Sunday, August 17, 2014

RYBS: Bridle Them With Guilt

Read Your Bible Series - Week 15

Bridle Them With Guilt


This week we'll review a strange passage that is found in Malachi, the final book of the Old Testament.  Here we have a supposed prophet, Malachi, issuing warnings to the people of Israel if they break various covenants with god.  I think you'll find that one of these warnings still finds a prominent place even in our modern version of this religion.

Starting with verse 6:
"I the Lord do not change. So you, the descendants of Jacob, are not destroyed. Ever since the time of your ancestors you have turned away from my decrees and have not kept them. Return to me, and I will return to you," says the Lord Almighty.
Wait a second...  The Lord does not change?  Liar.  By my count, the "Lord" has changed more times than the Green Lantern!  Well, okay, maybe not THAT much.  But still, we do need to recognize that no matter what the Bible claims, or your local Pastor for that matter, the definition of what god is to our species seems to change as we evolve.

Funny how that works.

Malachi continues:
"But you ask, 'How are we to return?'
"Will a mere mortal rob God? Yet you rob me.
"But you ask, 'How are we robbing you?'"
How indeed!  Now there's a good question!  How does a mere mortal rob from something that created everything?
"In tithes and offerings."
Oh, of course!  Tithes and offerings - something that you are commanded to give to someone that owns, or could create, anything and everything.  Got it.

And technically, I don't think this is robbing at all.  To me, this sounds more like an example of, "failure to make timely payments."  But then again, how could the author of Malachi guilt everybody into doing something they likely can't afford if he didn't make them feel as if they had committed a crime against god?  I mean, the "Lord" had to eat, right?
"You are under a curse - your whole nation - because you are robbing me. Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. Test me in this," says the Lord Almighty, "and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that there will not be room enough to store it. I will prevent pests from devouring your crops, and the vines in your fields will not drop their fruit before it is ripe," says the Lord Almighty. "Then all the nations will call you blessed, for yours will be a delightful land," says the Lord Almighty.
Let's understand this correctly.  The "Lord Almighty" needs a proper tithe of food in his house in order for him to provide even more, "blessings" of bountiful food, crops and fruit.  I will grant the apologists out there that there isn't a direct threat of repercussions against those that didn't tithe properly.  But this directive from Malachi does suggest that if the people of Israel continue to rob the almighty, they would be missing out on a much larger prize, what with the opening of the floodgates of heaven and whatnot.

I find this absurd.

Why does this god always need people to do something before it is willing to do the right thing for people?  As a supreme being, I would see no point whatsoever in this exercise.  If you have the means to help people, or provide enough food and water for everyone, or protect their crops from being decimated by insects, then you should do it, no questions asked.  Why require those people to give you something first?  Something that you already have or could create!

Furthermore, this is direct proof that even the men that lived that long ago knew precisely how to manipulate people in such a way as to make them willing to do something against their own best interests.  It's the greatest con ever invented.  And over the past two thousand years, the techniques of that deception have done nothing but get more devious and more manipulative.

Don't believe me?  Just take a Sunday - any Sunday - at any of the various local churches and sit in on one of their services (if you're not there already.)  Then make sure you pay attention to how hard they go about selling that whole ten percent thing.

There's almost a magnificence in its cruelty.

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