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Constitution Education Faith

Teacher Confiscates Bible from 2nd grader

When is “read what you want” time not actually read what you want? When you are in a public school and what you want to read is the Bible. The parents of a 2nd grader at Hamilton Elementary School in Cypress, Texas say that when their daughter began reading her Bible during free reading time… her teacher confiscated her Bible.

When their daughter returned home and told her parents about the incident, they were mortified. They immediately contacted the Liberty Institute to look for guidance and support.

Michael Berry, senior counsel with the Liberty Institute, says the alleged incident happened about two weeks ago. He added that Hamilton Elementary’s library contains copies of the Bible.

“So if it’s appropriate for their own library, why on earth would it not be appropriate for their own students?” said Berry.

KHOU in Houston spoke with two different parents on the issue.

Parent Jennifer Muse found the news upsetting.

“They are letting them read the Hunger Games, that’s kids killing kids, why can’t she read the Bible,” said Muse.

But one parent KHOU spoke with says the teacher did the right thing, adding “there should be a definite separation.”

nobibleThe ridiculous statement made by the second unnamed parent must be pointed out. One parent believed that the teacher did “the right thing,” because “there should be a definite separation.” It is instructive of how out of touch our culture has become with what the Constitution actually says. There is no separation of Church and State in the Constitution or the Bill of Rights. The premise comes from a letter written by Thomas Jefferson to a Baptist congregation in Maine that feared overreaching government power. An extreme view of separation of church and state has become part of the common American belief system and it is terrifying.

This parent believes that the “separation of church and state” is meant even for a child reading her Bible during free time in school! Their version of separation is actually religious oppression.

Let me help clear things up for everyone. You are free to practice your religion in any way you see fit, as long as it does not infringe on the rights of others or break state/federal laws (and even then you may sometimes get permission to do things that are normally illegal if it is a sincere part of your religion). Kids (and adults) can practice their faith freely in public schools, in government buildings, at public parks or any other public place. The separation of church and state doctrine says that the federal (and our courts have added states) cannot give preference to one religion over another religion or (non-religion).

A little girl reading her Bible during a free reading time doesn’t mean the state is giving preference to her religion. Far from it.

Let’s stop the insanity.

The views expressed in this opinion article are solely those of their author and are not necessarily either shared or endorsed by EagleRising.com


About the author

Onan Coca

Onan is the Editor-in-Chief at Romulus Marketing. He's also the managing editor at Eaglerising.com, Constitution.com and the managing partner at iPatriot.com. You can read more of his writing at Eagle Rising.
Onan is a graduate of Liberty University (2003) and earned his M.Ed. at Western Governors University in 2012. Onan lives in Atlanta with his wife and their three wonderful children.

  • Momcat49

    Thanks! It’s the only kind of debate/conversation that can be “productive”. The rest is like folks throwing sticks & stones at each other.

  • CiberTiger

    America is nothing more then immoral pagan nation of religious oppression and tyrannical secular naziism.

  • CiberTiger

    Hussein Barrack Obama is the WORST president to ever be elected. Clinton was a fool, Obama is dangerous. Especially to Christianity. God help us. He gave america what we deserved but I sincerely hope next election that God grant us mercy and give us leaders we need. Every Bible believing Christian in this nation better be on our knees repenting and praying for the USA as Daniel did for Israel. God forgive us for our fear of complacency, moral decency and fear of being hated. Give us the strength, courage and intestinal fortitude to stand for truth, light and Christ in the face of darkness. Remind us that our enemies are nothing more then lost and deceived sinners such as we were before you pulled us out of the darkness into your glorious light. Have mercy on us Father, have mercy on us Lord for not putting first things first which is the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Jesus was, has been, always will be the answer for the world today. Help us dear Lord to live as we believe, fight for the light and stand unabashedly for the truth. Amen and amen!!

  • Loyal

    Tell it to the liberals! Oh! I guess you did, in a minute they’ll be blaming Bush!

    • Alex

      I’m afraid your point hasn’t come across well ; perhaps you could express it in a different and more comprehensible way.

  • Barbara

    Lots of them! The children of people who attend our church are very eager to learn what God has to teach through His Word and many (even preschoolers) know the Bible stories quite well.

  • Jim

    Wrong. If bail is to make sure a defendant shows up to court, then the court is assuming that the defendant is guilty and will not show up if there is no bail. I see you watch television also. amzing how you came up with that thought after it was stated in a TV show.

    • Alex

      It is not wrong. If you think it is, then show me where in all of jurisprudence it says that bail is only granted on presumption of guilt.

      There are many reasons why a defendant might not show up in court (fear of wrongful conviction is just one). Whatever they are, it has nothing to do with a presumption of guilt ; the accused MUST enter the court with a presumption of innocence.

      (You might equally argue that the accused must be presumed to be guilty by the mere fact that a prosecutor has brought a case against him. Why bother with a trial?)

  • Kenneth

    Question: “Why did God condone such terrible violence in the Old Testament?”

    Answer:
    The fact that God commanded the killing of entire nations in the Old
    Testament has been the subject of harsh criticism from opponents of
    Christianity for some time. That there was violence in the Old Testament
    is indisputable. The question is whether Old Testament violence is
    justifiable and condoned by God. In his bestselling book The God Delusion,
    atheist Richard Dawkins refers to the God of the Old Testament as “a
    vindictive, bloodthirsty ethnic cleanser.” Journalist Christopher
    Hitchens complains that the Old Testament contains a warrant for
    “indiscriminate massacre.” Other critics of Christianity have leveled
    similar charges, accusing Yahweh of “crimes against humanity.”

    But are these criticisms valid? Is the God of the Old Testament a “moral
    monster” who arbitrarily commands genocide against innocent men, women,
    and children? Was His reaction to the sins of the Canaanites
    and the Amalekites a vicious form of “ethnic cleansing” no different
    from atrocities committed by the Nazis? Or is it possible that God could
    have had morally sufficient reasons for ordering the destruction of
    these nations?

    A basic knowledge of Canaanite culture reveals its inherent moral
    wickedness. The Canaanites were a brutal, aggressive people who engaged
    in bestiality, incest, and even child sacrifice. Deviant sexual acts
    were the norm. The Canaanites’ sin was so repellent that God said, “The
    land vomited out its inhabitants” (Leviticus 18:25). Even so, the destruction was directed more at the Canaanite religion (Deuteronomy 7:3-5, 12:2-3)
    than at the Canaanite people per se. The judgment was not ethnically
    motivated. Individual Canaanites, like Rahab in Jericho, could still
    find that mercy follows repentance (Joshua 2). God’s desire is that the wicked turn from their sin rather than die (Ezekiel 18:31-32, 33:11).

    Besides dealing with national sins, God used the conquest of Canaan to
    create a religious/historical context in which He could eventually
    introduce the Messiah to the world. This Messiah would bring salvation
    not only to Israel, but also to Israel’s enemies, including Canaan (Psalm 87:4-6; Mark 7:25-30).

    It must be remembered that God gave the Canaanite people more than sufficient time to repent of their evil ways—over 400 years (Genesis 15:13-16)! The book of Hebrews tells us that the Canaanites were “disobedient,” a word that implies moral culpability on their part (Hebrews 11:31). The Canaanites were aware of God’s power (Joshua 2:10-11, 9:9) and could have sought repentance. Except in rare instances, they continued their rebellion against God until the bitter end.

    But didn’t God also command the Israelites to kill non-combatants? The
    biblical record is clear that He did. Here again, we must remember that
    while it is true the Canaanite women did not fight, this in no way means
    they were innocent, as their seductive behavior in Numbers 25 indicates (Numbers 25:1-3).
    However, the question still remains: what about the children? This is
    not an easy question to answer but we must keep several things in mind.
    First, no human person (including infants) is truly innocent. The
    Scripture teaches that we are all born in sin (Psalm 51:5, 58:3).
    This implies that all people are morally culpable for Adam’s sin in
    some way. Infants are just as condemned from sin as adults are.

    Second, God is sovereign over all of life and can take it whenever He
    sees fit. God, and God alone, can give life and God alone has the right
    to take it whenever He so chooses. In fact, He ultimately takes every
    person’s life at death. It is not our life to begin with but God’s.
    While it is wrong for us to take a life, except in instances of capital
    punishment, war, and self-defense, this does not mean that it is wrong
    for God to do so. We intuitively recognize this when we accuse some
    person or authority who takes human life as “playing God.” God is under
    no obligation to extend anyone’s life for even another day. How and when
    we die is completely up to Him.

    Third, an argument could be made that it would have been cruel for God
    to take the lives of all the Canaanites except the infants and children.
    Without the protection and support of their parents, the infants and
    small children were likely to face death anyway due to starvation. The
    chances of survival for an orphan in the ancient Near East were not
    good.

    Finally, and most importantly, God may have provided for the salvation
    for those infants who would not have otherwise attained salvation if
    they had lived into adulthood. We must remember that the Canaanites were
    a barbarous and evil culture. If those infants and children had lived
    into adulthood, it is very likely they would have turned into something
    similar to their parents and been condemned to hell after they died. If
    all infants and young children who die before an age of moral accountability
    go straight to heaven (as we believe), then those children are in a far
    better place than if God had allowed them to live and grow to maturity
    in a depraved culture.

    Surely the issue of God commanding violence in the Old Testament is
    difficult. However, we must remember that God sees things from an
    eternal perspective, and His ways are not our ways (Isaiah 55:8-9). The Apostle Paul tells us that God is both kind and severe (Romans 11:22).
    While it is true that God’s holy character demands that sin be
    punished, His grace and mercy remain extended to those who are willing
    to repent and be saved. The Canaanite destruction provides us with a
    sober reminder that while our God is gracious and merciful, He is also a
    God of holiness and wrath.

    • Alex

      “But are these criticisms valid?”

      Yes.

      • Kenneth

        Actually these criticisms are based upon the false premises that God is not the ABSOLUTE moral lawgiver, or that God has no right to judge humans that He Himself created.

        Since God IS the ABSOLUTE moral law giver, and since He Himself created us and put us here on planet earth, then that means He has EVERY RIGHT to judge us according to His unchanging standards of right and wrong. He put us here, He has the irrevocable right to remove us from here.

        People such as Richard Dawkins say, that since he doesn’t acknowledge the existence of God, then that means he can stand in “judgement” of the actions of God in the old testament. In order to even be qualified to do this, a person must have an absolute standard of right and wrong to depend on, so that when he/she makes moral judgements, he can know that his judgements are true and righteous. Since the professing atheist has no absolute standard of right and wrong to depend on, then everything that comes from his mind is just his/her opinion. It’s impossible to have an absolute standard of right and wrong without an ABSOLUTE authority. And that would be God, the Creator. Atheists live by the belief in relative morality, that what may be right or wrong for you, may not be right and wrong for someone else. Relative morality and Absolute morality are mutually exclusive. The atheistic worldview (there is no God) cannot defend moral absolutes
        and thus its moral system is inconsistent and self contradictory. The
        Christian theist worldview can defend moral absolutes and thus it’s
        moral system is consistent and non-self-contradictory.

        The Christian world view is that there is an absolute and unchanging God who has existed as such from all eternity (Psalm 90:2) and who has also revealed Himself to us (John 1:1, 14; 14:6; Heb. 1:1-3). This same God has also revealed to us moral truths (Exo. 20
        – the Ten Commandments). “Do not lie,” for example, is a moral absolute because it is a reflection of God’s moral character which is, by default, absolute and unchanging. Therefore, we can easily lay claim to moral absolutes within our world view because we state that they are based upon a morally absolute God.

        Now, this does not mean that we Christians will apply these moral absolutes in an absolutely consistent manner. A critic of the Christian Worldview regarding moral absolutes cannot say they do not exist because Christians don’t exhibit them properly. This would be like saying that the absolute truth of 2 + 2 = 4 is not true because Johnny the second grader said it equals 5. In other words, a person’s failure to live or apply the absolutes does not mean they do not exist.

        Most people who do not acknowledge God’s existence had a very SKEWED view of right and wrong. They think, “Hey, if most people think it’s OK, then’s it’s OK”. In other words, majority determines right and wrong, Human opinion determines right and wrong. Well, NEWS FLASH, human opinion is VERY UNSTABLE and UNRELIABLE. Human beings have a tendency to base “right and wrong” on feelings. Like the saying goes: “If it feels good, do it”. Completely STUPID way if living life. There are many activities in the world today that make you “feel good”, but are very dangerous and destructive to engage in. Examples such as using hard drugs, or binge drinking, or having multiple sexual encounters with every person you run into.

        Richard Dawkins does not subscribe to God’s moral law. He does not believe the Bible came from God, the creator. He believes God’s standards of right and wrong are wrong. How does he come to this conclusion without an ABSOLUTE standard of right and wrong to go by? He must borrow from the Bible to argue against the Bible. He contradicts himself. If the Bible is unreliable when it comes down to what is right, and what is wrong, then Richard Dawkins can’t use the Bible’s standard to judge the actions of God, the Creator. Since God is not man, and since He is morally perfect, and since He put us here, then He has EVERY RIGHT to do what He wants with us.

        The Christian’s moral set is derived, in principle, from an absolute
        God. By definition then, the moral set is absolute as well. Since God is not self contradictory, His morals are not self-contradictory. This does not mean that we cannot misapply or misunderstand His moral absolutes. But it does mean that we have an absolute moral set from which we derive right and wrong.

        God is GRACIOUS and MERCIFUL, but He is also HOLY and RIGHTEOUS. People say, “God is harsh and mean”. And the reason they say that is that they call “good evil, and evil good.” God has put up with mankind’s wickedness for thousands of years, but that day is coming to an end…

        Logically, those holding the Christian world view can lay claim to moral absolutes since they are based on a non-contradictory God.

        The atheist doesn’t have a “moral” leg to stand on when it’s all said and done.

        • Alex

          “God IS the ABSOLUTE moral law giver,”

          In that case, why did God decide that being nice was good, and being evil was not good?

          • Kenneth

            Who says He “decided”? You’re ASSUMING that at one time God decided right and wrong. When did He do this? What proof do you have to back up this belief? There is man’s definition of “nice”, or “good”, and then there is God’s definition. As far as I understand, God is eternal, and has ALWAYS existed, so it logically follows that His definition of right and wrong never changes and is also eternal. There was NEVER a time where God “decided” right and wrong, or “defined” right and wrong. He’s ALWAYS known right from wrong. That’s why He gave mankind the scriptures, so we could also know right from wrong. Without God’s word, mankind is completely lost and clueless. I know it’s hard for us as humans to wrap our minds around this. But our minds have FINITE knowledge. God’s mind has INFINITE knowledge. So it makes logical sense that there would be things about God’s nature and existence that we don’t fully comprehend and never will.

            AlexM, when you talk about “nice”, and “good”, and “evil”, what standard are you relying on? Yours, which is flawed and based on the everwavering opinions of man, or God’s standard, which never changes. Define your terms.

            It’s interesting that you asked this question. Can I assume that you don’t agree with what God calls good, and evil? And if you don’t agree, Why? Please explain to me why you think being nice is not good, or why you think being evil is good? Why should I accept your standards of right and wrong over God’s? What makes your standards more valid and reliable then God’s?

            What makes your moral standard more than a subjective opinion or personal preference? What makes it truly binding or obligatory? Why can’t I just ignore it? Won’t our end be the same (death and the grave) either way, according to you?

            If everything ultimately must be explained by the laws of physics and chemistry, help me understand what a moral value is (does it have mass, occupy space, hold a charge, have wavelength)?

            How did matter, energy, time and chance result in a set of objective moral values? Did the big bang really spew forth “love your enemy?” If so, you have to help me understand that.

            Without referring to God’s standards, which you apparently think are flawed, please refute God’s standards. You obviously think your standards are better. Prove it.

          • Alex

            “Who says He “decided”? “

            You did. You said God is the “absolute moral lawgiver”. That’s what the words mean. God decided what was to be classed as good, and what was to be classed as bad.

            If morality absolutely comes from God, then God must have decided what was good and what was bad.

          • Kenneth

            OK. When I said that “God is the Absolute Lawgiver”, I did not mean that God decided at that time, when He gave us His laws, what good was, or what bad was. He ALREADY KNEW, Alex. He’s eternal, remember? He simply MADE US AWARE of what He already knew. Just as God’s nature never changes, neither do His standards, or His knowledge, of right and wrong. God is OMNISCIENT, His knowledge is unlimited. God doesn’t need to LEARN anything. We are the stupid ones, not Him. Again you’re making the ASSUMPTION that before God made known to us right from from wrong, He didn’t know. I never said that. You did. You obviously are referring to your own “version” or understanding of God. I believe in the God of Abraham, Issac, and Jacob, The Alpha and Omega, The Beginning and the End. The Creator of all things.

            Question: “What does it mean that God is eternal?”

            Answer: The word eternal means “everlasting, having no beginning and no end.” Psalm 90:2 tells us about God’s eternality: “Before the mountains were born or you brought forth the earth and the world, from everlasting to everlasting you are God.” Since humans measure everything in time, it is very hard for us to conceive of something that had no beginning, but has always been, and will continue forever. However, the Bible does not try to prove God’s existence or His eternality, but simply begins with the statement “In the beginning God…” (Genesis 1:1), indicating that at the beginning of recorded time, God was already in existence. From duration stretching backward without limit to duration stretching forward without limit, from eternal ages to eternal ages, God was and is forever.

            When Moses was commissioned by God to go to the Israelites with a message from Him, Moses wondered what he would tell them if they asked him what God’s name was. God’s reply is most revealing: “God said to Moses, ‘I AM WHO I AM. This is what you are to say to the Israelites: I AM has sent me to you'” (Exodus 3:14). This signifies the real being of God, His self-existence, and that He is the Being of beings. It also describes His eternality and immutability, as well as His constancy and faithfulness in fulfilling His promises, because it includes all time, past, present, and future. The sense is, not only I am what I am at present, but I am what I have been, and I am what I shall be, and shall be what I am. God’s own words about His eternality speak to us from the pages of Scripture.

            Jesus Christ, God incarnate, also verified His deity and His eternality to the people of His day by declaring to them, “Before Abraham was born, I AM” (John 8:58). It is clear that Jesus was claiming to be God in flesh because the Jews, upon hearing this statement, tried to stone Him to death. To the Jews, declaring oneself to be the eternal God was blasphemy worthy of death (Leviticus 24:16). Jesus was claiming to be eternal, just as His Father is eternal. This was declared again by John regarding the nature of Christ: “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God” (John 1:1). From before recorded time, Jesus and His Father were one in essence, and sharing equally in the attribute of eternality.

            Romans 1:20 tells us that God’s eternal nature and His eternal power are revealed to us through His creation. All men see and understand this aspect of God’s nature by the witness of the various aspects of the created order. The sun and heavenly bodies continue in their orbits century after century. The seasons come and go in their appointed time; the trees produce leaves in spring and drop them in the fall. Year after year these things continue, and no one can stop them or alter God’s plan. All of this attests to God’s eternal power and plan for the earth. One day, He will create a new heaven and new earth and they, like Him, will continue into eternity. We who belong to Christ through faith will continue through eternity as well, sharing the eternality of our God in whose image we are created.

          • Alex

            I think you may be missing the point here. Either God decided what was to be good and what was to be bad, or He did not. Since God by hypothesis is omnipotent, then He must have the ability to determine what everything can and shall be. If God did not decide what was good and was bad, then it follows that morality must be independent of God.

            “Again you’re making the ASSUMPTION that before God made known to us right from from wrong, He didn’t know.”

            That’s not the assumption I am making. It doesn’t matter when God revealed what morality was to be, what matters here is that morality depends entirely, in what you have said, on God. Therefore, being omnipotent, God could have handed down a morality code which was that killing people for no reason was good, and giving food to the poor was bad. This is a necessary consequence of the argument that morality “absolutely” depends on God.

          • Kenneth

            Without God, all morality is subjective. Like I said before, what makes your moral standard more than a subjective opinion or personal preference? What makes it truly binding or obligatory? Why can’t I just ignore it? Won’t our end be the same (death and the grave) either way, according to you?

            Your morality is subjective, and therefore, an UNRELIABLE standard of right and wrong.

            If God exists, then the objectivity of moral values, moral duties, and moral accountability is secured, but that in the absence of God, that is, if God does not exist, then morality is just a human convention, that is to say, morality is wholly subjective and non-binding. We might act in precisely the same ways that we do in fact act, but in the absence of God, such actions would no longer count as good (or evil), since if God does not exist, objective moral values do not exist. Without God, “good” and “evil” are just ideas, nothing else. Thus, we cannot truly be good without God. On the other hand, if we do believe that moral values and duties are objective, that provides moral grounds for believing in God.

            There can only be objective moral values with God.

            When we state that objective moral values exist, what we mean is that there are moral values that govern all humans, regardless of whether or not those humans want those values to govern them, like those values, or accept those values.

            If moral values were the result of popular vote, then they would only govern humans because humans had decided to allow them to govern them. Then moral values would not be objective, but rather, subjective.

            However, moral values are not subjective in this sense, in the sense that they are the complete invention of the minds of those they govern. If they were subjective in this sense, Hitler’s Germany would be no less moral than any other society, and this is not the case.

            Thus, moral values are not subjective in this sense. Instead, they are objective in the sense that they govern all humans, at all times, regardless of those individuals’ approvals.

            If God did not exist, there would not only be no concept of “ought”, there would also be no one around to conceptualize it.

            Since there is a God, there is a Higher Moral Authority, and therefore there are things we “ought” to do. One of the first and foremost of these things is that we ought to obey our God.

            Thus, moral values that govern humans stem from the existence of, and perfect qualities of, our Creator, who is an eternally objective reality. They do not come from the whimsical fancies of a transient consciousness.

            Please explain to me how humans, which, according to you, are just “more evolved” animals, can have absolute morality without God?

  • Kenneth

    Why is God seem so “cruel” in the old testament, but so “kind” in the new testament?

    Answer:

    Arnie: How’s it going, Joe? Where do things stand in your spiritual search since we last talked?

    Joe: Well, some things seem to be coming together for me,

    Arnie. But others… gee, I don’t know. there are other issues that I
    just can’t seem to resolve.

    Arnie: You know, Joe, I respect your insistence on maintaining intellectual integrity in your search for truth. God doesn’t want you to close down your mind in order to accept Christ. But on the other hand, you don’t have to have every answer to every question in place before you acknowledge Christianity as being true, or before you commit yourself to follow Christ.

    Joe: Well maybe not, Arnie, but before I pray to the God of the Bible, I’d at least like to know to which God I’m praying.

    Arnie: What do you mean by that?

    Joe: I mean that the God of the Old Testament very often seems mean and cruel and angry, while the God of the New Testament is full of love. So which is it, Arnie? You can’t have it both ways. How do you explain the harshness of God in the Old Testament?

    Arnie: A better question may be: How do we explain the mercy of God in the Old and New Testament?

    The really amazing thing is God’s mercy.

    Joe: Now it’s my turn to ask, “What do you mean?”

    Arnie: Well, God is 100% holy. Why should He ever be expected to put up with any sin or nonsense whatsoever from His creation? Instead of being amazed that He periodically calls for judgment in the Old Testament, we should be amazed that he ever shows mercy and patience. I mean, think of it, if God was not merciful, even you and I would be zapped the very instant that we’d rebel or sin in any way today.

    Joe: Interesting. But it still boggles my mind that a loving God would condone the wholesale slaughter of innocent babies such as He did in Deuteronomy 2.

    Arnie: In a fallen world, isn’t it possible that God may have to periodically authorize
    some less-than-ideal measures in order to deter further evil? Like a police officer who, in order to deal with disorder, has to use force. If you think about it, whenever God tolerated or “ordered” violent action in the Old Testament, it was to restrain evil or to deter some greater atrocity.

    Isn’t it possible that God chose to condone some less-than-ideal measures in order to restrain further evil?

    Joe: I never thought of it that way. But why did innocent babies have to pay with their lives for what their evil fathers did?

    Arnie: Innocents often necessarily pay for the sins of others. In this world our lives are inextricably intertwined. What one man does will, more often than not, in some way effect his neighbor. I may pollute the air, but you’ll then breathe the pollution. If a mother smokes crack, her baby will likely be born addicted.

    Exodus 34:6-7 cites this very principle at work. By the way, notice God’s attributes here in this Old Testament passage:

    Then the Lord passed by in front of him and proclaimed, “The Lord, the Lord God, compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in lovingkindness and truth; who keeps lovingkindness for thousands, who forgives iniquity, transgression and sin; yet He will by no means leave the guilty unpunished, visiting the iniquity of fathers on the children and on the grandchildren to the third and fourth generations.”

    It seems to me that the only alternative would be for God to perpetually purge the world by sending Noah type floods over the entire earth about every ten minutes. That wouldn’t be very realistic, would it?

    Did God Condone Infancticide?

    Joe: “Thus says the Lord of hosts, ‘…go and strike Amalek and utterly destroy all that he has, and do not spare him; but put to death both man and woman, child and infant, ox and sheep, camel and donkey.’”

    —from I Samuel 15:2-3, NASB

    So what’s up with this, man? It sounds to me like your God is a regular butcher here—slaughtering kids, women, and pets—total disregard for even the basic standards of the Geneva Conventions!

    Arnie: What initially may sound rather atrocious becomes a lot more understandable when you hear the other side of the story.

    Joe: Which is…

    Arnie: Which is—in a fallen, evil world (unlike the one that God created), there are seldom any really happy alternatives. What God eventually condoned here as necessary is certainly not what he originally envisioned as ideal.

    But let me ask you a few questions. Would you ever think it justifiable to put two teenage boys in the scope of a rifle and pull the trigger? Does that sound unthinkable, atrocious, and absolutely unjustifiable? Well, what if those teenage boys’ names were Dylan Klebold and Eric Harris? Few folks would condemn the SWAT officers who did that very thing at Columbine High School on April 20, 1999.

    Joe: So you’re comparing lots of innocent Amalekite babies to two brutal Columbine murderers?

    Arnie: Well, what is clear from history is that these so-called innocent Amalekite
    babies were part of a self-perpetuating system of evil that often defied description. There are many reasons to believe that these babies represented a rising generation of Mohammed Attas, Osama bin Ladens, and Adolf Hitlers.

    Ancient sects and nations like the Amalekites would often heat up an idol like Molech with fire until it was glowing. Then they would take their newborn babies, place them on the arms of the idol, and watch them burn to death. (Source: New Bible Dictionary, Tyndale, 1962.) At other times they would kill disabled, weak, and elderly people without so much as a second thought (Deuteronomy 25:17-18).

    In The Case for Faith (Zondervan, 2000), author Lee Strobel poses a question similar to the one you’ve asked. He says:

    [1 Samuel 15:3] sounds more like a violent and brutal God than a loving one. How can people be expected to worship him if he orders innocent children to be slaughtered?

    Apologist Norman Geisler responds,

    [The Amalekites] were not nice people. In fact, there were utterly and totally depraved. Their mission was to destroy Israel. In other words, to commit genocide… The destruction of their nation was necessitated by the gravity of their sin. Had some hardcore remnant survived, they might have resumed their aggression against the Israelites and God’s plan.

    Joe: Are you saying that the end justifies the means—that their killing some babies justifies God killing more babies?

    Arnie: In many cases, innocent people do inevitably suffer when justice is being wrought. But aside from that, when the Righteous Judge of the universe is sitting on the bench, any means that He may choose to use is self-justified. After all, He is the very creator and sustainer of human life.

    Still, there’s more to the story here than mere punishment for wickedness. In a scenario not unlike America’s 2001-2002 role in Afghanistan, God was using Israel at this time to “clean house” in a world gone awry.

    R.C. Sproul says this in Now That’s a Good Question (Tyndale, 1996):

    God said to Israel, “I am using you here in this war as an instrument of my judgment upon this nation, and I’m bringing my violence upon this unbelievably wicked people… I’m going to have them destroyed” (Deuteronomy 13:12-17).

    He said, “I am calling you out of my grace to be a holy nation. I’m tearing down in order to build something new, and out of what I build new, a holy nation, I’m going to bless all of the peoples in the world. Therefore, I want you to be separated, and I don’t want any of the influences of this pagan heritage to be mixed into my new nation that I’m establishing.” That is the reason (God) gives. People still choke on it, but if God is, indeed, holy—as I think he is—and we are as disobedient as I know we are, I think we ought to be able to handle that.

    Joe: Wasn’t God harsher in ancient times, and more loving today?

    Arnie: Josh McDowell and Don Stewart in Answers to Tough Questions (Here’s Life Publishers, 1980):

    …when the two testaments are read as they were intended, they reveal the same holy God who is rich in mercy, but who will not let sin go unpunished.

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