I’m going to ask a question, but I don’t want you to answer until you’ve read to the end. Who is right? Atheists or Christians? Many of the Atheists’ rejection of Christianity is centered on what they believe to be the immoral teachings of Christianity. For example, they believe Christianity encourages misogyny, promotes slavery, and teaches that you can live as immorally as you want as long as you believe Jesus. Sadly, in many conservative circles, they aren’t far off. Upon examination of the Bible in context, we will find that these allegations are actually not correct regarding what true Christianity is supposed to be.
The more I know about the Atheist perspective, the more I realize that they are misunderstanding much of what the Bible teaches (or in some cases, purposefully misusing it). This leads to their radically hostile views of Christianity. But before we as Christians pull out our condemning attitudes, let’s remember that many of them refused the Christianity they were once part of because they were taught by Christians who don’t understand the Bible. I believe that as we look into the Bible, we will find that God is against the same false teachings that are such a turn off to Atheists. Let’s look at 3 Myths Concerning Christianity and see what the Bible says:
1. The Bible Encourages Misogyny – There are numerous churches which teach that women should be an absolute submission to the husband in the sense that they should have no opinion or objections, but obey like a mindless robot. This creates a situation where the husband is set up to be his own god in a sense. He get’s what he wants and she always has to oblige. With this mentality comes the false belief that men are to dominate and control women. May I stop right here and say, the Bible teaches no such thing. Ephesians 5:22-24 is one example of a passage used to propagate such a doctrine:
22 Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as unto the Lord.
23 For the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church: and he is the saviour of the body.
24 Therefore as the church is subject unto Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in every thing.
If we left that passage as is and only look at those three verses, you could easily come to the wrong conclusion. It’s not until we read the very next verse that everything is put in perspective:
25 Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it;
Now we come to a verse that contradicts any misogynistic behavior. Husbands are to love their wives as Christ loved the church and gave himself for it. Christ’s love was perfect. And there could never be a greater display of love than God’s display at calvary when He gave Himself to save our souls and pay for our sins. The husband is not to be a tyrant and the wife is not to be a slave to do all the husband desires. The husband is supposed to show a divine love for his wife. This immediately removes any possibility of abuse or mistreatment. What the Bible is teaching from a practical sense here is love and respect. The woman should respect the husband and not lord over him. The husband should love the wife and cherish her. That makes for even good secular relationship advice. True submission in the Bible is one towards another, not one over the other.
2. The Bible Promotes Slavery – There are two things we must understand about this. First, slavery as we know it today was not the same as the slavery mentioned in the Bible in conjunction with rules on how to treat slaves. Second, slavery as we know it today IS strictly condemned and punishable by death in the Bible.
The slavery that existed in Bible times was more of a willing servanthood. A person could pledge his life to serve a master and do his bidding. In return, the master would provide for his needs (food, shelter, etc.) When we look at it this way, we understand it’s a lot like the relationship between employers and employees. This is the realm in which the law gives regulations of slaves.
As far as the slavery as we know it, Exodus 21:16 says this:
“And he that stealeth a man, and selleth him, or if he be found in his hand, he shall surely be put to death.”
If you force someone to be your slave, sell one, or if one is found in your possession, you were to be put to death. All permissible slavery in the Bible is simply the moral standard for how employers and employees should interact. And, all of it is to be on a willing basis.
3. The Bible Teaches You Can Live However You Want As Long As You Believe Jesus – This is actually the exact opposite of what the Bible teaches. There are two verses we will use to bunk this myth. John 14:15 tells us,
“If ye love me, keep my commandments.”
1 John 5:3 says,
“For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments: and his commandments are not grievous.”
The Bible not only teaches that if we truly love God as we ought to that we will keep His commandments, but that it will not be a burden for us to follow His word and the principles we find in it. A true believer is not given a license to live as he wishes because he is saved. He is to follow God and live according to the Bible because he loves God. Paul reiterates this thought in Galatians 5:13:
“For, brethren, ye have been called unto liberty; only use not liberty for an occasion to the flesh, but by love serve one another.”
Now, while I could go on about different misunderstandings, this should suffice for us to see the answer to the question about who is right. And it is an answer that both Atheists and Christians alike should heed: God is right, and His Word is truth. Atheists need to understand that just because a group of churches believes a doctrine and teaches it boldly doesn’t make it biblical. Christians need to understand where they are wrong biblically speaking and actively search the Bible to ensure they have an accurate view of the truth. May we be searchers of God’s truth, because the truth will set us free.