Death by summer

By contributor Sebastian Barkovic

Wow, what a summer I had! It’s now the fourth week of school and I can barely get in the groove. I guess you can say that I had an abundance of fun. Where am I going with this? Surely no one wants to hear about my summer. I’m not here to tell you about my summer, rather I thought it would be interesting to look at my summer through the lens of the laws of the Bible. Like most of your summers, I’m sure it was filled with a bit of blasphemy, cursing at parents, disobedience, having idols other than the God of the Bible, and maybe even a bit of witchcraft.

Blasphemy, Leviticus 24:16

“Anyone who blasphemes the name of the Lord is to be put to death. The entire assembly must stone them. Whether foreigner or native-born, when they blaspheme the Name they are to be put to death.”

Every once in a while I’ll blurt out something like, “Oh, my God, this song is amazing,” or “Jesus Christ, Alex, stop hogging all the beers.” Well, under biblical law this would see me stoned to death. This has to be the most brutal punishment out there: digging a hole, putting someone in the hole, filling it back up, and then throwing rocks at their head until they’re dead.

Disobedience, Deuteronomy 21:18

“If someone has a stubborn and rebellious son who does not obey his father and mother and will not listen to them when they discipline him, his father and mother shall take hold of him and bring him to the elders at the gate of his town. They shall say to the elders, ‘This son of ours is stubborn and rebellious. He will not obey us. He is a glutton and a drunkard.’ Then all the men of his town are to stone him to death. You must purge the evil from among you. All Israel will hear of it and be afraid.”

I can be a bit of a renegade. Just this summer my parents begged me not to buy a motorcycle. They pleaded with me for days. I bought one anyway and haven’t looked back since. This particular act, according to the Bible, would see a nice son put to death by the people of Nanaimo (see “Stoning” above). Not cool, Nanaimo, not cool.

Cursing at my parents, Leviticus 20:9

“Anyone who curses their father or mother is to be put to death. Because they have cursed their father or mother, their blood will be on their own head.”

I get frustrated with old moms and pops just like the next guy or gal—especially if they just sanctioned the town to stone me to death. Well, say I cursed at them for that. Under biblical law I believe my head would have been chopped off. Don’t get me wrong—I am all for respecting my parents, but I think that airing my grievances with them should also be allowed.

Worshipping any other God, Deuteronomy 17:2-5

“If a man or woman living among you in one of the towns the Lord gives you is found doing evil in the eyes of the Lord your God, in violation of his covenant, and contrary to my command has worshipped other Gods, bowing down to them, or to the sun, or the moon, or the stars in the sky, and this has been brought to your attention, then you must investigate it thoroughly. If it is true and it has been proved that this detestable thing has been done in Israel, take the man or woman who has done this evil deed to your city gate and stone that person to death.”

I joined a Reddit community a few months ago called r/OneTrueGod which revolves (creepily, I may add) around the glorification of Nicholas Cage. Although I don’t actually worship him, the religious police of the day may choose to interpret that act as worshipping another God. What type of punishment would I receive? A slap on the wrist, or perhaps just a stern look? Nope, back to the old stoning game. (I, for one, would like to see more creativity here.)

Witches, Exodus 22:18

“Do not allow a sorceress to live.”

Believe it or not, Saudi Arabia actually killed dozens of people this year for witchcraft, so when I say that these deaths are a thing of the past, I’m, well, mistaken. Although I am not into the hokey pokey myself, I have a friend who seems to enjoy it. She isn’t turning frogs into princes or anything, but there are some weird crystal things she plays with. This summer I guess I would have died four times over, and my friend would have found herself being put to death as well. 

Now for the good news: these laws are archaic (in this part of the world anyway). It’s a cautionary tale about interpreting things—especially religious things—too literally. Viva la Sebastian!

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