God is NOT Love
One of the famous mantra's of the gentle modern Christian is GOD IS LOVE. There are many scriptures and verses that talk of the love of God which is meant to be unconditional and absolute for all human beings. Possibly the most famous scriptures about love are found in 1 Corinthians Chapter 13, the famous love chapter. It was one of the first things from the Bible that I memorized in Sunday School. It lists the characteristics of love and one would assume that if God is love he would have these characteristics.
"Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails."
So how many of these characteristics fit God and how WELL do they fit God because remember if God is Love he should not only possess these characteristics but he should be unable to be untrue to them.
Patience is a bit hard to judge when it comes to the Biblical God. On the one hand he seems more than willing to give himself all the time in the world to sort things out. For instance he waits several thousand years before sending the Messiah but wastes not even a single day before casting out Adam and Eve from the Garden. This is Adam and Eve's first mistake, in fact it's the first mistake in human history, but the God of the Bible reacts not with patience, but with haste. Although no specific time frame is put between the Fall and the Curse God puts on them they occur within the same conversation within the same chapter (Chapter 2) of Genesis.
What about the story of the Exodus. Some might be inclined to call God patient here as he does not immediately smite the Egyptians but instead attempts to wear them down with ten plagues. However the plagues themselves are the wrath of God are they not? And each of them is horrific in it's own right. Could God not have been patient, could he not have waited for reason to persuade the Pharaoh or perhaps waited for Pharaoh to hire workers to replace the Hebrew slaves?
What of Lot's wife who is immediately turned into a pillar of salt for the act of merely looking back on Sodom and Gomorrah? Why was patience not show with her? While it is true that God does show patience from time to time in the Bible (God is arguably patient with the city of Nineveh) he most certainly is not ALWAYS patient. In fact he is vengeful and quick to anger
Is God kind? To some people God certainly seems kind, he sees fit to bless some in the Bible but he also sees fit to take away. Of course in the Old Testament God is most often kind to the Israelites. His demeanor towards other tribes and nations in the area however is far from kind. The massacre of the Canaanites, ordered by Yahweh himself according to the story, shows that God can revoke his kindness to engage in petty nation building. What sort of divine cosmic being who is meant to possess kindness sends out sword wielding armies to slaughter entire nations and leave none alive?
Is it kind to slaughter innocent children in Egypt for sins that belong only to the Pharaoh? Is cursing Adam and Eve for their very first mistake a kindly thing to do? What about drowning the entire world in a flood and by entire world I mean this includes infants and small animals that have committed no wrong. God does show kindness to folks in the Bible sometime but he also commands and commits genocides and condones slavery.
God's Kindness at Work
Does an almighty God truly feel envy? When others receive praise does he feel jealous? According to the Bible not only is God subject to this petty feeling his name is JEALOUS. Indeed the God of the Bible seems woefully insecure about his stance as the Most High, so much so that worshiping other Gods is the first thing he bans in the 10 Commandments. This all points to the polytheistic roots of ancient Israel which many have done their best to blot-out but which archeology has been finding more and more out about.
Exodus 20: 5-6
You shall not bow down to them or worship them; for I, the LORD your God, am a jealous God, punishing the children for the sin of the parents to the third and fourth generation of those who hate me, but showing love to a thousand generations of those who love me and keep my commandments.
In this verse, contained within the ten commandments, God not only proves he is envious of other gods but he further sabotages claims of his own kindness and mercy by vowing to punish children for sins they did not commit.
Boasting and Pride
Well thus far the Biblical God isn't looking very promising as a candidate for being love. The idea that God does not boast is an absurd one indeed, especially when considering God's self-aggrandizing speech to Job beginning in Job Chapter 38.
2 “Who is this that obscures my plans
with words without knowledge?
3 Brace yourself like a man;
I will question you,
and you shall answer me.
4 “Where were you when I laid the earth’s foundation?
Tell me, if you understand.
5 Who marked off its dimensions? Surely you know!
Who stretched a measuring line across it?
6 On what were its footings set,
or who laid its cornerstone—
7 while the morning stars sang together
and all the angels[a] shouted for joy?
8 “Who shut up the sea behind doors
when it burst forth from the womb,
9 when I made the clouds its garment
and wrapped it in thick darkness,
10 when I fixed limits for it
and set its doors and bars in place,
11 when I said, ‘This far you may come and no farther;
here is where your proud waves halt’?
12 “Have you ever given orders to the morning,
or shown the dawn its place,
God goes on and on tooting his own horn essentially to prove to Job that he's the man, or deity rather. Some of the rhetorical questions God asks Job are actually quite hilarious. For instance God asks Job if he knows when the mountain goats give birth... as if such a thing is advanced knowledge that no man could possess. God takes credit for essentially everything to do with nature, beating his chest for a full two chapters of boasting.
We've dealt with this one in part but it's a really easy one to defeat. As I mentioned in the Eden story God immediately punishes Adam and Eve for the mere act of eating some fruit. God also forgets that the people he's made had no idea what they were doing was wrong until after they had their eyes opened by the fruit. His anger is arguably premature. Throughout the Bible God quite quickly grows angry, though sometimes it takes a while before his wrath hits other times his wrath comes down instantly against those he doesn't like.
Keeps No Record of Wrongs
This to me is the nail in the coffin for the idea that the Biblical God embodies love as it is described in scripture. How on Earth can God be the judge of the world if he has no idea what we've done wrong? How can God punish sin, as he's meant to according to every Christian doctrine I've ever heard of, if he doesn't keep a record?
Not only does this contradict God's ability to judge but it compromises one of his most basic attributes - omniscience. How can there be anything that God doesn't know? Surely God doesn't expect us mortals to remember everything we've ever done wrong. How exactly does one end up in the Book of Life if God has no idea whether you've been naughty or nice?
Furthermore this raises some other questions about certain doctrines of modern Christian mythology. God has no reason to oppose Satan as whatever Satan did wrong isn't recorded within God. So why has God not forgiven Satan already? And what about the doctrine of original sin? How can that be passed on to future generations if God keeps no record of it?
Does Not Delight in Evil
Well I'm not sure that God delights in evil but he does spend much of the Bible committing it. He condones slavery, doesn't seem to mind stoning being a fair punishment for the simplest of things and commands or commits genocide on a regular basis. Now you can argue that God does not delight in any of these things I suppose but if he doesn't want to do them than he doesn't have to. After all he's an infinitely powerful loving God, if he wants to get something done he can get it done any way he wants to - no bloodshed required. Instead God often does come up with plans to get what he wants that involve killing and human suffering, a case could be made that he delights in evil.
Love Never Fails
Love never fails... but God does. The entire Bible testifies to this from page one. God's first attempt at creating men backfires on him when Adam and Eve eat the fruit. He then attempts to start over by drowning everyone but that doesn't work and in no time people are corrupt horrible sinners. We get to Jesus eventually but that fails also since most people won't accept Christ as their savior and will thus be damned. In fact I have a whole hub dedicated to how terrible of a failure the whole Jesus thing is.
Just the fact that a perfect God somehow produced an imperfect world is, in and of itself, a paradoxical failure.
The Bible is filled with self-contradictory verses that are a testament to its jigsaw puzzle construction over the centuries. The characteristics of this God make him bi-polar, one part mercy and two parts wrath and vengeance but in no way analogous to love. One would expect that if God were Love, or loving at all, he'd be more loving than any man. Yet what the Bible shows us is a God willing to engage in behaviors that no modern man would deem moral. To anyone reading the Bible in its entirety there can be no doubt that God is not Love.
Consistently fundamentalists and moderate Christians alike rise to the defense of the indefensible, an immoral and wicked God who was a reflection of the dark morality in the barbaric time he was conceived. The mantra God is Love is just that, a mantra, a cozy warm and fuzzy platitude of a Christianity that has (luckily) drifted far away from the barbaric self-contradictory scripture.
More by this Author
An analysis of the Ten Commandments as laid out in the Bible and a discussion on the fundamentalist Christian belief that these commandments apply to them and are morally good.
A hub about the differences modern Christians often overlook between the Old and New Testament regarding the afterlife, punishment, obedience, the Messiah and more.
A hub about the Problem of Evil/Suffering that attempts to rebut common excuses made on God's behalf. Also addressed is the new trend of saying the Problem of Evil applies to atheists.