A Jealous God
Jeffrey Dahmer (d. 1994, aka “The Milwaukee Monster”) was one of the most infamous serial killers in the United States. In 1991 he was convicted for the brutal torture and murder of sixteen people. In most cases, he had cannibalized his victims, and in some cases performed necrophilia. Dahmer was a sodomite and had also been convicted of child molestation. On November 28, 1994, he was bludgeoned to death by a fellow inmate (it is believed the guards knew the inmate’s intentions and allowed the killing to take place, so as to rid the world of such a monster). The day after Dahmer was killed, the TV show Dateline NBC broadcast an interview they had conducted with him earlier that same year. The transcript of that interview is quite an eye-opener.
Dahmer had been a convinced atheist. He admitted that his disbelief in God led him to commit those horrid crimes:
If you don’t…think there is a God to be accountable to, then…what’s the point of trying to modify your behavior to keep it in acceptable ranges? That’s how I thought anyway. I always believed the theory of evolution as truth, that we all just came from slime. When we…died, you know, that was it, there was nothing. (Quote from the transcript of an interview with Jeffrey Dahmer on Dateline NBC, broadcast 11/29/1994). After his trial, Dahmer found he could not explain his feelings of guilt; of right and wrong, against his atheistic worldview. He started reading the Bible. He became a “born again” Protestant. In that final interview, Dahmer stated, “I’ve since come to believe that the Lord Jesus Christ is truly God, and I believe that I, as well as everyone else, will be accountable to him (sic).” (Ibid—Dahmer claimed he was “prepared to die” and didn’t deserve to live after what he had done).
A notorious serial killer was brought to the conclusion that God exists, because that is the only way we can have objective moral values. By “objective moral value,” I mean, e.g., even if Stalin and the Communists had conquered the world and brainwashed every single person (without exception) into agreeing that mass murder of political opponents (and other “undesirables”) was moral–it would still be wrong. Therefore, if something is considered morally good, and its opposite morally evil, it can only be such objectively if there is an external and eternal standard by which actions can be judged. This standard can only be found in the attributes of God.
One of the so-called “New Atheists,” Richard Dawkins, an evolutionary biologist, agrees that on the atheistic point of view, morality is a subjective human construct. He wrote:
In a universe of electrons and selfish genes, blind forces and genetic replication, some people are going to get hurt, other people are going to get lucky, and you won’t find any rhyme or reason in it, nor any justice. The universe that we observe has precisely the properties we would expect if there is, at bottom, no design, no purpose, no evil, no good, nothing but pitiless indifference. (See Richard Dawkins, “God’s Utility Function,” Scientific American, [November 1995], pg. 85). Ironically, Dawkins accuses the Christian God of being—immoral! In his 2006 book, The God Delusion, Dawkins opines on page 31 that:
The God of the Old Testament is arguably the most unpleasant character in all fiction: jealous and proud of it; petty, unjust, unforgiving control-freak; a vindictive, bloodthirsty ethnic cleanser; a misogynistic, homophobic, racist, infanticidal, filicidal, pestilential, megalomaniacal, sadomasochistic, capriciously malevolent bully. Wait a second. How can Dawkins pronounce such an objective denunciation against God on what, in the final analysis, is just his opinion? Isn’t this the same man who tells people there is “[no] justice…no good, no evil…”?
This post will focus on the accusation of both atheists and non-Christians that the God of Christianity is immoral, and therefore Christianity cannot be true. In particular, I will examine the charge that God is jealous, angry, and violent.
Are Jealousy and Anger Always Sinful?
The Bible and the Church clearly teach that God is jealous. In Exodus 20:5, we read, “You shall not bow down to them [other gods] or serve them, for I the LORD your God am a jealous God.” However, it is also taught that jealousy is sinful. Galatians 5:18-21 tells us, “The acts of the flesh are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the Kingdom of God.” (Emphasis mine). Isn’t this a stinging indictment of God?
First, some necessary and proper distinctions are in order:
Envy is what you feel towards someone when he has something that you want.
Jealousy is what you feel when you have something you really like and don’t want to share.
Avarice (sometimes called covetousness) is what you feel about the thing you want that that other person has in his possession. This sinful feeling is the result of having the wrong attitude toward material things and being greedy.
If jealousy is rooted in self-centeredness, it is evil. However, if it springs forth from concern for another’s well-being, it is good. That’s why St. Paul writes in 2 Corinthians 11:2, “I am jealous for you with a godly jealousy. I promised you to one husband, to Christ, so that I might present you as a pure virgin to Him.” (Emphasis mine). So there is a good (or “godly”) type of jealousy. St. Paul was concerned for the well-being of the Corinthians. His jealousy was not from hurt and self-centered pride. A woman who is not jealous when another woman openly flirts with her husband can’t be very committed to the relationship. Her jealousy should be understood as a guarding of their relationship.
Good jealousy is diligent to protect what we possess. God loves us and wants us to be eternally happy with Him. Therefore, when people sin and turn away from God, they are hurting themselves, and God wants to protect them from the sin that separates them from Him. He wants the worship due to Him which will prevent humans from being destroyed by the worship of the idols of money, sex, drugs, etc.
Like jealousy, anger can be both sinful and just. Anger that is an inordinate desire for revenge is sinful. Anger that is a righteous indignation over sin and creates an orderly desire for punishment is lawful and called just anger. (See theologian Jone, Moral Theology, , pg. 58). Hence, Our Lord displayed just anger when he threw the money-changers out of the Temple (See St. Mark Chapter 11). Nothing outside of God can make Him ( i.e., cause Him to be) angry. That is, He cannot be provoked to anger (by something else), but He has anger at sin – and always has and always will because it is contrary to His holy Nature. Since His very Nature is absolutely good, God is (and always was and always will be) angry at sin.
One of the big objections to God’s anger at sin is that it leads to violence and massive deaths. Most frequently cited is the slaughter of the Canaanites recorded in the Book of Deuteronomy. Israel was commanded by God to completely exterminate the Canaanite inhabitants of the land including men, women, and children. This has wrongly been deemed a primitive and barbaric act of murder perpetrated on innocent lives. Deuteronomy 20:16-18 states:
But of the cities of these peoples which the LORD your God gives you as an inheritance, you shall let nothing that breathes remain alive, but you shall utterly destroy them: the Hittite and the Amorite and the Canaanite and the Perizzite and the Hivite and the Jebusite, just as the LORD your God has commanded you, lest they teach you to do according to all their abominations which they have done for their gods, and you sin against the LORD your God. (Emphasis mine).
The commonly asked question is, “How could a good God command the Israelites to slaughter every man, woman, child, and even animal in the cities of the Canaanite nations? Isn’t this the same God that listed ‘Thou shalt not kill’ in the 10 Commandments?” Here is the context:
- The Fifth Commandment prohibits murder which is the unjust taking of human life by other humans
- Not prohibited are capital punishment, killing in self-defense, and just war (“societal self-defense”)
- God, the Author of Life, can take life from this Earth. God gave us life and it is His right to take it back. That is why, for example, doctors who want to choose who gets proper medical treatment when supplies are low are accused of “playing God.”
- God ordered the extermination of the Canaanites because of their wickedness. Archeology gives some hints about what the Canaanites did. On one High Place, archeologists found several stone pillars and great numbers of jars containing remains of newborn babies. When a new house was built, a child would be sacrificed and its body built into the wall to bring good luck to the rest of the family. Firstborn children were often sacrificed to Molech, a giant hollow bronze image in which a fire was built. Parents placed their children in its red hot hands and the babies would roll down into the fire. The sacrifice was invalid if a parent displayed grief. Mothers were supposed to dance and sing. The Israelites later copied this practice in a valley near Jerusalem called Gehenna. Hundreds of jars containing infant bones have been found there. (See, e.g., W.F. Albright Yahweh and the Gods of Canaan: A Historical Analysis of Two Contrasting Faiths ).
- Canaanite practices included incest, child abuse, homosexuality, and bestiality–all condoned and promoted by their pagan and demonic-inspired religion
- God took the lives of the Canaanites to prevent their wicked ways from corrupting His Chosen people, from whom would come the God-Man Jesus Christ
- God gave them hundreds of years to repent. “But do not forget this one thing, dear friends: With the Lord a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day. The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.” (2 Peter 3:8-9). God said repeatedly that he would drive out the inhabitants of the land before Israel. Those who wished to leave had time and opportunity to do so and change their ways.
- By taking the lives of the babies, God prevented them from growing up to be evil like their parents and going to Hell. Dying before the age of reason, they would be spared in Limbo. Interestingly, those who deplore this act of mercy as “infanticide” usually see nothing wrong with abortion
Therefore, (a) God has the right to take life as He is the One Who gave Life; (b) the Canaanites were totally depraved and would not repent; (c) God was justified in removing them from Earth and sparing the souls of their children. In His Just Anger against this iniquitous culture of the Canaanites, who stood firm in their sins and jeopardized the salvation of the Jews, God protected His people from whom would be born the Savior of all humanity.
God is indeed jealous; in the righteous sense of wanting to protect the members of His One True Church and to seek the salvation of all–even though through no fault of God, many will be lost by their own free will. God is justly angry at sin, and punishes the wicked both here and in the hereafter. It should be obvious that those who disparage God as the source of objective morality, and claim Him to be immoral, are culpably ignorant.
Let us also be jealous and justly angry in the Great Apostasy. Let us be jealous in preserving the One True Faith, true moral teaching, and our Mass and sacraments against the Vatican II sect that wants them destroyed. Let us be justly angry against the sect for sending millions of souls to Hell with their wicked and un-Catholic doctrines, led by their demonic leader Mr. Bergoglio, who dares to say, “There is no Catholic God.”