Did that title get your attention??
I was somewhat startled as a freshman in college when I read Malachi 2:16 in its entirety. I had often heard the first part quoted: "I hate divorce," says the Lord God of Israel." But up until that moment, I had never heard the remainder of that verse: "...and I hate a man's covering himself with violence as well as with his garment," says the Lord Almighty. So guard yourself in your spirit, and do not break faith.
While I never would have said that God loved violence, I was startled to see this verse in this context and was also a little annoyed that I had not come across it earlier. Up until this point I had made sins of sex the ultimate no-no. Could it be that acts of violence were just as bad as premarital sex? (Please forgive the sarcasm.)
All of these thoughts came rushing back to me at a Middle School Bible Study this week. I was working my way through curriculum that had retellings of the story of Saul and the Amalekites and David and Bathsheba.
In the story of King Saul, the writer of this curriculum included all the details: God told Saul "to kill all men, women, children, babies, cattle, sheep, camels, and donkeys."
However, when the writer was retelling the story or David and Bathsheba, he conveniently left out a few pertinent details: "One evening, from the roof of his palace, King David of Israel saw a beautiful woman..." That's it! No bathing. No nudity. Just this G-rated description of how these two star-crossed lovers discovered one another.
I guess the writer assumed that I as a youth pastor would have an easier time explaining to 13-year-olds why God told Saul to kill babies as opposed to explaining why David watched a woman bathe.
This is not a post calling for censorship of the Bible...not at all. However, I am questioning why it is sometimes easier for Christians to ignore violence while playing sex as the trump card. (Feel free to insert whatever political parallels you may choose here.)
By the way, I read the PG-13 version of David's encounter with Bathsheba which led to an amazing discussion among these 7th graders... "Wait! This is the same David that killed Goliath?" "David was supposed to be a good guy." "And God still forgave David after he did all that stuff?" I really like my job.