with a rod so hard that the slave dies under his hand, he shall be punished. If, however, the slave survives for a day or two, he is not to be punished, since the slave is his own property. (Exodus 21:20-21)

Exodus 21:7-11 allows a man to sell his daughter into slavery, and, according to scholars, implies she will be a sex slave to her new master. The master can also give her to his son as a wife.


via YouTube

For a Hebrew man, one advantage of getting married was you got your bride’s slaves. Leviticus 25:44-46 says, “You may buy male and female slaves from among the nations that are round about you…you may bequeath them to your sons after you, to inherit as a possession forever.” But it cautions only foreigners should be treated this way, not the people of Israel. In Deuteronomy 21:10-14, it is decreed that Israeli soldiers can take home beautiful women captured in war — and even though she is being taken by force, “you must not sell or treat her as a slave”!

“Slaves, obey your earthly masters with respect and fear, and with sincerity of heart, just as you would obey Christ,” says Ephesians 6:5.

1 Peter 2:18 commands: “Slaves, in reverent fear of God submit yourselves to your masters, not only to those who are good and considerate, but also to those who are harsh.” 1 Timothy 6:1-2 declares:

All who are under the yoke of slavery should consider their masters worthy of full respect, so that God’s name and our teaching may not be slandered. Those who have believing masters should not show them disrespect just because they are fellow believers. Instead, they should serve them even better because their masters are dear to them as fellow believers and are devoted to the welfare of their slaves.

In Luke 12:47-48, Jesus uses the “beating” (NIV language) of slaves to make a point in one of his parables.

Why doesn’t the Bible simply ban slavery? Would that not be most ethical? Perhaps because the Bible was written by pro-slavery men, in a culture and time when slavery was common.


War, conquest, genocide, and human sacrifice

God orders all these things.

The Israelites return from Egypt, and God commands them to slay every man, woman, and child in Canaan (Deut. 7:1-2 and 20:16-18; in the former he commands “no mercy”). He orders the same in 1 Samuel 15:3, and includes instructions to also kill oxen, camels, sheep, and donkeys. Innocent people from city-state after city-state were slaughtered as Israel stole land and plundered, according to these stories anyway.

In Jeremiah 51:20-26, God promises to use the Hebrew armies to kill old men, women, and children. He promises “no mercy on helpless babies,” the rape of wives, and the murder of captives in enemy cities (Isaiah 13:15-18).

Only trees should be shown mercy: “When you lay siege to a city for a long time, fighting against it to capture it, do not destroy its trees by putting an ax to them, because you can eat their fruit. Do not cut them down. Are the trees people, that you should besiege them?” (Deut. 20:16-19). But for people? “Do not leave alive anything that breathes” (Deut. 20:16).    

Even when women and children are spared, men are not:

As you approach a town to attack it, first offer its people terms for peace. If they accept your terms and open the gates to you, then all the people inside will serve you in forced labor. But if they refuse to make peace and prepare to fight, you must attack the town. When the LORD your God hands it over to you, kill every man in the town. But you may keep for yourselves all the women, children, livestock, and other plunder. You may enjoy the spoils of your enemies that the LORD your God has given you. (Deuteronomy 20:10-14)

When a few Benjamites (one of the 12 tribes of Israel) rape and kill a Levite’s concubine, God orders the other 11 tribes to attack the Benjamites. Tens of thousands on both sides die (Judges 20). This is just one example of God punishing the many for the sins of the few. You will see more below.

Even when it does not specifically state God ordered a mass murder, he does nothing to stop it.

In Judges 21:10-24, Hebrew soldiers were sent to Jabesh-gilead to “destroy all the males and every woman who is not a virgin.” They rounded up and captured 400 virgins, later kidnapping more.

Joshua fought the battle of Jericho and the walls came tumbling down, then Joshua killed every man, woman, child, and animal inside (Joshua 6:21). He does it many more times in Joshua 7-10.

When Moses discovers his people worshipping the Golden Calf, he orders priests to take up swords, and they kill 3,000 people; God allows it and then joins in, sending a plague on the survivors (Exodus 32).

via Layman's Bible

via Layman’s Bible

Human sacrifice was a part of Hebrew culture (Lev. 27:28-29). In Judges 11, Jephthah’s faith is put to the test when he promises to God to sacrifice the first person he sees after returning home from a big battle. That turns out to be his daughter. Jephthah is willing to go through with it (painfully obvious by the end of the story), but God doesn’t spare his innocent daughter, as he did Abraham’s son Isaac. She is burnt alive.

David sacrificed 7 descendants of Saul to appease another tribe (2 Samuel 21:1-14).


God lying to, killing, humiliating, and selling people

Of course, God’s hands are directly responsible for slaughter. Fire from heaven destroys entire cities like Sodom and Gomorrah, children and all. A flood destroys nearly the entire human race. Many Jews and Christians have few qualms about this because the victims were supposedly warned to shape up for years or even centuries before judgement arrived, or ignored the obvious power of God demonstrated to them by prophets. Even killing the children was justified: “You can’t leave them trapped in such a sinful place. They’ll grow up to be wicked. Killing them is an act of mercy!” So it’s all permissible.

Yet this God frequently destroys innocent people for the crimes of others. An angel kills the innocent first-born of Egypt (and their livestock!) because of the pride of one political ruler. He even killed the first-born of Egyptian slave girls (Exodus 11:5). This was meant to fill Egyptians “with horror” (Ezekiel 20:26).

All women were given painful childbirth for Eve’s sin (Genesis 3:16-18), and promises to punish generations of descendants for those who worship other gods (Exodus 20:3-5). He believes in “visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children, and upon the children’s children, unto the third and to the fourth generation” (Exodus 24:6-7) and promises to kill the children of sinners (Leviticus 26:21-22). God visits a plague that kills 24,000 Israelites because some slept with Midianites, who worshipped Baal (Numbers 25:1-9). God doesn’t call off the plague until Phinehas commits murder (Num. 25:9). Saul killed Gibeonites during his reign, so God inflicted a three-year famine during David’s reign (2 Samuel 21:1). When David takes a census (apparently a grave sin), God sends a prophet to let David choose between three punishments; a plague kills 70,000 people (2 Samuel 24:10-15).          

5 farmers looked inside the Ark of the Lord, and God killed either 70 or 50,000 people to get even (1 Samuel 6; translations differ). During slaughter of the End Times, Jesus will destroy cities that ignored his miracles while he was on Earth (Matthew 11:20), even though all those foolish people are long gone.


via Wikimedia

It is also interesting that at times God hardens people’s hearts, making them less interested in letting the Hebrews live in freedom and peace. So God hardens Pharaoh’s heart (Exodus 7:3), Pharaoh refuses to free the Hebrews, and God gets to send plagues that cause mass torture and death. Wouldn’t a loving deity have softened Pharaoh’s heart, helping the Jews go free and saving Egyptians from pain? In Joshua 11:19-20, it’s revealed nearly all nearby cities refused to make peace with Israel, but “it was the Lord himself who hardened their hearts to wage war against Israel, so that he might destroy them totally, exterminating them without mercy…” In Deuteronomy 2:30-31, God likewise hardens the heart of King Sihon so the Israelites could conquer his kingdom.

God’s other crimes are even more disturbing. In 2 Kings 2:23-24, after a bunch of youths made fun of Elisha’s baldness, God sent bears to kill 42 of them. Job faces “evil that the Lord brought upon him” (Job 42:11). God allows his family to be massacred, his fortune to disappear, and his health to deteriorate all to win a bet with Satan that Job would stay faithful.

God admits to creating evil (Isaiah 45:7), speaking evil (Lamentations 3:38), deceiving and misleading humans (Ezekiel 14:9, Ezekiel 20:25-26, 2 Thess. 2:11-12), making people eat cakes made of human poop (Ezekiel 4:12) and threatening to smear poop on people’s faces (Malachi 2:3).

When God tells a man to slap a prophet, and the man refuses violence, God sends a lion to kill him (1 Kings 20:35-36). He kills another for touching the Ark of God to ensure it didn’t fall (2 Samuel 6:3-7). When 2 people lied in the New Testament, they were struck dead (Acts 5:1-11).

God even finds reason to “afflict sores on the heads of Zion’s women…and expose their private parts” (Isaiah 3:17) (original Hebrew word “poth,” meaning vagina, literally “hinged opening”; see Godless, by Dan Barker). In Exodus 20:26, God warns, “Do not go up to my altar on steps, or your private parts may be exposed.”

God even sees cause for cannibalism. When God is destroying people, it will be so terrible, “You will eat the flesh of your sons and the flesh of your daughters” (Lev. 26:29). Another time, during a siege, “…you will eat the fruit of the womb, the flesh of your sons and daughters the Lord has given you. Even the most gentle and sensitive man among you will have no compassion on his own brother or the wife he loves or his surviving children” (Deut. 28:53-54).

God intentionally gave or sold his people into slavery multiple times to punish them (Judges 3:8, 4:2-3, 6:1, 13:1).

Jesus seems tolerant of beating slaves, castrating yourself (Matthew 19:12; implied in Matthew 5:29-30), or killing fig trees that won’t grow fruit out of season (Mark 11:13-14). In Revelation 2:18-23, Jesus threatens to kill the children of an adulteress in Thyatira. In Matthew 15:4-10, Jesus is upset that “human rules” have “nullified the word of God,” specifically, “Anyone who curses their mother or father is to be put to death.” He says the same in Mark 7:5-15. 

Jesus does not seem to mind killing animals, like the God of old. In Mark 5:12-13, he casts demons out of a person into pigs, who promptly kill themselves. One would think an all-powerful being could have accomplished his task without animal abuse.

For a text many believe to be the infallible Word of God, it seems to have man’s fingerprints on it: sexism, slavery, sexual perversion, mass murder, conquest, war, bigotry, wickedness, the death penalty for nonviolent crimes, etc.


Garrett S. Griffin is a political writer for Weekend Collective and the author of Racism in Kansas City: A Short History. A former religious conservative, he is now an atheist and a member of the Democratic Socialists of America. Follow him @garrettsgriffin.

leave a reply