Muslims love to criticize the Bible on the basis of many embarrassing stories contained within its pages. And indeed, the Bible does contain many stories that cast biblical characters in less-than-flattering situations.
- Abraham had sex with Hagar, his wife's hand-maiden, because he wanted a son and doubted God could render Sara fertile again.
- Lot offered his two virgin daughters to the men of Sodom for sexual satisfaction.
- Lot's two daughters had sex with their father after getting him drunk.
- Abraham lied to King Abimelech about his wife Sarah and said she was his sister, nearly causing Abimelech to commit fornication with a married woman.
- Potiphar's wife attempted to seduce Joseph.
- Hosea is married to a prostitute.
- David committed adultery with Bathsheba and then arranged for her husband Uriah to be killed.
- Peter denied Jesus three times, even after promising he would never do such a thing.
These and more are pretty embarrassing. And Muslims reject the Bible as a holy book based on these embarrassing stories using a number of different arguments.
1. Islam teaches that all prophets lived sinless lives, and since David, Abraham, Lot, and many others are considered prophets in Islam, the Bible must be in error when it speaks of these events in their lives. But even Muhammad sinned and asked for forgiveness. And if Muhammad was the greatest of the prophets, according to Islam, than it is reasonable to believe other less significant prophets also sinned. So we should not be surprised when we see sin in the lives of Biblical prophets. And indeed, this is exactly what we see. Prophet are, after all, men just as fallible as we are, who face the same temptations as all other men. The beauty of the Biblical accounts is that, despite their less than spotless character, God still used them in mighty ways for His purposes. That gives me hope that, in spite of my weakness, God can also still use me.
2. Muslims reject the Bible as a holy book because they believe these accounts endorse adultery, incest, and other sexual and pornographic acts. But the inclusion of such embarrassing details of men of God actually attests to the Bible's authenticity and accuracy. If someone along the way wanted to sanitize the Bible to make it more appealing and 'Holy,' they certainly could have done so by removing these embarrassing details of Biblical characters. This concept is known as the Criterion of Embarrassment. The inclusion of such embarrassing details actually authenticates the Bible. Had these men been "sanitized" by deleting their human-ness, we might suspect the scripture of having indeed been tampered with.
3. Muslims also confuse the distinction between what the describes and what it prescribes. Because much of the Bible is historical in nature, it narrates events as they actually occurred, including embarrassing details. But simply because the Bible 'describes' events as they occurred does not mean it 'prescribes' or endorses such behavior. Nowhere does the Bible endorse the adultery committed by David, or the incest committed by Lot with his daughters; in fact, these behaviors are explicitly condemned, and the Bible does not hide the disastrous consequences of such actions. David's son from Bathsheeba died young, for example, as punishment by God for his indiscretion with Bathsheeba (2 Samuel 12:13-19).
We need to assure Muslims that such embarrassing details are not a defect in the Bible. In fact, they enhance the credibility of the Bible. It can be trusted because it has not been sanitized or altered. In fact, the evidence points to just the opposite. The Bible is trustworthy, reliable, and has a message of salvation for everyone.