Another post on violence

I wrote recently on how we judge God’s actions when they don’t look like what we think they should look like. Specifically seeing violence in the Bible and saying we can’t believe in a God like that. I got some push back on it. And rightly so. It’s a really hard one.

So I’ve been thinking about it a lot lately.

And I think I realized tonight what might have happened when Adam and Eve ate the fruit in the garden.

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They gained a knowledge of good and evil.

Why is that such a horrible thing?

Maybe it was bad because once they realized what were good things and what were evil things, they would start to judge God’s actions against those things, instead of simply trusting him because he was God.

I’m thinking, like, what if in the time of the black plague, a father set down poison to exterminate all the rats in the house and the tender-hearted child says, “No daddy, that’s wrong.” And the dad says, “Hunny, you just need to trust me. It’s sad but if we don’t, the whole house could die.”

But the child goes and gathers up all the poison and before long the rats have spread disease over the entire house. She did the peaceful, fair and just thing but it killed everybody in the house. Even if the act of willfully killing a living creature is wrong, the child doesn’t understand the complexity of the whole system like the parent does, and the father just needs her to trust him.

Do we think we are old enough to know what God knows? And to judge him on what he does?

You know how when God told Abraham, kill your son? I bet at first he was like, “There is no way killing my child is good. No way.” (That’s probably what most of us would have said.)

If only God could have responded, “I know killing a child is wrong, but seeing if you will obey me even when you know what is good and evil is the only way to reverse the trust that was lost when you ate the fruit. And I wish I didn’t have to wait to tell you I will stop you before you actually kill him, but this is the only way your trust will be proven.”

“But you also don’t know that someday I will need to sacrifice my son for the sake of the entire world. And this is how I will know through whom I can trust to send him. And you have no way of knowing that if you obey, your act will be the foreshadowing of the greatest act of love the world will ever see, maybe the only act strong enough to win hearts over who think they know better than me. And it will require me to kill my own son to show how much I want to save the entire world.”

Maybe we don’t fully understand that sometimes violence is the only way to show the deepest love.

Raw Spoon, 1-23-16

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4 Responses to Another post on violence

  1. Very insightful, Ross!

  2. franklintait says:

    Hey. Thank you for your meditation on this topic. It’s one that I have struggled with for many many years. It is a tragic thing, but I think you are right in saying “Maybe we don’t fully understand that sometimes violence is the only way to show the deepest love.”

    In my last semester at Candler I had to write a paper for Ethics. I chose the topic – “Is it ever acceptable to take the life of another human being”. It was a question I have struggled with my whole life as a Christian. It always stayed in the forefront of my consciousness because Dietrich Bonhoeffer is one of the two 20th century Christians who I consider a theological mentor. He wrestled with the question of violence given his situation of entering adulthood at the time of the rise of Hitler.

    Any way, in researching the paper I found that both he and St. Basil the Great held more of less the same position on the taking of a life in order to defend or protect others. They both held that it is still a sin, but it is justified by necessity of love. To take a life is still sin, but to do nothing in the face of those who would seek to kill others simply in order to dominate, steal from or eradicate them is also sin. So St. Basil told those under his pastoral care that they may defend themselves against those raiding their villages, killing their wives and children and stealing their possessions but that they would, upon returning home, have to refrain from receiving the Eucharist for up to 3 years – not to punish them, but to find their hearts again in repentance for taking the life of another person made in God’s image. Such is the value of a life even if it has been distorted by vice.

  3. Karen Fitts says:

    Usually, when the fall of mankind is taught we focus on the culpability of Adam, Eve, or the serpent. We miss the accusation of Adam aimed at God, “the woman you gave me”.

    To have faith we need to believe He is (exists) and He rewards. If we reject God as an evil giver or evil doer, our deity is no better than pagan gods.
    What then is the problem, the character of God or our perception of Him.

  4. raw spoon says:

    Franklin and Karen! Your comments add a lot! Thank you for helping me and my other readers out with your insights. This is a super tough question facing our culture.