Ah, the Sacrifice of Abraham is certainly one of the more disturbing parables in the Bible and a lot of Christians, particularly moderates, have had a rough time coming to grips with it. Some Christians simply accept it at face value and refuse to see a problem with the idea that God would just up and ask one of his most devoted followers to sacrifice his son without anything in the way of an explanation as to why.
The story is a favorite among the Fundamentalists who preach that blind faith is what you should have in God’s word as it’s the perfect example of unquestioning obedience to God as the ultimate test of faith—a standard that all Christians should try to live up to. Alas, those that do end up being labeled crazy and thrown in prison often by the same people who promoted this idea as being the ultimate form of faith in the first place. I’ve always found that ironic because, honestly, how do you know for sure that these people weren’t told by God to kill their family members as a test of faith? Maybe God intended it to be a prank like with Abraham, but forgot to jump in at the last minute because he was distracted by Pat Robertson claiming God told him that Bush’s gout was a direct result of the homosexual agenda or whatever idiotic thing he’s ranting about as of late.
More reasonable Christians, however, find it a difficult story to embrace. ***Dave relates his thoughts on it in this entry:
The story is creepy in the extreme, calling to mind religious lunatic parents killing their kids “because God told me to.” Yet it plays a central role in the liturgical cycle, calling to mind as it does God (the Father) offering up his own son (Jesus) for the whole world.
I mean, damn. To be deadly honest, were God to appear to me and say, “Hey, Dave, take your daughter, your only child, the one you love, and go and offer her as a burnt offering to me,” I’d … either figure I was going nuts, or that I was being Tempted by Someone Quite Other Than God.
Ah, but if I were convinced of the Speaker’s bona fides? That this was, in fact, God talking to me?
Sorry. No great nation would issue from me. I just couldn’t do it.
***Dave goes on to explore a few possible explanations and which of them he tends to lean toward, but it’s clear from his entry that he’s not happy with the conclusion he’s drawn and the whole story sticks in his craw. Honestly, I don’t blame him. It’s one of the several things in the Bible that contributed to my move away from Christianity. Even if I were inclined to believe in God(s) I’d have a hard time with accepting the Christian viewpoint on his nature as there’s just too much in the Bible that seems contradictory to what a supposedly benevolent God would be like.
In the various arguments Christians have put forth from time to time here on SEB someone invariably will argue that God gave us free will because he didn’t want mindless automatons who did whatever he told them to, but then you come across a story like the Sacrifice of Abraham where a man is praised and blessed by God for acting like an unquestioning, mindless automaton which seems to put the lie to that claim. In other words, God gave us the intelligence to question and then demands that we don’t. Seems kind of stupid to me and it one more reason to toss it in the dustbin as another idiotic concept that doesn’t hold up under scrutiny.
At any rate, I don’t know if it’ll make him feel any better, but I’m glad ***Dave would question his God should he/she/it ever decide to command him to kill his daughters. That may make him a lousy True Believer in some respects, but it makes him a great parent.