Is God Sadistic?
swallows people... fire consumes them...
bears maul them... What is God doing?
If you've been reading these responses,
and in particular this page, you may begin to discern something about the character
of God... with God there are consequences you cannot escape.
not mentioned in the body of this page, one of the major reasons God did the things
described here (the earth opening, consuming fire, bears, lions, etc.) is to demonstrate
that, if you reject God, there are serious consequences.
you consider the amount of time the historical record of the Bible covers (about
1,500 years), and the number of times God directly judges individuals and delivers
the the just consequences of their rejecting Him, those instances are very rare.
But they are sufficient so as to make it clear that rejection of God brings death.
humanist, right now you are experiencing God's grace. He is withholding His judgment,
giving you second chance after second chance to turn to Him. Please, repent and
turn to God now. Trust Him as your Savior from the consequences of your sin...
to save you from the consequence of your disobeying God. Please. Do it today.
ACCUSATION #1: The God of the Bible displayed his
sadistic tendencies by employing a variety of other means to torment and kill
He caused the earth to open and swallow
entire families (Numbers 16:37-32); he used fire to devour people (e.g., Leviticus
10:1-2; Numbers 11:1-2); and he punished the Israelites with wars, famines, and
pestilences (e.g., Ezekiel 5:11-17).>
He sent wild
animals such as bears (II Kings 2:23-24), lions (II Kings 17:24-25), and serpents
(Numbers 21:6) to attack people; he sanctioned slavery (e.g., Leviticus 25:44-46);
he ordered religious persecution (e.g., Deuteronomy 13:12-16); and he caused cannibalism
Now the humanist author of their web page is just
trying to pile it on. Maybe he is thinking that if he brings up enough
accusations, one might stick.
What we have is an accusation of ten ways
God has used to "torment and kill people." There is no context nor explanation
accompanying any of these. You are to blindly accept the assumption these are
sadistic, and you are to use you imagination to fill in the reasons why.
answer all of these will result in this being a long page. If you don't
want to read it all, here is a summary. Each of these punishments was just and
appropriate for the crime. God is not sadistic, He is fair and His punishments
fit the situation and circumstances.
Now... let's see if we can sort them
out and see what God was doing. Let's begin with earthquakes and fire:
I've quoted the scripture reference directly from the humanist's
web site. But, what I think he is referring to is Numbers 16:31-35. Here is what
As he finished speaking
all these words, the ground that was under them split open; and the earth opened
its mouth and swallowed them up, and their households, and all the men who belonged
to Korah with their possessions. So they and all that belonged to them went down
alive to Sheol; and the earth closed over them, and they perished from the midst
of the assembly. All Israel who were around them fled at their outcry, for they
said, The earth may swallow us up! Fire also came forth from the Lord
and consumed the two hundred and fifty men who were offering the incense.
Now Nadab and
Abihu, the sons of Aaron, took their respective firepans, and after putting fire
in them, placed incense on it and offered strange fire before the Lord, which
He had not commanded them. And fire came out from the presence of the Lord and
consumed them, and they died before the Lord.
Now the people
became like those who complain of adversity in the hearing of the Lord; and when
the Lord heard it, His anger was kindled, and the fire of the Lord burned among
them and consumed some of the outskirts of the camp. The people therefore cried
out to Moses, and Moses prayed to the Lord and the fire died out.
see in every case that these punishments come on people who directly disobeyed
The tribe of Levi (Levites) had been set aside by God for service to
Him. The Kohathites were Levites who had the job of carrying articles used in
the Tabernacle whenever their camp moved. They didn't like their work and began
to covert the duties of the priests. Korah was the grandson of Kohath. He stirred
up a group of 250 men and challenged Moses and Aaron's right to the priesthood.
It was an open rebellion against Moses and more importantly against God.
is what Moses then said (Numbers 16:28-30):
said, By this you shall know that the Lord has sent me to do all these deeds;
for this is not my doing. If these men die the death of all men or if they suffer
the fate of all men, then the Lord has not sent me. But if the Lord brings about
an entirely new thing and the ground opens its mouth and swallows them up with
all that is theirs, and they descend alive into Sheol, then you will understand
that these men have spurned the Lord.
these people were "swallowed" by the earth was a one-time, supernatural
event that demonstrated that Moses was speaking the truth of God and
they were in rebellion against God. Such a dramatic death was necessary so the
people, a people who had just come out of idolatrous Egypt, would know God and
His power. As it still is today, the penalty for treason was death, and God chose
this method as a way to demonstrate who He was, and that He was not the powerless
"gods" of Egypt.
What about consuming people with fire?
humanists do not say why this is a problem for them. So I'm not sure how to answer
in a way that specifically addresses the humanist's concerns..
does not give us a specific reason for God using a consuming fire. God Himself
is called aconsuming fire in Deuteronomy 4:24 and again in 9:3. In
all of these cases the Hebrew word that is used means to utterly destroy or consume.
is also associated with God's wrath and frequently associated with purification
(refining fire), and that is what we are seeing in the above verses. Notice that
all three of these take place during the Exodus. God's people have been freed
from slavery in Egypt, but not their spiritual slavery to idols. They long to
return to Egypt (Exodus 16:3) and they even made a golden calf (Exodus 32)...
the calf was a major Egyptian deity. God had to make it clear that He is the one
and ONLY God... and He did that through a dramatic display of fire consuming those
who had rebelled against Him.
God had laid out the law and the death penalty
was the appropriate punishment. God using fire demonstrated the need need to cleanse
the people of sin.
Punishing the Israelites with wars, famines, and pestilence
example given here is Ezekiel 5:11-17. This is a prophecy that is a repetition
of the prophecy in 5:2-3. The Jews had turned from God, had disobeyed God in spite
of His kindness, and they had even defiled the sanctuary, demonstrating how totally
wicked they were. A just punishment was coming. God would withdraw his blessing
from Judah, and even withdraw His glory from the temple (Ezekiel 10)... without
His protection the Babylonians would conquer Judah and lay siege to Jerusalem,
and conquer it. Sieges often lead to famine and disease in the city that was under
siege, and this was exactly what God was saying would happen. God is warning Israel
through Ezekiel... but they refuse to turn away from evil and the prophecy becomes
God sends wild animals such as bears
2 Kings 2:23-24 is
referenced. This is a story about Elisha that is frequently cited as showing cruel
and excessive punishment. Here are the verses::
he went up from there to Bethel; and as he was going up by the way, young lads
came out from the city and mocked him and said to him, Go up, you baldhead;
go up, you baldhead! When he looked behind him and saw them, he cursed them
in the name of the Lord. Then two female bears came out of the woods and tore
up forty-two lads of their number.
If you just read
these verses quickly, it seems as though God uses two bears to maul 42 kids who
simply called Elisha a "baldy." But, there's a lot more to the story.
Let's go through this step-by-step:
First notice that the "lads"
were not killed. Other translations say "mauled." While some of the
42 were probably seriously injured, most likely none died. So if some says the
bears killed 42 people, as is frequently stated, that is a misrepresentation.
how old were these "lads?" Some even translate this as "children."
This is where having someone who can look at the original Hebrew is helpful. The
word used here can be translated as "children," but it is more like
"young adult" in English. These "lads" were most likely in
their late teens or early 20's -- old enough to know right from wrong and to be
held accountable for their actions.
What was the reason this happened?
Because they called the prophet "baldhead?" That was a serious insult
in those days. But no, that was not the main problem. The reason God sent the
bears was because they taunted him to "go up." To understand what was
happening we need some context,
This is Elisha the prophet. Just before
this Elijah the prophet had been taken by God directly into heaven, carried up
by a whirlwind. Elijah was a -- he delivered God's words to the people. He spoke
with the authority of God. When Elijah spoke on behalf of God, it was if he was
God Himself was speaking. Elisha was his replacement... an prophet and he also
spoke with the authority of God.
Where did this take place?
Near Bethel. Bethel was a center of pagan Jewish worship. Bethel was on the road
to Jerusalem. Idols had been set up in Bethel and the Jewish people of the Northern
Kingdom were told they did not need to go all of the way to the temple in Jerusalem.
They could worship right there in Bethel... and they did. So this city was the
center of evil. This is where Elisha was headed.
So why was the
taunt of "go up" such a big problem? They were taunting Elisha,
demanding that he prove he was a prophet like Elijah, by demanding that he go
up into heaven like Elijah had just done. These were pagan followers of false
idols mocking Elisha in a way that made it seem he was not a prophet. That he
was not truly Elijah's replacement. To mock God's ambassador is to mock God. Also,
to mock Elisha this way took away his authority and called into question his ability
to speak for God. He was about to enter the main center of pagan worship, and
it needed to be clear -- with no doubt in anyone's mind -- that Elisha spoke for
God. So God sent two she bears, and it became very clear that Elisha truly was
God's representative. It became very clear... undeniable... that Elisha spoke
For lions the humanist references
II Kings 17:24-25. Here is what it says:
king of Assyria brought men from Babylon and from Cuthah and from Avva and from
Hamath and Sepharvaim, and settled them in the cities of Samaria in place of the
sons of Israel. So they possessed Samaria and lived in its cities. At the beginning
of their living there, they did not fear the Lord; therefore the Lord sent lions
among them which killed some of them.
I'm assuming that
you've been reading through all of our web pages that respond to the humanist's
accusations against the Bible and God. But, maybe it would be a good idea to quickly
summarize our relationship with God... He created us, He owns us, He can do whatever
He wishes with us. However, God is good. What He wants for us is for us to live
with Him forever. Accomplishing that is what the Bible is about.
example we are looking at, Assyria has conquered the Northern Kingdom, also known
as Samaria. Most of the Jews living there have been relocated to other cities
in the Assyrian Empire, and outsiders (Gentiles) have been moved in. But, the
new people did not know God... they had no interest in God (they worshipped other
gods), nor in obeying Him. The just penalty is death. The Bible does not explain
why God uses lions, but He certainly has the right and the ability to do that.
And by using lions God brought that penalty in a way that got their attention.
humanists might say that these people had their own religion, why not just leave
them alone? They were happy with their beliefs. But that's not good.
It has to do with reality and truth. Your believing in something does not make
it true. Sorry, but that's reality. Believing in any god other than the one true
God (the creator God of the Bible) leads to death. God loves you and wants you
to live. So, for whatever reason, God chose to use lions that killed some so that
many would understand who God is and have life.
this example the humanists choose Numbers 21:6...
Lord sent fiery serpents among the people and they bit the people, so that many
people of Israel died.
This is an event that happened
after the Exodus will the Israelites were wandering in the desert. The people
were complaining that there was no food nor water, and they were really tired
of eating manna. God had been taking car of them, and protecting them from their
enemies. But they had become impatient, and were complaining against God... no
longer trusting God.
So God sent fiery serpents... and what happened? Here
is verse 7:
So the people came
to Moses and said, We have sinned, because we have spoken against the Lord
and you; intercede with the Lord, that He may remove the serpents from us.
And Moses interceded for the people.
As a result
of the serpents the people realized they were doing wrong. They confessed,
repented and turned back to trusting the Lord. Mission accomplished.
addition, God made a way for the people to be saved from the serpent bites. He
had Moses make a bronze serpent and put it on a staff. Anyone who was bitten could
just look at the staff and be saved. Looking at the staff was an act of will,
an intentional act a person had to do... and an action that showed they
believed the Lord.
Next up... God sanctioned slavery
for humanists... what is wrong with slavery? It's survival of the fittest. So
if I am fitter... I am stronger... what is wrong with my making you my slave?
After all, we're just chemicals. What's wrong with one bunch of chemicals using
another bunch of chemicals to benefit themselves?
Slavery (defined as American
early 19th century style slavery) is only a problem if, human beings have worth.
We are created in God's image (Genesis 1:27) and that gives us infinite worth.
No human has the right to enslave another bearer of God's image. We belong to
God, and God only.
Okay... let's get going on this one. The humanist reference
the book of Leviticus 25:44-46:
for your male and female slaves whom you may haveyou may acquire male and
female slaves from the pagan nations that are around you. Then, too, it is out
of the sons of the sojourners who live as aliens among you that you may gain acquisition,
and out of their families who are with you, whom they will have produced in your
land; they also may become your possession. You may even bequeath them to your
sons after you, to receive as a possession; you can use them as permanent slaves.
But in respect to your countrymen, the sons of Israel, you shall not rule with
severity over one another.
Here's the problem...
for us the word slavery brings up an image of the race-based slavery in America
in the 18th and 19th centuries. However, that's not what the Bible was referring
to. "Slavery" had a very different meaning to the people in the Bible...
a meaning mostly based on economics, not race. That's why some Bible translations
use the term "bond servant" instead of "slave."
"slavery" of the Bible in no way resembled what we now know as slavery.
the Bible strongly condemns slavery based on kidnaping. Kidnapping was the basis
of what happened in Africa from the 16th through the 19th century. American slavery
was based on kidnapping Africans, and is strongly condemned by the Bible.
who kidnaps a man, whether he sells him or he is found in his possession, shall
surely be put to death. - Exodus 21:16
The New Testament
also condemns this form of slavery (1 Timothy 1:8-10).
of the Bible in no way resembled what we define as slavery today.
reading Leviticus 25 at a location earlier than the verses referenced by the humanists...
say in verse 39, and you'll see that Hebrew "slaves" were to be treated
as family, and only serve until a Jubelee year, and then be released from all
In many cases "slavery" was voluntary. There
were no social welfare programs. If you could not support yourself, the best option
was to find someone who would provide for your needs in return for your work.
Many physicians and lawyers were "slaves" and in some cases "slaves"
could become very wealthy.
What happened if a slave ran away? Here is the
answer in Deuteronomy 23:15, they must be protected and not returned to their
You shall not
hand over to his master a slave who has escaped from his master to you.
is not the way we understand "slavery" today. In Bible times
slavery was a way for the destitute to work for their food and shelter. In other
cases it was similar to the employee/employer relationship we have today. And
slaves were to be treated like family, not as property.
BTW, this only applies
to Israel (people who lived according to the God's word), and not all Israelites
obeyed God. So there were abuses. Pagan slavery, such as Roman slavery, was brutal.
Slaves were considered to be the same as the ox that pulled a cart. The only difference
was that a slave could talk. The problem was that the Romans followed their own
pantheon of gods and rejected the God of the Bible... and how they treated slaves
Next topic: God ordered religious persecution (Deuteronomy
Why do humanists think this is a problem? They are regularly
involved in attacking Christianity and the Bible. It is interesting that the target
of humanists is heavy skewed toward targeting Christianity. For example, the information
about Islam on their web site is very friendly toward Islam -- and there are no
attacks on the Koran. The same for Buddhism and Hinduism. Why is that?
take a look at Deuteronomy 13:12-16...
you hear in one of your cities, which the Lord your God is giving you to live
in, anyone saying that some worthless men have gone out from among you and have
seduced the inhabitants of their city, saying, Let us go and serve other
gods (whom you have not known), then you shall investigate and search out
and inquire thoroughly. If it is true and the matter established that this abomination
has been done among you, you shall surely strike the inhabitants of that city
with the edge of the sword, utterly destroying it and all that is in it and its
cattle with the edge of the sword.
What this is talking
about is entire Israelite cities, cities that were given to the Israelites by
God, turning away from God and worshipping pagan gods.
We have seen
this over and over... turning away from God and to other gods, is a very
serious issue. As described here, the death penalty is appropriate and is frequently
pronounced on those who turn from God and worship idols.
why the death penalty is appropriate is that those who turn away from
God tend to lead others away from God... lead others into spiritual death and
eternity separated from God. To stop it from spreading, and prevent the eternal
destruction of people, God commands that those cities who have turned away from
him be wiped out. It is the only way to save everyone else.
To a humanist
this may not seem reasonable. That's because they don't understand how serious
this is. And noticed, the death penalty here only applies to those who once knew
God and turned away from God. These are people who once belonged to God, and have
now become children of Satan. People who once had life and now are walking dead
who are looking to make more people into the walking dead. The death penalty is
the only reasonable way to stop more people from being snatched away from life.
this no longer applies today. We are under a new covenant in which we have the
Holy Spirit dwelling within us... holding us secure in our salvation. In Old Testament
times (Deuteronomy) they were under the law, including the prescribed ceremonies,
and they could bring condemnation on themselves by turning away from God.
topic: God caused cannibalism
will make them eat the flesh of their sons and the flesh of their daughters, and
they will eat one anothers flesh in the siege and in the distress with which
their enemies and those who seek their life will distress them. - Jeremiah
We've talked about this several times.
this is a prophecy about what will happen, if the people of Israel do
not change. As we see over and over, God gives a warning about what is going to
happen. If they would pay attention, and listen to what God says, and turn away
from their sin, they would not experience this prophecy. But, they don't.
this case, in verses 9:1-9 God explains why this will happen. The people of Judah
In this prophecy God is describing what happens during
the siege of a city. Food will run out and people will starve, some of
them turning to cannibalism. Why does this happen? Because God has withdrawn His
blessings... He has withdrawn His protection... and that has allowed Babylon (in
this case) to put Jerusalem under siege. So yes, in one sense God has caused the
cannibalism because He is no longer protecting the Jews from the armies of Babylon.
But... do the people deserve His protection? Read verses 9:1-8. They have
forsaken God. Rejected Him. Turned to other gods. Worshipping and sacrificing
to other gods. So what does God do? He gives them what they want. They've rejected
Him, so He leaves them on their own. That is fair and just. The consequences are
a siege that leads to starvation... that is also fair and just. Why? Because it
is the direct consequence of giving them what they wanted.
Our Overall Conclusion:
God is not sadistic. His actions and punishments are just and appropriate.
accusation: 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.
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.
It is interesting that they reference the U.S. Constitution
as being a superior authority over God. The founders of our country, and the authors
of the Declaration of Independence, saw it the other way around... God is the
source of our rights and laws. Well, let's see
if we can sort it all out. Click here..