The Problem With Faith
As I have mentioned previously I am currently reviewing things that I have always held as fact but have never actually taken time to study for myself. In the past whenever someone would challenge my beliefs I would get angry and call that person a blasphemer. Now the roles have reversed. I am the person asking the questions and unintentionally making people angry or hurting their feelings. This is not a role I relish but the questions I am asking are only intended to provoke thought and not to discredit anyone’s personal convictions. If I sound like I know all the answers or am adamant that I am right that is not my intent, and is probably a result of the written word failing to convey the sincerity of my questions and ideas.
My studies have led me to a very interesting question; would you kill your child if God told you to? A friend asked me that question recently and of course I thought of the story of Abraham and Isaac. I’m sure everyone is familiar with the story of God instructing Abraham to sacrifice his son as an offering to God. The story has a happy ending though because God was only putting Abraham’s faith to the test and never intended for Abraham to kill Isaac.
But the question still remains, would you kill your child if God commanded it? I would wager that most people reading this would answer no and most of those who answer yes are not being honest with themselves. Picture in your mind slicing open your own child’s innocent throat and being covered in the approximately half gallon of blood that would erupt in the first sixty seconds.
Does that make you uncomfortable? It should! Most people would never do something like that to a pet (and rightfully so) let alone a human being that they loved more than life itself. Being upset or even angered by my above description is the appropriate response; the response any sane person should have.
Unfortunately, if you are not willing to sacrifice your child to God then you do not possess the unwavering faith of father Abraham. I have heard ministers rationalize this story by saying things like “Abraham knew that God had promised to raise up a nation from his loins so if he killed Isaac then another son would be given to him.” Really? So the murder of Isaac is just being accepted as God’s will without question? I am fairly certain that Abraham did not take such a flippant attitude about killing his beloved, promised son.
Abraham did not know that God was only testing him. Abraham was literally willing to kill his own child to show his loyalty to God. Is that kind of loyalty healthy? What if it wasn’t really God speaking to Abraham? What if Abraham had been a paranoid schizophrenic who heard voices and saw people who didn’t exist? Sadly there have been more than a few instances where mentally ill people have committed atrocities because “God” spoke to them.
I have never sat in a church service where anyone questioned the wisdom of Abraham’s actions. I have only ever heard Abraham’s blind faith extolled as an example of how we, as Christians, should respond when God asks us to do something. My questions are: should such unquestioning loyalty really be our goal? Is it really wrong to question God’s instructions?
I feel that the lesson learned from this story is a dangerous one. At what point do we abandon faith for logic and question whether it is even God speaking to us? I would imagine no one reading this has ever heard God speak to them in an audible voice. If He did would you automatically do what you were told or would you check out the instructions to see if they were scriptural?
Humor me for a moment and pretend that God had spoken to you in an audible voice and told you to sacrifice your child. What would you do? Would you consider it or dismiss it as something contrary to the nature of God? He’s done this before, why can’t he do it again? Why couldn’t this happen to you? Isn’t God unchanging?
Even if you did check the voice against scripture, if the voice had told you to sacrifice your child, there is a scriptural principal for that.
So proving things by the scriptures could lead you in the wrong direction depending on which passage you chose to accept. The Genesis account could lead you to believe that God was testing your faith and so you should go through with the sacrifice. If you read Deuteronomy 12:13 it says “You must not worship the Lord your God in their way, because in worshiping their gods, they do all kinds of detestable things the Lord hates. They even burn their sons and daughters in the fire as sacrifices to their gods.”
Well now this is getting confusing. Why would God test his faithful servant Abraham with a commandment to do something that He detests? That seems strange. If God detests the sacrifice of children then wouldn’t the right answer to the test have been a very loud “NO”?
Does God want an unquestioning drone? Wouldn’t God rather have a man or woman of integrity who would not even consider killing an innocent child for any reason?
I have had people tell me that they do not rely on logic but simply rely on faith. Faith in God is all that you need. Man cannot be trusted so you can’t put your faith in a man. The reality is that most Christians put their faith in a man every Sunday. They have faith in a minister or a prophet or even Jesus himself (Romans 5 clearly states that Christ was a man).
The problem with unwavering faith is it can lead to terrible acts done in the name of God. The crusades were commissioned by God, according to the church, and thousands upon thousands of innocent women and children were slaughtered in the name of God. The men who carried out these acts were fervent believers who were told that the blood of the infidels would be their ticket into heaven.
I recently read the book Prophet’s Prey, which is about Warren Jeffs, the so-called prophet of the cult, the Fundamentalist Church of Latter Day Saints. This group practices many forms of child abuse in the name of God including the banishment of boys ages ten to twelve and the “marriage” of girls around the same age. If the prophet tells them to, the parents of a young boy will abandon him by the side of the road and instruct him to never contact them again. They never question their prophet because to question means they will incur the wrath of God.
Jeffs is now serving a prison sentence in Texas for aggravated sexual assault of children. Thankfully not everyone is afraid to question his authority.
I realize I am talking about the extreme situations where religious zeal is abused and evil acts are committed, but I wanted to show the dangers of blind obedience to God and his servants. It is my opinion that a just God would never want a servant who would abuse a child or kill an innocent person. A just God would want someone with a backbone who would be willing to challenge even Him if he felt it necessary.
I have heard all of my life that to challenge God would be to incur his wrath and judgment. But does an all-powerful, all-knowing God really have such a fragile human ego that questioning His authority will cause destruction? Can an all-powerful God really get jealous? Jealousy is just a form of insecurity. Is the Creator of the universe really so insecure that He would get jealous? These questions are settled in my mind. God is much bigger than that. If humans can overcome such things as temper and insecurity, and God is so much more advanced than us, then these are not accurate descriptions of Him.
My goal is not to change your mind about God but to make you think about how far your loyalty would go. I doubt anyone I know would go to the extremes I pointed out. The question is, how blind is your faith? Where would you draw the line? What is your definition of a healthy relationship with God?