Why is there so much bad stuff in the Bible?

The naive answer:

There is no bad stuff in the Bible. Some passages seem bad, but the world is full of Evil that must be dealt with.

The problem with the naive answer:

The bad passages of the Bible provide no guidance for dealing with the world today. They often illustrate vulgarity and brutality endorsed by God. Parents would be appalled to find their children reading such passages in any other book.

The scholar’s answer:

Most stories in the Bible, especially in the Old Testament, do not contain moral guidance. The stories are a record of events as people believed the events happened. People today are more sensitive to the vulgarities of living and more actively suppress exposure of such to children. Stories also reflect the morals of the times, when women were property and the rape of a woman was a crime against the man that owned the woman, not the woman herself.

Here are a few examples of bad stuff in the Bible:

  • Ezekiel 23:20 - Woman lusts after lovers whose genitals are like those of donkeys.
  • 1 Samuel 5-6 - To appease God for a plague of hemorroids, the Philistines create five images of Hemorroids in gold.
  • 1 Kings 11 - Polygamy. King Solomon had 700 wives and 300 concubines.
  • Genesis 38:8-10 - God kills Onan for failing to impregnate his brother’s widow.
  • Leviticus 15:19-20 When a woman has her period, she shall be set apart for seven days; and whoever touches her shall be unclean until evening. Everything that she lies on or sits on during her impurity shall be unclean.
  • Deuteronomy 25:11-12 If two men fight together, and the wife of one touches the genitals of her husbands attacker, then you shall cut off her hand.
  • Deuteronomy 21:18-21 If a man has a stubborn and rebellious son, all the men of the city shall stone him to death.
  • Deuteronomy 23:1 No one whose testicles are crushed or whose penis is cut off shall be admitted to the assembly of the LORD.
  • Psalms 137:9 Happy is the one who seizes your infants and dashes their heads against the rocks.
  • Job 2:3 God destroys Job’s family for no reason.
  • Isaiah 13:9-16 God dashes babies to pieces and rapes wives.
  • Judges 11:30-39 God rewards Jephthah for burning his daughter as a sacrifice to him.
  • Exodus 21:7 When a man sells his daughter as a slave, she will not be freed at the end of six years as the men are.
  • Genesis 19 Lot’s daughters get him drunk and have sex with him.

Logically, we can conclude that many stories in the Bible are not suitable for children, and many stories of the Bible are immoral by our standards today. Just because the Bible provides a few passages of good moral guidance does not justify accepting every verse as moral and correct. It does not imply that the Bible is “the” source of morality. Many books other than the Bible provide stories of moral guidance without the inclusion of disturbing and immoral stories.

Some references for further research: