Saturday, June 22, 2013

FacePalm of the Day - F**ked-up Heroes of the Bible: Samson

Given the success of films like Man of Steel and Iron Man 3, a post like this one disparaging Biblical heroes on Debunking Christianity is not really surprising. My only surprise is that it seemed to take this long! Unlike Kal El and Anthony Stark and other fictional heroes, the people we read about in the Bible are truly human - same frailties and weaknesses. Just like us, they had to depend on God for successes and victories. This is to be expected 

16 Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective.17 Elijah was a human being, even as we are. He prayed earnestly that it would not rain, and it did not rain on the land for three and a half years. 18 Again he prayed, and the heavens gave rain, and the earth produced its crops. - James 5:16-18

F**ked-up Heroes of the Bible: Samson:

With as irate as fundamentalist Christians get about sex and violence (well, sex at least- they are pretty okay with violence) in movies, it is surprising the kind Bible stories that get passed off as appropriate for the kiddies. Sunday School lessons are populated with all sorts of unsavory characters plucked from the pages of the Good Book, sanitized and shined up to be presented to impressionable children. Christians are so desensitized to the nature of what is really going on in the stories that they fail to see that maybe - just maybe - these Hall of Shame members are not the best role models for kids to look up to.

This article by J.M. Green attempts to show that heroes in the Bible should not be looked up but failed to be heroic. It seems that this is meant to be a series of articles. It will be interesting to see if he can explain why the people he choose to spotlight weren't heroic and why he seems so very angry at the suggestion that they are worthy of being looked up to. I do admit that in Sunday Schools, an incomplete picture of these people are shown to children and the Biblically illiterate. Terrible things about their character and actions are glossed over and no discussed although they are clearly in the Biblical text. This is not a good thing. However presenting those things out of context and with no understanding, as Green does, is equally silly. 

Today’s example: Samson, who even has been immortalized as an children's action figure.

Pretty Cool but I doubt he dressed like that. 

Samson’s sordid saga is detailed in Judges, chapters 13 through 16. It is like one long and violent soap opera. For the sake of brevity, we’ll just hit the low-lights as I present evidence that this hero of the faith (Hebrews 11:32) was just a scoundrel living the thug life.

Wow. Tough words. I think terms like "scoundrel" and "thug" are unwarranted. I'd like to see what about Green makes him better than Samson. Anyone who knows Samson's story would agree that he was not the most moral or best person ever. Samson made a lot of bad decisions. But before going on remember what Hebrews 11:32 says about why Samson was a "Hero of Faith"

32 And what more shall I say? I do not have time to tell about Gideon, Barak, Samson and Jephthah, about David and Samueland the prophets, 33 who through faith conquered kingdoms,administered justice, and gained what was promised; who shut the mouths of lions, 34 quenched the fury of the flames, and escaped the edge of the sword; whose weakness was turned to strength; and who became powerful in battle and routed foreign armies. - Hebrews 11:32-34

Let's compare what Green says with what the Bible says and what "faith" is. 

First of all, let me set up the story by saying that in chapter 13 of Judges, we find out right away that Samson is going to be special because his mom is infertile and the ‘angel of the Lord’ shows up and informs her that she is going to have a baby. There is a definite pattern throughout the Bible of women turning up pregnant after a visit from an angel. Ladies, just to be on the safe side, if you are ever visited by an angel, keep those knees together!

Yes Green tries to be funny...and fails. The angel does not touch Samson's mother at all in the text. Reduced to lying on angels....well Green has to use what he has in absence of any real arguments. 

Anyway, his mom is told that he is not to have booze, forbidden foods, or haircuts. He gets the rock star look, without the partying. But, he will get the chicks, oh yes he will!

Hmmm...wonder if Green knows what a Nazirite is? Does he know what it signified in the Laws of Moses? Guess not He should have read Numbers 6
Exhibit 1:

One day when Samson was in Timnah, one of the Philistine women caught his eye. When he returned home, he told his father and mother, “A young Philistine woman in Timnah caught my eye. I want to marry her. Get her for me.” His father and mother objected. “Isn’t there even one woman in our tribe or among all the Israelites you could marry?” they asked. “Why must you go to the pagan Philistines to find a wife?” But Samson told his father, “Get her for me! She looks good to me.” His father and mother didn’t realize the LORD was at work in this, creating an opportunity to work against the Philistines, who ruled over Israel at that time. Judges 14:1-4 (NLT)

Basically, Samson is a horndog who dates pagan women. He has all the charm of a cave man: “Me want woman!” Not the best example for Christian children. But happily, our hero’s desire for bad girls is all part of God’s secret plan to ass-whip the Philistines.

Evidence for Samson being a "horn dog"? He is going to marry a woman who want to marry him. His parents knew the trouble it would cause him, that is why they did not want her to pursue this. It is funny how some atheists complain that God does not intervene in human affairs and yet here is one clear case where God did and God intervenes today. And here is Green complaining about God about to deliver Israel from the Philistines just because he does not like the way God is doing it.  Whine much?

Exhibit 2:

As Samson and his parents were going down to Timnah, a young lion suddenly attacked Samson near the vineyards of Timnah. At that moment the Spirit of the LORD came powerfully upon him, and he ripped the lion’s jaws apart with his bare hands. He did it as easily as if it were a young goat. But he didn’t tell his father or mother about it. When Samson arrived in Timnah, he talked with the woman and was very pleased with her. Judges 14:5-7 (NLT)

It is widely known that torturing animals is a warning indicator that you just might be a psychopath. That, along with lighting fires and late bedwetting. The Bible is silent as to whether Samson had incontinence problems, so we’re two out of three on the psycho checklist. But, it’s all good because it was the Spirit of the Lord that made him do it. As you will see, every time Samson is touched by the Spirit, he clicks into Viking berserker mode and death and destruction are unleashed. Anyway, the Philistine chick was indeed one hot mamma, and that made Samson happy.

Reading comprehension appears to be a lost art in this case. The text clearly says that the lion attacked Samson and Samson was defending himself! I'm assuming that Green is hot and bothered about Samson tying torches and foxes together and setting Philistine fields on fire and accusing Samson of being an arsonist. Has Green ever heard of scorched earth tactics in warfare? The Philistines had subjugated and oppressed his people. Granted that wasn't why Samson began to fight them, but God used Samson's personality against Israel's enemies Additionally, how does Green know that that the foxes were hurt in anyway? He doesn't. Do I think I should behave and think like Samson did? Nope. But was Samson psychotic? Double Nope.

Exhibit 3:

Later, when he returned to Timnah for the wedding, he turned off the path to look at the carcass of the lion. And he found that a swarm of bees had made some honey in the carcass. He scooped some of the honey into his hands and ate it along the way. He also gave some to his father and mother, and they ate it. But he didn’t tell them he had taken the honey from the carcass of the lion. Judges 14:8-9 (NLT)

Okay, so the dude is now scooping honey out of the rotting lion corpse, and giving it to his parents to eat. Creepy and sick! His depravity knows no bounds. This Bible hero is a psycho, for sure.

Unsanitary? Maybe. Some Bees made a hive in the lion corpse. It wasn't even the same day that Samson killed the lion. Depraved? Nope. Depravity is exampled by rejecting God. Psycho is hurting yourself and others when there is a way out of your servitude to sin and death. 

Next, Samson makes a riddle-bet with thirty young gentlemen. If they solve the riddle, then he has to buy them all some fancy new designer togas. They end up putting the pressure on Samson’s bride, who worms the info out of him. They then give the correct answer to Samson, and boy, is he pissed. Apparently the Spirit of the Lord was pissed too, as we shall see.

Samson is just a man. He behaved poorly. This part of the story is clearly describing what happened not prescribing how you or I should behave. 

Exhibit 4:

Then the Spirit of the LORD came powerfully upon him. He went down to the town of Ashkelon, killed thirty men, took their belongings, and gave their clothing to the men who had solved his riddle. But Samson was furious about what had happened, and he went back home to live with his father and mother. So his wife was given in marriage to the man who had been Samson’s best man at the wedding. Judges 14:19-20 (NLT)

Hello! This is just all kinds of wrong. Samson goes and kills thirty strangers so that he can steal their clothes and pay the riddle-winners. We can only hope he at least laundered the clothes before he gifted them, but the Bible doesn’t really say. Apparently, murdering strangers in order to steal their clothes was perfectly alright in this case, because the Spirit of the Lord empowered him to do it. When God moves us to kill and steal, who are we to argue with him – right? After all this ruckus, he is so butt-hurt that he decides to move back in with mom and dad. The final humiliation? Samson’s best man scores his bride. Needless to say, Samson is not a happy camper when he finds out.

Samson killed thirty Philistines who were part of the people and were oppressing them? Do you really want to go there? Really? It wasn't murder. It doesn't say that these guys were innocent in the slightest. Again should I do as Samson did? No way. Of course Samson went back to his Parents. Was he supposed to stay and live in Philistine town with a woman whom he cannot trust. I find it way more creepy and stupid to think that was a good idea than eating honey from a lion carcass 

That's all for now, kids.  The amazing story of our  Bible hero Samson will be continued in Part 2.

Written by J. M. Green

Oh goodie! More fail. 

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