Is God Sadistic?
Does God inflict unconstitutional "cruel and unusual" punishment?
For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men who suppress the truth in unrighteousness, because that which is known about God is evident within them; for God made it evident to them. For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being
understood through what has been made, so that they are without excuse. For even though they knew God, they did not honor Him as God or give thanks, but they became futile in their speculations, and their fool-ish heart was darkened. Professing to be wise, they became fools, and exchanged the glory of the incorruptible God for an image in the form of corruptible man and of birds and four-footed animals and crawling creatures.
Therefore God gave them over in the lusts of their hearts to im-purity, so that their bodies would be dishonored among them. For they exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever. Amen.
For this reason God gave them over to degrading passions; for their women exchanged the natural function for that which is unnatural, and in the same way also the men abandoned the natural function of the woman and burned in their desire toward one another, men with men commit-ting indecent acts and receiving in their own persons the due penalty of their error.
And just as they did not see fit to acknowledge God any longer, God gave them over to a depraved mind, to do those things which are not proper, being filled with all unrighteousness,
wickedness, greed, evil; full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, malice; they are gossips, slanderers, haters of God, insolent, arrogant, boastful, inventors of evil, disobedient to parents, without nderstanding, untrustworthy, unloving, un-merciful; and although they know the ordinance of God, that those who practice such things are worthy of death, they not only do the same, but also give hearty approval to those who practice them.
SADISTIC ACCUSATION #2: The biblical God is also guilty of inflicting punishments that are grossly disproportionate to the acts committed. In the American legal system, such disproportion violates the U.S. Constitutions Eighth Amendment, which prohibits cruel and unusual punishments.
Obviously, to punish people who are completely innocent, as seen in the preceding Bible verses, constitutes punishment that is horribly disproportionate to the moral culpability
of the recipients.
I don't need to go through the humanist's accusations and justify God's commands. He is God, and what He says and does is always right and good. He may not always explain what He is doing, but we can know for sure that it is always right and good, even if we don't understand.
And I don't need to write all of these web pages. God makes it clear in Romans 1, beginning in verse 18, that EVERYONE knows what they need to know about God; and they know they are sinners under the wrath of God. But they willingly and intentionally suppress the truth. So I don't need to be spending all these many days writing these web pages. Humanists are without excuse, whether they accept or reject what I write.
So why go through answering all of the humanist's accusations and false claims? Because this is a good way to study scripture and learn about the consistent, unchanging character of God. It provides a framework for investigating and learning about aspects of God's character I never would have studied otherwise. So, at least for me, this isn't about refuting humanists, it's about God, and learning more about our creator and His will for us.
Yes God. The one whom they deny, but they know exists.
So let's take a look at this next set of accusations:
But first, an important question. How do humanists determine that something is good or evil? How do they know a punishment is "grossly disproportionate" or is completely just? What is the source of their standards? If you are going to make a judgment, there must be a standard used to define that judgment.
In this case they appeal to the 8th amendment to United States Constitution, which prohibits "cruel and unusual punishment." But, what is defined as "cruel and unusual?"
No definition is given. We are left to assume that whatever the humanists put on their list must be cruel and unusual punishment. And, of course, without knowing their definitions or reasoning, it is impossible to refute what they say.
But, we'll try anyway, because we do have known standards and rational reasons. God has defined what is just, and what is cruel or unusual.
In this section of the humanist's web page, the author seems to give an explanation of his reasoning, but when compared with reality, his explanation is without any basis. Here is what he writes:
Obviously, to punish people who are completely innocent, as seen in the preceding Bible verses, constitutes punishment that is horribly disproportionate to the moral culpability of the recipients. And there are other instances where the biblical Gods punishments are shockingly harsh compared to the acts committed.
We've examined all of the "preceding Bible verses" and found that in each case none of those receiving punishment were innocent. So the humanist's first sentence is based on a false premise, and thus any conclusions based on this premise may be in error... and in this case his conclusions are completely false. The first sentence is nothing more than a propaganda statement that should be ignored.
The second claim, that some of God's punishments are "shockingly harsh compared to the acts committed" has also been shown to be false based on the examples we've already examined. In many cases the "punishment" is to give people exactly what they seek, separation from God (and the resulting natural consequences.)
The 8th Amendment
God is not bound to obey a human law, but man is bound to obey God's laws.
Human laws should be fully compatible with God's laws. God's laws set the standard that human laws must meet... not the other way around.
God is the creator who made everything and who owns everything. He defines what is good and what is evil. He defines what is good for us and what is harmful to us. He defines what is cruel and what is appropriate punishment.
However, the humanist author gives some examples that supposedly support his assertions. So let's take a look at each of those. Once again they are just listed with no indication of why the humanist feel these represent "shockingly harsh" punishments. So we'll need to make some assumptions. Here is the list:
For example, the Old Testament says the Lord prescribed execution for the crimes of working on the Sabbath (Exodus 31:15); cursing ones parents (Leviticus
20:9); worshiping other gods (Deuteronomy 17:2-5); enticing a friend or family member to worship other gods (Deuteronomy 13:6-10); being a witch, medium, or wizard (Exodus 22:18; Leviticus 20:27); engaging in homosexual acts (Leviticus 20:13); and not being a virgin on ones wedding night (Deuteronomy 22:20-21).
To begin with I need to point out that the death penalty for these offenses no longer applies today. (See the section on homosexuality below.) So we'll only be looking at these offenses from an Old Testament times perspective.
As we've been doing we'll look at these one-by-one:
Working on the Sabbath
For six days work may be done, but on the seventh day there is a Sabbath of complete rest, holy to the Lord; whoever does any work on the Sabbath day shall surely
be put to death. - Exodus 31:15
The Punishment Depends on Who the Offense is Against
In a previous response I gave an example that demonstrates that the severity of the punishment depends on who the offense is against. It is worth reiterating here:
If I lie to my three year old son, what are the consequences? Probably there are none.
If I lie to my wife, what are the consequences? I may a spend a night on the couch.
If I lie to my boss, what are the consequences? I may be fired and be unemployed for a while.
If I lie to a grand jury, what are the consequences? I may spend some time behind bars.
In each case the offense was the same... a lie. But the con-sequences are very different. Why? Because the severity of the punishment is related to both the severity of the offense, and who the offense is against.
Remember, God is holy, righteous, perfect, infinite, and eternal.
To sin means to break God's laws... you are created in God's image and to sin means you have misrepresented His character. So the offense is against God.
While there may be human consequences, God may also impose earthly consequences (which are designed to turn as many people as possible away from sin), and will impose eternal consequences. An offense against a perfect, holy, infinite, and eternal God, results in a penalty that is justly infinite and eternal.
To understand the penalty, you must understand what the Sabbath is.
The Ten Commandments can be divided into two parts. The first three are about loving God perfectly. The last six are about loving man perfectly. In the middle is the 4th... the commandment about the Sabbath.
If the humanist had started reading Exodus 31 six verses sooner, they'd have their answer. Keeping the Sabbath was a sign to remind the people of Israel of their creator and their obligation to keep God's law -- love God and love other people. It is not a moral command, but a sign.
The Abrahamic Covenant had a sign, circumcision. The Noahic Covenant had a sign, the rainbow. Every Sabbath day was a sign to remind the people of Israel that they were to keep (obey) the Ten Commandments. It reminded them that God is righteous and will hold them accountable to obey His law.
This is very serious. God did not want people to be distracted from the purpose of the Sabbath by their normal daily activities. He didn't want the Sabbath to became a day like any other day. It was a day to remember that God created them and He was the law giver. To contemplate their status before the holy law of God, and their obligation to love God and love other people (the law), and their inability to keep that law.
Having a day dedicated to focusing on their creator God, His laws, and meditating on their inability to keep those laws was important for their eternal sake. Breaking the Sabbath was an open rebellion against God and the Covenant of God's law, and thus breaking the Sabbath deserved the death penalty. Those who disregarded the Sabbath would, even just by their example, lead others to follow them, and that brought eternal death. The physical death penalty for violators of the Sabbath was appropriate.
We should also note that breaking the Sabbath meant the person was no longer a part of the covenant. They were now literally dead in the sense of being separated from God. So although they did not receive the physical penalty for breaking the Sabbath, they still received the death penalty.
Cursing One's Parents
To explain why the penalty is so severe I'll start by quoting the scripture the humanists reference, Leviticus 20:9. This verse relates back to the fifth commandment, which is the first commandment in the section on human relations (loving other people) in the Ten Commandments. God requires us to honor our mother and father. Deuteronomy 21 also has something to say about this, so I'll quote that also:
If there is anyone who curses his father or his mother, he shall surely be put to death; he has cursed his father or his mother, his bloodguiltiness is upon him. - Leviticus 20:9
If any man has a stubborn and rebellious son who will not obey his father or his mother, and when they chastise him, he will not even listen to them, then his father and mother shall seize him, and bring him out to the elders of his city at the gateway of his hometown. They shall say to the elders of his city, "This son of ours is stubborn and rebellious, he will not obey us, he is a glutton and a drunkard." Then all the men of his city shall stone him to death; so you shall remove the evil from your midst, and all Israel will hear of it and fear.- Deuteronomy 21:18-21
Answers to all of the humanist accusations are already available on the web. All they need to do is look. For example, the Got Questions web site has a concise explanation of what this is about. Here is a brief summary:
First we need to understand the context. This law is in a section of scripture that is talking about horrendous and atrocious types of sins. These are sins that will destroy a family or a nation. Leviticus is not talking about a one-time, moment of anger, throwing of a curse word at your parents, as the humanists hope to imply. This law is not about a minor infraction, but
a serious rebellion, deep hatred, and a danger to both the parents and society in general.
We see more of that in Deuteronomy where the son is described in more detail as stubborn and rebellious. The language used also indicates this is a continuous rebellion and long-term, ongoing refusal to respond to his parents discipline ("he will not obey us"). The son's character is that of a self-centered, trouble maker characterized as a "glutton and drunkard.".
The humanist also seem to want to imply that, if a child curses their parents, the parents can stone them. That's not the case. Notice in Deuteronomy that the rebellious son is brought before the elders of the city. In other words, there is trial... evidence is presented... and a judgment is made as to what punishment is appropriate. Only if the son is proven guilty, and is truly a danger to himself, to his family and to society, and if the elders judge it appropriate, is the death penalty then applied.
Worshiping Other Gods
Here is the scripture the humanist references:
If there is found in your midst, in any of your towns, which the Lord your God is giving you, a man or a woman who does what is evil in the sight of the Lord your God, by transgressing His covenant, and has gone and served other gods and worshiped them, or the sun or the moon or any of the heavenly host, which I have not commanded, and if it is told you and you have heard of it, then you shall inquire thoroughly. Behold, if it is true and the thing certain that this detestable thing has been done in Israel, then you shall bring out that man or that woman who has done this evil deed to your gates, that is, the man or the woman, and you shall stone them to death. - Deuteronomy 17:2-5
Idolatry is serious and is dealt with severely. Notice, however, that the judges are commanded to do a thorough investigation: "you shall inquire thoroughly" and it must be both true and certain that the accused is serving and worshipping other Gods. Only then can the punishment be imposed.
Notice that in every example the humanists bring up God has clearly established the law in advance; there must be certain proof of the offense; and the penalty is stated and known to all. But
more than that... a number of the examples we've looked at are prophecies in which God says there is disobedience, and if things don't change the consequences (punishment) will happen. In other words, He warns them in advance that justice is coming. What is wrong with that?
What the humanists are really saying is that they don't like God's laws... they don't want to be accountable... they want to make the rules. And then, of course, you will be subject to their rules. John 3:19 says:
This is the judgment, that the Light has come into the world, and men loved the darkness rather than the Light, for their deeds were evil. -- In other words they love their sin (darkness), and that is why the reject God (the Light). Their problem is not that God is cruel, the real issue is that they worship (honor, respect, praise, etc.) themselves and don't want to obey God... and they evangelize to convert others to their rejection of God. (As demonstrated by their web site.)
That is a serious offense against God. Not just because that individual rejects God, but because they will lead others away from life and into rejection of God. Notice that a requirement for them to be investigated is that "it is told you and you have heard of it." That means that they have made their rejection of God public knowledge. They are talking about it to others.
If someone rejects God, and keeps that to themselves, there is no penalty. Their penalty will come after they physically die. But if they start telling others, that becomes a danger to the community. Innocent people will be deceived and lead away from the LORD (exactly what the humanists are trying to do). That must be stopped, and so the death penalty is applied. It is just and fair.
This becomes very clear when we look at the humanist's next accusation:
Enticing a Friend or Family Member to Worship Other Gods
If your brother, your mothers son, or your son or daughter, or the wife you cherish, or your friend who is as your own soul, entice you secretly, saying, "Let us go and serve other gods" (whom neither you nor your fathers have known, of the gods of the peoples who are around you, near you or far from you, from one end of the earth to the other end), you shall not yield to him or listen to him; and your eye shall not pity him, nor shall you spare or conceal him. But you shall surely kill him; your hand shall be first against him to put him to death, and afterwards the hand of all the people. So you shall stone him to death because he has sought to seduce you from the Lord your God who brought you out from the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery. - Deuteronomy 13:6-10
This is exactly the same situation as we discussed above. What is interesting is that the humanist did not include verse 11, which explains by the death penalty applies:
Then all Israel will hear and be afraid, and will never again do such a wicked thing among you. - Deuteronomy 13:11
The reason the penalty is so serious is that allowing the person to continue is a grave danger to all of Israel... many innocent people will be deceived and harmed.
Notice that Deuteronomy 13:10 provides additional details about why this is a serious offense... it is an offense against the good God who saved you from slavery. By the way, that is what Jesus will do for you. He will save you from slavery to sin, if you accept His gift of life.
Jesus answered them, Truly, truly, I say to you, everyone who commits sin is the slave of sin." - John 8:34
By the way, if you are getting the impression that scripture says that humanists should get the death penalty, you would be right... if we lived in Old Testament times. But we don't.
Today we are not under the Mosaic Covenant, but the New Covenant... a covenant of grace. That means humanists, and all non-believes, are being given grace. They are being given second chance after second chance to repent and trust Jesus as their Savior. This incredible grace continues until the moment they die...
It is appointed for men to die once and after this comes judgment - Hebrews 9:27
Being a Witch, Medium, or Wizard
You shall not allow a sorceress to live. - Exodus 22:18
Now a man or a woman who is a medium or a spiritist shall surely be put to death. They shall be stoned with stones, their bloodguiltiness is upon them. -
Let's define our terms so we know what we are talking about:
Sorceress - A woman who engages in occult practices.
Occult - Pertaining to demonic powered supernatural, mystical or magical beliefs, practices, or phenomena. The occult also includes New Age beliefs and practices such as yoga, mindfulness, and listening to your god's "inner" voice within you.
Medium or spiritualist - people who act as go-betweens so as to contact the spirits of the dead (who are in reality being impersonated by demons).
First, be aware that the occult is real. In some instances there is fakery, but don't start thinking it is all fakery. The occult is real and powerful, and very dangerous.
Scripture has many warnings against the occult:
When you enter the land which the Lord your God gives you, you shall not learn to imitate the detestable things of those nations. There shall not be found among you anyone who makes his son or his daughter pass through the fire, one who uses divination, one who practices witchcraft, or one who interprets omens, or a sorcerer, or one who casts a spell, or a medium, or a spiritist, or one who calls up the dead. For whoever does these things is detestable to the Lord; and because of these detestable things the Lord your God will drive them out before you. You shall be blameless before the Lord your God.- Deuteronomy 18:9-13
Why are these things detestable to the Lord. Because they involve demons and demonic powers and forces. It is, in effect, worshipping demons. Some people think that through the use of spells and incantations they are controlling demons. That's simply not true. They are not controlling the demons, the demons are using them.
This places the occult into the same category as worshipping other gods... and in this case sorceresses, mediums, and witches are the priests and priestesses.
Scripture even warns us that as we approach the end times, doctrines of demons -- referring to the occult and including New Age -- will become popular:
But the Spirit explicitly says that in later times some will fall away from the faith, paying attention to deceitful spirits and doctrines of demons. - 1 Timothy 4:1
This is dangerous stuff and those who lead others into the occult needed to be stopped. Thus the death penalty is just and appropriate.
Engaging in Homosexual Acts
Leviticus 20:13 is given as the example: If there is a man who lies with a male as those who lie with a woman, both of them have committed a detestable act; they shall surely be put to death. Their bloodguiltiness is upon them.
Other scriptures also declare that homosexuality is a sin: Genesis 19:1-13; Leviticus 18:22; Romans 1:26-27; and 1 Corinthians 6:9).
In other responses to humanist's accusations I've mentioned that when people turn away from, God gives them what they want... He withdraws, which includes withdrawing His protection and blessings. Romans 1:26-27 (quoted in the sidebar above) tells us that, when this happens, homosexuality and acceptance of homosexuality greatly increases. In other words, the growing homosexuality we see today is a result of denying and disobeying God. When people continue in sin and unbelief, God withdraws and "God gives them over to degrading passions." What this means is that God stops protecting people, and people start doing the evil they naturally want to do. By doing this God let's people experience what life is like without God and demonstrates the futility and hopelessness of life apart from God.
So is the death penalty appropriate for the sin of homosexuality?
I'm going to quote from the Got Questions web site where they address this question. They point out that:
It is crucial to understand that Jesus fulfilled the Law (Matthew 5:1718). Romans 10:4 says that Christ is the end of the Law. Ephesians 2:15 says that Jesus set aside the Law with its commands and regulations. Galatians 3:25 says, now that faith has come, we are no longer under the guardianship of the Law. The civil and ceremonial aspects of the Old Testament Law were for an earlier time. The Laws purpose was completed with the perfect and complete sacrifice of Jesus Christ. So, no, the Bible does not command that homosexuals should be put to death in this day and age.
This means that for everything we've been discussing here, the death penalty is no longer required... and that includes homosexuality. But, what about back in the time when Leviticus was written? Again I quote Got Questions:
The Bible describes homosexuality as an abomination, an immoral perversion of Gods created order. The purity of Gods people in the Promised Land was vitally important, as was the continuance of bloodlines (one of which would lead to the Messiah). That is why God demanded the death penalty for those who engaged in homosexual intercourse.
The Got Questions web site says a lot more than I have room for here, so I suggest you read their full answer to this question. Click here.
Not Being a Virgin on Ones Wedding Night
But if this charge is true, that the girl was not found a virgin, then they shall bring out the girl to the doorway of her fathers house, and the men of her
city shall stone her to death because she has committed an act of folly in Israel by playing the harlot in her fathers house; thus you shall purge the evil from among you. - Deuteronomy 22:20-21
Notice this scripture quote starts with the word "but." That means it is referring back to what was said previously and not referenced by the humanists. In other words, this scripture is being taken out of context.
If you go back to verse 13 you see this is a law relating to misrepresentation, deception, and adultery.
To start, realize that sex outside of marriage is forbidden. That means when a woman married, she had to be a virgin.
Starting in verse 13 the law first says that if a man marries a woman, and decides he does not like her, so to get out of the marriage he accuses her of not being a virgin. If that were true, that would end the marriage. But, if this claim is made there will be an investigation, and if his charge is proven false there are serious penalties for the man.
But, if his charge is true... if it is proven the woman was not a virgin, that is very serious. First, it means that she lied and misrepresented herself in order to get married. Second, it means she is committing adultery, as she has already become one flesh with another man. Adultery is punishable by death. Third, she has brought her new "husband" into an adulterous relationship.
All of this makes the death penalty just and appropriate.
I should note that although the law prescribes the death penalty, there is no record that it ever was imposed. An interesting example is Joseph and Mary (the mother of Jesus). They were betrothed, which meant that they were legally married. Then Mary, through the Holy Spirit, becomes pregnant with Jesus. When Joseph finds out, what is he going to think? Mary is pregnant, that means she is no longer a virgin... and that means she should be stoned.
What does Joseph do?
At first he wants to send Mary away to a place where she is not known. She can then have the baby, and because people do not know what happened, she will escape being stoned.
But then an angel explains to Joseph what is happening. Mary is pregnant, but the baby is from the Holy Spirit and she is still a virgin... there is no "crime" and no reason to a stone her. So Joseph stays with her, probably pretending the baby is his... they remain married, and Jesus is born.
We've looked at all of the examples the humanists brought up, placing them in their cultural and historical context... the conclusion: The death penalty was appropriate for these offenses at the time the referenced scriptures were written. God is not sadistic. His actions and punishments are just and appropriate.
Next accusation: In the New Testament, God became far worse in regard to imposing excessively severe punishments. It would be hard to imagine anything more cruel and disproportionate than punishing people with eternal torture for mere disbelief that Jesus was the son of God.
The inability to believe that proposition harms no one, and it has been disbelieved by some of the greatest benefactors of humanity. Nonetheless, God promises to punish them and all other nonbelievers with the most horrible pain conceivable.
Is what the humanists say true!? Let's find out.