Muslims also argue that the Christian Scriptures are corrupt and give as evidence the “immoral stories” of the Bible saying:
- The bible contains pornography
- The bible contains incest
- The Bible contains stories of prostitution, adultery, etc.
Many have balked at the immoral stories found in the Bible, including Christians. In 1796 Beilby Porteus, bishop of London, made an index to the Bible so that reader would read the good parts and not read the bad parts. The bishop’s list censored nearly half the Bible!
How can the Bible be the good book when it contains so many stories about immorality?
How can the Bible be a holy book when it contains so many “unholy” stories?
The Three Levels of Narrative in the Bible
Douglas Stuart, reminds us in his book, How to Read the Bible For All Its Worth that there are three levels of narrative operating all the time. In other words, there is more to the immorality in the Bible than just the particular stories; there is a bigger story. The three levels of narrative are (The following was adapted from a lecture given by Douglas Stuart):
Top Level – Bible Story as a Whole (Metanarrative)
First, there is the top level of narrative and that is the level that really is the Bible’s story as a whole. The great, grand story of redemption. Here we are, living in a planet where we are in sin and we need a rescue, we need a savior to come and help us, cannot do it ourselves. The Old Testament leads up to that and primes you for it and teaches you how it is a necessity. The New Testament shows it happening and points toward eternal life and so on. That is the big picture, the Bible story, the great top level.
Middle Level – Individual Blocks of Material
But then there is going to be a middle level and that is going to be the individual, large blocks of material. For example, we might say the stories of the people in Jesus’ genealogy like Judah, Ruth, David, and Solomon.
Lower Level – Particular Stories, Pericopes
But then there is going to be the lowest level or the lower level. That is going to be any particular, individual story about Judah, Ruth, David, or Solomon. For example, David’s adultery with Bathsheba; David’s subsequent murder of Uriah the Hittite; David’s repentance; David’s writing Psalm 32 and 51; etc. him.
You have always got three levels going at once. You do great interpretive injustice to the Bible to read only the lower level stories without appreciating that there is a top story. You need to ask questions about lower level stories like, “Why is this story in the Bible as a whole? How does this story relate to mankind’s sinfulness and need for a Savior? What is this event’s role, its particular contribution to the big plan of salvation?” etc. (adapted from Douglas Stuart, “Old Testament Survey”)
The Bible isn’t immoral; mankind is immoral
It should therefore be evident that there is a purpose to the Bible’s honesty in recording the great sins of great saints. The Bible isn’t immoral; mankind is immoral. The Bible is blatantly honest about the sinfulness of mankind (Low Level) because it exposes our need for God’s grace and redemption (Top Level). Where sin abounds grace abounds all the more (Romans 5:20). Jesus did not come to save the righteous but the unrighteous (Matthew 9:10-13).
Two Ironies About the Atheist Ad Campaign Promoting Atheistic Morality
There are at least two ironies about the atheist ad campagin showing how one can be good without god.
First, the Bible does not claim that Christians have a monopoloy on morality. In fact, the Bible teaches just the opposite – we are all created moral beings. Therefore, the concern of atheists and humanists to show they can be moral without a belief in God supports biblical teaching. While it is immoral not to believe in God and His works; nevertheless, atheists are still created in the image of God and therefore desire to do good things that benefit others.
Second, the many stories of immorality in the Bible argue against atheism, humanism, and Islam by highlighting mankind’s need for a Savior, Jesus Christ. No matter how hard we try, we can’t save ourselves from death. The Bible’s honesty about sin points us to our need for Jesus’ obedience to God’s Law, and His death on the cross for sin. Only Jesus has overcome death and judgment which is why we must put our faith in Him.
If you are a sinner then I invite you to consider your need for Jesus Christ and His invitation to believe.