Is God Violent?
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Is God violent? Because that's what I've been told. It's been couched under phrases like... God is holy and just. God cannot be in the presence of sin.
God's ways are higher than our ways. And it's also been framed like this... We are desperately wicked. It's for the greater good. We are deserving of wrath. I can't stand all the violence in the Old Testament. Done in the name of God. Outright genocide of entire ethnic groups. Plagues that snuff out the lives of animals, children and the innocent. Earthquakes and floods and whales that swallow people whole. Done in the name of God. In the Old Testament alone... God killed (or sanctioned the killing of) nearly 2.5 million people (the population of Puerto Rico). What would happen if I said things like, "The Holocaust is justified because the Jews did not believe the right things." "Covid (and all its destruction) is an act of God." "The devastation in Syria and Turkey is God's judgment on evil." I hope I would be corrected, silenced, or thought crazy. Because down deep in our hearts, we know that violence is antithetical to love. A man who abuses his wife does NOT love her. Those who wage war do NOT love those who they are trying to conquer. When vitriolic and violent words spew from our mouths toward others, we are NOT loving. Yet somehow when it comes to ancient stories and their tie to a holy God, we throw out our inner knowing of what's right and wrong and how a God who IS LOVE does and should act. I can't defend violence in the name of God, no matter what phraseology it's expressed in, where it's written down or who wrote it. It's why I believe Jesus came. To liberate us from our false ideas about God. What God is like, a flipper of the tables of oppression and a healer of the broken-hearted. How God loves, as a tender and compassionate shepherd, a co-suffering Savior who cares for us all. What God does not do. Jesus never lays a hand on anyone. Is God violent? NO. Violence is selfish. Love is self-giving. Violence dominates. Love serves. Violence takes what it wants by force. Love is gentle. And God's unchanging nature is LOVE. -Written by Esther Joy Goetz (otherwise known as Esther the Dolly Mama)- P.S. I'm a little worked up. [This is a blog post I wrote on my author page. But I've been mulling over and over again since that point about the relationship to a violent God and the way we parent. Here are some of my half-thoughts that I'm still and always will be processing through: 1. If God has the right to "punish or discipline" in a violent manner in the name of love, perhaps we do too. 2. If being indiscriminate about who we have to hurt in order to protect God and his holiness or justice, perhaps hurting our kids for this same reason is justified. 3. If power and control are the pinnacles of who God is (all-powerful and all-controlling) and God has given us the same authority over our own kids, perhaps it's right for us to wield our own power and control. This line of thinking is repulsive to me at this time. But it makes sense why this may have been the way we were raised or even raised our own kids until we deconstructed these beliefs and came to a new way of thinking. It's so freeing to rethink this and work to love our children well so that they will thrive and grow and have permission to be completely themselves.]
The Podcast Further Further Sneak Peek to Season Three (Next Week We HOPE to have a HUGE surprise about our final guest): Season Three is sure to be a good one as our lineup of guests are already giving us the happy jitters. We feel like kids in a candy store with a bunch of coins in our pockets. It's that wonderful! Here are three... Jonathan Puddle. WHAT? The ONE and ONLY Jonathan Puddle. Check him out HERE! Melissa Neeb. From Faith in the Mess! She's dog-gone wonderful! Check her out HERE! Dr. Camden (Morgante Pigg) Purity Culture, we're coming for you! Check her out HERE!
Here are three MORE... Kat Wordsworth. From About Doubt. She's got a cool BOOK and everything! Check her out HERE! Jason Elam. Former pastor, PODCASTER and compiler of Parenting Deconstructed! Annalise Hume. Embodied Faith Project. Spiritual Director. Mom. Evolving Faith speaker. YUP! And now we've got three MORE just to get you even more excited... Jillian Benfield. Author of The Gift of the Unexpected. Special needs mom. Check her out HERE! Mike Morrell. Dad. Coauthor of the Divine Dance with Father Richard Rohr. Check him out HERE! Jamie Edelbrock. Children's book author. Mom. Mental health advocate. Get her books HERE!
Here's our last triad, except for a huge reveal next week for number #13!! Matt Mattson. Cofounder of Today I Pray and Between Church. Dad extraordinaire. Love him. Ericka Graham. Preacher. Mom. World-changer. Follow here HERE. Liz Mall. Podcast Host. Deconstructing the Myth. Mom. It's true. We're having her.
15 days and counting..
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Join Our Private Facebook Community and receive access to the recording of this Live Q&A with Lizz & Esther about Parenting & Hell. You can access this by supporting us on our PATREON platform.
Lizz & Esther unpack some of our own thoughts and then work through these four questions:
1. What if someone else tells my child about hell?
2. What should I tell my child about the afterlife?
3. How can I teach morality without the consequence of hell?
4. I can’t stop being afraid hell might be real, even though I’m deconstructing that belief. I randomly get scared I’m wrong and I’m going to burn for eternity. What should I do?
Come join us HERE!
Get your free ticket for The Deconstructing Faith Summit today!
Books are just one way for us to not feel so alone. Podcasts like ours are another. Our private Facebook community is a really good one. Here is one book that has gotten us through and one podcast totally worth listening to all the time now and forever. ONE BOOK: Sinners in the Hands of a Loving God by Brian Zahnd The big question it answers is this one: Is God wrath or is God love? Get the book right now and soak in its goodness. Seriously people.
ONE PODCAST: The What If Project hosted by Glenn Siepert. Here is the LINK to that time Lizz was on, chatting up a storm about her own constantly evolving faith journey and how it messes up her anxiety big time. But also the long, slow healing journey she has been and is continually going on.
One last thing. We want to remind you that we are so glad you are here. We wouldn't be the same without you. You will always find GRACE for where you've been and who you are now, and SPACE for who you are becoming and will be.
Carry on, our new-found friends. Welcome to the twisty-windy, full -of-adventure faith path that's laid out before us all. Love,
Lizz & Esther P.S. SIGN UP FOR OUR NEWSLETTER HERE!