Bible Precepts: Questionable Guidelines
Mohamad Mostafa Nassar
IMPORTANT: These lists are meant to identify possible problems in the Bible, especially those that are inherent in a literalist or fundamentalist interpretation. Keep in mind, however, that what constitutes a valid problem is to some extent a matter of opinion. You may disagree that these are, in fact, genuine biblical problems, but it is the author’s opinion that a perfect and omnipotent God could, should, and would see to it that such problems did not exist in a book which s/he had inspired.
GE 1:28 Be fruitful and multiply. Fill the earth and subdue it. Have dominion over all living things. (Note: God appears to be totally unconcerned with population control or ecology.)
GE 3:16, CO 11:3-9, EP 5:22-24, CN 3:18, TS 2:5, 1PE 3:1-6 The husband is to rule over his wife. Wives are to be subject to their husbands even when the husband is disobedient to God. Man is the image and glory of God, while woman is the glory of man. Man was not created for woman but woman for man.
GE 3:16 Women should suffer pain during childbirth. (Note: This verse was used by the Church to oppose the use of anesthesia during childbirth.)
GE 4:13-15 Cain–who murdered his brother Abel–is promised protection by God.
GE 15:18 Egypt, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Lebanon, Syria, Yemen, and part of Iraq belong to the descendants of Abram, only.
GE 17:10 “This is my covenant, …every male among you shall be circumcised.” (Note: God seems to have an obsession with this–the words circumcise, circumcised, circumcising, circumcision, uncircumcised, uncircumcision, foreskin, and foreskins appear 157 times in the KJV. Although the KJV correctly translates the oldest Hebrew and Greek manuscripts, versions since the KJV attempt to soften this apparent obsession by creatively translating these words in a different fashion wherever possible.)
GE 17:14 A child is to be punished when his parents neglect to have him circumcised.
GE 31:17, GE 36:6, DT 21:15, JG 8:30, SA 5:13, KI 11:3, CH 14:3, CH 11:21, 13:21 Polygamy is condoned. (Note: David is one of the polygamists. He is an angel of God, SA 19:27, and always fulfills God’s will,AC 13:22.)
GE 38:8-10 A man who refuses to impregnate his widowed sister-in-law is put to death.
EX 20:4 We are not to make likenesses of anything. (Note: This seems to preclude all photographs, paintings, statues, etc.)
EX 20:5 We are not to worship a likeness. The children to the third and fourth generation will be punished for infractions.
EX 20:8-11, 31:15-17, 34:21, 35:1-3 No work of any kind is to be done on the Sabbath, not even lighting of a fire. This commandment is permanent. Death is required for infractions. (Note: This would require even that essential services, such as hospitals, police departments, etc., shut down on the Sabbath.)
EX 20:26 You should not go up steps to a high altar; you might expose yourself. (Note: Men wore skirts at this time.)
EX 21:7-11 A father can sell a daughter into slavery to pay a debt. A daughter sold into slavery is not released at the end of six years as is an ordinary male slave.
EX 21:12 Whoever strikes a man so that he dies is to be put to death–except that, in some cases, God will appoint a place to which the offender may flee instead.
EX 21:15 Whoever strikes his father or mother is to be put to death.
EX 21:20-21 A slave owner is to be punished if he strikes his slave and the slave dies shortly thereafter. If the slave lives a day or to and then dies, the slave owner is not to be punished. A slave is the same as money to his owner.
EX 21:28-32 When an ox gores a man to death, the ox must be stoned. If the ox has gored a man previously, the animal’s owner must also be put to death; in the case of the goring of a slave, the only requirement is that the owner of the ox must pay thirty shekels to the owner of the slave.
EX 22:16-17 An unbetrothed virgin is required to marry her seducer.
EX 22:20 Anyone who sacrifices to other gods must be destroyed.
EX 22:29 Firstborn children should be sacrificed to the Lord.
LE 3:17 The eating of blood and fat are prohibited forever.
LE 10:9 Drinking strong drink in the tabernacle of the congregation will result in death.
LE 11:10 Eating shellfish is prohibited.
LE 12:2 A woman who has a child, especially a female child, is unclean and purification rites are required.
LE 15:2 When a man has any bodily discharge, it is unclean.
LE 15:4 Any bed that a man with a discharge lies on is unclean.
LE 15:5 Anyone who touches an unclean bed must bathe and is unclean until evening.
LE 15:6 Anyone who sits on anything that a person with a discharge sat on must wash his clothes and bathe, and is unclean until evening.
LE 15:7 Anyone who touches the skin of a person who has a discharge must wash his clothes and bathe, and is unclean until evening.
LE 15:8 Anyone who is spit upon by a person who has a discharge must wash his clothes and bathe, and is unclean until evening.
LE 15:9-10 Whatever [saddle] a person with a discharge sits on is unclean. Anyone who touches it must wash his clothes and bathe, and is unclean until evening.
LE 15:11 Anyone who is touched by a person with a discharge who has not washed his hands must wash his clothes and bathe, and is unclean until evening.
LE 15:12 Any clay or wood utensils that are touched by a person with a discharge are unclean and must be broken or washed.
LE 15:13-15 When his discharge has stopped, the person who had the discharge will count off seven days, wash his clothes and bathe. On the eight day, he must present two birds to the priest for an atonement for having had a discharge.
LE 15:16 When a man has an emission of semen, he must bathe his whole body, and he is unclean until evening.
LE 15:17 Any clothing or leather that has semen on it must be washed, and it is unclean until evening.
LE 15:18 When a man lies with a woman and there is an emission of semen, both must bathe, and they are unclean until evening.
LE 15:19 A woman who is menstruating is unclean. Anyone who touches her is unclean.
LE 15:20 Anything which a woman who is menstruating sits on or lies on is unclean.
LE 15:21 Anyone who touches the bed of a woman who is menstruating must wash his clothes and bathe, and is unclean until evening.
LE 15:22 Anyone who touches anything which was sat upon by a woman who is menstruating must wash his clothes and bathe, and is unclean until evening.
LE 15:24 If a man lies with a woman who is menstruating and any of her discharge touches him, he is unclean for seven days. Any bed he lies on is also unclean.
LE 15:28 After her flow stops, a woman who was menstruating must count off seven days before she is considered clean again. On the eighth day, she must present two birds to the priest for an atonement for having had a menstrual discharge.
LE 19:13 Hired help must be paid every day.
LE 19:19 Cattle must not be allowed to breed with a different kind.
LE 19:19 A field must not be sown with more than one kind of seed.
LE 19:19 A cloth garment made of two kinds of material must not be worn.
LE 19:26 Flesh with blood in it must not be eaten.
LE 19:27 The hair on the temples should not be rounded off.
LE 19:27 The edges of a beard should not be clipped.
LE 19:28 Tattoos and the like are prohibited.
LE 19:29 Do not make your daughter a prostitute.
LE 19:31 Do not consult mediums or wizards.
LE 20:14 If a man has sexual relations with both his wife and his mother-in-law, all three of them must be put to death.
LE 20:15-16 If a person engages in sex with an animal, both the animal and the person must be put to death.
LE 20:18 If a man has sex relations with a woman who is menstruating, both shall be excommunicated from their people.
LE 20:27 A medium or wizard is to be put to death.
LE 21:9 If a priest’s daughter becomes a prostitute, she is to be burnt with fire.
LE 21:14 A priest (or descendant of Aaron) must not marry a widow, a divorced woman, a woman who has been defiled, or a harlot, but only a virgin.
LE 21:17-23 A priest (or descendant of Aaron) with crushed testicles (or almost any other physical deformity) is not to be allowed near the sanctuary.
LE 24:16 Whoever blasphemes the name of the Lord must be put to death.
LE 27:3-7 Males are more valuable than females.
LE 27:29 Human sacrifice is condoned.
LE 27:30-32 A tithe, a tenth of everything, is to be given to the Lord.
NU 3:10 An unauthorized person who acts as a priest must be put to death.
NU 5:2-3 Anyone who has a discharge or who has touched a corpse is unclean.
NU 5:12-31 A woman suspected or accused of adultery is to be tested by making her drink the “water of bitterness,” or holy water mixed with dust from the floor. (Note: There is no such test for men.)
NU 19:16 Whoever touches one who is slain in the field with a sword, or a dead body, or a bone of a man, or a grave, is unclean for seven days. (Note: Isn’t one who is slain in the open field with a sword also a dead body? Why the distinction between the two?)
NU 19:22 Whatever an unclean person touches is also unclean. Anyone who touches an unclean thing also becomes unclean.
DT 4:19 Be careful when you look at the stars and planets not to be enticed into worshipping them.
DT 13:2-5 Anyone who causes someone to turn to another god must be put to death.
DT 13:6-10 A man is required to slay his friends and members of his own family who are guilty of worshipping another god.
DT 15:1-3 Every seven years, a brother (meaning a fellow Israelite) should be released from his debt. Only a foreigner should be required, again, to honor his debt.
DT 17:12 A man who shows contempt for a judge or priest must be put to death.
DT 22:5 One must not wear the clothing of the opposite sex.
DT 22:6-7 If you want to live a long time, you must not take a mother bird from her young, but you may take the young from the mother.
DT 22:10 You must not plow with an ox and an ass together.
DT 22:13-21 A bride in whom “the tokens of virginity” are not found is to be put to death. (Note: The bridegroom who falsely accuses his bride gets off with a fine.)
DT 22:23-24 A betrothed virgin who is seduced in the city is to be put to death unless she cries for help.
DT 22:28-29 A virgin who is raped must marry her rapist (if they are “found”).
DT 23:1 A man whose testicles are crushed or whose “male member” is cut off may not enter the sanctuary.
DT 23:2 A bastard–and his offspring to the tenth generation–are to be punished for his illegitimacy and cannot enter a congregation of the Lord.
DT 23:10 A man who has a seminal emission during the night is unclean and must go through a purification process.
DT 23:12-14 The Lord must not be allowed to see human excrement (it is indecent).
DT 23:19-20 Money must not be lent at interest to a brother (meaning a fellow Israelite). Interest can only be collected from foreigners.
DT 24:1-4 A man may divorce his wife simply because she displeases him.
DT 25:5-10 A man has an obligation to produce a child for his widowed sister-in-law.
DT 25:11 A wife who grabs her husband’s opponent by his “private parts” must have her hand cut off and is to be shown no pity.
JG 21:21 The Benjamites are commanded to take wives by hiding in the vineyards and then seizing the “daughters of Shiloh” as they come out to dance.
PR 13:24, 22:15, 23:13 Children are to be disciplined with the rod–if beaten with a rod, they will not die. (Note: Many Christian parents have inadvertently beaten a child to death following this precept.)
PR 26:4 Do not answer a fool. To do so makes you foolish too.
PR 26:5 Answer a fool. If you don’t, he will think himself wise.
PR 31:10-31 The able wife is to bring only profit and no loss, rise before dawn, buy land prudently, plant a vineyard with her earnings, keep her lamp burning all night, gird herself to work, be generous to the poor, lend a hand to the forlorn, talk shrewd sense, offer kindly counsel, and never be idle.
IS 56:4 A eunuch who keeps the Lord’s Sabbath will receive special rewards.
HO 4:14 The sins of female prostitutes and adulterers can be excused when the men themselves set a bad example.
MT 5:22 Do not get angry. Anger is a sin.
MT 23:9 Do not call any man on earth “father.”
MT 5:18-19 The OT law is to remain in effect until heaven and earth pass away.
MT 5:28 Whoever looks upon a woman lustfully commits adultery in his heart. (Note: This precept could cause some to think that they might as well commit adultery as to do so only in the heart.)
MT 5:29-30, 18:8-9, MK 9:43-47 If your eye causes you to sin, pluck it out. If your hand causes you to sin, cut it off. (Note: Many believers insist that this admonition, and others like it, are to be taken figuratively, although others take even this admonition literally. The problem is that there is no clear and decisive method to determine whether a passage is meant to be taken literally or figuratively. God could have foreseen this problem and should have provided an unambiguous solution.)
MT 5:33-37 Make no vows or oaths. They arise from evil (or the Devil).
MT 5:38-44 Turn the other cheek. Love your enemies. Do good to those that hate you.
MT 5:40 If any man would sue you and take your coat, give him your cloak also.
MT 5:48 Be perfect.
MT 6:6 Pray in private.
MT 19:12, RO 8:13 A man should consider castration, thereby making himself a eunuch, for the sake of the kingdom of heaven. If you live after the flesh, you shall die, but if you put to death the deeds of the body, you shall live. (Note: During the dark and middle ages, saints castrated themselves by the thousands in order to become more godly. Even now, the practice continues in some sects.)
MT 23:3 Practice and observe everything the Pharisees and scribes teach.
LK 12:33, TI 6:8 Sell your possessions and give to charity. Be content with having only food and clothing. (Note: Many believers claim that the first injunction applies only to those who are wealthy or have a problem with wealth. That this is not the case is clear from the context. It is also clear that the Disciples practiced this principle; see AC 2:44-45 and 4:32-35. This is in sharp contrast to the concept of abundance that many evangelists preach and to the personal wealth they often amass.)
LK 14:26 One cannot be a disciple of Jesus unless he hates his mother, father, wife, children, brothers, sisters, and even his own life.
LK 14:33 “… any of you who does not give up everything he has cannot be my disciple.”
RO 13:1-4, PE 2:13-14 Be subject to every human institution. All authorities (laws and governments) are from God. (Note: This would include those of a Nazi Germany, yet believers seldom follow this injunction. Even Jesus and his Disciples violated this principle.)
1CO 3:18 Become a “fool” (for Christ) in order to become wise. (Note: A fool is still a fool.)
1CO 6:1-8 Christians should never go to court against each other, but should, instead, let the church settle their differences.
1CO 7:1-38 Men and widows should not marry. Although it is well for a man to remain chaste, the temptation to immorality is a valid reason to marry; a man should marry if he cannot control himself. Yet, a man who is already married should live as if he were not. He that is unmarried is concerned about how he can please the Lord while he that is married is concerned about pleasing his spouse. It is better to remain single so as to attend to the Lord without distraction.
1CO 10:24 Put your neighbor’s good ahead of your own.
1CO 11:3-10 A woman is to keep her head covered while praying or prophesying.
1CO 11:14 It is a shame for a man to have long hair. (Note: Why is it, then, that most portrayals of Jesus show him with long hair?)
1CO 14:34-35 Women are to be silent in church. If they have any questions, they are to ask their husbands at home. It is a shame for women to speak in church.
2CO 13:12 Greet each other with a holy kiss.
CN 2:8 Philosophy is to be shunned.
1TH 5:16 Rejoice always.
1TH 5:18 Give thanks no matter what the circumstances.
2TH 3:10 Anyone who doesn’t work should not be allowed to eat.
1TI 2:11-12 Women are to learn in silence (from men) in all submissiveness.
1TI 2:12 Women are not permitted to teach or have authority over men.
TS 1:10-11 There are many who must be silenced.
JA 4:7-10 Humble yourselves before God: be miserable, grieve and cry, let laughter be turned to sorrow. The Lord will then exalt you.
JA 5:14-15 Use prayer and anointing to cure illness.
2 JN 1:9-11 Do not allow anyone into your house who is not a fellow believer.