On Stoning

Content warning: violence

Some religious thoughts for today. I'm not religious, but I do get the occansional bit of theology rattling around my brain. Today it's about stoning in the Bible. Not any of the offenses it is prescribed as punishment for, but the concept of stinging itself.

"To stone" is a euphemism, albeit a thin one. It puts all the focus on the implement, draws it away from what is actually done. "Stone" it's a nice plain noun, and a passive one at that. The word calls to my mind the image as smooth round gray or lump sitting on the ground. inert. It fits easily into the verb position of a sentence, and still nondescript.It keeps quiet about what the action entail.

"To stone somebody" means to beat them to death with rocks. There are various ways to arrange the details. But the essence is that you take the victim and beat them with stones. It is brutality.

Why do people do this to each other? Because humans are sinful, fallen creatures. Easy. But what I wonder about with these verses is that they are not episodes of sinful humans sinning against each other, but commands directly from God. "Thou shalt smash thy neighbors skull." What kind of god is it that orders us to do this to each other? What does it mean when the deity commands us to be cruel?

We are in the realm of theodicy now, about which much has been written. And so I will defer to all the authors who have discussed that. When it comes to the bible it's difficult to imagine that I have found anything new. I am surely not the first person to notice this, I just haven't done the research to find out what has been said. Fortunately I am not aware that laziness is one of the things that gets you stoned. I have read the wikipedia article on the topic, which claims that Jewish law put so many legal process so strick that it was practically impossible. So clearly I'm not the first to be uncomfortable with the idea.

I don't have a conclusion here. Implicitly, yes, this is an argument against Christianity, but hardly a thorough one. I am not trying to convince anybody of anything, only, as I said, get a thought out of my head.