by Stan Bennett

by Stan Bennett

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

God and the Children



Perhaps I'll use this to start a series of articles on the things I won't preach anymore.

There’s a story of Jesus raising a little girl from the dead. She was the daughter of the temple official who made his living as a religious servant of the people, similar to me. When they arrived at the man’s home they heard the wailers—people who made their mourning good and loud to express the collective sadness of the community. They told the man his daughter was dead and not to bother the teacher anymore. 



I’m still touched by Jesus’ reassurance to the man: “Don’t worry. Just believe.” He chased out the wailers and created a quiet moment in the house.  He uttered the sounds, “Talitha Koum” which means, “Little girl, I say to you, rise up.” And she did. And the father was given back his child.



The disciple Peter was there to see this event. A few years later, he performed the same miracle for someone else’s daughter, saying similar words. 



These two stories strongly resemble those of Elijah and Elisha, two Old Testament prophets who each raised someone’s child from the dead.  We’re supposed to note the connectedness of these stories.



They’re powerful. What parent can’t resonate with stories of persons losing their children and then getting them back?



That’s why I don’t use them in my preaching anymore. Too many of my people have lost their children. The rest of us harbor a terror that one day we might lose our children, too.  And unlike the stories, our children aren’t given back to us.  There’s no reassurance we can take from this story. If I said that one day, Jesus will raise all of our children from the dead—well that’s a cruel, crazy promise. 

I actually made the promise to people in the past. I'm so sorry.



The text I’m supposed to preach about this week tells the story of how God told Abraham to offer his only son Isaac as a sacrifice. Abraham intends to obey, however God stays his hand just as he is about to stab the boy. 



I hate this story. I hate how people compare it with God actually following through with the sacrifice of his son. What kind of a heavenly father figure does this? And why would I want to worship such a god? 



If God Almighty commanded in his most frightening voice to kill one of my children, I’d shout back that he could stuff it. 



It makes me angry and sad and sorry.  This god that I’ve taught about for so many years, that I’ve defended and explained—I almost wish he really did exist so I could express my contempt for him. 



But I’m left with the people who invented this god--these crazy, cruel, grief-stricken, fearful people. I’m angry with many of them, but somehow I still see them as victims who need someone to care for them. 



But it can't be me much longer. I'm going to quit my job as a religious official and direct more attention on my own children while they and I are still alive.  

13 comments:

  1. Thanks for sharing your story!

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  2. Good for you... Good luck. I'm so fortunate not to grow up with all that nonsense! We used to make fun of the virgin birth story as we drove home from our annual trip to church on Christmas Eve. I wish everyone could ridicule the silly beliefs of all religions.

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  3. You are doing the right thing. I can't imagine the personal pain and sacrifice and emotional upheaval that must be accompanying your decision to leave. I was Southern Baptist for 45 years - full-on SS teacher, Missions Director, had my kids there 3x/week. So painful leaving, but once you're on this side, my brother -- so much light and air and space!! Bookmarking your blog...hope to meet you at some secular event or another!

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  4. Dear brother -- I can't imagine the pain and apprehension you are going through. I was a Southern Baptist for 45 years, full-on SS teacher, Missions Director, had my kids there 3x/week. I know you are in a dark and scary place now, but my brother -- on this side there is so much light and air and space! My thoughts are with you as you navigate your way out. I look forward to meeting you at some secular event in the future. I hate co-opting the phrase, but it is so appropriate: It Gets Better. So very much better.

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    1. Gayle, I bet you thought you lost your first comment so you wrote another. I put them both up because l like them. I hope I get to meet you and many other online friends one day!

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  5. Yep, I did! The internets got ahead of me! Anyway - I feel your pain, sweet man. Will be watching and cheering you on.

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  6. You're way more moral than Abraham, then. But we kind of knew that. I also suspect you wouldn't offer the sexual services of your own wife to another man. I mean, unless she was totally fine with that. That's y'all's business. But you'd at least ask first, I bet. You'll get out of this bullshit soon. You will. Just keep moving forward, friend. -- Cas

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    1. Thanks, Cas, and no, she wouldn't be fine with it. :).

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  7. You are a very brave man!

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