We Christians call this Friday “Good;” but it’s the most heartbreaking day on my calendar. It marks the day when we refresh the accusation that God loved His guilty kids so much that He had His only innocent child brutally tortured to death, effectively letting the others off the hook.
Of course, ancient scribes painted a more rosy picture: They claim that God so loved the world that He “gave” His only begotten son. If we believe this, they say, God won’t torture us throughout eternity. Fear is a great control mechanism. Always has been.
Now we know what giving is—and what it’s not. Or maybe we don’t, so let’s check the dictionary, shall we: Give means to make a present of, to place in the hands of, or to endure the loss of; sacrifice. Giving does not mean handing over your child to sadists, knowing that they are going to nail him to a cross and subject him to a very slow and excruciatingly painful death.
How many loving parents would do this? More pertinent, who among us would be glad that our brother was murdered for a crime that we committed? Is gratitude the appropriate response?
I know that this is dangerous turf on which I’m treading. I’ve been told repeatedly that I cannot call myself a Christian if I do not believe that God sent Jesus here to be slaughtered so that I might live. In other words, if I were a real Christian, I would know that torturing an innocent man to death is not sadistic, if it is an act of God.
Let me be clear: I am not questioning any act of God. I’m questioning whether this particular act is God’s. Is there the slightest bit of the Divine tucked inside live sacrifice?
If we believe scriptures that say that God is Love, isn’t it incumbent upon us to ask: Does Love solve problems by killing any of Its children for any reason?
We Christians clearly have a double standard of behavior—and the standard is considerably lower for God. Fascinating stuff. It reminds me of a post I saw on Facebook several months ago. A minister shared a hypothetical scenario that went something like this:
There were two brothers. The older one, who’d previously served a couple of jail terms, had just been arrested again. If convicted, he faced a minimum of 30 years in prison.
His younger brother was studious, college bound and had never been in trouble. The minister said that the young men’s parents had asked if they should ask the younger brother take the rap for his brother. Since he had a clean record, he’d probably only serve 18 months. Afterward, he could resume his studies and go on with his life, while giving his brother a chance to clean up his act.
The overwhelming consensus was that the older brother should take responsibility for his own actions. It would be unfair for the innocent brother to sacrifice 18 months of his life for a crime he didn’t commit. Some even noted that the older brother seemed to be a habitual criminal and probably would be arrested again anyway, making a mockery of the younger brother’s sacrifice.
Where have we heard that story before? I was fascinated that these Christians—folks who do not object to Jesus taking the rap for crimes he didn’t commit—didn’t see the parallel.
His sacrifice far outweighed an 18-month prison term. And guess what? Neither his death nor resurrection ended sin on Earth. But of course, the All-Knowing God probably predicted that.
So, if sadistically slaughtering Jesus wasn’t going to change the world’s behavior, why would God snuff him out a mere three years into his good news ministry? Isn’t it more likely that the Romans mentioned in the scriptures actually committed the crime?
We all know that this isn’t the first time in history that God has been blamed for acts of inhumanity. Just a few years ago, a world leader justified violence against God’s children in Iraq by insisting that God told him to do it.
Such outrageous declarations vilify God. But we so love the words written and repeatedly mistranslated by man that we have given our only begotten brains to the trash heap so that we can blindly believe that God would be so demonic.
We have a double standard: If a blood-thirsty posse approached the home of a guilty man, and his father pushed his innocent brother onto the porch, we’d declare that this father was pure evil. Why can’t we see the parallel when we read that God has done the same thing—and why aren’t we challenging such an implausible accusation?
This really would be a Good Friday, if we took time out to ponder whether we really believe that God is Love. It is impossible to believe that if we also believe that God does things that Love simply would not do.