what would you do? In Genesis, Abrham (before he was promoted to Abraham) was commanded to kill his son, and he would have. Of course there's much commentary about what the anecdote means and whether or not it was an actual event. In reality, to replicate the deed in modern times would probably cause you to lose custody, at the very least. Saying God told you to do it would probably entitle you to an insanity plea at best.
Great question, Jeff. There is no way to say what I would do and I hope I am never in a position to be able to answer that question. Personally, I have found that the voice of God can be thrown by the devil like a ventriloquism act, so one has to be very, very careful. Some individuals are very discerning of this, some really suck at it. If you aren't in a good state of mind, it can be confusing. I always feel bad for people who kill their children and then say that and I normally do think they are mentally ill.
Whether the story in Genesis is true or not, I believe the main purpose of the Bible is as a learning tool. The message being conveyed is to trust God, even if the request seems ridiculous. Makes me think of Evan Almighty. Build an ark? Really, God? Yep. Just do it - you'll get the accolades later.
There has actually been an instance in my own life where this happened. No, I didn't get a command from God to build an ark, but he asked me to give up something unusual for 40 days. I didn't really know what the purpose was, but it was revealed to me through the process and yes, it made me seem crazy to a few people who knew that I was not. Thankfully, I'm a writer and it will be turned into a humor/self-help book ;0)
I believe there's a story in the Talmud to the effect that if God commands you to kill someone, it's okay to go ahead and kill them, but it's also okay to plead for mercy. Eternally, if necessary. So you have to do one or the other: either go ahead and do the sacrifice or else get on your knees and plead until God says "Okay, okay, enough already!"
A bigger question would be how you know it's the voice of God for sure, or whether you need to be checking yourself in for a psychiatric evaluation. Since God doesn't lie, I don't think God would command someone to do something forbidden by the Bible, so the command itself fails the first test (whether it contradicts any revealed truth.)
One time in prayer I did get commanded to leave a specific online community. I took a three-day hiatus from the community to discern whether that was really God telling me to leave it (I was a frequent poster there) and eventually decided yes, it was God, and therefore I had to do it, so I did.
Midrash. That's the word I was looking for and failing, sorry. I believe there's a midrash that you can plead for mercy indefinitely if you're asked to kill someone.
Jane, I'm impressed. In the Bible, the Jews are commanded by G-d on many occasions to kill entire communities. In one instance, they successfully negotiated for permission to spare the children. The Commentaries have a lot to say about this, because nothing will deaden a man's heart than killing children, even if commanded. The Commentaries also suggest that it might be better for the soul to be killed as opposed to being the killer in self defense. The post Biblical Commentaries enable observant Jews to be faithful to the Word from a non-literal perspective since many interpretations are provided.
Really good question! But as more of a science-minded person, I'd have to seek counseling to see if I had any hidden agendas or vendettas in my sub-conscious before I did something rash.
However, it made for awesome fiction in the movie Frailty in which a man confesses to an FBI agent his family's story of how his religious fanatic father's visions lead to a series of murders to destroy supposed "demons.".
Ooh, I will have to rent that movie! Sounds interesting.
It's very intense. If my husband were to do this, I'd take the kids and run, but imagine it from a child's perspective... your parent (someone you love and trust) being so irrational.
It scares me to think this may be something that has happened to a child (or many children) at some point in history.
Sangay, Within the context of that movie, Bill Paxton (the actor) was actually killing sinners who were getting away with having done horrible deeds, and it's shown that he could not have known this about his victims without spiritual insight. Of course, it was pure fiction.
Bill Paxton is my favorite actor:)
Okay, but when does someone gifted with an ability to watch, listen and observe become a dangerous because they believe they have "insight" into someone's motives or done deeds?
Remember Hitchcock's, Rear Window? No real evidence was there. They had to gather it.
If I saw a couple men in suits hop out of a sedan and dump a heavy cooler in the East River, can I or should I assume they were mob guys dumping a body.
Or I could see a neighbor kiss the cheek of one of her son's teenaged friends, when she presumably didn't think think anyone was around, can I or should I assume she's up to no good with that child?
People do leave a lot of clues in body-language, actions, and words, but all is not always what it appears to be.
The character had a belief and sought proof to sustain his beliefs and reject opposing information. There was no real "spiritual insight" in the movie, which made it get fiction. Do you believe or don't you? Conformation bias is a real phenomenon.
Several Catholic saints are credited with the ability to read hearts. And as far as I know, they never slaughtered someone because of what they read in the person's heart -- they *did* use that information to bring the person to repent. eg, supposedly Padre Pio would refuse to give absolution if he knew the person in the confessional wasn't sorry or was withholding information about mortal sins.
I did go to confession once with a priest whom I'm convinced could read hearts. People used to wait extra-long in line just to go to him, and my daughter tells me he prompted her to tell him a sin she'd left off. For me, he told me something that was exactly the advice I needed to hear, and when I checked with my husband, it was different advice than he'd gotten (which my husband said was uncannily on-target.)
My point being that true insight into someone else's soul would seem to engender compassion in the person and the desire to have the person "come clean" rather than to slay him in his sin and condemn him to Hell for eternity.
In fiction, I assume anything is OK if you suspend your sense of logic and reality. Otherwise, I think the answer is self-evident on every level. However, nearly a million Americans have gone to Asia Minor over the past 10 years in order to kill the native people who are deemed to be evil by our government, and it's perfectly legal to do so with a few exceptions. In the last Century Americans killed more than a million Asians for same reasons. We may not do what G-d commands, but most of us will do what our politicians demand, which is one of the few legal ways for people to massacre other people. And it doesn't seem that too many of us have a real problem with this concept, which may be why karma will eat America's lunch one day.