So the other day while thinking about what books I consider “essential” reads for Christians, I was inspired to write a blog post on Paul Copan’s book, Is God a Moral Monster?: Making Sense of the Old Testament God. While singing its praises, I used a quote from Richard Dawkin’s book The God Delusion which explains what many of the new atheists feel about God:
“The God of the Old Testament is arguably the most unpleasant character in all fiction: jealous and proud of it; a petty, unjust, unforgiving control-freak; a vindictive, bloodthirsty ethnic cleanser; a misogynistic, homophobic, racist, infanticidal, genocidal, filicidal, pestilential, megalomaniacal, sadomasochistic, capriciously malevolent bully.”
I have seen this quote one too many times. Honestly, in some circles of atheists, it is a type of battle cry atheists like to use in debates and in memes. I once watched Dawkins himself read this quote on C-SPAN and listened to the accompanying cheers while shaking my head. I have read plenty about God and the things that took place in the Old Testament. I find that when I provide a proper example and context to correct them, most people don’t desire to know the truth.
I got to thinking that there is a lot to this quote, and if I were ever presented with this argument in the days before I began studying apologetics, I can honestly say I would give the typical deer in the headlight's look that I see countless times when Christians are questioned about their faith. So I decided to do a series of blog posts answering the challenges presented in this quote by dismantling it bit by bit. By breaking it up into pieces, it is much easier to answer the objections presented. There are some objections I could write a novel on, but for the sake of time and your attention span, I will just do the shorter ones.
The first part of this quote I want to tackle is the statement of God being jealous. One of the first ever challenges I ever received about Christianity was, “If jealousy is one of the seven deadly sins, this means that God is a sinner.” Oddly, this came from a professor in an English education class, but I do remember not being able to come up with a note-worth response. Today I know better. The answer I will provide is based on Dr. Frank Turek's answer and one I feel is a great response to this challenge.
So first of all, is jealousy a sin? It depends on what is done through this emotion. Let’s think about this scenario. I am married to a wonderful, beautiful woman who is my best friend. If she begins to talk to another man and begins hanging out with him, do I, as her husband, have a right to be jealous? I believe so. I have committed no sin by feeling this way. If my feelings of jealousy cause me to do something evil like beat up this guy as well as my wife, is this a sin? Most definitely.
When it comes to God, he knows how we were intended to be in a fellowship with him. Because of our sin, that fellowship is broken between us and God. When we humans look into other religions, worship other gods, or even make our own idols in life, God becomes jealous of the lack of relationship with him as it was meant to be. If we were meant to be connected in fellowship, does not God have the right to be jealous? His jealousy is righteous jealousy, and his feelings are by no means a bad thing. It is actually wonderful because despite our sin, he still loves us and wants to be a part of our lives.
So hopefully this helps someone see that jealousy is not always a bad thing, nor is it always a sin. This quote has plenty more to tackle so feel free to check back for more content soon!