Four Ways to Make Your Good Friday Better

Annual rituals invite us to do the same things the same way, every time. How else can we maintain the traditions? Holy Week is no exception. Perhaps it should be.

This year, I invite us to do several things differently. With little effort, we can make this our best Good Friday yet—because this time, we could move closer to God than we’ve ever been. Here are four ways we can do that:

1. Render unto God only things that are godly.

God is good all the time--except Good Friday?What images do the words “God” and “godly” evoke for you? Do you see a gigantic male who lives in the farthest reaches of outer space, and sees every living being and blade of grass? Are His judgements harsh and His punishments extreme? Have you ever wished his angry vengeance upon someone who’s done something really horrible? Are certain acts unforgivable for Him? Does He favor some of us over others? Does He not love some humans?

If you answered yes to any of those questions, you probably are God-fearing.

But do you also trust God in times of need? Does He occasionally grant your prayer requests and shower you with blessings? Do you believe that today, what has come to be known as Good Friday, is God’s greatest blessing of all? Do you celebrate the day “God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him shall not perish but have everlasting life”?

In plain-speak, this well-known verse means this: God loved His sinful children so much that He gave His only sinless son to the barbaric Roman soldiers as a scapegoat to be slowly tortured to death so that sinners are saved from God’s sadistic punishment for their own wrongdoing.

For most of our lives, we have clung to the belief that God behaves like a demon. But we also declare that God is good all the time. It is either one or the other. We have choices to make, Sweet Souls. May I offer some options:

We can consider the possibility that what we fear about God is based on “alternative facts.”

We can proclaim that injustice is not godly. It is not fair to shift the responsibility for Adam’s hapless mistake to every living human at their birth, or to shift the responsibility for every living human’s mistakes to Jesus upon his death.

We can defend God’s divine essence, instead of defending ourselves against what we believe is God’s wrath-filled violence.

We can stop cowering in fear at the thought of being in God’s presence, and start cuddling.

We have rendered unto God things that are wholly ungodly, and indisputably unholy. We fervently believe that a savior must protect us from God’s crimes against humanity, and we want others to believe it, too. We have relentlessly demonized God and we can make it right this Good Friday.

2. Do unto Jesus what you’d want done to you.

We play word games to obfuscate the heinous nature of Jesus’s death and exonerate ourselves from any responsibility for it. We love to say Jesus “died” for our sins. Let’s be clear: According to three gospel authors, Jesus was crucified—slowly and sadistically tortured to death as a criminal—even though he had done nothing wrong. For that, we thank God.

Really? We wouldn’t be grateful if any other loved one was murdered for something we did. We wouldn’t wear a symbol of the killer’s murder weapon around our necks, hang it in our homes, places of worship or from our rear view mirrors. Why do we make an exception for Jesus?

Are we so tone deaf that we can’t hear ourselves shout, “Better thee than me, Jesus!” We loudly and proudly thank God for washing us in Jesus’s blood, seemingly oblivious that this bloodbath is part of a satanic ritual.

Every open eye can see that the entire crucifixion drama is based on one premise: The appropriate and divine response to human error is heartless banishment, genocide by flood or sadistic torture. 

Why on Earth do we want to believe God is so brutally unforgiving? And why do we believe Jesus is mentally ill? Let’s face it, if anyone else volunteered to be slowly tortured to death for crimes others committed, we’d call him a masochist. But if it’s Jesus, we call him our “savior.”

We must own our beliefs. No one can force us to believe anything we against our will. We choose our beliefs and values. We choose whether it is good to be angry and vengeful. We choose whether it is fair for someone to suffer for the wrongs of others. We choose whether it is right or wrong for someone we love to be brutally tortured to death—and whether Jesus’s murder or the murder of any member of the human family warrants praise and thanksgiving. We also choose what kind of god to worship.

Conceivably, the primary reason we have such a distant and strained relationship with God is because we don’t know God. We don’t want to believe God is divine—and as God’s offspring, so are we.

We choose to believe implausible and horrific tales about what God is and what God does. It’s because we believe before thinking. As a result, not only do our beliefs disparage God, they force us to do nonsensical things: We run to a genocidal maniac to ask for a blessing, a healing, a lover. Or a lottery number.

Holding God in higher regard could significantly improve our relationship with the Divine. If we want to know God more intimately, we can start this Good Friday by treating Jesus the way we’d want to be treated. We could resist demands to be grateful he was allegedly murdered for something we did.

3. Learn a little ancient history.

Intellectual curiosity is often discouraged in religious circles. Sometimes we are even threatened when we question beliefs that others cram into our heads and ram down our throats. We’re told to just “have faith,” as if doing so will miraculously transform the implausible into the actual. If we don’t have faith, they say, we offend God. We are not believers; we are heathens.

Contrary to what some command us to believe, knowledge is not a sin. And neither is reading. They prefer to read to us what they want us to know. In our ignorance, many of us believe Jesus not only was Christian, he founded the Christian Church. If we read for ourselves, we’d know he was born Jewish, and remained so until he was crowned “King of the Jews” by the Roman soldiers who crucified him. We’d also know the Church wasn’t established until more than 300 years after his murder.

Reading also reveals that the cross was not created as a symbol of Christianity; it harkens back to the Bronze Age, thousands of years before Jesus was born. We’d also discover that Jesus’s life story precedes his time on Earth by many centuries. Wait. What?

Ancient mythology has told and retold this narrative many times. At least five sons of gods predated Jesus by centuries. Each had a father who was a god, their mothers were human virgins, they healed the sick and raised the dead, they were murdered by the establishment and all rose on the third day. In order of appearance: Horus of Egypt (c. 3000 BC), Mithra of Persia (c. 1200 BC), Attis of Greece (c. 1200 BC), Krishna of India (c. 900 BC) and Dionysus of Greece (c. 500 BC).

Don’t take my word for it. Read. What better day than today?

4. Forgive yourself this Good Friday.

Alexander Pope famously wrote, “To err is human, to forgive divine.” He apparently believed God is forgiving. Yea!

Perhaps humans don’t forgive freely because we believe God doesn’t. Our belief that God opted to banish Adam and Eve, drown almost every living thing on Earth—even the animals and plants—and brutalize Jesus rather than forgive wrongdoing has a powerful influence over our willingness to forgive.

Forgiveness is powerful, transformative and liberating. It is an exercise we need this day, perhaps more than any other. Instead of modeling our behavior after that of an angry vengeful God, we could mirror the father in Jesus’s Prodigal Son parable. Jesus portrayed God as an unconditionally forgiving father who enthusiastically showers his wayward and disrespectful offspring with love and care, upon his awkward return home.

Who are we going to forgive first? How about starting with ourselves? We made a conscious decision to believe that God planned Jesus’s horrific murder, and that Jesus thought that was a splendid idea. We set aside the implausibility of any soul wanting to come to Earth to be sadistically tortured to death, and refused to ask even one common sense question:

If Jesus agreed to come to Earth to be slowly tortured to death for the wrongs of others, why would he say of his murderers, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing”? 

Because we didn’t ask that simple question, naturally the follow-ups were never asked:

1. If Jesus was nailed to the cross solely because God wouldn’t forgive, wouldn’t he know his plea of forgiveness would fall on deaf ears?

2. Since the Roman soldiers were fulfilling God’s and Jesus’s plan, why would the soldiers need to be forgiven?

3. If Jesus was knowingly fulfilling his destiny, why did he reportedly cry out, “My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?”

We blindly believe that Good Friday is part of human history—and that it is a holy day. Perhaps it is time to exonerate God and fully pardon ourselves for the criminal accusations we’ve made and evangelized, based on the claim that God solves problems by killing His children, one at a time or en masse.

In 325 AD, when the Emperor Constantine and a gathering of clergy selected the books to included the Judeo-Christian Bible, it is clear how they wanted God’s image to be embedded into the human consciousness. It is just as clear what they didn’t want us to believe.

The chosen Gospel of Mark contains the initial birth and death narratives that were later mirrored in the chosen gospels of Matthew and Luke. They neither knew Jesus nor were his contemporaries. Curiously, the Gospel of Thomas, written by one of Jesus’s disciples, was not selected for inclusion.

Thomas’s book makes no mention of a crucifixion or resurrection—and he was there. Instead, his book focuses on what is really important about Jesus’s life: His wisdom and his lessons. Among Jesus’s sayings:

“If those who lead you say to you, ‘look, the Kingdom is in the sky,’ then the birds will get there first. If they say ‘it’s in the ocean,’ then the fish will get there first. But the Kingdom of God is within you and outside of you. Once you come to know yourselves, you will become known. And you will know that it is you who are the children of the living father.”

This Good Friday offers an opportunity for us to think evolutionary and enlightening thoughts about who we are, and who God is. It is a chance to forgive ourselves for perceiving God as somewhere rather than everywhere, and demonic rather than divine.

It’s the perfect occasion to grab a hefty supply of free Forgiveness Coupons. They’ve been in popular demand on the site since 2006. Stock up, share freely. Spread the love. Change a life.

May your decision to believe that you are a child of the divine and life-affirming God make this your best Good Friday yet.

I love you!

Silhouettes of Three Crosses

Why is the sadistic murder of Jesus “Good”?

With no thought at all, we unflinchingly hurl the most damning insults at God. “Good” Friday may be our most consistent and most unconscionable slap at the Divine. It’s the day we annually reaffirm that a sadistic murder not only is good, it’s an act of God.

I was delighted to see that others are looking at this day through a different lens. A Reuters News Service story this week also explored this tradition. The satirical article imagined an effort by religious leaders to make “Good” Friday better by redirecting the focus from Jesus’s murder to his message of love. Is religion brave enough to make that leap?

Christianity calls sadistic murder an act of love

Bible Belt family entertainment: The sadistic murder of other humans

Sadistic murder was once family entertainment

Evidence abounds that humans have a conflicted value system. Here in America, a so-called “Christian nation,” we unhesitatingly do things to others that we would not want done to us. From the brutalization of the original inhabitants of America to the behavior of current presidential candidates, we fervently support leaders who loudly and proudly reject this core tenet of Jesus’s teachings. Another message, we are one: Whatever you do to the least of my brothers, you also do to me (Matthew 25:40).

Despite that, for 245 years, based on other Biblical passages—among them, Genesis 9:25-27, Ephesians 6:5 and Titus 2:9—those who called themselves Christians enslaved and brutalized select members of the one human family. After slavery was abolished, lynchings were commonplace, especially in the Deep South. This sadistic murder of other human beings was considered sport in the Bible Belt. It was perceived as normal, wholesome family entertainment.

They excused kids from school to watch. Moms prepared a picnic basket. Dads beamed proudly at the rotting remains. Murdering another member of the human family was gratifying, and it was godly.

These macabre rituals of hatred defined our nation, our humanity, and they defined the god we worship. But they were never defined as acts of love—then or now.

Good Friday is probably the only day in human history that sadistic torture is universally embraced as an act of love.

Is it an insult to claim that God

Is it an insult to claim that God “gave” Jesus to be brutally murdered?

“Good” Friday marks the only time that those who desire a close relationship with God express gratitude for the sadistic murder of a someone who reportedly had an extremely close relationship with God.

These good people say they are grateful to God for sending Jesus to “die” for their sins. These same people also claim that they would never want anyone to suffer or be slowly tortured to death for a crime they committed—especially someone they loved. However, they make an exception for the beloved Jesus. As I said, humans have a conflicted value system.

Why do we say that Jesus “died”?

Another human curiosity: We’ve reclassified Jesus’s murder as a mere death, as if he climbed onto the cross, closed his eyes and stopped breathing. But he didn’t simply “die.” He reportedly was brutalized for sins committed by millions of souls who were wearing human body costumes during his incarnation and for billions, including you, who hadn’t yet arrived on the planet and hadn’t committed one sin.

We make sense of that by claiming that God’s ways are mysterious. But only our insulting portrayals of what God is and what God does are mysterious. We play mind games because if we said what we really mean, we’d be horrified.

Consequently, instead of saying what we really mean, “Jesus was brutally murdered for something I did,” we say, “Jesus died for my sins. Hallelujah!” But if we called this act by its real name—a murder—we might question both our own humanity and the veracity of any claim that God solves problems by killing people.

Why do we adorn ourselves with the murder weapon?


Photo: New York Times

We say that God is Love, then contradict ourselves by claiming that God does things Love would not do. We characterize God as sadistic, and we glorify this murder (and ourselves) by wearing replicas of the indisputable murder weapon—the crucifix—as a badge of honor.

We have forgotten what this symbol really represents. We proudly wear crucifixes around our necks. We dangle them from our ears and rear view mirrors. They prominently adorn our places of worship.

We legitimize and worship a murder so heinous that it has to be sugar-coated by saying he merely died. We have become complicit in the sadistic crucifixion of an undeniably innocent person who, according to our beliefs, was performing uplifting work on Earth.

We claim that Jesus agreed to come here and be brutally tortured to death. And we assert this act of barbarism was actually an act of God’s mercy.

Why is the sadistic murder of Jesus attributed to God?

On occasion, often in a Drama Queen Workshop, I will ask why someone believes that God wouldn’t forgive the guilty unless an innocent son was brutally tortured to death. First, they’re startled by the question. Invariably, someone will defend this murder as “God’s sacrifice.” There’s always a person who claims that God didn’t have Jesus killed (although John 3:16 says otherwise); “He” simply didn’t stop the Roman soldiers from heinously murdering “His” only begotten son.

But the lightbulb generally illuminates for most when they hear this story properly described as God’s refusal to forgive the guilty unless an innocent son was brutally tortured to death. They instantly recoil and they do the most remarkable thing: They defend God’s goodness. They insist that God wouldn’t do something like that to anyone, especially Jesus.

I concur with those who disconnect God from the crucifixion because the rationale for this barbarism is wholly ungodly. Why would God do something so unproductive, not to mention inhumane? Jesus’s murder didn’t stop sin and it wasn’t enough of a sacrifice to convince God to forgive our sins. In fact, God allegedly added another caveat: Our sins won’t be forgiven unless we believe that Jesus’s murder personally saved us from an even more sadistic fate.

So what was the “good” outcome here? Jesus’s savage murder didn’t stop sin and it didn’t warrant forgiveness of our sins. It clearly didn’t change the way we treat each other. We still don’t love others as ourselves or as Jesus loved us.

We don’t have to look as far as Paris, Brussels or Nigeria for proof of that. Any random Donald “Two Corinthians” Trump rally will do. So what did this legendary act of sadism actually accomplish—and why are we grateful for it?

The “Good” Friday message: God is unfair, unreasonable and inhumane

The overriding message of the “Good” Friday story is that there is no difference between God’s behavior and the legendary Satan’s. It teaches us that God loves gratuitous violence and is perversely pleasured by unnecessary human pain. And we believe it.

Beliefs are a choice, and it’s easier to believe than to think about what our beliefs actually mean. Instead of thinking, we choose to believe that God sent Jesus to minister to the minds, bodies and spirits of everyone within walking distance or a donkey ride. His healing message was simple: We are one, God is within, God is the unconditionally loving father of prodigals, we should love everyone and that we should do nothing to someone else that we would not want done to us.

Powerful stuff. But we choose to believe that after three short years of spreading this good news, God abruptly halted Jesus’s ministry and gave him to the barbaric Romans to be sadistically crucified. We choose to worship someone who would do this to Jesus because we absolutely positively believe that God is full of wrath, vengeful, judgmental and solves problems by hurting and killing people. Consequently, we conclude that we need to be “saved” from the despicable and diabolical things that God does.

Our cognitive faculties are impaired when we are frightened. We fail to ask the important and common sense questions. That is by design.

God did not give us the spirit of fear. But someone did, someone who doesn’t want us to ask, “If God is Love, would Love do THAT?

We have chosen to ignore the dark energies on Earth that have successfully made us worship a god who does evil, hurtful things. We have chosen to believe that a sadistic, barbaric act such as crucifixion serves some good purpose. And we have agreed to joyfully embrace and vigorously defend this evil in the holiest of places.

At any time, we can choose to rethink “good”—and rethink God. At any time, we can choose to see the Light—and discover how that changes our lives.

Does Good Friday highlight a double standard?

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.