Genesis Chapter 22 tells a tale of what the christians believe is a love story to god, an unwavering show of faith in the face of horrific consequences. Can you stand up to the task when god tests your devotion? But when you actually read the verses where Abraham is tested by god to sacrifice his son at the altar and understand just what it is exactly the lord wants him to do to his son, something much more sinister comes into light.
Genesis 22:1-19 NIV
1 Some time later God tested Abraham. He said to him, “Abraham!”
“Here I am,” he replied.
2 Then God said, “Take your son, your only son, whom you love—Isaac—and go to the region of Moriah. Sacrifice him there as a burnt offering on a mountain I will show you.”
3 Early the next morning Abraham got up and loaded his donkey. He took with him two of his servants and his son Isaac. When he had cut enough wood for the burnt offering, he set out for the place God had told him about. 4 On the third day Abraham looked up and saw the place in the distance. 5 He said to his servants, “Stay here with the donkey while I and the boy go over there. We will worship and then we will come back to you.”
6 Abraham took the wood for the burnt offering and placed it on his son Isaac, and he himself carried the fire and the knife. As the two of them went on together, 7 Isaac spoke up and said to his father Abraham, “Father?”
“Yes, my son?” Abraham replied.
“The fire and wood are here,” Isaac said, “but where is the lamb for the burnt offering?”
8 Abraham answered, “God himself will provide the lamb for the burnt offering, my son.” And the two of them went on together.
9 When they reached the place God had told him about, Abraham built an altar there and arranged the wood on it. He bound his son Isaac and laid him on the altar, on top of the wood. 10 Then he reached out his hand and took the knife to slay his son. 11 But the angel of the LORD called out to him from heaven, “Abraham! Abraham!”
“Here I am,” he replied.
12 “Do not lay a hand on the boy,” he said. “Do not do anything to him. Now I know that you fear God, because you have not withheld from me your son, your only son.”
13 Abraham looked up and there in a thicket he saw a ram caught by its horns. He went over and took the ram and sacrificed it as a burnt offering instead of his son. 14 So Abraham called that place The LORD Will Provide. And to this day it is said, “On the mountain of the LORD it will be provided.”
15 The angel of the LORD called to Abraham from heaven a second time 16 and said, “I swear by myself, declares the LORD, that because you have done this and have not withheld your son, your only son, 17 I will surely bless you and make your descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky and as the sand on the seashore. Your descendants will take possession of the cities of their enemies, 18 and through your offspring all nations on earth will be blessed, because you have obeyed me.”
19 Then Abraham returned to his servants, and they set off together for Beersheba. And Abraham stayed in Beersheba.
The moral of this story is supposed to be "trust in the lord, be prepared to sacrifice all that you love in his honor and he will provide". But at what price? Why does god relish human torture and sacrifice? I don't think anyone in their right mind could even conceive of killing their own child, even if they think god somehow told them to. What do you think was going through Isaac's mind as he sees his father doing this to him? Don't you think he would have some real serious issues to deal with later in life? His father tried to kill him, butcher him! I think one thing that tends to take the sting out of this story is that it doesn't give much detail of the horrific events, or what would have become of Isaac had Abraham actually gone through with it, it spares the gore of the situation. What exactly was Abraham prepared to do? Many christians can write it off as, "oh, he was just prepared to kill him, he just tied him up and laid him there, he wouldn't have actually done it" without understanding what a burnt offering actually entails. But god lays out exactly how one is supposed to conduct a "burnt offering" over in Leviticus and it gets pretty damned detailed there. Imagine if we exchange the names of Abraham and Isaac in for the priests and the animal, we get something truly horrifying and disgusting:
Leviticus 1:3-9 NIV
3 “‘If the offering is a burnt offering from the herd, you are to offer a male without defect. You must present it at the entrance to the tent of meeting so that it will be acceptable to the LORD. 4 You are to lay your hand on the head of (the burnt offering) [Isaac], and it will be accepted on your behalf to make atonement for you. 5 You are to slaughter (the young bull) [Isaac] before the LORD, and then (Aaron’s sons the priests) [Abraham] shall bring the blood and splash it against the sides of the altar at the entrance to the tent of meeting. 6 You are to skin (the burnt offering) [Isaac] and cut (it) [Isaac] into pieces. 7 (The sons of Aaron the priest) [Abraham] are to put fire on the altar and arrange wood on the fire. 8 Then (Aaron’s sons the priests) [Abraham] shall arrange the pieces, including the head and the fat [of Isaac], on the wood that is burning on the altar. 9 You are to wash the internal organs and the legs [of Isaac] with water, and (the priest) [Abraham] is to burn all of it on the altar. It is a burnt offering, a food offering, an aroma pleasing to the LORD.
How does that make you feel now? If you find that strengthens your faith in god then you have some serious issues of your own. No one in their right mind could do this to their own children, no matter what voices they thought they were hearing in their head. The immortal Christopher Hitchens put it best:
"And not scorning the three delightful children that result - who are everything to me and who are my only chance of a human glimpse at a second life, let alone an immortal one. I'll tell you something: if I was told to sacrifice them to prove my devotion to god, if I was told what monotheists are told to do and admire the man who said, "Yes, I'll gut my kid to show my love of god", I'd say, "No, Fuck you!"