When you’re arguing with someone about the bible, it generally comes down to two views. Either they believe the bible should be taken literally or it is open to interpretation. The latter suggests the bible contains metaphors that we are supposed to derive moral meaning from.
Recently, a friend told me about a certain chapter in the New Testament, Genesis 12, that I found nearly so unbelievable I had to check to make sure he was not exaggerating. This is not taken out of context, and if you don’t believe me I encourage you to read up until then, as it is only several pages in. To preface, Abram is traveling into Egypt and he tells his wife to pretend that she is his sister because she is so hot that people will kill him for her. The following is taken directly from the (1)Bible (New International Version) starting at Genesis 12:14-
14 When Abram came to Egypt, the Egyptians saw that she was a very beautiful woman. 15 And when Pharaoh’s officials saw her, they praised her to Pharaoh, and she was taken into his palace. 16 He treated Abram well for her sake, and Abram acquired sheep and cattle, male and female donkeys, menservants and maidservants, and camels.
17 But the LORD inflicted serious diseases on Pharaoh and his household because of Abram’s wife Sarai. 18 So Pharaoh summoned Abram. “What have you done to me?” he said. “Why didn’t you tell me she was your wife? 19 Why did you say, ‘She is my sister,’ so that I took her to be my wife? Now then, here is your wife. Take her and go!” 20 Then Pharaoh gave orders about Abram to his men, and they sent him on his way, with his wife and everything he had.
In short, Abram lies to the Pharaoh and tells him his wife is sister. The Pharaoh gives Abram a bunch of gifts and treats him well since he wants to marry her. Then God plagues the Pharaoh and his household. The Pharaoh is confused and calls Abram out and says, “Why did you tell me she was your sister and let me marry her? Take the stuff I gave you and get out of here!”
I’m having a hard time figuring out what this metaphor means. And, unfortunately, I can’t take it literally or else that would mean God sided with a blatant liar and did harm to the unsuspecting victim of that lie. I guess the next time I lie in order to get someone to give me things that I want, and anyone gets upset about it, I can just point to America’s moral standard and say it’s what God wanted.
1. Scripture taken from the HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved.