My Lousy World

Taking the Bible literally

By Doug Blough
Posted 2/6/24

It was a classic years ago when our Sunday School teacher, my brother Paul, had made a good point while reading from the good book and followed with, “And ya know, there's a lot of truth in …

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My Lousy World

Taking the Bible literally


It was a classic years ago when our Sunday School teacher, my brother Paul, had made a good point while reading from the good book and followed with, “And ya know, there's a lot of truth in that.” I chirped, “Well, it is in the Bible for God's sake; of course it's true!”

I do believe everything in the Bible, but that doesn't mean I condone it all. For instance, the disturbing account in Matthew when the demon possessed man came from the tombs and met Jesus. This dude was so violent, no one could pass his way. He even wore brass knuckles. The demons bellowed, “Have you come here to torture us before the appointed time?” Then they made a wimpy request: “If you drive us out, send us into that herd of pigs.”

Of course I've heard of pigs, but first off, I doubt their boss would be fond of the whimpering attitude. And since when does Jesus grant the wishes of slimy demons? Send 'em under a falling anvil or into a meat grinder. Instead, Jesus said “Go!” and they went into the pigs and the whole herd rushed down the cliff and into the water where they drowned.

The pig herders went into the town and reported all this. But what about reparations for the lost stock? What did they ever do to witness that carnage, probably even losing their jobs? But worse, what did these pigs ever do? I happen to find pigs awfully cute, and they get a bad rap for their house-keeping habits. I'm glad the demons were dispatched of, but have a problem with the fate of the blameless, innocent pigs. They better have gone to heaven.

I'm also bothered by the plight of that sad sack Job. What started out as a friendly bet between rivals turned into an epic downhill slide that even I've never experienced, and I'm no slouch. Now, Job had it going on — some said the greatest of all the people in the East. He feared God and shunned evil. Again, I'm no slouch myself, but Job was in a league of his own.

The conversation went something like this: Devil: “I bet if I sift your faithful servant like wheat, he'll deny you and renounce his faith.” God: “I'd like to see you try it!” And so it came to pass; Job's house fell down, killing his entire family and even his beloved oxen perished. He suffered countless physical ailments, including painful, itchy boils and restless leg syndrome.

But through it all — even when his faithful wife who always knew what to say, advised, “Curse God and die, Pizza Face” — Job refused to denounce his Lord. After it was all said and done, God won the wager and that loser Satan lost. All was restored to Job, and then some. Thus, a happy ending, but shouldn't God, in his omnipotence, have already known Job was unshakably righteous and avoided all that hardship? But as God lectured Job, who are we to question his style?

Lastly, did the Ethiopian eunuch really deserve all that publicity? I'm sure he wasn't giddy about being outed as a eunuch — not a small thing back in those days of mass begetting — but that was his plight. Phillip, on his way to Gaza, happened upon the Ethiopian eunuch who was in his chariot reading the book of Isaiah. Phil says, “Do you understand what you are reading?” What, because there's nothing going on down below, it's just assumed there's no activity upstairs either?

But indeed, the eunuch answered, “How can I unless someone explains it to me?” Oh, it too had a positive ending when Philip baptized the man, but I'm just not sure all the details needed to be exposed. It's like, “Not only was he a eunuch, but a dense one as well?” I've been suspected of both, so I feel his pain.

But who died and left me in charge of the universe? I must lean not on my own understanding, but accept what strikes me as suspect. I'm not a Biblical scholar, but I'm also no slouch.