Some parents have a hard time not being oppressive dictators, especially when they uncritically swallow all the divisive shit regurgitated by their religious leaders. Sure, some people are simply selfish and abusive. But to get a genuinely loving parent to act like a tyrant, that requires religion, or something like it. They have to be convinced that the harm they cause is actually good.
So that is what religion does.
From beginning to end, the bible is clear that god demands loyalty to himself over the well-being and even the very lives of your own children. You’re probably familiar with the story of Abraham, who was told to murder his son as a sacrifice to god, because of course child sacrifice is fine as long as you’re doing it for the right god. A lesser known story of child sacrifice is that of Jephthah in Judges 11-12. He was a judge of Israel and a great warrior, who promised god that if they won the battle, he’d make a burnt sacrifice of whatever first came out of his house upon his return. The sacrifice ended up being his only daughter, and since you can’t take back a promise to god, he was forced to go through with it. Too bad. At least she got a couple months to go out and mourn the fact that she’d never have sex, before he killed her.
It isn’t just the Old Testament where obeying god may require sacrificing children. The entire basis of both Judaism and Christianity is sacrificing the innocent to atone for the guilty, which itself is evil enough without bringing in human sacrifice. In the Old Testament, it was innocent animals that were sacrificed. In the New Testament, it was an innocent man who was sacrificed. At least that’s the claim, although since Jesus was somehow also an immortal all-powerful deity, it’s more like he just had a bad weekend for your sins. That was no genuine sacrifice. But before he was mildly inconvenienced for a day or two by crucifixion, Jesus did say that you must be willing to sacrifice everything for him, including your loved ones:
“Do not suppose that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I did not come to bring peace, but a sword. For I have come to turn a man against his father, a daughter against her mother, a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law—a man’s enemies will be the members of his own household. Anyone who loves their father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; anyone who loves their son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me.” – Matthew 10:34-37
“If anyone comes to me and does not hate father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters—yes, even their own life—such a person cannot be my disciple.” – Luke 14:26
Yes, even Jesus is an abusive narcissistic tyrant who would have you hate your own children to save yourself from the wrath of his emotionally unstable dad. Like father, like son.
He also said that the entirety of the old law would remain in effect until the end of the universe (Matthew 5:17-20), and anyone who taught people to disregard even one of those laws would be least in the kingdom of heaven. Which means he implicitly upheld this command from Deuteronomy:
“If your very own brother, or your son or daughter, or the wife you love, or your closest friend secretly entices you, saying, “Let us go and worship other gods” (gods that neither you nor your ancestors have known, gods of the peoples around you, whether near or far, from one end of the land to the other), do not yield to them or listen to them. Show them no pity. Do not spare them or shield them. You must certainly put them to death. Your hand must be the first in putting them to death, and then the hands of all the people. Stone them to death, because they tried to turn you away from the Lord your God, who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery. Then all Israel will hear and be afraid, and no one among you will do such an evil thing again.” – Deuteronomy 13:6-11
I’m writing on this subject because a particularly disturbing article was brought to my attention recently. This woman claims her son has rebelled against god, and that the only contact they have with him now is limited to “attempts at restoration”. In other words, they only interact with him by trying to manipulate him into thinking the same things they do. God and his sycophants are the ultimate thought police.
She writes this:
The fact is, I don’t know this person that I once thought I knew so well. Was I blind to things that I should have seen? I believed our relationship was so close. I adored this child. Was the love our son expressed to us all a lie? How does one go from being a respectful obedient child to flagrantly disregarding everything we taught him and everything that we stand for?
It sounds like you never knew him. All you knew was an ideal that you projected onto him, a fantasy of a child who you thought you could force into a perfect mold. He’s an independent person with his own thoughts, and you want to control those thoughts instead of listening to them. You don’t know him because you don’t listen.
He probably genuinely loves you. He probably wishes he could interact with you without being treated like a traitor who must bow to your wishes and agree with every absurdity you believe before you will show him the respect he deserves as a fellow human being.
Her self-victimization goes on and on…
Sometimes the hardest thing are the memories. Remembering the joy I felt in that plump baby who looked at me so adoringly. I remember when he sat on the kitchen counter helping peel potatoes or stir ingredients into the batter. I remember our home school days at the kitchen table and reading together on the couch. I remember singing harmony together in the kitchen. I remember the pride I felt when he led singing or gave a talk at young men’s night at church. Those memories are all I have left now. There are no more to make.
As far as I can tell, the only thing stopping you from making more is your own arrogant bigotry.
Based on the scriptures cited and the tone of the article, I immediately suspected that his great “sin” was being gay. After a little digging, it appears I was correct, and in fact her article was released on his wedding day. He hasn’t even left the religion. According to her responses to comments on the article, her son is still a believer. He merely found love with another man, and to her that is enough to write him off as a lost cause, destined for hell. She claims to love him unconditionally, but after reading her article and knowing it was a response to her son’s wedding, I don’t think she loves him at all. I think she loves an imaginary idea of who she wants him to be, and she hates the real person who took her ideal son away from her.
She’s giving him one of the best reasons there is to take the next step and abandon religion: a demonstration of how selfish and evil their god really is, and how harmful his commands are when followed strictly. As more and more young people leave religion, their insecure parents keep wailing about how their child has disobeyed god, yet none of them are actually willing to do what their god commands. As I tear apart their pathetic arguments and ridicule their god, enticing their children to follow reason and science instead, they continue to claim that they are guided by a deity who commands them to kill me. Do they actually follow what’s in that book? Or are they simply picking out whichever pieces are convenient for controlling the lives of other people?
Every Christian faces the dilemma of determining whether a piece of their holy scripture should be followed or ignored, when it inevitably challenges their innate sense of morality. Some, like this woman’s son, dismiss the parts about gayness being evil. Others, like this woman, dismiss the parts about killing gay people and rebellious children and unbelievers. On the other side, I’ve debated some who claimed that murdering unbelievers and enslaving people as permanent property are morally good things. They’re each creating a religion and a god in their own image, to serve their own subjective morals.
One woman believes god wants her to disown her son. Another believes he wants her to kill her son. What’s the difference? Either way, they’re deciding to follow certain commands and ignoring others. These decisions are not moral. This is not an exercise of morality, because these people are not distinguishing between good and evil. They are accepting orders from authority, regardless of the fact that some of those orders are blatantly evil, and using that authority to validate their own prejudice. If you abdicate your responsibility for distinguishing between good and evil, you can feel justified in calling good things evil, and calling evil things good, because who are you to question the arbitrary commands of authority?
Morality is simply the process of thinking before you act about whether your action will produce harmful results or not. If the minimization of suffering is your desired result, then you should make moral choices concordant with that goal. I don’t see why anyone has to bring god into it. All the gods do is muddle it up and make people think that sometimes it is good to increase unnecessary suffering. Nowhere is that more evident than in the Christian bible, with all its evil family-destroying advice, and in the miserable lives of self-martyring Christians who are more interested in hurting people who disagree than improving the well-being of their fellow humans.