One doesn’t have to read the Bible a great deal to understand why many stop reading after certain passages. The Old Testament causes more unbelief in God or confusion than we care to admit. One may want to continue learning about God through the Bible but rightly expect rational explanations that don’t depict God’s actions opposing our moral consciences.
Violent images of God in the OT are morally unacceptable humanly-speaking.
Many passages in the OT contradict God’s claim to not be evil. All have a sense of what is immoral. Universal moral intuitions can be how a Creator communicates to us. Why else do we want and strife for perfection in relationships and expect a Creator to be the same? Every moral fiber in our body cries out when reading certain descriptions of God in the OT.
Who crushes their daughter in a winepress because upset (Lam. 1:15)? What kind of God orders killing boys and non-virgin women but sparing non-virgins (Num. 31:18)? Does God expect young woman to watch their mothers, sisters, and brothers murdered by men who one day may expect marriage or sex? What God orders capital punishment for rebellious children, adulterers, or those involved in witchcraft (Lev. 20)? God says in war to kill all the men, women, children, infants, and animals (I Sam. 15:3). Many more passage depict a God opposed to common moral sense.
Rationalizing the Bible opposes human and God’s expectation.
God sometimes is said to be a mystery beyond human comprehension, because one’s interpretations clashes with even their own moral intuitions. Scriptures claiming God is not evil is nonsensical if evil sometimes is good. We can’t say anything is good because it might be evil sometimes. We are told to not dare question God. How can many have a relationship much less understand a God who rejects questioning them, when God created us to know evil?
There is a rational explanation of immoral portrayals of God.
God obviously did not verbally dictate the entire Bible. We cannot be certain when God allowed the writers the freedom to misunderstand and express their understandings of God, explaining many violent passages supposedly in the name of God. This explains many false portrayals of God. Evil in the world, though God opposes, is surely a sign of God’s uncontrolling nature thus supporting God didn’t perform a lobotomy on OT writers. Writers were surely influenced by surrounding cultures where gods demanded respect by claiming them to be all powerful and controlling. God though always seeks to continually persuade of one’s own accord.
So, how can we understand and accept the Bible?
The Bible was never meant to be a story controlled by God. God got involved with the nation of Israel to begin revealing what a loving God is like compared to other gods. God surely intended us to understand them best through the life and voice of Jesus. God all along attempted to influence and persuade what God is really like, but Jesus was Gods’ ultimate explanation. What kind of person sacrifices their life, when they have the power to prevent it, to convince others that God desires to help us be the kind of person we want to be deep down?
So, how can we understand and know God?
You believe in morality if you believe in evil. It seems to me the presence of moral outrage hints of a personal external force communicating through our moral intuitions that lead to outrage. How else do we explain a universal desire to treat others morally like we want to be treated? Nations can establish laws because most agree it is wrong to steal, murder, lie, or commit adultery. Obviously, nor all have the same moral intuitions. We know terrorists are wrong because they do not wish to be treated by our imposing our beliefs on them. Only extremists believe disputes about interpretations are more important than love when personal beliefs aren’t violating the rights of others. True religion doesn’t seek to be served but serve.
What is possible to believe about a God who claims to not be evil?
It is impossible that a God, who denounces evil, would ever be involved in genocide or women used as sex options for spoils in a war. It is impossible God desires war and violence if nations are willing to live in peace with one another and protect the rights of all. It is impossible that a loving God wants a relationship but refuses any questions to understand them. It is possible that a God who claims to not be evil, who created us to not be evil, who created us to know evil, begin a relationship with a nation that ultimately accumulated in the example of one sent from God.