Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Not My Sons

I went a little crazy when I learned I was going to have a boy. I looked around and decided that I had to work harder to make this world a better place for my child.

Then he was born and my thinking quickly shifted. Screw the world, I thought, I’ve got to take care of my son.

I had other issues to deal with at the time so pardon me if I seem a little extreme.

As a father, I’m troubled by the idea that God was willing to sacrifice his son for the world.

I have sons. No one can have them. In terms of life and death, if I ever had to make a choice between my children and anybody else, I’ll choose my children to live every time.

Want to hurt my kid? Want to beat him and nail him to a cross? It’s not going to happen. If someone were to try, I’d destroy him in the blink of an eye.

Every parent I know feels that way about their kids. They’re supposed to. Something would be wrong if they didn’t feel that way.

So why have we decided it was noble for God to give up his son? I have a hard time respecting a God who would do that.

I have to believe the problem here is in the imagery.

John actually has a different image of Jesus. He maintains that Jesus is actually God Himself in the flesh. When he went to the cross, no one forced him. He gave himself up. He willingly sacrificed his own life for the benefit of humanity.

That’s an image I can respect. I can even aspire to be like that. I can see offering my life as a living sacrifice or even as a martyr.

But not my sons.


  1. No greater love...

    It's my opinion that all the new atheists who criticize the idea of God who kills his son simply fail to connect the dots. The doctrine of the Incarnation is a game-changer.

  2. I understand completely. When I had my child, she was(and still is) the world to me.

    While I understand your views on Christ at the cross, it still something that I cannot accept. Why would god demand sacrifice in the first place? Whether it be goat, sheep or human sacrifice. It's almost as if he made the rules and said, oh, well, that was rubbish, let's try it a different way...and I'll just do it myself...

    I suppose a lot of that really is imagery. The poetry just doesn't connect for me.

    Ah well.

  3. Dear Anonymous,

    It's called the atonement theory, which Anselm, a Benedictine monk developed about a thousand years. And of course, there's a lot of scripture that backs up the thinking.

    What if we turned it around? Maybe God doesn't need atonement, but humanity does? We can't allow ourselves to draw close to God without something paying the penalty.

    The next question then is, "Did we just invent the atonement theory to satisfy ourselves?"

    In truth I still wrestle with the whole concept.

  4. I have always been a little (secretly) annoyed with the story of Abraham and Issac. I didn't understand why God would demand such a flamboyant and dramatic demonstration of Abraham's love for his one God. Wasn't the self circumcision enough proof? The mountain of foreskins? What kind of spiritual credit check was the Almighty running on this poor guy?
    I held each of my children in my arms and I knew I would never let anything harm them while I lived and breathed. I always told my son that should a war break out and our country re-instated the draft, he was (like it or not, because as a young man, he often glorified the idea of war) going to the Arctic circle with his mother till it blew over.
    I know that is selfish. Many wonderful LOVING parents kiss their beautiful children goodbye as they go to serve their country.
    I am far too selfish for that, and I am the daughter of a veteran.
    I understand your point perfectly, Clergy Guy.

    1. DM. the story of Abraham being willing to sacrifice his only son horrifies me and always has. No amount of explaining makes it easier for me to accept.

      In Abraham's place, I would have said, "God, this one is a deal-breaker. You can keep your Promised Land and your future Nation.

      In truth, I don't think this story happened. I think it is supposed to be some kind of imagery that is used as foreshadowing to speak of a suffering Messiah. I have yet to sit down with a rabbi friend to ask his take on this.