This is one of those standard arguments. Perhaps you’ve heard it?
So the anti-religionist says the Bible is bad because God commands Abraham to sacrifice his child.
And I answer that the sacrifice was aborted.
And the anti-religionist fires back with, “The point is that God commanded Abraham to kill his child, and Abraham was willing to do it. What does that say about God? What does it say about Abraham?”
These would be reasonable questions, if they were in fact questions and not just talking points. So I give the answer as I understand it:
“This event must be considered in the context of its time. In this era, child sacrifice was indeed practiced. So the command was not shocking as it would be to modern sensibilities. The shock was that the sacrifice was aborted, and that God supplied an animal substitution. And indeed, throughout the Old Testament, there is no child sacrifice. In sum, Abraham and Isaac acted out God’s command to bring an end the era of pagan child sacrifice.”
I’m not trying to force this explanation; I just seek to verbalize a moral lesson that we take away. Because that’s what I’m looking for in the Bible, moral guidance. That’s what I look for, and I think that’s what an open-minded person will find.
The anti-religionist probably isn’t open-minded. He’s probably just moving on to his next talking point.
That’s fine. I don’t need to “win” these arguments. It’s not about winning or losing; it’s not about me. The quest is for truth.
I look for the moral lesson, if there is any to be had. It’s the moral lesson that will guide us away from evil temptation and toward good. (I’d point out that “good” and “evil” are fundamentally religious terms, in that they imply the existence of an absolute moral authority. Morality does not derive from “reason” (as I once believed it did). The Nazis used “reason” to eliminate inferior strains of humanity. PETA uses “reason” to proclaim that human life has the same value as a chicken’s life. God protect us from “reason”-based morality!)
But I can see how someone might look at the story of Abraham and, at first thought, conclude that God may ask people to murder their children. The interpretation I gave was taught to me. I repeat it because it makes sense. But I acknowledge that this isn’t the immediately obvious lesson.
There are various religious interpretations. From the Wikipedia page:
…according to Rabbi Joseph H. Hertz (Chief Rabbi of the British Empire), child sacrifice was actually “rife among the Semitic peoples,” and suggests that “in that age, it was astounding that Abraham’s God should have interposed to prevent the sacrifice, not that He should have asked for it.” Hertz interprets the Akedah as demonstrating to the Jews that human sacrifice is abhorrent. “Unlike the cruel heathen deities, it was the spiritual surrender alone that God required.” In Jeremiah 32:35, God states that the later Israelite practice of child sacrifice to the deity Molech “had [never] entered My mind that they should do this abomination.”
Life is complicated, and it confuses me. I find wisdom — or so I believe– in the Bible, and in its honest interpreters.
So there you have a fragmentary discussion about God’s Word on child sacrifice, and the controversy surrounding that Word. Now let’s fast-forward to our modern era of enlightenment.
Here we become ironic. Did I mention that this hypothetical generic anti-religionist with whom I am arguing is also a generic Obama supporter? And since we were talking about child sacrifice…
Okay, today’s Taranto column is interesting. “Free Hunter Yelton”. You’ve probably heard the story.
Hunter Yelton of Cañon City, Colo., is accused of sexual harassment. Hunter Yelton is 6 years old and in the first grade. “He has a crush on a girl at school, who likes him back,” reports Colorado Springs’ KRDO-TV. “It may sound innocent enough,” the station intones. But in Barack Obama’s America, even a small boy can become a sexual suspect.
“It was during class yeah,” Hunter tells the station. “We were doing reading group and I leaned over and kissed her on the hand. That’s what happened.” His mother continues explaining:
“[The girl] was fine with it, they are ‘boyfriend and girlfriend.’ The other children saw it and went to the music teacher. That was the day I had the meeting with the principal, where she first said ‘sexual harassment.’ This is taking it to an extreme that doesn’t need to be met with a six year old. Now my son is asking questions . . . what is sex mommy? That should not ever be said, sex. Not in a sentence with a six year old,” said Hunters’ [sic] mom, Jennifer Saunders.
Hunter spent Monday at home, under suspension from school. The school-district superintendent says, in KRDO’s paraphrase, that “Hunters’ [sic] actions fit the school policy description of ‘sexual harassment.’ . . . The school district also says Hunters’ [sic] parents may believe that kissing the girl at school is overall acceptable–but that’s where the school disagrees.”
You can read the full analysis (Taranto is always worth reading!), but I’ll cut to his conclusion:
And while college “justice” is often downright oppressive, the excesses of contemporary feminism know no age limits. As the story of Hunter Yelton demonstrates, the war on men is also a war on little boys.
Yeah, for all the blather of a “war on women”, this is the real war. “Child sacrifice” might be an excessive term, but “child abuse” is not. And, like in the bad old days, this child abuse is done on the demand and command of the ruler of the land. (Poetic assonance was unintentional.)
But Hunter Yelton’s misadventures are just a side show. Sarah Palin’s comments strike closer to the heart of things. Last month she said:
Our free stuff today is being paid for today by taking money from our children and borrowing from China. When that money comes due and, this isn’t racist, so try it, try it anyway, this isn’t racist, but it’s going to be like slavery when that note is due. Right? We are going to be beholden to a foreign master.
If you want to see her actual delivery, which was sensitive and nuanced, here’s the clip. You might argue that she would have been prudent to avoid using the hot-button s-word. But as to the essence of what she said…well, it’s exactly what candidate Obama said in 2008.
“We’re just taking out a credit card from the Bank of China, essentially. We’re borrowing that money. And we’ve added $4 trillion worth of debt since George Bush took office. Keep in mind, just to give you some perspective, the first 42 presidents amassed $5 trillion worth of debt. So the first 200-and- something years of our existence as a nation, we added up $5 trillion. George Bush by himself, number 43, almost doubled it.” (Senator Barack Obama, Remarks, Columbus, OH, 6/13/08)
Palin left Alaska in much better financial shape than she found it. Obama did — does — the opposite. (Which is to say that Palin, unlike Obama, is not a lying hypocrite. But that’s beside the point.)
I don’t need to remind you of the storm of filthy invective and demagoguery that targeted Palin in the wake of her comments. Martin Bashir said what he did because, in the circle in which he moves, such a reaction seemed normal. I’m sure he was honestly shocked to find there are people in the world who found him disgusting.
The trashing of Palin was (and is) reflexive, not because Palin was wrong, but because she wasn’t wrong. If she’d simply been wrong or stupid, there would have been no need to trash her. Alas, poor Sarah had the misfortune of being right in a way that would make a person think about the path the nation is on.
Thinking must not be allowed. Hence the reflex action to squash Palin like a bug. Demand people react emotionally; prohibit them from human contemplation.
Sacrifice your children. Sacrifice them on the command, not of the Lord, but of Obama and his bureaucrats. Sacrifice your children and get free stuff. Sacrifice your children and win an Obamaphone.
And anyone that balks at sacrificing their children, anyone that has the audacity to protest the new order…well, Martin Bashir has ideas for what should be done to you.
And don’t forget to toss that nasty old Bible onto the scrapheap of history. The Bible is bad. God commanded Abraham to sacrifice his child, didn’t you hear? We’re so much more enlightened today.