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Christian values vs the Bible

As an atheist who reads the Bible daily, I sometimes wonder if Christians read the Bible at all. They sure don’t act like it.

Why do Christians think they need to dress up in their finest clothes when they go to church? The Bible certainly doesn’t say they should do that. On the contrary, it says women, at least, should not adorn themselves with expensive clothes and jewelry and stuff. Christians seem to have decided that Sunday is disobey-the-Bible day.

Why do Christians think it’s proper to call priests, monks, the Pope, etc. “Father”? Jesus clearly told his followers not to call anyone “Father” except God.

Jesus also said it was wrong to take any kind of oath. Yet Christians don’t usually seem to see taking oaths as a bad thing. Avoiding oaths seems to be more associated with atheists. Most Christians have no problem with swearing on the book that tells them not to swear by anything.

Christians generally think following your conscience is good, important, and one of the best ways to make sure you’re doing right. The Bible, on the other hand, says it’s quite possible for your conscience to mislead you, making you think you’re doing right when you’re really doing wrong. It says a lot of people have no idea that they’re doing anything wrong, so their conscience clearly isn’t doing them any good. You have to train yourself to distinguish good from evil, because your conscience is naturally so unreliable. So if the Bible is right, trusting your conscience is a terrible idea!

Some Christians think it’s wrong for a couple to live together when they’re not married. But not only does the Bible not forbid that, it commands it in certain cases.

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Does God listen to humans?

Yes, he does it all the time

The Bible is full of stories where God listens to humans and does what they ask.

More than once, when God was tempted to destroy all of Israel except Moses, Moses pointed out some reasons he shouldn’t do that. And God decided to let his people live. On the journey to the promised land, the Israelites said they wished they had meat, and God heard them and gave them meat.

When Moses, Aaron, and Samuel called on God’s name, he answered them. When Samuel cried out to God because the Philistines were attacking Israel, God answered him and scared the Philistines away.

When David asked God to stop killing innocent people instead of punishing the person who had displeased him, God answered his prayer and did as he asked. (He was only willing to do that after David made a sacrifice, though.) God didn’t ignore David; he listened to his cries for help.

When Solomon expressed his desire for the temple he built to be God’s home forever, God heard him and agreed to what he said. And just as Solomon asked, he promised to listen whenever people prayed toward that temple.

When God made Jeroboam’s hand shrivel up and Jeroboam asked a prophet to ask God to fix it, God did so. When Asa asked God to help him defeat the vast Cushite army, God struck them down. When Manasseh the evil king of Judah was captured by the Assyrians, he repented and prayed, and God let him go home. Hezekiah had Isaiah pray for God to listen to the Assyrians mocking him, and God responded by sending an angel to kill a bunch of Assyrians and scare the rest away.

When the Arameans tried to kill Jehoshaphat of Judah because they mistook him for the evil king of Israel, he cried out and God rescued him. Later, Jehoshaphat told God that a hopelessly vast army of multiple nations was attacking Judah. He pointed out that it was God’s fault that those nations were there, and that God was expected to save his people from disaster when they cried out to him at his temple. So he did.

Elisha prayed for God to bring a boy back to life, and to manipulate what certain people could or couldn’t see, and God did everything he asked. When Jeremiah spoke to God on behalf of other people, he turned his wrath away from them. Jonah was eaten alive by a fish, but then he called to God for help, and God listened and answered his cry.

God listens and complies even when you might think he wouldn’t

In the days of the judges, whenever Israel was taken over by their enemies, God would hear the people lamenting their oppression and would send someone to save them. Even after he claimed he was never going to save them again, he couldn’t help sending someone to rescue them when they asked him to.

The Israelites asked for a human king, and even though God was displeased, he listened to them and gave them a king. And when Samuel called on God to send a storm out of season as a sign of his disapproval, God did just what Samuel said. Then when the king needed to know why God had stopped helping him, he asked God to communicate through various instruments of divination to indicate who had done wrong, and God complied.

Abraham repeatedly asked God to spare the city of Sodom if he could find enough righteous people there, and God wasn’t bothered; he agreed every time. When God heard how upset Hezekiah was that God had decided he would never recover from his illness, God changed his plan and let Hezekiah recover. When Ezekiel pointed out how abhorrent God’s orders were, God changed his command to make it a little less horrible. When Amos objected to the things God was planning to do to his people, God canceled his plans.

When Gideon was skeptical and asked for miraculous proof that God was really speaking to him, God supplied the exact signs Gideon requested, twice. When Elijah wanted to show people that his God was a real God that would perform miracles on command in order to prove his existence, God cooperated and sent fire from heaven.

When Elijah wanted to murder a hundred men just because he could, God cooperated and sent more fire down from heaven. When some soldiers from Israel cried out to God to help them defeat their enemies, God helped them defeat their enemies. And then when some soldiers from Judah cried out to God to help them defeat Israel, God helped them do that, too. When Naaman asked to be allowed to bow down to an idol, God told him to go ahead.

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