What should you make of a deity that instructs you to murder your homosexual friends on Monday, but to love them and treat them with kindness on Wednesday? All because of what happened on Tuesday?
This is the summation of “God’s Plan” outlined in the Old and New Testaments, and many absolutely appalling crimes, committed by man and God alike, could be substituted in for homosexuality: God deceiving, murdering, humiliating, and selling people; men oppressing women, committing genocide, sacrificing humans, enslaving innocents, and executing people for nonviolent crimes — all according to God’s laws, commands, or acquiescence. Yes, the use of a few days is tongue in cheek, but what is 1,000 years to an eternal God?
The other option, of course, is that God changed enormously for the better, spending his younger years a monster but eventually growing up and embracing the ethics of love and mercy. As the idea of a changing God is flatly rejected by Christians (as is the idea of God being manmade and changed by man over time), there is little more to say on the matter.
Instead, believers insist Jesus Christ came (on Tuesday) to do away with all the old, barbaric laws, usually pretending that God himself didn’t write those very laws or personally order the Hebrews to commit atrocities like the slaughter of women and children, as documented in the link above. For those who actually read their Bible and acknowledge these crimes are God’s Will, careful consideration must be made as to what this means concerning God’s character and his “plan.”
Man’s story in the Bible can be divided into 3 parts.
In Part One, man and woman were created and were sinless; this allowed them to dwell with a sinless God in the Garden.
In Part Two, man and woman sinned; the consequence for this was separation from God and the prospect of facing his judgement not only after death but here in this world. Punishments were immediate, either by man or by God. He destroyed the elderly, men, women, and children through flood and fire from Heaven to abolish evil and punish sin, not just ending their lives but, presumably, sending them straight to Hell.
The way to avoid eternal torture was to stay true to God, live according to the laws of scripture (no matter how many people you had to kill), and pray and offer sacrifices to atone for your sins. According to Christians, if this had not been the way of doing things, God would not have been Good, since by definition everything he does is Good. If he did not command the Hebrews to execute rebellious sons, or ban disabled persons from approaching the holy altar, he was imperfect.
In Part Three, the death and resurrection of Christ offered respite from God’s wrath and judgement. Jesus died as painfully as each sinful person deserved, a single sacrifice to atone for all sin, so the old ways of doing things became unnecessary. God no longer needed to punish evil (during an evildoers’ lifetime) to be Good, nor did man. God’s righteous judgement was therefore confined to the afterlife. The way to avoid Hell was then to believe in Christ’s resurrection and live for him.
What’s interesting about Part Two is that God actually thought it would be a good idea to hand authority to carry out his judgement to men. This put quite a high degree of trust in Jewish leaders and the community at large. How many people died for crimes they did not commit? How many executions were based on sloppy investigations, prejudice, or personal vendettas?
One can only hope God stepped in to prevent such blunders, hopefully saving virgin girls suspected of being non-virgins from execution (the actual non-virgins, of course, got what they deserved). Or perhaps God brought to Heaven those falsely condemned, and punished those who wrongly accused them. Still, one might wonder: Wouldn’t it have been smarter for God to keep such authority for himself, to avoid tragic accidents in the administering of justice?
According to God’s Plan, the time was simply not right for such an idea until after Jesus was resurrected. In Part Three, judgement was withheld until death for those who didn’t believe, and lifted completely for those who did. The death of Jesus ended the period of God pouring wrath upon the earth; even the billions who never heard of Christ were spared, at least until they died and went to Hell (or got a free pass, if you’re one of those “liberal Christians” who thinks such things). Plus, the authority to carry out God’s judgment no longer rested with men. Now leaders and communities were encouraged to help the rebellious son (for it is not the well who need a doctor, but the sick), accept and love a disabled person as if he were Jesus, and preach the Good News to worshippers of other gods all across the globe, rather than murder them. If God did not command these things, he could not be Good.
There are two ramifications of all this.
First, if this was the plan of an all-knowing, unchanging God, he consciously decided that for several thousand years he would slaughter evildoers and send them to Hell, and encourage the Jews to do the same, before offering humanity an end to his own wrath and slaughter!
According to Christians, man’s sin is the true problem. Yet obviously God’s reaction to that sin makes a dramatic, predetermined shift. For 4,000 years, between the fall of man and the salvation of man, righteousness required God to intervene in our world and kill sinners, and instruct man to kill sinners. Then this wrathful God took human form and died, taking a bullet for the sinful people born or living in the 1st century A.D. and onward, accepting his own punishment he used on the wicked. After this, righteousness required God to refrain from intervening in our world to punish evil (saving that for after death), and to instruct man to love sinners, giving sinners their natural lifespans to hear about and accept forgiveness through Jesus Christ.
The second ramification is that if you were born during those 4,000 years, you were simply unlucky.
Are you a homosexual? Someone of a different faith? Someone living on land a God you’ve never heard of claimed for a people you’ve never met? That is unfortunate, for you were born at the wrong place and the wrong time. You will be killed and spend eternity in Hell. People were sinners in Part Two and sinners in Part Three, but you were born in the former and this poor happenstance means you, also a sinner, will be executed rather than loved by the followers of this God.
He dealt you a hand far worse than someone born after 33 A.D., putting you at a distinct disadvantage, as judgement is at this time immediate, and is enacted on Jews and non-Jews alike, by God and man alike. You will have a harder time making it to old age and avoiding Hell, as you have less time here and a slimmer chance to become a devout disciple of God.
Clearly, an omnipotent God could have (and a moral God would have) thought up a plan where the Hebrews were encouraged to love, forgive, and live in peace with one another the moment they left the Garden, where everyone was given a chance to live to old age rather than being snuffed out at God’s hand or man’s. “Thou shalt not kill” could have included rebellious sons; surely humanity could have handled that…surely a loving God would command it.
But that was not this God’s plan. There had to be unimaginable suffering, widespread death, and brutal oppression for a nice long while, to punish all humanity for the actions of two ancestors in a Garden.
Any deity that would construct a plan like this is both wicked and a madman.