Christianity and the Problem of Human ViolenceChristianity and the Problem of Human Violence: Part 11: The Flood
from Guide to Kingdom Living

True Christian living requires us to live according to Kingdom standards which bring Heaven to earth.

Christianity and the Problem of Human Violence: Part 11: The Flood

By Stephen R. Kaufman, M.D.

“Now the earth was corrupt in God’s sight, and the earth was filled with violence.” (Gen 6:11) Mimetic violence encouraged God to re-create the world, starting with Noah and his family and two of every kind of animal. After the Flood, God made a covenant with Noah, his family, and all the animals not to deliver another flood. God recognized that there would be violence, and he told Noah, “The fear of you and the dread of you shall be upon every beast of the earth … into your hand they are delivered. Every moving thing that lives shall be food for you; and as I gave you the green plants, I give you everything. Only you shall not eat flesh with its life, that is, its blood. For your lifeblood I will surely require a reckoning … Whoever sheds the blood of man, by man shall his blood be shed.”

It is a curse that animals will fear and dread Noah. If Noah killed animals, they would naturally fear and dread him, and the harmonious relationship with animals that Adam and Eve enjoyed would not be possible. God gave Noah permission to eat animals, but I see this as a concession, not a command. Since God promised to not deliver another flood, God had to give Noah an outlet for his violent tendencies. After all, Noah was human and humans naturally tend towards scapegoating violence.

God tried to limit human violence in two ways. First, people were not to consume the blood of animals. I think this prohibition was meant to prevent “blood lust” that might encourage wanton killing. Second, God declared that anyone who killed a human would be killed by another person. I see this as a prediction rather than divine ordination. In other words, God reminded Noah that violence mimetically begets violence.

Noah may have been righteous by the standards of his day, but he was far from perfect. After harvesting grapes from his vineyard, Noah got drunk and fell asleep naked. Ham saw his father in this disgraceful state, and Noah cursed Ham. I think the point of the story is that even Noah, the best of his generation, was a violent, impulsive, imperfect man. Such a man could not refrain from killing, and God gave him permission to kill animals in an effort to discourage him from killing people.

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