Most of you know The Bible as that book believed to be inspired by God himself, made up of the Old and New Testament, has built in bookmark ribbons, and lays wide open to display random verse as decor in the most holiest of homes as a sign of, "Hey, we're Christian!"
Here's the absolute briefest overview I could come up with about the Old and New Testament: Jewish people generally believe the Old Testament (or the "Tanakh" as they call it) is the end-all, be-all of God's word. Whereas Christians believe that both the Old and New are the word of God and is taken as a whole when it comes to a description of their faith and beliefs.
In other words, Jews are a bit like Star Wars fans who refuse to even recognize the existence of the prequel trilogy, while Christians would be those fans who accept Episodes I - VI as the full tale of a tragic life of Darth Vader. [NOTE: There is no religion that would solely accept Episodes I - III and deny the original trilogy — it's just not possible.]
Since that was just a "brief overview", let me go into more details. I'm going to try to keep this post as short as possible; however, I haven't written much at all month due to two facts: 1.) The Bible is LONG and takes a lot of focus and energy to read, especially since some verses are craftily worded to confuse the fuck out of even the most scholarly.
2.) Trying to write about something like the Bible without making your way completely through it is like pausing The Sixth Sense in the middle during your first viewing to tell your friend how alive Bruce Willis seems in his role as Dr. Malcolm Crowe. You're in for a big surprise, motherfucker. And you just looked like a fool.
The Old Testament
There's a lot in the Bible. A LOT. I wrote about horrible acts of violence found in the Old Testament that would make horror movie aficionados shutter in terror — and I wasn't even a quarter of the way through! Stir in some rules for owning slaves (Exodus 21), random bear attacks (2 Kings 2:23), and descriptions of sexual acts only found in the casual encounters section of Craigslist (Ezekiel 23:12-21, and MANY more examples) and you have the plot for an upcoming Scorsese film. [side note: Ironically, although that last sentence started as a joke, Martin Scorsese did make The Last Temptation of the Christ which was banned in many countries.]
For a total recap, consult your Bible. You're probably familiar with many of the stories from the Old Testament because of Sunday school. Like God creating the heavens and the Earth is seven days and thinking it was faaaabuuuulous! Then putting Adam under some divine anesthetic and removing a rib from his side to create the woman, who would then eat an apple under a snake's recommendation and damn us all. Then of course there was Cain and Able, and Noah and his ark, and Moses parting the Red Sea, and the Ten Commandments, etc. etc.
What we typically didn't hear about was Saul sending David on a suicide mission to kill hundreds of Philistine men and bring back their foreskin as proof of their death (1 Samuel 18:27). What would David receive if he survived and miraculously returned from this mission? Well, Saul would grudgingly reward David with his daughter's hand in marriage, of course. Which totally happened after David presented the foreskin "in full numbers" to Saul!
Furthermore, if you ever want to clear your throat, read this lineage out loud: "Cain had Enoch. To Enoch was born Irad, and Irad fathered Mehujael, and Mehujael fathered Methushael, and Methushael fathered Lamech. And Lamech took two wives. The name of the one was Adah, and the name of the other Zillah. Adah bore Jabal; he was the father of those who dwell in tents and have livestock."
The New Testament
God takes a step down from his normal dickishness in the Old Testament [I forgot to mention above the dude murdered everyone in existence except Noah, Noah's wife, their sons and their sons' wives; created different languages so people wouldn't be united any longer (Genesis 11); and took sides to kill people (the same people He created) and bring disaster and destruction during times of war] to give the world his son, Jesus, as a sacrifice for people who are corrupt, glutinous, deceitful, sinful, and all around assholes. Otherwise known as people from New Jersey.
To save you some time, the books of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John recount the same story of Jesus' birth to death. The is one hell of a tactic to make a book bigger, but does little for the reader in terms of additional content. Sure each one of these guys had their own take and view of the situation, but essentially we're left with the same overarching story: Jesus was born in Bethlehem, picked twelve bros to join him on his Tour de Israel, performed some miracles, had a huge dinner, was betrayed, sentenced, crucified, and resurrected. Nothing new, right?
Along the way he preached to people about how he's setting up a new covenant and we should, "like, totally disregard the Old Testament because, dude, my dad is totally lame. Just listen to all this new shit I have to say." [That may or may not be a direct quote from Jesus, but you get the picture.]
Once Jesus is dead — err, resurrected and floated into a cloud? — Paul pretty much takes it from there and goes on a preaching frenzy by writing the majority of the New Testament. Seems like Paul is God's new right hand man since God likes Paul enough to give him the powers to perform miracles in his free time when he's not writing his backhanded letters to the Romans, Corinthians, Thessalonians, Ephesians and others. In Paul's letter to Timothy, we famously find out that "[the love of] money is the root of all evil" (1 Timothy 6:10) and "do not permit a woman to teach or to exercise authority over a man; rather, she is to remain quiet" (1 Timothy 2:12). More irony since money is usually the only thing to get women to shut up. AMIRITE!?
Eventually a mild-mannered Christian guy named John (presumably an accountant by day, acid-tripper by night) is hit with a doozy of a revelation by God, which is described in the appropriately named book "Revelations." His vision [read: mescaline induced psychosis] comprised of weird six-winged creatures, a giant red dragon, a beast with seven heads, a Lake of Fire, then the armies of Heaven wiped out everyone who wasn't a follower of God and Jesus. Then it's all sunshine and lollipops and the eternal light of God. THE END.
Why I'm Not a Christian Anymore
Here's a hard-hitting fact: I'm a 30-odd year old, white, heterosexual male with a college education, a corporate job, and WAY too much free time on his hands. In other words, within our current society, I have it MADE — for life! But I'll get to that in a second.
The Bible has been used for centuries as a tool of oppression, aside from usual "right" and "wrong" actions that should be common sense. From quoting scripture to justify burning women at the stake for witchcraft, to using the aforementioned verse above about slavery to oppose Lincoln's Emancipation of Proclamation, to today's debates about homosexuality, there's an obvious hesitation from Christians to accept anything other than what the scripture tells them, even if it would be the humane thing to do.
It's worth noting that I was baptized Lutheran and went to a Catholic pre-school. I attended church on a weekly basis because that's "what you're supposed to do." I participated in Sunday school, Christmas pageants, pray groups, and youth retreats. And I believed. Why? Because believing what you're told is much easier than having to think for yourself.
Today I live in a society that is using the Bible as the argument against homosexuality. This post is not a debate, and I'm not turning it into a platform on whether or not you should oppose gay marriage or homosexuality in general; however, if believing in one man means ostracizing millions of other people, then I don't want any part of it. Don't get me wrong, dechristianizing (is that a word?) myself wasn't because of a single act or belief, but the culmination of many things throughout the years.
Over the past 30 days I read the entire Bible — which is more than I can say for many Christians. I found it to be interesting, grotesque, enlightening, boring in spots, but mostly entertaining. A lot of good advice on how to be a person comes from Proverbs, so don't skip that, but I also invite you to think outside the Book.
*drops mic* *steps down from soap box*