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.

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3 Responses to Does Good Friday highlight a double standard?

  1. Don Speranza says:

    Thank you for a thoughtful and courageous post. I can already hear the cries of heresy. Years ago I read a book by a Dutch theologian, that dared to pose the idea that Jesus did not come here to redeem, but to reveal….reveal that God is love! Happy Easter!

  2. Thank you, Don!
    The idea that Jesus came to reveal that God is love makes my heart happy. We forget that the redemption message came from ancient people who believed that live sacrifices to their angry, vindictive male God in the sky would placate Him. These were people with limited knowledge. What’s our excuse?
    Thinking people say, “Wait a minute! Jesus was teaching and demonstrating that God is Love; God is within; God is not judgmental or vindictive; God is the welcoming father in the Prodigal Son parable. If Jesus was brutally murdered only three years into his ministry, that either means that those who had an investment in perpetuating the myth about an angry, judgmental vindictive God wanted to stop him–or it means that Jesus’s message was wrong, and it angered God–in which case, we are wrong for following Jesus.
    Thinking people can’t believe that Jesus’s New Testament’s life-giving message was correct AND believe that this God, who is dramatically different from the one in the Old Testament, would murder him–for any reason. It defies logic.
    Jesus warn us not to put new wine into old skins? Now we can see what a mess it makes.

  3. As a former Combat Infantry Soldier during the Korean War, (1950/51)
    and author of: WHAT‘S A COMMIE EVER DONE TO BLACK PEOPLE; here my take:
    During the war I witness many soldiers reading their bibles before a battle or an oncoming night attack by the enemy, to retake the position our unit had just taken from them during the day.. At roll call, the next morning they did not answer when their names were called because only their remains was left behind. Our questions at the time would be, why them old Lord, and not I? A question we the survivors were confronted with after many battles or firefights we survived… Moreover, to this day the question remains… Still they pray…
    At this stage of my life, I have arrived to the conclusion that since God/Allah or Jesus Christ whatever one choose to title him, or it, wasn’t the one that declared wars, it was man, so only man can bring an end to them. The Alternative is to destroy ourselves if continued.
    I have also come to the conclusion that religion in American Churches, are more like business organization and conducted as such. As for spiritual beliefs that’s another thing, a private thing.

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