Wednesday, September 02, 2015


Chapter 53

1Who hath believed our report? And to whom is the arm of the Lord revealed?

Who will choose to believe the prophets of God?

2 For he shall grow up before Him as a tender plant, and as a root out of a dry ground: He hath no form nor comeliness; and when we shall see Him, there is no beauty that we should desire Him.

People did not flock to Jesus because of His good looks. In fact, it appears He was very average (He managed to disappear in crowds, and the Jewish leadership needed Judas to show them which one was Jesus in order to arrest Him).

3 He is despised and rejected of men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief: and we hid as it were our faces from Him; He was despised, and we esteemed Him not.

Crucifixion was the cruelest form of execution ever invented by man. By the time the ordeal was done the person did not even look much like a person.

Evidently Jesus suffered loss in His walk on earth. Since Joseph is not mentioned again after Jesus’ birth story, we can assume that at some time He went through the loss of a dear parent-figure. We don’t know what else.

4 Surely He hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows: yet we did esteem Him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted.

Jesus took the punishment for each one of our sins. He carried our griefs and pains to the Cross. Can you imagine the weight of it all?

5 But He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon Him; and with His stripes we are healed.

The entire purpose of the Cross, in fact, of Jesus’ whole life, was to pay the price for our sins. That is why He was whipped with 39 stripes. That is why He had a crown of thorns mashed into His scalp. That is why He suffered the humiliation of the walk to Calvary. That is why He had nails driven into His hands and feet. That is why He had a spear driven through His side…

To pay the price for my sin. 

All this punishment is what I deserved for my disobedience to God. But Jesus took my punishment for me.

And in taking that punishment, I was healed from my transgressions and iniquities.

6 All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the Lord hath laid on Him the iniquity of us all.

There is no human that has not rebelled against God. Every single one of us deserves the death that Jesus suffered.

But God placed all that punishment on His shoulders and took it for us.

7 He was oppressed, and He was afflicted, yet He opened not his mouth: He is brought as a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is dumb, so He openeth not His mouth.

Jesus Himself said He could call an army of angels to rescue Him from the ordeal of the Cross. In fact He could have blinked an eye and everyone around Him would have fallen down dead.

But He chose to go to the Cross willingly for our benefit.

He did not want to die, to go through all that. In the Garden of Gethsemane He begged for a way out. But He submitted Himself to that ordeal because it was the only way to provide for our payment, the only way to get us to Heaven.

8 He was taken from prison and from judgment: and who shall declare His generation? For He was cut off out of the land of the living: for the transgression of My people was He stricken.

Remember, Isaiah is writing this a good 500 years before it happens.

9 And He made His grave with the wicked, and with the rich in His death; because He had done no violence, neither was any deceit in His mouth.

Jesus was executed alongside common thieves and then buried in the grave of a rich man (Joseph of Armethia).

10 Yet it pleased the Lord to bruise Him; He hath put Him to grief: when thou shalt make His soul an offering for sin, He shall see His seed, He shall prolong His days, and the pleasure of the Lord shall prosper in His hand.

Even though Jesus died, He will live forever.

11 He shall see of the travail of His soul, and shall be satisfied: by His knowledge shall my righteous servant justify many; for He shall bear their iniquities.

This payment of Jesus was sufficient. That price for sin has been paid for all who will accept that payment.

12 Therefore will I divide Him a portion with the great, and He shall divide the spoil with the strong; because He hath poured out His soul unto death: and He was numbered with the transgressors; and He bare the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors.

Because of Jesus’ choice to obey, to fulfill His calling in life, He is the greatest man in all of history.

Of course, He is also God Himself.


  1. Wait, do most Christian Bibles capitalize the H here? I know you read Isaiah as basically a sneak peek at Jesus... but, gosh. I can't imagine that capitalizing is super-faithful to the Hebrew. It strikes me as a case of putting Christology ahead of accuracy, and I would hazard a guess that /not/ capitalizing is the majority choice.

    Also, re. your comments on verses 5 and 6 -- "all this punishment is what I deserved for my disobedience to God... every single one of us deserves the death that Jesus suffered, but God placed all that punishment on [Jesus'] shoulders and took it for us..." wait, hang on now. Do you really believe this? Are you saying that if NOT for the existence of Jesus, you would -- if someone approached you with a hammer, some nails, and a cross & said, "You know you deserve this. Get up there. Let's do this." -- *nod soberly and agree you had it coming*? REALLY? If they said that *to your kids*, would you think THEY deserved it and urge them to hop onto that cross?

    No! You'd run screaming!

    So I would suggest that you *say* this stuff but you don't *believe* it. Very few of us really feel, deep down, that we're like "spiders or loathsome insects" in the sight of God. But Christians *talk* like that ALL THE TIME, and it drives me nuts. Enough with the ritual self-abasement, already.

    P.S. This sounds way harsher than I mean it to! There are a BUNCH of other things I wanted to say about your comments on v. 5 and v. 6 alone, and most of them were positive -- but they're hard to articulate! Especially since I'm writing this comment line-by-line during commercial breaks, then going back to watchin' FOOTBAW. But for instance, reading your commentary gave me a sudden insight into /why/ so many Christian traditions teach that Jesus descended to Hell during the three days -- the gist of which is "Well, if we all deserve Hell, you can't say Jesus took the bullet for us *unless* he went down there." Except I don't think he was /in/ Hell, so to speak; he was just passing through, I think usually to redeem the souls of the righteous who lived before Christ. So maybe my "sudden insight" is junk? Ugh, need to read more about this. If you happen to know stuff, please /do/ inform me! :)

    1. No, most don't capitalize the pronouns. I do in my commentaries because I find the pronouns get confusing and it helps to clarify who is saying what. "He said to him, tell him he is to ....." Huh? So, it is easier to capitalize the pronouns referring to God than to put the defining name in parenthesis after each one. Easier to read, too. So its just my own personal way of making the scripture clearer.

      No I would not accept punishment from other fallible human beings who deserve as much as I do. However, whether I accept it or not, I will receive at the hand of God what I deserve, and all human beings have rebelled against Him and deserve Hell (which, actually, is worse than the Cross). The cool thing is, when I stand before the judgement seat of God, He will look at my heart and see Jesus; the only perfect sacrifice possible. That is what determines what I "deserve" for eternity. If anyone offers any other sacrifice (good deeds, a kind heart, money, fame, intelligence, etc.) it will simply not be enough to gain entrance to Heaven. Jesus, God Himself robed in flesh, the sinless One who did not deserve to die at all, is the only "ticket" that is sufficient. That "ticket" is available to all humans.

      I don't actually believe Jesus went to the place of eternal punishment like most Christians do. Often in scripture the word the KJV translates as "hell" would be better as "the grave." Jesus did spend three days in the grave. The story most Christians believe is a hybrid of the Bible with some pagan stories. It was the death on the Cross, plus the separation from God, that paid for our sins.

    2. Hi, Betty! Thanks for clarifying your background and process-- dang, 20 cover-to-cover readings is a LOT. I was \assuming /zero/ cover-to-cover readings, so... my bad! I was just sliiightly off. Y'know. A tiny bit. Only by infinity percent.

      Sorry for patronizing you! I'll try not to do it again. I'll probably /fail/, but I hope I'll fail better! :)

      So, re: your second paragraph: you write "that 'ticket' is available to all humans."

      At the risk of getting into deep waters here: is it really? Does everyone have a meaningful chance at salvation? For instance, anyone born in Saudi Arabia has a vanishingly small chance of becoming a Christian -- probably less than 1%; does that sound about right to you? If not, surely you would say less than 2%?

      So, regardless of the exact number, there's an almost-100% correlation between "going to Hell" and "born in Saudi Arabia," right? Well, no one chooses their family or their birthplace. So why do some people have /terrible/ odds of going to Heaven right from the word "go," but others -- people born into devout Christian families like your own -- have /fantastic/ odds?

      How can you explain that a *without* being a double-predestination Calvinist?

      (You know, I could have made this question way shorter by saying, "What's your soteriology? Give me more detail." But that wouldn't have let me show off the fact that I know what double predestination is. ;D) -- David

    3. I have never felt patronized by any of you comments:-)

      You know what frustrates me? How few Christians have read their Bible all the way through. They claim to be servants of God but can't be bothered to find out what He actually wants. I once read a blog post from someone who claimed to be a Christian where she said she hoped she would go to heaven but wasn't sure and "here are 10 sayings I live my life by." Hello! Maybe if you actually read your Bible you would 1) Know whether you were saved or not and 2) have better things to live your life by than a bunch of Buddhist and New Age Mumbo Jumbo (not one saying from from the Bible and several contradicted it). Daily my Christian friends on Facebook and Pintrest post things that sound good, but are New Age and very NOT Christian. They don't seem to know the difference. If you are a Christian you should follow the Bible. If you are following New Age (old Paganism, really) philosophy, than call yourself a New Ager, not a Christian.

      Anyway, unfortunately your assumption that I haven't read my Bible much is justified in our culture :-(

      Romans 1:20 "For since the creation of the world God's invisible qualities--his eternal power and divine nature--have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse." NIV

      The Bible also says the God wants everyone to choose to love Him. He desires everyone to go to heaven.

      God created the world in such a way that it speaks to all human beings. I believe that at some time in every humans life God reaches out to them, through the stars, clouds, ants, etc, if they don't have the Bible or preachers. This gives everyone the chance to accept Him. Some may never hear the name of Jesus, but they will know their Creator. Some American Indians, for example, worshiped "The Great Spirit." I think this was, at least in some cases, the worship of the true Creator of the universe. So even those in Arabia can see the stars, witness the miracle of birth, etc. and have the opportunity to serve God. They may not have the information to do it in a truly biblical way, but God counts the intentions of our hearts, our obedience to His promptings in our hearts, and counts it for righteousness. (Romans 4 "5 However, to the one who does not work but trusts God who justifies the ungodly, their faith is credited as righteousness.") Our God is gracious and the God of love. He provides the opportunity for all.

    4. Predestination: the assumption that when God said "You may freely eat of any tree." He didn't really mean it, but contrived that they had to eat of the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil. NO choice.

      I believe God gave Adam and Eve complete free will to eat of the tree or not. It was entirely their choice. Could He have prevented it or forced it? Yes, except that would have violated His own law that they did have a choice. It would have made Him a liar.

      So, every human, at some point in their lives, does have a choice. If they respond to God's call with faith and obedience they will be saved. If they reject Him, if they disobey, even if they sit in a church pew for 3 hours, 7 days a week, chanting His name, they will go to hell. (Matthew 7 "21“Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does (chooses to do, BT) the will of my Father who is in heaven. 22 Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name and in your name drive out demons and in your name perform many miracles?’ 23 Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!’")

    5. This is a really fun conversation! Am on break at work, so forgive how short and disjointed this may sound.

      So! To smoosh together your two posts, God provides nature as a guide to knowing the truth about Him (roughly, obviously; you won't get Christology from nature). But definitely, nature is *a* real way of knowing God. And also: predestination is bad doctrine because God can't be a liar.

      So, I'm waiting for the coin to drop here re: Young Earth Creationism. God created an Earth that looks *really* convincingly like an old Earth. He created starlight that *appears* to be millions of years old. He created an historical Adam and Eve, but also created DNA in such a way that population genetics would show *no chance* that all human beings share a common pair of ancestors ~6,000 years ago.

      How can you believe all of that *and also* believe what you said above? Does it trouble you? - David

      P.S. Enjoy your vacation! Sounds like you could *use* a week away from home. :)

    6. We don't actually get to go anywhere this year:-( Too many things have broken down to leave money for gas and the more expensive foods necessary when you don't have a stove. So we are sort of "stay-cationing" except the guys will probably go to my dad's and work on the van at some point. We do hope to make it to Hubby's family reunion this November though.

      "God created an Earth that looks really convincingly like an old Earth." Such as?

      First of all, there are facts and then interpretation of facts. The problem is many get the two mixed up. In fact, our schools and media and, sadly, many scientists actively teach the two mixed up. Example: The Grand Canyon exists=fact. No disputing this, everyone agrees.

      An Old Earther puts on his "Old Earth" glasses, looks at the canyon, and "sees" a (relatively) small amount of water running through the canyon for a very long time.

      A Young Earther puts on his "Young Earth" glasses, looks at the same canyon, and "sees" a whole lot of water running through the canyon in a very short time (Noah's Flood).

      To find the truth we must assemble all the evidence and see which has the greater weight, though, since we can't time travel and have no human eye witnesses, and we can't recreate the canyon's formation in a laboratory, we can't "scientifically" know for sure.

      The Young Earther will point out that observational evidence shows there should be WAY more erosion and debris if that canyon is millions of years old than it has, that the volcanic rock at the bottom of the canyon really should date differently than the rock at the top (though all dating methods have serious flaws. If you are going to rely on them, it's kind of hard to explain how the rocks at the top could be the same age as the ones at the bottom but all the stuff in the middle differs in age by millions of years.) That the Colorado River is way too small to have carved that canyon in less than about 6 billion years (with the planet being "only" 4 billion), mathematically; that the Little Grand Canyon by Mt St Helen is identical to the Big Boy but at 1/40th the scale, and was created- beginning to end- in a matter of months while scientists were flying around in helicopters watching (and one attested that if he had not watched it created with his own eyes he would have sworn it was millions of years old because of the "obvious" evidence.)

      You see, the "obvious old age" of the earth is really just an interpretation of the evidence. Different starting assumptions (old vs young+Noah's Flood) arrive at different conclusions with the same evidence (i.e. "The Grand Canyon Exists.")

    7. "He created starlight that *appears* to be millions of years old." This is kind of tricky for the Young Earthers, though there are some ideas floating around. Young Earthers readily admit they don't have all the answers, while Old Earthers seem to like to pretend they do.

      Some of the ideas being actively researched right now: the speed of light is slowing down. As measured today it is slower than when first measured. Is this because it is actually slowing or because our measuring equipment is better now? We don't really know yet. If it is slowing, figuring backwards mathematically would make starlight get here WAY faster at Creation than at today's speed. Like, mere years instead of millennia. 2) some researchers were recently startled to discover their measurements for the speed of light being very different at the origin of the light than the receptor point. the difference is so great it would make the light from the nearest star get here in only minutes instead of, again, millennia. We don't know yet exactly what was going on (maybe faulty instruments?) We are staying tuned for further developments :-)

      " created DNA in such a way that population genetics would show *no chance* that all human beings share a common pair of ancestors ~6,000 years ago." The most recent genetic discoveries dispute this. Again, this is a new science and there is a good deal of evidence both directions. Stay tuned.

      "Does it trouble you?" Yes, it troubles me. It troubles me that all public school children, many private school ones, and everyone that watches the media are being told that the evidence is hard and fast and conclusive that the planet is old when the fact is that conclusion is theory, not fact. They/we are being lied to. They are being taught that because the scientists have created such technological marvels we should check our brains at the door and accept everything they say as fact, even though they don't even agree with each other and change their theories every couple of years. It bothers me that people aren't being taught true science (observe, test, weight the evidence, etc.) but a bunch of propaganda, "fairy tales" as if they were fact.

      We can't say God is a liar if we are simply misunderstanding and intentionally misinterpreting the evidence.

    8. Oh nooooo no vacation :( Do the kids at least get a week off from school to run around and play all day? I'm like 98.5% sure that's all the young ones really care about.

      Heck, when I was little, I *actively resented* going to Yosemite; the car ride took forever and my sister was on MY SIDE of the CAAAAAAAAR, and Mommmmmmmmm make her move her arrrrrmmmmm.

      I can't even imagine what that's like with /nine/ kids. I assume the teenagers ride herd on the younger ones?

      Re: Young Earth Creationism -- I think for me it's best summed up with a line from the Ham-on-Nye debate. The moderator asked, "What, if anything, would make you change your mind?"

      Ken Ham said, "Nothing."

      (Full disclosure: that was a pretty big abridgement. But it *is* a fair one! :) I promise I'll never knowingly distort a statement; I try to be as fair *and charitable* as possible when assessing people & cultures that are not my own. Fair? :) )

    9. :-) Yes, we are taking the week off school, though our big school break is in late December/Early January when it's too hectic to try to school AND do everything else. Time off right now is for me:-)

      My kids are strange. We don't have those kinds of car problems. They seem to enjoy the rides as much as the destination; they play games, read out loud to each other, tell jokes, talk. It's quite fun just taking the ride.

      I do have older ones each take a younger partner, especially in stores and fairs and such, as their responsibility, though now that more are "older" than "younger" we aren't quite as strict about it. I really only have 2 1/2 or 3 that need close watching. The others are all adult-sized (5'5" or taller) and responsible (the 11 yo is 5' even. Age and height make her kind of in the middle; not quite independent, but not really a little kid either). They all pitch in to set up camp. It takes us only half an hour to pitch three tents and set everything up (sleeping bags, kitchen area, etc.).

      And Nye said something could change his mind? I didn't watch the debate but know Nye is just as religiously dogmatic as Ham. He's just a religious atheist. I'll lay odds it wouldn't be any easier to change Nye to a young earther than to change Ham to an old earther.

    10. Oh man, you have the most well-behaved group of children *ever to exist*. Well done! (OK, that may be SLIGHTLY hyperbolic. But let's agree that they're super well-behaved, and that you deserve a big chunk of the credit. :) )

      Re Bill Nye's response-- IIRC (and I may be conflating 2 separate answers), he said something like: "Evidence. And I would encourage everyone, which very much includes Christian conservatives, to get out there and do science because we WANT more evidence of EVERYTHING."

      Whether you read that as a sincere statement or as a skilled debater pouncing after his opponent gave a kinda weak, stammering response ... that's up to you! Certainly the latter is defensible. :)

      I *do* think that there's a MUCH higher chance of scientists changing their minds about fundamental questions than you imply-- scientists across a LOT of disciplines have embraced radical new theories /on the regular/.

      Off the top of my head, chemistry jettisoned the entire /idea/ that "phlogiston" was even a THING in, I think, the early 19th century; the Big Bang Theory kinda swept over the field of cosmology in the 1920s (I wanna say the prior theory was a steady-state universe); tectonic plate theory was -- eh, basically what I'm trying to say is that science, as an enterprise, is *eminently* willing to discard treasured ideas once there's a sufficient body of evidence in favor of a new idea.

      Sometimes that's a really small amount of evidence! Sometimes it's *one single find*-- very rarely is that true in the physical sciences, but in archaeology, for instance, it happens pretty often.

      I just don't see any evidence of YECs *ever* changing *their* fundamental understanding in response to new evidence. So YEC seems less honest than science, & because of that, I think it has MUCH less to offer the world than science does. Certainly I don't know whose welfare YEC is /advancing/, or what new knowledge we can hope to gain from it. -- David

      P.S. If this sounds hostile, I don't mean it that way! For true. :) It's just hard to vigorously say "No hey, c'mon, there are real and obvious differences between science and YEC re: willingness to change theories." without sounding combative.

    11. In the Nye Ham debate one person...

      "studied mechanical engineering at Cornell University ... and graduated with a bachelor of science degree in mechanical engineering." The other...

      "earned a Bachelor of Applied Science, with an emphasis in Environmental Biology, at Queensland Institute of Technology, and a diploma in Education from the University of Queensland."

      (as copied, with a bit of editing for space) from Wikipedia. Of course, from the countries mentioned you know which is which).

      The point is they have equivalent science education. Yet you call one a scientist and the other not. Why? Because of your pre-set bias on what makes something science? (and I'm not angry either, just passionate about the subject:-)

      I know many scientists change their mind according to the evidence. There are at least a couple YEC organizations for scientists with thousands of members. Many of these people (the majority, I believe) were once evolutionists who honestly followed the evidence which led them to the conclusion that evolution is too flawed to possibly be true. They believe the greater evidence supports YEC. Yet let some one admit that belief and, no matter how much education, how much respect they have in their field, they will often loose their job and all their credibility. And the majority of these people are from the hard sciences; biology, chemistry, geology, etc, not the soft, less provable ones such as sociology or psychology.

      It's Bill Nye himself, "Engineer, Television Personality," that I don't believe would change no matter the evidence. His faith is firmly placed in "There is no God" and he is no more about to change than Ham is. And Ham has never called for making it illegal for children to be taught the opposing view while Nye has. Why is he so afraid of the opposition?

      Nye can say "Evidence. And I would encourage everyone, which very much includes Christian conservatives, to get out there and do science because we WANT more evidence of EVERYTHING." Because he honestly believes there is no evidence to contradict evolution. He is wrong. And why this singling out "Christian conservatives"?

    12. The whole thing was set up as "science vs religion" when the truth of the matter is both men are priests for their respective religions, not full-time scientists.

      Go back and read your own assumptions, that YEC is not science. Why are you making that assumption? That classification? What definition of science leads you to that conclusion? The fact is that YEC and Evolution are two different presuppositions about the universe that cause the viewer to interpret scientific evidence differently. There is a lot of valid evidence to support YEC and, since neither view can be repeated in a lab and the Old Earthers won't accept God's record as a reliable eyewitness account, neither theory can be called "scientific fact."

      "I think it has MUCH less to offer the world than science does. Certainly I don't know whose welfare YEC is /advancing/, or what new knowledge we can hope to gain from it." YEC is simply seeking the truth. They have as much to offer the world as Evolutionists, maybe more. Because, you see, if they are right, then there must be a God and we are all accountable to Him. So if YEC scientists are right, they offer the proof of the path to heaven. That's a lot. If evolutionists are right, they offer freedom from moral constraints, no accountability to a Higher Power. You see, at it's core this is not a scientific debate at all. It's a religious one.

      Did you know most of the greatest scientists in history were YEC? That the assumptions that come from that view is what led them to their greatest discoveries? Issac Newton spent more time studying his Bible than he did studying science, and he was obsessive over science. Pasteur, Galileo, Copernicus, Faraday, and many many more firmly believed in YEC. The greatest scientific discoveries in history came from men who believed the biblical account of beginnings. How could these not be scientists? How could these not have had a lot to offer the world?

    13. This seems like a good stopping place, because I want to be friends and not co-belligerents. :) (I REALLY need to use less fancy words. But they're so tempting!)

      I would much rather we understand each other's positions than go at it hammer and tong. I mean, hammer-and-tong can be fun! But doing it in text is tricky, because it can start feeling adversarial and threatening very quickly.

      I *do* think I understand your position-- that the creationist enterprise is engaged in an honest search for truth; that it's scientific (I'm not clear on /why/ it's scientific; possibly /because/ of the honest search for truth? Maybe because creationism is more willing to jettison ideas than I've given it credit for? For instance, YEC doesn't teach a vault cosmology, even though my critique of it seems to predict that it *should*, since that's the most obvious reading of Genesis 1. So maybe from your point of view, YEC *does* show a willingness to discard scripture in favor of observational evidence, and my whole objection to YEC is grossly unfair. Basically the point of this detour is that I'm firm on your belief that YEC is science but I'm fuzzy on the underpinnings.); and that the ultimate value of YEC is that it points people to God, so that they can understand their place in the created order and ideally can come to know Jesus.

      *Is* that actually what you think, or am I assuming too much? I know it got pretty speculative up there. :) So please do correct me if I strayed too far off course! -- David

      P.S. And now, for the $64,000 question, how would *you* outline *my* position?

    14. Oh, also! I'm curious-- when you were typing "Why this singling out 'Christian conservatives?'," do you remember if you were having any fight-or-flight reactions? Y'know, a flushed face, gritted teeth, elevated heart rate, all that good stuff. :) I definitely read that as alarmed and defensive but only YOU know accurate my reading was. So figured I'd ask!

    15. You're pretty close on my position. There are many scientists that, though beginning as evolutionist/atheists, eventually came to the scientific conclusion that the earth couldn't possibly be as old as evolution claims, and there had to be a Creator and then looked to see what the Creationists believed. Their definition of "science" is "observation and investigation of the world to find the truth."

      Your position: "Science" is the explanation of the universe in a naturalistic way (thus excluding God by definition, no matter how strong the evidence). Science has proven the Bible wrong. Science and religion are two different things and never the twain should meet."

      "Religion is the creation of man to explain his surroundings, no longer necessary since we now have modern science, since we are now so much smarter. Man, then, is the most powerful known entity in the universe, with the right/ power to define right and wrong, to make his own rules."

      OK, so my view might be a bit skewed by past experience with those who don't believe the Bible. I often hear a lot of circular reasoning, accepting the current fashionable explanations for things while dissing the Bible out of hand (no matter how illogical some of those explanations are), assumptions that those who believe the Bible are stupid or have just never really looked at the evidence. I am defensive and realize that. I try not to be, but right now I don't really care a lot. I miss my Mom too much to devote the energy to being fair. She was my sounding board, my listening ear.

      I have studied the issue from both sides, as have many who agree with me. There are just too many flaws in the old earth view for me to accept it. Yet those who often claim to believe the Bible are the worst ones in attacking those of us who accept the creation story.

      Do you hear hurt here? Frustration? I have seriously considered leaving all social media, including my blog here, just because of these hurtful people. Especially right now.

    16. Hi, Betty!

      So, takin' my comments from most important to least important:

      1) Of course you're allowed to feel hurt and lonely and to really, really miss your mom. I'm sorry if I made any of those feelings worse. I also wanted to add that I don't think you're stupid or ignorant; I can't see how anyone could talk to you for five minutes and walk away thinking either of those things.

      Please don't let jerks drive you off of the Internet -- and if /I've/ been a jerk, I apologize. For real. I don't want to make you feel marginalized or sneered at. It's not very fun for the sneer-ee, and frankly it's not very /good/ for the sneer-er.

      2) Also, our conversation got me thinkin', so the last time I was at the library, I picked up some topical books -- "The Creationists," by Ronald Numbers, which you probably have in your library; "God's Own Scientists: Creationists in a Secular World" by Christopher Toumey, which is a really cool ethnography (among other things, he embeds himself with a very highly educated creationist study group -- lots of postgraduate degrees among the members); and "The Creationist Movement in Modern America," which is by a couple of sociologists.

      So! After reading them, I had to revise a bunch of my opinions (which is how you know they're good books!) -- some of my pre-existing prejudices were confirmed, too, but there was just a *lot* of neat stuff in there that I'd love to discuss with you at a less stressful time. Deal? :)

      3) Even if we never get around to having a more-detailed discussion, you should at least know that I take creationism more seriously after reading those books -- not necessarily that I think it's more likely *to be right*, but that I better understand where it's coming from, and I have much more nuanced and sympathetic views now than I did before. Plus, some of the historical figures of creationism are just fascinating.

      4) Last and least: your summary of my position is /mostly/ right in the first paragraph (maybe I would say it's /adjacent/ to right; it makes me sound way more hostile to religion than I actually am, but maybe *I've* made myself sound that way).

      The second paragraph is way off, though-- c'mon, I'm not Nietzsche. :) I certainly don't think the highest good is for everyone to try to be an Uebermensch, and for that matter I don't think religion has been, or can be, or should be replaced by science.

      Probably the biggest thing that bugs me about creationist rhetoric is that y'all really seem to think that anyone who believes in evolution is a nihilist or, at best, is *just making up* morality as they go along. But that's really weird to me; morality and evolution are completely different things, Evolution is descriptive: "these are some things that we know from observation and reason." Morality is proscriptive: "this is how you should treat other human beings (and animals and social institutions and so forth)."

      What even links them? Why would there be moral implications to evolution any more than there would be moral implications to, say, special relativity, or the periodic table of the elements, or whatever? *That's* the part that baffles me -- and also it baffles me that somehow it's 11:00 now, so off to bed I go.

      - David

    17. You have not sounded hostile. I know I have, though. I apologize. As you know I am having a bit of a hard time. Dreaming a lot about Mom. Holidays coming up. Kids decorated her house by themselves. The norm is for her to manage it. Next we deal with Her birthday on the day our church is having its Thanksgiving dinner, Thanksgiving (her favorite holiday) and then Christmas.

      No real excuse though. Should behave myself. I'm Sorry.

      If evolution is true, what is the basis for moral standards?

      (and yes, I would love to discuss this more when I am nicer)

    18. By the way, I'm not depressed. At least no more than is healthy for this time of life. It probably sounds like I'm dwelling on Mom being gone, but I'm not. Life goes on. I just have hard moments here and there. They are getting farther between, but still surface.

      This is a mountain most of us have to climb but none of us want to.

    19. Just for the record, you haven't been mean or unkind in the slightest; you have nothing to apologize for. :) I'm sure at some point you WILL, and then I'll go "GRUMP GRUMP GRUMP -- treat me right 'cause I'm great! And also humble!" and you'll go "Sorry!" and we'll be cool again. But that's for the future.

      Re. "I'm not depressed," I get a vibe that you're protesting TOO much here. You sure you're fine? I'll take a "yes" at face value, but thought I should press a bit. :)

      - David

    20. Whoops, forgot to answer your actual question. I'm smooth like that. :) Lemme take a crack at it: again, for me, evolution and morality are *completely* separate subjects; your question is a non sequitur along the lines of "if dogs are colorblind, how come the speed limit's still 55?"

      But if we set that objection aside and reframe your question as "are there any secular grounds for morality?", I answer: of course! There are a *bunch* of secular moral systems.

      Off the top of my head, utilitarianism and social contract theory (think Locke and Hobbes and Rawls) are two extensively developed systems. A moment's reflection pointed me toward the golden rule, too, which is a great guide to moral behavior and requires no deity at all -- it's just that we don't normally think of it as a "philosophy."

      Also, I should note that your question (if I'm reading the subtext right, anyway -- I think the subtext is: "the Bible is the *only* viable grounds for morality, and its status would be threatened if evolution were true") -- ahem. Your question asks us to assume that theistic evolution is not a viable option. Which is fine, but we should at least /notice/ the assumption as we're makin' it.

      Also, I have a counterquestion: I think a fair reading of the Bible would show that there's a LOT of regulation of slavery but NO abolition of it. So if the Bible is *sufficient* grounds for all moral reasoning, and comes from a perfectly moral deity, why does it not say "OWNING OTHER PEOPLE IS MORALLY WRONG -- /ANY/ OTHER PEOPLE, EVER. FREE ALL YOUR SLAVES AT ONCE AND NEVER TAKE ANY AGAIN."?

      I mean, should we conclude that slavery is A-OK with God, provided that you do it Biblically?

      The logical answer is yes. Clearly, slavery itself can't be immoral, at least not if God's Bible is the *only* valid source of morality and justice.

      To me, that's logically sound but morally repugnant. I /hope/ you feel the same way; but if so, where do you get that moral sentiment from?

    21. Depression: not sleeping any more than normal and crying less all the time. Still have moments, though. Really, considering what we have been trough in the last 3 years, I am doing good. Sad. Tired. Stressed a bit. But all things considered, good.
      (Mom had gall bladder surgery in 2012, diagnosed with cancer in 2013, My brother remarried in a small ceremony up here so my Mom could be there (meaning our church had to be got ready and all that's involved in that with mom too sick to do her normal part), lost my favorite uncle to cancer that fall, right after Hubby's worst gout attack ever, my sons appendix exploded (9 days in the hospital), Hubby broke his arm at work. 2014 started with another son putting his hand down on a sewing needle requiring a 2 hour surgery to remove the part that broke off, my youngest was diagnosed with a problem with his teeth, but I didn't feel comfortable putting such a little one to sleep (so have had disagreements with the dentist since then. Ended up switching dentists), and mom's cancer moved to the liver, she went through heavy duty chemo, dad had back surgery. 2015 the biggest thing was mom's declining health and death, of course. Somewhere in there Hubby hurt his back at work too (don't remember just when). Add in the discovery of household allergies (colored dish soap being the worst offender- hives everywhere!) and the normal parenting, schooling, household stuff. Yeah, I'm a bit tired.)

    22. I have to say, though, I have seen many of God's mercies during this time; the day three days before her death when mom was clear headed enough to tease the nurses. The wonderful staff in the pediatric ward (interesting to watch nurses used to caring for children trying to figure out how to care for a 16yo with a beard :-D), the best hand doctor in town deciding to take our insurance even though he hates them, the best crop of tomatoes we have ever had, for no logical reason. So many more I can't even begin to name. God has carried us through.

      We all must die some day. Most of us will lose our parents at some point. That taken into account, Mom's final sickness was quick (about a month). That was an immense mercy. God has provided so many special comforts through this time.

    23. We all have an inherent knowledge of right and wrong. We all know what is "moral." Where did that knowledge come from? Why are all the moral conclusions so very similar? If there is no God, than evolution is the only other viable choice. The main governing principal of evolution is "survival of the fittest." How does this explain the universal "thou shalt not murder"? "Thou shalt not rape"?

      If there is a God He obviously wrote His moral law on each and every heart, so that we all are without excuse. We all know right from wrong.

    24. As to the Bible and slavery, let's put the Bible in context. Every nation at the time practiced slavery. And slavery that would have made the American slave holders (who were horridly evil, often) cringe; kidnapping women, and even boys, to make prostitutes out of them. Evil, horrid slavery.

      God gave Israel rules that took humanity towards the humanizing (and eventual freeing) of slaves. Even foreign slaves were commanded to have a day of rest each week, and sexual slavery was absolutely forbidden. If a man had sex with a captured slave (which he wasn't allowed to do until a month after her capture giving her a time of mourning) he was commanded to care for her like a wife (though a lower status wife). If he decided he didn't want to stay married to her he had to free her. He could not resell her or farm her out like all the other countries around them did.

      If a slave of any nationality was permanently disfigured in service to his master, he was to be set absolutely free. This was totally a new concept at the time.

      And "slavery" was used as a solution to extreme financial difficulty among Israelites. If a person found himself on hard times where he couldn't provide for his family, he could "sell" himself (his labor) to a neighbor who would then be responsible for feeding, clothing, and housing him and his. But that "slave" would be free in the year of Jubilee, so no financial distress/slavery could last more than 7 years. This was certainly a better solution than the debtors prisons we replaced it with. Or letting little kids starve in the street.

      Within the context of the time, God was aware that slavery could not have been completely outlawed. Humanity needed to be moved that direction. And that is what He did; moved us towards anti-slavery. It was, in fact, Christianity that led the way to its abolition based on the principles in the New Testament of equality among all humans and basic human rights.

    25. "Theistic Evolution"= The loving God of the Bile used a cruel, wasteful system to accomplish the creation of the Universe, and then lied about it (or at least spoke in secret code) in the Bible.

      Uhh, yeah.

      I have studied all the "Old Earth Christian" theories and find them illogical and inconsistent with the Bible. I may be overly black and white, but I only see two logical options:

      There is a God who created the Universe in six 24 hour days about 6000-7000 years ago (as the simplest reading of the Bible says),


      There is no God and evolution is true.

    26. OK, so! Re. depression stuff, actually it *does* sound like you're doing *great* in context. I was especially pleased that you were keeping an eye on your sleep patterns. Smart woman!

      More to follow on your other comments, but maybe only on my PM break. (That's right, /only the clock/ can make me be concise. Sad but true! In related news, I'm STILL amazed my girlfriend hasn't murdered me.)

    27. OK, so! You write: "We all know what is 'moral.' Where did that knowledge come from? Why are all the moral conclusions so very similar?"

      I'm not buying your premises. Plainly, we *don't* all agree on morality; different cultures have different moral standards, and of course different people WITHIN each culture will have their own opinions too -- case in point: this very conversation! We *just* had an exchange where I went, "Slavery is always wrong, because you should never own another human being." & you went, "Well hold on now; context is important!"

      Surely this suggests SOME disagreement on basic morality.

      Also, you ask how evolution would explain the (supposedly) universal constants of "thou shalt not murder" and "thou shalt not rape."

      An evolutionary psychologist would say that morality -- at least the kind of common-sense, instinctive morality you're talking about here -- promotes & rewards *in-group* cooperation. So a moral (and thus more cooperative) tribe will have a huge competitive advantage over an amoral (less-cooperative) tribe.

      Does that answer your question or are you like, "Nah, we need to explore this further."? If the latter, ask away!

      (Full disclosure, though -- I'm REALLY not a big ev psych fan. Certainly I'm trying to be fair to the discipline, and I'm about 98% sure that the answer I gave IS what most ev psych people would say. But there's always a risk that I'm being unfair to them because of my bias against ev psych, so keep that in mind. Uh, also if you want to know what *I personally* think is the basis for morality, you need only ask!)

    28. Re your longer slavery post: this is is going to sound like I'm outraged, because I /am/. But *because* of how intensely I feel about this, I would ask that you read this closely and answer it honestly.

      So, since you mentioned "do not rape" as a universal moral rule that God implanted in all of our hearts, let's look at how that applies to God's /super/ humane and moral rules for having sex with your slaves.

      (It's humane by comparison!, you cry; it's moral in context!; and yet I never hear you say "you have to read that in context" when the subject is any other kind of sexual morality-- no no no, /those/ moral standards are context-free and binding on ALL of us all of the time, because they tell us what God REALLY wants us to do. /This/ rule is, y'know... /pretendsies/. How do we know? 'Cause it's icky, DUH.)

      OK, so let's imagine how the captured-maiden commandments would have played out in real life. The Israelites sack a city and put the adult inhabitants to the sword, sparing only the young maidens who haven't yet lain with a man (so, unmarried women who would've been pretty darn young). So let's imagine one particular girl -- 13 years old, dragged out of her house after seeing her family get slaughtered, and taken in chains to the home of her captor. (She would *probably* have been raped on the spot because that's how war WORKS, but we're assuming that people really do follow the commandment here. Y'know, giving God the benefit of the doubt.)

      So 30 days pass and she's in mourning and blab blah blah, and then at the END of the 30 days, her captor-- who might well be /the actual same person/ who killed her parents, by the way -- her captor shows up and says, "Time to have sex with me now."

      What are the odds that she *wants* to? Close to zero percent, would you say? And yet the commandment permits him to go ahead with it; there's no exception for unwilling girls.

      So he goes right ahead and he *rapes her* -- we agree that IS rape, right? A man having sex with an unwilling woman? With a horrified, traumatized girl that he *owns*? -- so he rapes her, this virtuous Israelite; and he does it in accord with God's just and humane laws concerning the treatment of slaves.

      Also, unrelated, God toooootally gave us a moral sense that tells us "thou shalt not rape."

      *Which of these claims are you going to abandon*-- or are you SERIOUSLY going to argue that what I've outlined above /isn't/ rape?

      Or maybe it's "thou shalt not rape, except for Caananites, because THEY have it coming."

      But don't you dare pretend there's /just no problem here/-- there IS, and you're handwaving it, and I expect /better/ from you.

    29. Once you remove the heat and adrenaline of war, it is much less likely he will force himself on her. He has had time to get to know her as a human being and grow some compassion. I personally don't believe most men are animals or capable of rape (removed from the violence of war). Removed from the heat of battle, they are compassionate and loving. The men I have had the privilege of knowing in my life might start out with the intention of force, but would never follow through.

      Part of the difference too, is in our western ideas of romance. We are the ones who are the exception. Other cultures expect a husband and wife to grow into love, not fall in love and then become husband and wife. We also call women who are called and treated like adult women in every other culture "children," expect them to stay sexually 8 until they are in their 20's, and then complain about teen pregnancy. Sometimes we "more advanced moderns" are down right stupid. (No, I am not advocating modern marriage at 13. My great grandma did marry at 14 and was very happy her whole life, but that was 100 years ago. But I do think we are making a tremendous mistake by constantly increasing the years classified as "childhood" instead of letting people grow up when biology [God's design] says they do.)

      But, if he does force himself, of course its rape. And it is a difficult one to deal with. Of course we could just say God should have had all of them killed as He did with the child-sacrificing nations (about 7 countries total, I think), but somehow that doesn't sit with our (self righteous, better than thou) modern sentiments either :-) I don't' have complete answers. I'm not omnipotent. I know I trust the Bible's moral code much more than the ones that have come from any other source, including atheism (A= without, theism=God). When you remove the Bible, mankind becomes the greatest power on earth. Mankind is not trustworthy. But every society that has based itself on the Bible has seen improvement of life for everyone. Perfection? No. We won't have that in this life. But definite improvement.

      And what other sexual laws are you saying I am not taking in context?:-)

    30. This was a good answer! And was much more chill than my post, for which I thank you. Big thumbs up! And I'm glad that all the menfolk in your life have been gentle and loving -- sure beats all the alternatives, don't it? :)

      Lemme put my debatin' gloves back on, though:

      1) God had options other than "having them all killed as He did with the child-sacrificing nations." He could've given a divine commandment along the lines of "don't kill civilians, and don't ever rape." But He didn't, did He? He didn't even say "kill as few civilians as you possibly can, and treat women like people, not property." To be blunt, I think that's morally wrong.

      2) By contrast, you claim to "trust the Bible's moral code much more than the ones that have come from any other source," including your own moral intuition. If you really believe that, you should *be consistent* in so holding, and boldly embrace all the stuff we modern folk find troublin'. I mean, you should really just /go/ for it!

      3) But you don't. Or at least, I've yet to hear you admit that just because *we moderns* think it's wrong to own another person doesn't mean God agrees with us. Yet God's infallible word /indisputably/ teaches that runaway slaves should return to their masters -- in the New Testament, even! (Hello, Onesimus! I see you there.) So why not just go ahead and say it IS okay to own other people? What's stopping you?

      4) And hey, if you're worried that your eldest has gone TOO long unmarried, just marry her off to one of your brothers. No, really, go back and check Leviticus. There's an *extensive* list of prohibited sexual relationships, and guess what's not in there? Uncles and nieces. And sure, you could argue that because it's illegal under /civil/ law, it's illegal in /God's/ law; but most evangelicals are *pretty clear* that they don't believe man's law on marriage can ever trump God's, ESPECIALLY on the question of who can marry who.**

      5) So how 'bout it? If you had an unmarried brother, would it be morally acceptable to God *and therefore to you* for him to have sex with your daughter, provided they got married first? Or would you say "Uh, no, that's incestuous."? If incest: on what grounds? If /not/ incestuous, did you have to wrestle with your God-given moral intuition before you could *get* to a place where you said "No, the Bible controls, so it isn't incestuous?"

      6) Doesn't it follow from your answers that actually, your intuitive morality DOES conflict with the Bible? And that your kneejerk response is to value your innate moral sense /above/ the Bible?

    31. Footnotes, because of COURSE I need footnotes now:

      * By the way, 19th-century Biblical literalists *absolutely* used that precedent to argue that slavery was moral and just and a part of God's plan. Think about how seriously the Bible was taken in the antebellum South, and let me know if you want to walk back your claim that "every society that has based itself on the Bible has seen improvement of life for everyone." Or maybe you didn't mean the American South, but had the Puritans in mind. But whoops, they were slaveholders too! Do you think that many Indians who were captured and enslaved by the Puritans found their lives were "improved?" If so: how? I mean, you can argue that the Indian slaves were exposed to the Gospel, so had a chance to be saved, but that's ANOTHER argument made by Southern Christians to justify slavery, and we don't think it holds any water in THAT context. Or at least I don't. Maybe you do?

      ** You can also, of course, suggest that the "close relations" clause at the start of the list would cover uncles and nieces. But I don't think that's true -- look at the rest of the list. /Sister/ is explicitly listed as forbidden, and that's one hell of a closer relationship than niece. Plus, aunt-and-nephew IS a forbidden pairing; the lack of niece-and-uncle is glaring. I think the fairest reading is that niece-x-uncle is permitted; would we agree on that? Or are you like, "Nah, you're wrong about the text itself, and let me tell you why."? I'm open to argument on that front! :) Just be aware of *why* you're arguin' with it -- is it because the plain reading makes you uncomfortable?

    32. Oh! Also, the sexual-laws-out-of-context thing (and it's not necessarily directed at you personally so much as evangelicals in particular) was a reference to the extreeeeeeme emphasis that evangelical culture puts on female virginity -- I find that really, really troubling for a bunch of reasons.

      It implies that women are valuable primarily (or even only) for sex; that a woman who has sex before marriage is /ruined forever/, or at least terribly disgraced; that she's /worth less/, if not outright worthless. And I think that does tremendous damage to people's dignity and sense of self-worth, and helps /create/ the culture of women policing women (also, of women shaming women) that you wrote about in your Jeremiah post.

      The lack-of-context angle is this: I think it's interesting that many evangelicals, when asked about the famously difficult commandment that a rapist should marry his victim (I think there's also a paying-her-bride-price option in there), will say something like "I'm glad Jesus came so we could be free of that."

      And it's like, at best you're free of the /commandment/. But the mindset that /drove/ the commandment? Still with you guys for SURE. And I really wish you (this is evangelical-you and also Betty-you) would *read the Bible's emphasis on female virginity in context*, and treat it as a cultural artifact and not a timeless law.

      ... but uh, you also genuinely shouldn't change your opinions just because /I/ want you to. :) All I ask is that you think about my statements with an open mind -- and that you please push back against me when I make unfair assumptions, 'cause I /know/ I do that sometimes. :)

    33. Been busy with the holidays, so I apologize for taking so long getting back to you.

      First answer above:
      1) The difference between civilian and warrior is the result of modern warfare. This distinction was much more difficult when the major weapon was a sword and a woman could (though they rarely did) learn to use it about as well as a man, and where the battlefield was often the main street in town.

      The reason for eliminating everyone in the child sacrificing nations was to eliminate the practice of child sacrifice. A civilian woman brought into Israel, even as a slave, would have brought that mindset. In fact, Israel didn't obey the command to eliminate these people and that is exactly what happened; they also began to offer their babies as burnt sacrifices to idols.

      2)Owning another person. American slavery was evil. Let's agree on that. But look real close at "slavery" as defined by God in the Old Testament. It wasn't really much different than long term employment today. Selling yourself to another was a way to deal with poverty and debt (remember that everyone became a land owner when they entered Canaan, they were not allowed to sell their property permanently out of the family, so social status was fairly even throughout), and was a much better solution than, say, England's "leave them on the street to starve" philosophy of the 1700-1800's. Far more compassionate as the owner then fed, clothed and housed them in exchange for their work. The Law mandated, too, a maximum amount of time they could "belong" to their master. Then they had to be freed. If they chose they could remain as part of the slave holder's household, but if you are choosing to stay, are you enslaved? Or are you making a free choice? Controlling your own destiny? Again, I don't see very much difference between the slave/owner relationship of the OT and my Hubby's relationship with his boss. So, no, by the biblical definition, "owning" someone is not wrong. By American standards, where the owned person is "not human," has no rights, can never in their entire lives leave, the owner is allowed to maim them if he chooses with no repercussions, slavery is one of the greatest evils in all of history! (enslavement of enemies through war was part of the act of war and a great incentive to not pick fights with your neighboring countries. Even then, God required humane treatment. Do I think it's OK now to do this with our enemies? No. But I recognize that it's because of my own modern prejudices. If we actually treated our enemies harsher there is a good chance we would have fewer enemies.)

    34. 4) Hmm, never noticed the uncle/niece wasn't forbidden. Interesting. I wonder if it was assumed since the opposite is explicitly forbidden? Something I need to research:-) (though I see you don't think so) Anyway, the Bible tells us to obey the laws of the land as long as those laws don't tell us to disobey Him. So, since our laws say uncles can't marry nieces even if they are the same age, no, I wouldn't allow it.(Actually, my mom had an uncle who was YOUNGER than her 3 oldest siblings! She was grandma's 6/7 and he was great-grandma's 13/13. He was only 10 years older than Mom was and her sister was 6 months older than him. Such is the confusion of large families :-D)

      However, if I lived where it was legal, and they were close in age, and my [future:-D] study of the Bible came to the conclusion it was ok, then yes, I would allow it. That's a lot of if's though.

      Second post:
      There was disagreement about slavery, yes, as there have been on other issues over the centuries. Most of the southern positions was based, actually, on the newly "discovered scientific 'fact'" of evolution. "Obviously those of darker skin are less evolved, just like the Canaanites were less evolved than the Israelite. So it's OK to enslave them and treat them like animals."

      If you look at the over all history from Calvary to today, though, you will see that the biggest supporters of emancipation were Bible believers. Did some Bible thumpers get is wrong? Sure. But over all the clear message has been accepted that American type slavery is bad. And where slavery was allowed, those that truly believed the Bible (and not all "Bible thumpers" really do) and found themselves slave owners (such as George Washington) were compassionate owners who did the best within their laws to care for their slaves and treat them with dignity and humanely.

      Washington, for example, found slavery abhorrent, but he inherited them and it was illegal to free them in Virgina at that time. His choices were to make himself LOOK compassionate by refusing to own slaves and sell them to other owners who wouldn't be as nice, or keep them and make sure they were treated with dignity. He chose the later.

      There were actually a lot of southern slave holders in the same position, who even fought in the southern army because they believed the federal government didn't have the right to forbid slaves. It was a state's rights issue to them, and they saw the enslavement of a powerful federal government as a far worse evil. The Civil War was not a simple issue.

      I'll have to look it up, but I don't believe the Puritans actually enslaved anyone. The Conquistadors did. And the other English settlers that didn't belong to the Puritan religion did (about half of those on the Mayflower and most of those in Jamestown.) But if I remember right the Puritans formed a treaty with the Indians that was mutually beneficial and lasted for more than 50 years (until the next, non puritan generation took over). Puritans did have some indentured servants, which was a bit different, closer the biblical way of caring for the poor.

      I actually don't see an emphasis in the New Testament on female virginity. I see an emphasis on members of both sexes remaining pure until marriage and keeping sex within marriage. And even most of the ones in the Old could easily be applied to both sexes. It's just easier to prove female chastity.


    35. After nearly half a century of observation (dating myself:-) I have observed something disturbing in our culture of "free sex."

      Men have a greater need for sexual fulfillment then women, while women have a greater need for the intimacy that comes from security.

      Men now put absurd pressure on women to have sex with them and women have nothing to fall back on to refuse. In fact, because some woman out there will have sex with her man, she feels pressured to give in in order to keep him. This leaves the woman vulnerable. She doesn't get the security she needs and, ultimately, she is the one who has to face pregnancy (or the horrifying side affects of birth control or abortion) without any guarantee her man will be with her. So most young women I see today feel valued as nothing but a sex toy and "know" they will have to take care of themselves and any children they have. They can't depend on the men, especially during their most vulnerable time of life.

      With the biblical laws, a woman has a powerful tool to require the commitment from him that she needs. This way, both their needs are met instead of just his.

      As to the rapist being required to marry his victim, How do you tell if the sex was consensual? This is a problem we face today. Now our courts often assume a woman would never lie about being raped, which is simply not true.

      If the victim was married or engaged the man was executed because a woman who has her man wouldn't likely consent to have sex with someone else, thus, it was obviously really rape. Especially if the event occurred out in the field where there was no help for the woman who screams. In the city, it would be assumed she would scream (in the days before guns, of course) and someone came to help her. If she didn't scream, it was consensual and adultery. They were both executed.

      Now, an unattached woman the Law gave the option to the father to accept the bride price. If, in truth, it wasn't rape but young love, daddy would be likely to just accept the bride price from his little princess' love.

      The "never divorce her" clause was to make sure the young man understood there would be no out when he put this kind of pressure on her in the first place. (and, yes, I know the girls can be just as bad as the boys in this. But the norm is otherwise.)

      The father, though, could have the evil man executed if it was really rape. It was his call which it was. (50% of today's "rape" charges are actually consensual sex between a 16 year old woman and her 18 year old boyfriend.)

      A perfect way to deal with it? Nope. Can't have perfection as long as you are dealing with humans. Just not possible. But in a lot of ways, far better for women than today's free-for-all.

    36. Uncle-niece stuff: can I offer you an Internet high five? 'cause it's REALLY HARD to say something like "If I lived where it was legal, and they were close in age, and my [future:-D] study of the Bible came to the conclusion it was ok, then yes, I would allow it." That takes a lot of courage, and I admire you for it.

      (Also, for the record, I /too/ didn't notice the uncle-niece thing until one day I was leafing through the Talmud -- I think probably the tractate on divorce decrees -- and there was this long discussion where the rabbis just took it for granted that, yes, it's possible for a man to marry his niece. So I went, "WHOA, hey, no, hold ON there, guys," and went back to Leviticus to check. Cue jaw-drop.)

      "Most of the southern positions was based, actually, on the newly discovered scientific 'fact'" of evolution."

      This is flat-out wrong. "The Origin of Species" was published in very late 1859, but slavery was fiercely debated through the whole length of the 1850s; there just wasn't *time* for "most" Southern arguments to be based on evolution. Even if you were to narrow your scope to ONLY pro-slavery writings published from, say, January 1860 to the start of the Civil War, I'd be *shocked* if you found more than a handful of references to evolution.

      In fact, the *vast* majority of pro-slavery arguments ran something like this: "Providence [meaning God] has provided us with a race which, though mentally and morally inferior to whites, is yet ideally suited to the rigors of our Southern climate; and through the South's peculiar institution, each race derives great benefit: the whites by reaping the fruits of the Negroes' labor, and the Negroes by being exposed to the virtues of white civilization and to the Gospel."

      If you doubt me at all, and I mean *in the slightest*, then I REALLY REALLY STRONGLY encourage you to fact-check me. I would suggest shooting off an email to Mark Noll-- he's the author of a book called "The Civil War as a Theological Crisis," and has GREAT Evangelical bona fides: he's a Wheaton grad, has an MA from Trinity Evangelical Divnity School, a Ph.D. from Vanderbilt, and taught at Wheaton for decades. He's the /most/ Evangelical source I can think of who's an expert in the field, so I hope he's an acceptable resource for both of us. Just show him my last paragraph and ask if it's accurate; I'm sure he'd take 20 seconds out of his day to reply "Yeah, sounds about right." or "No, this guy's full of bull." :)

      Bonus points if you email him YOUR assertion about evolution, too, and ask which one is closer to the mark. (To be fair, I think you're saying "evolution" when you mean "scientific racism." But even scientific racism was often supported by references to scripture -- see, for instance, -- and really, it's *your* job to revise your arguments, not mine.)

      Uh, anyway, y'all can reach Dr. Noll at (I know, I know, Notre Dame! The scandal of it. But I *promise* he's a good Protestant boy. :) ) -- let me know what he says!

      LAST NOTE: I was a big Civil War buff from age 11 to like... 14, which were INTENSELY BOOKISH YEARS lemme tell you, so -- oh boy. We could have some great conversations about this stuff. :) Especially about the "state's rights" rhetoric, which I used to buy into but don't anymore, because I kinda... had a slow-motion collision with the primary sources. But I think that's more of an in-person discussion, to be had over a nice cup of hot chocolate someday. :)

    37. "Again, I don't see very much difference between the slave/owner relationship of the OT and my Hubby's relationship with his boss."

      Then your husband needs to talk to OSHA. For if a man beats his slave so that he dies on the spot, it is murder; but if the slave lingers even for the space of a few days and then dies, he is blameless.

      I do take your general point, of course, but it seems to me that you're ignoring the most awful parts of the slavery commandments and playing up the benign-seeming ones. But look, *every part* of the text matters, not just the parts that we're comfortable with.

      And yes, this cuts both ways; I recognize that limited-term slavery and the jubilee year DO make Israelite slavery more benign than, say, Roman slavery. But that doesn't make Israelite slavery /good/ -- I mean, punching an old lady isn't as bad as punching her *and then robbing her*, but that doesn't mean it's OK to go around punchin' old ladies.
      Oh! And you left out the part about how if the Israelite slave has any children during his/her years of servitude, *those kids* stay slaves even if the parent goes free. So a sizeable chunk of slaves were forced to choose between their freedom and their kids; if they /did/ choose to stay in their master's household, how free was that choice, really?

      TL;DR: the position that Israelite slavery isn't soooooooo bad is a very tough sell. You're making eloquent and sincere arguments /for/ that position, but boy. It's just -- the details of OT slavery are messy and ugly and your arguments keep leaving out the most damning parts of it.

      Puritan slavery, real quick: if you just want a link, take a gander at -- but I know from college that there were DEFINITELY slaves in Puritan communities by the time of Queen Anne's War (very early 1700s to the early-mid 1710s). And if you go back a decade or so to Salem at the time of the witch panic, there were slaves there too -- Tituba was one and was, I believe, an Indian (at least according to Puritan documents; some historians now argue she was imported from the West Indies).

      Puritan slavery is another thing we could have a really cool in-person chat about, but the Internet makes it awkward because I'm like "I CAN'T WRITE A ZILLION PARAGRAPHS OF DIGRESSION. I JUST CAN'T. NO ONE WANTS TO READ THAT MUCH."

    38. Sorry, one last add: here's a sample of Southern pro-slavery rhetoric.

      Wouldn't recommend you read the whole thing, because who has the TIME? -- but maybe read the first 20 pages if possible, and more if you're still interested.

    39. Sex stuff: it seems to me that you're taking Victorian stereotypes about sexual desire (men want sex all the time! Women just want love and companionship and intimacy!), and then assuming that they provide a good solid fact-based platform to build on.

      But even if I had to argue only on Biblical grounds, how can you square those assumptions with the Song of Solomon?

      Also: why is it *Dad's* call whether it was rape or not? Seems to me that the young lady is the best arbiter there. Is there some reason a woman can't be her own witness, but her father can and should? (Also on a practical Dad might feel pressure to present his daughter as pure and blameless (remember this is an honor-based culture, where Dad is the custodian of the family's reputation) -- so love.

    40. ... Crap, I had a half-written reply but it got deleted. So! Lemme recreate it real quick:

      Sex stuff: it sounds like you're taking Victorian stereotypes about sexual desire (guys have lots of it! Girls just want to be loved and secure!), and then assuming that this is a stable and factual platform to make good decisions.

      But how can you square that with the Song of Solomon? The woman there isn't a weak, sexless creature who'll just lie back and think of England. She's BIG into her beloved, and "security" is WAY down on her list of desires. Definitely below her beloved's, um, tower.

      OT rape stuff: why should it be *Dad's* call whether it was rape? Surely the young lady in question would have the best perspective. Why can't she speak for herself? Or more accurately: why is it *better in the eyes of God* that Dad speak for her? (As always, it's okay to be like "C'mon, God is notoriously hard to understand and any answer I could give would only be a guess." That is completely fair.)

      -- But I guess basically what I am trying to say is that I /don't/ think OT sexual morality is "far better for women than today's free-for-all," and the reason is *agency*. Women today can speak for themselves and choose for themselves. They don't need a male protector or guardian. I think women in America are VASTLY better off than women in Saudi Arabia; I would think this even if the average Saudi woman was a millionaire, because it's all about freedom. It's all about being able to look out at the world and see /possibility/ -- American women live in a world where they can make real and meaningful choices that shape their lives. Saudi women, and OT women, had SUCH circumscribed choices that they were essentially just adjuncts to their household: they were Dad's property until they got married, then their husband's property.

      I think that's *way* worse for women than what we have now. But we do almost certainly agree on a lot of the downsides of modern-day sex relations.

      NT virginity stuff: haven't read NT (yet!) and can't make any intelligent comment. My complaint lies more with evangelical *culture* (purity balls, "the most valuable gift you can give your husband is your virginity," ye olde famous chewed-gum analogy), and less with the NT text. Basically it's not a matter of what the text says *on a fair reading*-- you could very well be RIGHT about that!-- so much as it's a matter of *what the evangelical world chooses to emphasize and talk about.* Does that make my complaint a bit more understandable? -David

    41. Personal observation: Women LOVE sex, enjoy it, seek it out, relish in it.

      Men NEED sex like they need oxygen. A much different level of intensity.

      In the book "His Needs, Her Needs" a marriage counselor talks about his observations of many years of counseling. In the men that came to see him, the number one need they had was respect. Sex was number 2. The number 1 need for women was security; number 2 was romance.

      Men and women are very different creatures. That is what makes life so interesting :-)

      The father is the one making the case in court to spare the woman from the trauma of testimony. Men are tougher than women in this type of situation. There are other situations where women are tougher.

      Women today do have a lot of benefits, I grant. But our society has strayed so far in the "men and women are identical" direction that men are simply taking advantage of women and then saying it was her choice. Really, women I have known felt pressured into early sex in order to keep their man, then they bare the brunt of pregnancy and child rearing while he shrugs and says it was her choice. Women put so much energy into pregnancy that they really are weaker, more vulnerable at that time. Yet our culture expects them to take care of themselves, suck it up!

      If we would take our cultures Bible based beliefs in equality of value, and honor the beauty of the differences in the sexes, hold the men to the biblical command to "love your wives as much as Jesus loved the church and died for it." this country would be pretty close to heaven.

      your last paragraph did explain things a bit. the churches I grew up in, however, stressed virginity to the boys as much as to the girls and made sure the guys understood that they were to protect women, not pressure them into pleasing them. They were to be servant/ protectors. I know churches like you described do exist, but many more are like the ones I know.

  2. P.P.S. Do you really think Isaiah is the author at this point in the Book of Isaiah? Would urge you to give one of your older kids a homework assignment -- read the whole Book of Isaiah and tell you how many different authors they think they detect, or at least how many different *time periods* the book seems to be written in. :) If you have a more contemporary translation, you might wanna use that for the assignment -- people's eyes tend to glaze over when they're lookin' at a sea of "thou", y'know?

    But yeah, if you do this, please *do* let me know what answer they come back with!

    -- David

  3. Just a bit of background on my commentaries: I have read the Bible, cover to cover (including Isaiah:-) at least 20 times in at least 5 different translations, including some very modern ones (honestly, I've lost track of the exact numbers of both). I often read the scripture in the KJV, which I am more familiar with, and then in one or two others, plus comments from other commentaries. This is actually more my own personal Bible study and notes than anything else.

    I begin by reading through and writing what comes to my mind, researching what I need to at any given time in order to understand it. Then I put it aside for a year or two. I come back and go through it again, expanding on it. After at least 2 times through (and often more) I print a proof copy through my book manufacturer and have my parents, well, now my dad :-( read it and make notes. Sometimes we happen to study that book in our church's mid week Bible study where I also make notes of ideas from other, older Christians. Then one final read through, and I publish. This is my first time through making notes on Isaiah, so is by no means near the finished product :-) Just my baby beginning.

    Authorship: first of all, I put a lot more faith in the opinions of those who lived closer to the time a Book was written than to the arrogant speculations of our modern "Bible scholars." Many of the modern opinions are based on the presupposition that prophecy is not true, so, Isaiah wrote about the post-captivity world so he had to have lived post-captivity. This is circular reasoning (there is no divine revelation so he must have been writing from experience. He was only writing from experience because he lived there, not from divine inspiration.) I, personally, believe that Isaiah began his writing at a very young age, the Assyrian and Babylonian captivities were a lot closer in time than commonly believed (there is more and more archaeological evidence to support this view), and he lived to a very old age. Those writings on the condition of Israel/Judah after the captivity are by divine inspiration. It is pooossssiiiibbbbllle there are two authors, but honestly, at this point, I don't really think so (mostly because the ancients thought there was only one and they were closer in time than we are). I'll let you know in a couple of years after I've done more research :-)

    thee and thou: I understand the problem with these. It has helped me, though, when I learned that "thee" and "thou" are singular in 16th century English, while "you" is plural. This is actually much less confusing than our habit of using "you" for both:-) Either way, my kids are used to the KJV version too, having heard it all their lives, and are not intimidated by it.

  4. Ev Pshyc: I've heard that before, but I find it too far lacking to accept. It just doesn't explain the universal moral knowledge (roughly 7 of the ten commandments, though it could be argued in all of them if you allow for an insertion of a plural s on God in polytheistic cultures.) Yes there is a good deal of disagreement in the fine points, and there is a lot of gray in there, but those Ten biggies....

    "Survival of the Fittest" should dictate that rape is ok (the fittest simply making sure he passes on his genetic material), and murder should also be ok (the fittest conquering the weakest). Stealing is nothing more than the fittest insuring his own survival, prosperity. I don't see humans being quite dependent enough on each other to overcome that in the long run in all societies. Of course, my "community" tends to be more independent minded than most so that may affect my perception.

    And some of the disagreements can be explained by the human being's remarkable ability to overcome their natural instincts, to convince ourselves something is ok when we really know better.

    Romans 1 (I have edited for brevity)
    "20 For from the creation of the world the invisible things of Him are clearly seen, being understood through the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead, so that they are without excuse.
    21 For when they knew God, they neither glorified Him as God, nor were thankful, but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened.
    22 Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools,
    23 and changed the glory of the incorruptible God into an image made like corruptible man, ...
    24 Therefore God also gave them up to uncleanness through the lusts of their own hearts,...
    25 They changed the truth of God into a lie, and worshiped and served the creature more than the Creator,...
    26 For this cause God gave them up unto vile affections: ...
    28 And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a reprobate mind to do those things which are not fitting,...
    32 And knowing the judgment of God, that those who commit such things are worthy of death, they not only do the same, but have pleasure in those who do them."

    So what do you believe? Have you ever read the New Testament? I assume you have read the Old (Tanakh, especially Torah) Neither Testament is complete without the other.

  5. Ooh, you get lots of points for knowing the term "tanakh!" :) On to the response:

    1) Re. the 10 Commandments as "universal moral knowledge" -- I mean, you SAY they're universal, but counterpoint: Aztecs.

    Human sacrifice, for them, was sacred violence -- which was not at all the same as murder. And I mean, they knew what murder WAS; it's just that, for them, sacrifice was not included in the category of things-that-are-murder.

    But when you consider the mechanics of human sacrifice, obviously it IS murder, right? You have a defenseless captive who, I'm guessin', REALLY doesn't want to be there; you have a guy with a knife; that's all you need to /know/. To you and me, it's intuitively obvious that *c'mon, yes, of COURSE this is murder*. And yet... not to the Aztecs.

    So what do we DO with them?


    2) Re. what I believe about where morality comes from -- I'm big on social-contract theory, so the answer here would be a mix of Locke and Hobbes and Rawls, with more emphasis on Rawls because I think he's the one who best incorporates the Golden Rule into his moral system. (Did that, uh, actually explain anything or are you just like, "YOU'VE TOLD ME NOTHING. /NOTHING/."?)


    3) New Testament stuff -- I really SHOULD sit down and read the NT end to end at some point. I was briefly like "Maybe I should invite Betty to do it /with/ me in podcast format, and call it 'My VERY New Testament,'" but then I went, "... yeah, but what if we only reached like seven listeners?," and then I got scared and shelved the idea. Fear of failure stops me a *lot.* :(

    Also, you write, "Neither Testament is complete without the other," and I reply: "Ah, but they're *both* incomplete without the Noble Quran." ;D

    Ooh, or the Book of Mormon! Although that ITSELF is incomplete without the Pearl of Great Price; and of making many books, there is no end.


    4) I do of course know that passage in Romans, because it's one of the "clobber verses" -- I think it's THE go-to anti-gay passage in the New Testament, right? So I knew /of/ it, but now that I'm really reading it closely, I'm like, "Wait. It seems to suggest that idolatry *causes* gay sex: verse 23 is basically 'but no, those JERKS had to go build IDOLS,' and verse 24 is 'THEREFORE, God also gave them up to uncleanness through the lusts of their own hearts,' then 25 is more talk about idolatry and 26 is 'For this cause...' and then talks about 'vile affections.'"

    So am I right to read that as the passage's plain meaning? If so, why do you think idol-worship and gay sex are linked here?

    - DAL

  6. OK, lost this comment for a bit:-P
    Podcast together would be fun, but matching schedules would be prohibitive. And who cares who is reached? If we learn and have fun, that's all that's important (in context)

    What about a series of posts here discussing it verse by verse?

    Quran contradicts the Bible, not complements it. And the book of Mormon too. Very poor copies of the real thing I understand. (I haven't read them yet myself but Hubby and my dad have read the BOM and POGP).

    Sin is a slippery slope. When you remove God from His proper place, more and more things that our conscience tells us is wrong begin to look not so bad. So, Idolatry, the replacing of God, comes first. Then there doesn't seem any reason to not have sex with someone of the same sex, so homosexuality follows. After all, who do they think they have to answer to? And idolatry, the inventing of your own god in your own image, usually, is often very selfish. If the point of your worship is self, than exploring any type of sexual fun would naturally follow.

    There are a couple of other verses grouping homosexuality with sin in the NT but Romans is the clearest one.

    1. On doin' the NT as a series of posts here: that's a neat idea! I'll think about it. And /while/ I think about it, I'll keep in mind the Mom Wisdom (tm) you just dispensed: "If we learn and have fun, that's all that's important." Such well-chosen words! They gave me the warm fuzzies. :)

      But my first thought is that I'm not sure you would want me to have a platform here; I'm worried that anything I posted would sound hostile to a Christian audience, because I think -- from a faithful Christian perspective -- that I'm asking the wrong kind of questions.

      Let me explain. I just read through the first three chapters of Matthew as a trial run, and in that span, Matthew cites five pieces of scripture as foreshadowing Jesus. So I went back to check them out in context, and found that three of them clearly aren't about Jesus at ALL (for instance, the first one is a callback to Isaiah 7:14, but read a few verses on and then think about what's supposed to happen in the life of Immanuel -- during his boyhood, "the land of the two kings you dread shall be laid waste. The Lord will bring on you... the king of Assyria," who's described as "a razor hired from beyond the Euphrates River... to shave your head and private parts, and to cut off your beard also." Tough to square this with Jesus' life spent in Roman Judea -- a province which, I'm pretty sure, was not at any point conquered by Assyrians).

      I find this really interesting! Because if Matthew knows scripture well enough to quote it, he also knows he's using it way out of context. Plus, like I said, /two/ of the five quotes /can/ plausibly be read as referencing Jesus -- so why include the three that can't? Is Matthew, perhaps, writing to an audience that isn't very scripturally literate, so he figures they'll nod their heads and go "Sure, that sounds about right."?

      But more to the point: if this is God's inspired, infallible, inerrant testimony to the world, *why is it only going two-for-five on those references*? If this is God's handiwork, it ought to be the case that *all* of the citations -- not just 40% of 'em -- are at least ARGUABLY a reference to Jesus.

      So! /That's/ what I mean by "the wrong kind of questions." To a Christian audience, the right questions might be more like "what do we learn about God from the fact that He inspired Matthew to reference those verses? What do we learn about the verses themselves? How should we shift our reading of the OT verses to go deeper than their surface meaning?" -- basically, safe questions that start from the assumption that this IS the word of God. Asking whether it makes any sense AS the word of God can, I think, sound mean-spirited or scornful if my answer is "no."

      And I'm worried that your friends or relatives might go, "Um, Betty? Why are you letting this weird secular person make fun of the Bible? This isn't very edifying."

      - David

    2. Oh also, re: the gay-sex stuff in Romans: let me put all my cards on the table.

      I was REALLY REALLY surprised when I read that passage closely, because for many years, I'd scorned the more liberal voices who argued that, no no, the Bible's prohibitions on gay sex are REALLY about temple prostitution. I thought it was a very strained reading -- one they were pulling out of thin air for basically political reasons. I mean, I was just extremely dubious on the merits of the "temple prostitution" claim.

      And on balance, I still feel that way. But *only* because of the Levitical prohibitions.

      I think the text from Romans *screams* temple prostitution -- the simplest reason to link idol worship with "vile affections" would be if they WERE closely linked in the minds of the audience, perhaps because they happened at the same location and for the same purpose.

      So -- since you have real expertise here and I have next to no knowledge -- lemme ask you: could a reasonable and well-informed person take the liberal position? Or is there historical background I don't know about that would rule it out? (e.g., temple prostitution being super rare in 1st-century Palestine or Rome.)

      To be clear, I'm not asking you to /endorse/ the liberal position; "can somebody reasonably believe this?" is not the same question as "do you believe this." :)

    3. I see how the liberals could come to that conclusion if they only read verses 21-27 and not the rest of the chapter or nothing else in the Bible. The next verses, though, link these acts to other sins. I don't think you could limit the sexual practices to the temple and not limit these other sins there also. Should murder, theft, greed only be forbidden in Temple practice but it's OK everywhere else? Of course the answer is "no." And idolatry occurs outside the church/temple. It is anytime you put something ahead of God. This could be baseball, camping, even family, honestly. All good things in context, but God must always be first in our lives. And it is very common for those engaged in actual bow-down-to-statues worship to have those statues in their own homes.

      When you put this scripture with the others in the Bible (i.e. 1 Corinthians 6:9-10 as well as scripture in the Old Testament) Homosexuality is always linked with a multitude of sins everyone acknowledges as sin (rape, murder, incest, theft, etc.)

      But what is also listed is adultery, fornication (misuse of sex in general), theft, envy, drunkenness, (selfish) anger, etc. All of these are deserving of Hell. I don't think the Church's focus should be just on gays but on all who are in rebellion to God. The particular sin is not nearly as important as the rebellion against God that causes the sin.

  7. Actually, evolution has been around a lot longer than Darwin. Isaac Newton (1600’s) had to address the supposed conflicts between Bible and science. Darwin just made the first popular book about it.

    I will follow your suggestions at some point, but I don't know when I'll get to it.

    “For if a man beats his slave so that he dies on the spot, it is murder; but if the slave lingers even for the space of a few days and then dies, he is blameless.” I happen to have just studied this verse. Don’t know what translation you are using there, but:

    KJV “20And if a man smite his servant, or his maid, with a rod, and he die under his hand; he shall be surely punished. 21Notwithstanding, if he continue a day or two, he shall not be punished: for he [is] his money.

    NIV “20“Anyone who beats their male or female slave with a rod must be punished if the slave dies as a direct result, 21but they are not to be punished if the slave recovers after a day or two, since the slave is their property.”

    NLT “20“If a man beats his male or female slave with a club and the slave dies as a result, the owner must be punished. 21But if the slave recovers within a day or two, then the owner shall not be punished, since the slave is his property.”

    Strong’s says the original word for “continues” (amad or עָמַד) means “to stand.” So the newer translation are closer to right on this one: If a man beats his slave so that he dies, it is murder. But if the slave “stands” (recovers) he is blameless.”

    If the slave doesn’t die but loses time in productivity, his clock to freedom keeps ticking. The owner is just out the time lost.

    OK, so I’ve read wrong on the puritan slavery. The point was, though, it was the other English and Spanish settlers that started the wars with the Indians. That first Puritan colony worked in partnership with their neighbor Indians.

  8. Well, starting with Isaiah 7:14, I read that as there being a division there (though I admit it isn't obvious). Verse 3 God tells Isaiah to take his small son along to talk to king Ahaz. "14 Therefore the Lord himself shall give you a sign; Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel. 15 Butter and honey shall he eat, that he may know to refuse the evil, and choose the good. [Jesus was born during the Pax Romana, which was a time of enough prosperity that it was possible to eat butter and honey- now a change of subject from the Messiah to Ahaz'a current concerns...] 16 For before the child [standing here by me side] shall know to refuse the evil, and choose the good, the land that thou abhorrest shall be forsaken of both her kings."

    Ahaz refused to pick a sign of God being in control so God gave him two signs: the virgin birth of Messiah (which he wouldn't actually live to see) and the destruction of the threatening nations before Isaiah's own son was old enough to know right from wrong.

    My research says Matthew was writing to Jews in Antioch, people who would have know the scripture well. Also, Mark likely used Matthew and Peter (a Jew) as his sources, while Luke (highly educated) used Matthew, Mark and Paul as well as other Christians as his sources. Yet none of these later writers or sources say Matthew was wrong. Neither do we have any mention of disagreement in the first two centuries to Matthew's interpretation (while we do have records of some doctrinal disagreement from the time). This leads me to believe maybe we, 2000 years later, are missing something and need to research more. I, of course, believe my interpretation is the right way to look at this verse :-D

    I'm not sure there is such a thing as a "wrong type of question." :-)

    Frankly, though my stats show roughly 1000 hits a month (actually that's a very low number, really not many people at all reading), no one else talks to me. I have no idea who reads. I seriously doubt any real friends or relatives do. I'll put up a post asking.

    The only thing I would ask is the same thing you would ask of me: keep you mind open.

    Ultimately, no matter the evidence one way or another, you can't be talked into a belief in God. It must be a choice. That is what we call "faith." Each human being must choose if they are going to place their faith (and ALL humans have faith) in God, gods, or humanity/science. I can give reasons for my choices, but ultimately no matter how good or bad those reasons you have to make that choice yourself.

    1. Verse 3 is a great catch! It makes your reading go from "defensible" to "plausible." Well PLAYED there, Betty. :D

      Though I /will/ say that "butter and honey" was actually evidence for me that the whole passage IS bound to Isaiah's time. Because if you look down a few verses, you'll see the phrase again -- in the context of an immediately-post-conquest Israel.

      "18 In that day the Lord will whistle for flies from the Nile delta in Egypt and for bees from the land of Assyria. 19 They will all come and settle in the steep ravines and in the crevices in the rocks, on all the thornbushes and at all the water holes." (Verse 20 snipped -- it's the "king of Assyria" verse. It IS relevant to note that verse 20 also starts with "in that day.") "21 In that day, a person will keep alive a young cow and two goats. 22 And because of the abundance of the milk they give, there will be curds to eat." I'm using NIV, which says "curds" where your translation will presumably say "butter." But either way, I promise it's the same Hebrew phrase you find in verse 15 -- the other "dairy and honey" verse.* "All who remain in the land will eat curds and honey. 23 In that day, in every place where there were a thousand vines worth a thousand silver shekels, there will be only briers and thorns. 24 Hunters will go there with bow and arrow, for the land will be covered with briers and thorns. 25 As for all the hills once cultivated by the hoe, you will no longer go there for fear of the briers and thorns; they will become places where cattle are turned loose and where sheep run."

      So for me, "butter and honey" isn't linked to a peaceful and prosperous time in the future; it's the sustenance that God will provide for whoever's left in the lands.

      I think mine is a more natural reading, but I'll also admit that "more natural" and "right" aren't synonyms. Reasonable people can disagree on this for sure. :) (May I just add I find it funny that the Biblical literalist is saying "Well, hold on here, there's a subtle clause that indicates that in fact the plain meaning ISN'T so plain." and the unbeliever's going "No, I think the simplest reading is also the right one.")

      And re: open-mindedness: of course! I try to be as open-minded and even-handed as I can.

      I will of course fall /short/ of that, and there's a part of me that thinks "an open mind is like a fortress with its gates unbarred and unguarded," as the proverb has it.** But I try to IGNORE that impulse, and if you ever think I'm being unfair -- or even just too rigid! -- in my reading, I really *do* want you to call me on it.

      * If you wanna check my source on the "same-Hebrew-phrase" claim, see (and you can cross-check with Chabad's version @ -- click "show Rashi" if you want to see prrrrobably the most famous Jewish commentary on the text). Ain't I thorough? :)

      ** It's a, uh, totally made-up proverb invented by a sci-fi writer, but still! You gotta admit it's a real catchy phrase.

    2. You might be right about the butter and honey. I will study that closer in the future:)

      We know the chapter isn't talking just about Isaiah's son (surly he knew the kid wasn't born of a virgin) or just about Christ (due to the timing of the Assyrian conquest). It is a bit difficult. I think I'm right (of course, lol) but see that it needs to be studied more in depth.

      ** :-) "Be careful with an open mind. What's inside might fall out."

      I do believe that the simplest reading is usually the right one, but not all scriptures can be read simply (like this one). We have to use wisdom and sometimes just go with the best guess based on the information we have available.

  9. Another option would be to start a new blog just for discussions like this. Blogger lets you have as many as you want.


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