The McGILL DAILY October 24, 1955

The Immorality of God

by Donald Kingsbury


"Now in the morning as He returned into the city, He hungered. And when he saw a fig tree in the way, He came to it, and found nothing thereon, but leaves only, and said unto it, 'Let no fruit grow on thee henceforward forever.' And presently the fig tree withered away."

St. Matthew 21: 18, 19


It is a matter of history that Christianity has, in general, been intolerant and often brutal toward its non-conformists. The fact that it has also shown love and charity does not excuse these atrocities. One could make a long list of kindnesses performed by the German Gestapo but this in no way proves that the Gestapo was a good thing. A useful judgment of institutions, philosophies, religions, scientific theories is based on their failures, not upon their successes.

When I have a theological debate with devout Christians they almost always defend Christianity with an assumption which I shall restate in rather blunt terms; if an evil deed is done by a Christian it is because he is human, if a good deed is done by a Christian it is because he is a Christian, i.e. Christianity is good by definition. I cannot accept such a definition. To me, if a Christian is bad it is because he is a Christian. I think I can show why.

One of the things which emerges with force upon reading the New Testament is the fact that Christ offers nothing to those who do not accept Christ. "But whosoever shall deny me before men, him will I also deny before my Father which is in heaven." Jesus loves occasionally but he curses often and it is obvious whom he curses. Read His explanation of the parable of the Tares in Matthew 13. "The Son of man shall send forth His angels, and they shall gather out of His kingdom all things that offend, and them which do iniquity; and shall cast them into a furnace of fire; there shall be wailing and gnashing of teeth."

Christianity rejects the unrepentant sinner. From this rejection, and from this rejection directly, stems all the brutal facts of Christian history. The Jews and the heretics who were burned alive were butchered because they were unrepentant sinners, not because the bishops were barbarians. Whatever we think of burning sinners alive, within the structure of Christian morals we cannot condemn it. We can say that the bishops were presumptuous since their judgment could never be the "perfect" justice of God; we can condemn them for denying God His pleasures -- but as Christians we cannot condemn the act of burning sinners. Why? Because as Christians we believe that God is moral by definition, we believe in His word as revealed by Christ and Christ has revealed to us that God tortures unrepentant sinners. If the Christian God is moral, then torture is moral.

And don't throw the Golden Rule at me, or Christ's admonition to love one's enemies. Once when I was kicking about Philadelphia in my youth, one of my charming friends was an ex-prostitute. She had a unique idea of fun which rather worried her husband -- and horrified her sister who consequently treated her very meanly. I put the Golden Rule to the sister and will never forget her reply. "If I were a prostitute I would deserve everything I got; I'd want people to hurt me." So much for the Golden Rule. As for loving your enemies, that's because you are too feeble-minded to judge them. Christ never said anything about loving His enemies. He certainly conjured up enough bloody thrills for those poor souls. "Blessed are the unrepentant sinners for they shall inherit the Kingdom of Hell."

I have spent years evolving my own private religion because my moral heritage has frightened me. It is a gentle, but strong religion, full of compassion, which enters fields that the Christian religion has never had the intellect to enter. It rejects punishment, in Hell or on earth, humiliation, and fear as methods of controlling anti-social people. I once told this to a Christian friend of mine and he looked incredulous. He, as does almost every Christian I have ever met, cannot even conceive of a society where sin is not controlled by punishment. To me this is one of the evidences of the bankruptcy of the Christian moral code. My friend asked me what would replace punishment. I had a one word answer for him; "Love," I said, but he did not understand. Modern Christians have no idea of the potential of love. Neither did their Teacher. I am a humble, ordinary man and yet I love those whom the God Jesus could not bring Himself to love. One of the things I would like to do with my life is to teach the pagan Christians the fine art of making love.

I do not know whether the Christian God exists or not. I do know that I could never return to the Christianity of my forebears. If God in His great mercy allowed me to enter Heaven, I could not and would not, for my conscience would remember my wife, and my ex-girl friends, and my friends, and all those men and devils in Hell. Heaven is a beautiful place but it would torture me for I am a moral man and immorality pains me. Hell has only physical discomfort and ugliness. "Get thee before me Satan. I pledge thee my soul forever, or until, together, we can teach Christ's Father the rudiments of civilized ethics."


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