There's one thing I can never understand, and it's the perceived dichotomy between the "all-loving God" and the "vengeful God". Apparently God is to be feared, because he is all-powerful and could exact all sorts of damages upon us and our souls if he so chose to. But on the other hand he loves us with a more pure and generous love than anything else can offer. It doesn't sound like a very nice relationship to enter into willingly.
This month, Outreach Media have gone with this poster:
The message reads 'Scared? Fear the Maker. "The fear of The Lord us the beginning of wisdom" The Bible'
. It reinforces the fear factor by including a picture of a snarling lion, and this lion is pissed! Just look at those fangs, and the squinty eyes which say "I'm going to eat your scrawny human ass." Definitely not something to be messed with, and if I were to be approached by a lion showing these aggressive signals in the wilds of Africa, I would probably pee my pants with fear.
The webpage for the poster
starts with a bit of a story about just how frightening lions are, and then goes on to say that you should fear God. Why? Well this is what they have to say about that:
"The Bible says very clearly that: “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom”. We should be afraid of God. He’s very powerful. He invented the lion with his claws and teeth and, like the lion He made, He has power over our lives. Unlike the lion, He’s not confined to the Savannas of Africa. We will have to meet him one day."
So God is like a lion, only he "invented" lions so he is scarier than a lion. It goes on:
"Thankfully, God is not only fearful, but loving. He sent Jesus to make it possible for us to come close to Him. So if you’re afraid of meeting Him then ask Jesus for help. Jesus’s death on the cross pays for your sin so you can come close to God without experiencing His terrifying anger."
Phew! That's a relief! Lucky he sent Jesus down to save us from the sins he apparently bestowed upon us in the first place, or he would scourge us with his "terrifying anger", and we wouldn't want that would we?
Now, here's where the problem lies.
The God we should be afraid of invented man, right? He then made women from man, told them not to be aware of themselves, or anything around them, and when they disobeyed he cursed every human thereafter to be in sin, as a debt to him for inventing us. We are told he is a loving God, but we are also told he is a jealous God:
Deuteronomy 6:15 "for the LORD your God, who is among you, is a jealous God and his anger will burn against you, and he will destroy you from the face of the land."
He is a hate-filled God:
Prov. 6:16-19, "There are six things which the Lord hates, yes, seven which are an abomination to Him: 17 Haughty eyes, a lying tongue, and hands that shed innocent blood, 18 A heart that devises wicked plans, feet that run rapidly to evil, 19 A false witness who utters lies, and one who spreads strife among brothers."
He is a vengeful God:
Psalm 94:1 "O LORD, the God who avenges, O God who avenges, shine forth."
If this God were to exist, to tell you the truth, he sounds like a bit of an asshole to me. True I am cherry-picking the Bible to make my point, but what is my point exactly?
Religions play on the fears of humans, most strikingly the fear of death and the unknown thereafter. They use this fear to keep the people in line with the outcomes they wish to see, because if someone is afraid for their lives, they will be all the more likely to do as is demanded of them by those they are afraid of. The organised religions have used their figureheads such as popes, priests and imams to announce to the people that is they do not heed their words, then the outcomes for the poor peasantry will be dire, and this is based only on the book which they created and control. A scared citizenry is easier to control, and add to the fear of death, the potential for pain and sufferring AFTER death, the people become putty in the hands of the religion.
They tell us to fear and love God, because if we don't he will hurt us. This sounds a lot like an abusive relationship
, don't you think? The website Helpguide.org in its section about Domestic Violence And Abuse
says this about the signs of an abusive relationship:
"There are many signs of an abusive relationship. The most telling sign is fear of your partner. If you feel like you have to walk on eggshells around your partner—constantly watching what you say and do in order to avoid a blow-up—chances are your relationship is unhealthy and abusive. Other signs that you may be in an abusive relationship include a partner who belittles you or tries to control you, and feelings of self-loathing, helplessness, and desperation."
Fear? Check. Walking on eggshells to avoid a blow-up? Check. Control? Check. Self-loathing (in this case of humanity itself) helplessness and desperation? Check.
If God were a a husband in a relationship with a human, he would likely be locked up, or at a minimum be given a restraining order. Hardly sounds like a loving God to me.