Saturday, June 29, 2013

FacePalm of the Day - Debunking Christianity: F**ked-up Heroes of the Bible: Samson (continued)

J.M. Green is at it again. He attempts to mine the Biblical story of Samson to show that it does not makes since and fails to do so. Hilarity ensues.

Recap: In Part 1, our hero has met a hot lady whom he wants to marry. He loses a riddle bet due some trickery by the aforementioned lady friend, and is forced to kill thirty guys so he can steal their clothes to pay the bet. He’s bummed, so he bunks out at his mom and dad’s, and while he’s gone, his disloyal fiancé marries the best man from the canceled wedding. Time for some good, old-fashioned revenge!

First and foremost, as I commented in the last post, Samson as just a man. Same frailties and kinds of sins. Wouldn't you want revenge after all of that? Fortunately we don't have to make the same mistakes Samson made. What I get most out of Samson's failures is that God is so powerful and merciful that he can use our issues to glorify Himself and help His people. 

Exhibit 5:

Samson said, “This time I cannot be blamed for everything I am going to do to you Philistines.” Then he went out and caught 300 foxes. He tied their tails together in pairs, and he fastened a torch to each pair of tails. Then he lit the torches and let the foxes run through the grain fields of the Philistines. He burned all their grain to the ground, including the sheaves and the uncut grain. He also destroyed their vineyards and olive groves.
Judges 15:3-5 (NLT)
Arson and animal cruelty. That’s two out of three of the psychopath indicators. Definitely not PETA-approved,and we have the deliberate destruction of private property.

Again, nothing is being said that the foxes were harmed in any way and the private property belonged to people who were oppressing and subjugating his people.  Samson was waging a one-man war.

The Bible is silent as to whether the Spirit helped him with his vengeful destruction. Samson’s fiery fox assault sets off a chain of events in which the Philistines retaliate and kill Samson’s ex-fiancé and her father by burning them alive. Fighting fire with fire, I guess. I don’t remember this part of the story being mentioned in my Sunday School days! I guess they didn't have any flannel graph figures of people being burnt alive that they could use. Either that or my mind blocked the traumatic memories. This, of course, makes Samson angrier and he kills a bunch of Philistines and then camps out in a cave.

So the good and righteous Philistines executed two of their own people (Judges 15:6) because they were too cowardly to attack Samson. Green seems to forget who the bad guy is.

The Philistines start hunting for him in Judah, which makes the Judahites nervous. 3000 men of Judah erop by Samson’s Flintstone abode, for a visit. They’re like “Dude, you’ve pissed off the Philistines and they’re our rulers, so now we have to turn you over to them.” And he’s like “Well, okay I guess, but just promise me that you’ll only tie me up, but not kill me.” And they did what he asked.

Many of the Israelites at the time fear the Philistines so much that they were willing to turn over one of their own to the Philistines rather than fight for their own freedom. I think this was also from God. We see God miraculously using one man to free them all in a way that it could only have been God.

Exhibit 6:

As Samson arrived at Lehi, the Philistines came shouting in triumph. But the Spirit of the LORD came powerfully upon Samson, and he snapped the ropes on his arms as if they were burnt strands of flax, and they fell from his wrists. Then he found the jawbone of a recently killed donkey. He picked it up and killed 1,000 Philistines with it.
Judges 15:14-15 (NLT)
Holy Ghost tweaker Samson channels the Incredible Hulk, busting his rope bonds like they were mere spaghetti noodles. Using a donkey jawbone, he proceeds to ass-whip the Philistines to death, adding an even thousand names to his kill list. Creative weapon choice. Not what I'd pick, but hey, anything can happen in the Bible! It’s important to have faith when reading passages like this, since it’s pretty ridiculous to try and imagine how one guy playing whack-a-mole with a donkey jaw could have taken out that many men. But once you start believing some of the crazy stuff in the Bible, you’re kind of stuck with the whole truckload. Who knows, maybe the Spirit hypnotized them and they all marched up single file to get whacked.

Green obviously has not seen a donkey's jawbone and wouldn't you think that if Samson was strong enough to do all the physical feats the Bible says he did, that superhuman strength means that just about anything Samson put his hands on would be an effective weapon ? I would. Honesty would help Green a lot in understanding what the Bible says.

Samson as a hero of the faith? Well, this guy might be ideal for running a Comumbian [Columbian?] drug cartel, but certainly not a good role-model for kids. And about this energizing Spirit – somewhere between the Old and New Testaments, I guess, it switched from turning people into stone killers, to making them speak in tongues. Slight career change.

Calling Samson a "hero of faith" is not referring to everything he did or thought. Although God was using him throughout the story it wasn't about Samson being a man of faith He did what he did when he wanted to do it. God used what Samson did but it wasn't until later he could be considered a role model.

Exhibit 7:

One day Samson went to the Philistine town of Gaza and spent the night with a prostitute. Word soon spread that Samson was there, so the men of Gaza gathered together and waited all night at the town gates. They kept quiet during the night, saying to themselves, “When the light of morning comes, we will kill him.”

But Samson stayed in bed only until midnight. Then he got up, took hold of the doors of the town gate, including the two posts, and lifted them up, bar and all. He put them on his shoulders and carried them all the way to the top of the hill across from Hebron.
Judges 16:1-3 (NLT)
Doing the naughty with hookers and stealing city property. Any questions, kids? You can ask your parents.

They shut the gates to keep him in the city. Samson carried the gate showing that they could not contain him. The hooker? Nope not a good choice on Samson's part. This is why he is not yet the man spoken of in Hebrews.

Exhibit 8:

Some time later Samson fell in love with a woman named Delilah, who lived in the valley of Sorek. The rulers of the Philistines went to her and said, “Entice Samson to tell you what makes him so strong and how he can be overpowered and tied up securely. Then each of us will give you 1,100 pieces of silver.”

So Delilah said to Samson, “Please tell me what makes you so strong and what it would take to tie you up securely.”
Judges 16:4-6 (NLT)
Finally, Samson shared his secret with her. “My hair has never been cut,” he confessed, “for I was dedicated to God as a Nazirite from birth. If my head were shaved, my strength would leave me, and I would become as weak as anyone else.”
Judges 16:17 (NLT)
Samson should have stuck with hookers. This poor guy sure is unlucky in love! His new girlfriend keeps on pestering him, and like a fool, he tells her that his superpowers come from his magic hair. A barber’s razor is his Kryptonite. She was talking about tying him up, so maybe he thought she was into S&M and bondage. Instead of getting freaky, she sells him out, for a big payday. Not sure what moral lessons are to be gained here. Never trust a woman? Keep the details of your superpowers top secret? Kinky sex will make you go blind… but I am getting ahead of myself. Anyway, poor Delilah has gotten a bad rap all these years. Who knows, she may have really needed the money for a boob job or a new camel or something.

Delilah deserves the bad rap she betrayed Samson for money. However Samson was an idiot. Twice, he lied to her about the source of his strength and twice he woke up with her trying to take his strength away. Why was he dumb enough to trust her a third time? How many times have you done something stupid just to make a love interest happy? We all know what's that like. Again Samson is not the man referred to in the Book of Hebrews...yet! In addition the lesson here is to obey God and protect your relationship with God. Samson's hair was not the source of his power - God was. Samson's hair was a symbol of his covenant with God. When he cavalierly told Delilah about his hair he threw his relationship with God under the bus

I’d also like to take a moment and point out that it seems God got confused, or changed his mind. According the Apostle Paul:

Isn't it obvious that it's disgraceful for a man to have long hair?
1 Corinthians 11:14 (NLT)
Hmmm…, so Samson’s long hair was mandated by God, and was the source of blessing and power. Come the New Testament, it’s disgraceful for a man to have long hair. I guess maybe God’s grooming taste changed, somewhere along the way.

Green should have read further:

 13 Judge for yourselves: Is it proper for a woman to pray to God with her head uncovered? 14 Does not the very nature of things teach you that if a man has long hair, it is a disgrace to him, 15 but that if a woman has long hair, it is her glory? For long hair is given to her as a covering. 16 If anyone wants to be contentious about this, we have no other practice—nor do the churches of God. - 1 Corinthians 11:13-16

Therefore no where is God saying that men should never have long hair. Remember the Nazirites in the the Book of Numbers?  Remember, kids, context matters.

Delilah lulled Samson to sleep with his head in her lap, and then she called in a man to shave off the seven locks of his hair. In this way she began to bring him down, and his strength left him.
Then she cried out, “Samson! The Philistines have come to capture you!”
When he woke up, he thought, “I will do as before and shake myself free.” But he didn’t realize the LORD had left him.
Judges 16:19-20 (NLT)
At this point God is finally fed up with Samson and bails on him. Yahweh didn’t have a problem with animal torture, pyromania, murder, theft, hookers, and mass slaughter… but a haircut? Well, even God has his limits!
So the Philistines captured him and gouged out his eyes. They took him to Gaza, where he was bound with bronze chains and forced to grind grain in the prison.
But before long, his hair began to grow back
Judges 16:21-22 (NLT)
Well, our hero of faith has hit a small setback. Blind, shackled, and doing hard labor. Fortunately for him though, the Philistines are dumbasses who forgot to keep his magic hair shaved. And his hair is growing… Hair grows! Who knew?

I wonder if Green actually understood the story. Maybe a different translation would help. Samson was allowed to be brought so low so that he would get closer to God. He was not so stupid not to get closer to God in those weeks and months when he was blind and shackled and doing hard labor. I bet he was praying longer and harder than he ever had in his life. God didn't leave Samson Samson left Him. Samson had begun to think that the power was his and he could just go out like before and kick Philistine butt.  He had began to think that he didn't need God. Same mistake that Atheists like Green continue to make.

Our man is down, but not out. The Samson saga will have a grand finale in which our hero goes out in a blaze of glory, thus securing his place as an MVP in the Faith Hall of Fame!

Exhibit 9:
The Philistine rulers held a great festival, offering sacrifices and praising their god, Dagon. They said, “Our god has given us victory over our enemy Samson!”

When the people saw him, they praised their god, saying, “Our god has delivered our enemy to us! The one who killed so many of us is now in our power!”

Half drunk by now, the people demanded, “Bring out Samson so he can amuse us!” So he was brought from the prison to amuse them, and they had him stand between the pillars supporting the roof.

Samson said to the young servant who was leading him by the hand, “Place my hands against the pillars that hold up the temple. I want to rest against them.” Now the temple was completely filled with people. All the Philistine rulers were there, and there were about 3,000 men and women on the roof who were watching as Samson amused them.

Then Samson prayed to the LORD, “Sovereign LORD, remember me again. O God, please strengthen me just one more time. With one blow let me pay back the Philistines for the loss of my two eyes.” Then Samson put his hands on the two center pillars that held up the temple. Pushing against them with both hands, he prayed, “Let me die with the Philistines.” And the temple crashed down on the Philistine rulers and all the people. So he killed more people when he died than he had during his entire lifetime.
Judges 16:23-30 (NLT)

Our tale finishes out with a heartwarming ending. The evil Philistines gather to worship their god, Dagon and to gloat over Samson’s capture. Samson braces himself against the pillars of the temple and sends up a prayer to God asking for strength one last time, for vengeance. Yes boys and girls, if there is ever a pr or Dirty Harry proud. The Good Lord grants Samson’s request (being pleased that his magic tresses had regrown), empowering our righteous warrior to literally bring down the house, snuffing all 3,000 men and women. To put it into perspective, Samson’s final act was equivalent to the September 11th terrorist attack on the Twin Towers, killing roughly the same amount of people. And yes, it was a suicide mission.

Green manages to be highly controversial here. The 3000 people in the Temple of Dagon were not innocent. They were there to disrespect God. They were there to mock God and God's people. They literally deserved what they got. What about the people that died in the 9-11 terrorist attacks? They were killed by people in the name of  the wrong god. A god that does not exist. The God that empowered Samson was and is and will always be. Everything is God's and God can do anything God wants in any way God wants. That's the difference

As the Bible helpfully points out, Samson killed more people in his death than he did in his life. It would appear that despite a personal life worthy of extensive National Enquirer coverage, Mr. S was ensconced in the Faith Hall of Fame because of this ‘redeeming’ factor: He murdered a lot of people who worshiped a different god than he did, and if we know anything about the Lord, we know that he is a jealous god. Kids, if you are willing to kill for God, then you too can be famous! Remember how Samson did his god’s dirty work and got his name in lights. Or at least, that’s how the story goes… if you can believe the Good Book.

Written by J. M. Green

Green is profoundly wrong. Samson is not in the "roll call of faith" in Hebrews 11 because he managed to kill a bunch of people. He is in the Faith Hall of Fame because God elevated Samson above his own frailties and he learned to trust God. Samson did not live the kind of life he was supposed to do but he didn't become part of the roll call of faith until he lost everything and got closer to God! You can do the same.

Debunking Christianity: F**ked-up Heroes of the Bible: Samson (continued)
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