An important axiom pertaining to those who rule is simply stated as “a King is not above the Law”. While it certainly has been abused and some have flaunted their lawlessness, the general agreement is that a King, Ruler or Leader is NOT above the law even if it originates with him. This is even stated in the Bible:
Also it shall be, when he sits on the throne of his kingdom, that he shall write for himself a copy of this law in a book… And it shall be with him, and he shall read it all the days of his life, that he may learn to fear the LORD his God and be careful to observe all the words of this law and these statutes, that his heart may not be lifted above his brethren, that he may not turn aside from the commandment to the right hand or to the left…” (Deut 17:18-20)
Solon (638 BC–558 BC) appeared to have this concept in mind for ancient Athens “by giving common people the power not only to elect officials but also to call them to account” (see Solon) and of course the Magna Carta codified this concept in Western law. Winston Churchill said “..here is a law which is above the King and which even he must not break. This reaffirmation of a supreme law and its expression in a general charter is the great work of Magna Carta; and this alone justifies the respect in which men have held it.” (see The Magna Carta)
Does anyone really respect anyone who thinks they are above the law or that the law doesn’t apply to them, especially when they are rulers or leaders? What happens if this ruler is a god? Obviously, the person is condemned but excuses are made for a “god”. One of the things that I always found amazing were people that would worship a “god” who required, by “divine” law, they do something that the “god” would not or could not do.
For example, the Hare Krishna movement worships the Hindu god Krishna. When I was in college it was hard to escape their proselytizing on campus. Their religion demands sexual purity from their members yet Krishna, their god, is exempt. Krishna is far from pure having upwards of 16,000 wives and then some (Krishna). Now I ask you, if a superior god cannot be pure and cannot control his passion, why is it demanded of his mortal followers? Something is obviously wrong here, but not in the eyes of those in the Hare Krisha movement. The action of gods can always be justified by their believers.
What does this have to do with Christianity? Surely, the Christian god is not above his law? He would never ask a believer to do something that he won’t or can’t do? Well, yes he does. In the case of Christianity, it comes down to forgiveness. The story goes that God is so holy he cannot forgive without the shedding of blood, yet he commands that his followers should forgive. In fact, Christians must forgive without any such such sacrifice or face dire consequences:
For if you forgive others for their transgressions, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. if you do not forgive others, then your Father will not forgive your transgressions. (Matt 6: 14,15)
Then Peter came and said to Him, “Lord,how often shall my brother sin against me and I forgive him? Up to seven times? Jesus said to him, “I do not say to you, up to seven times, but up to seventy times seven…Then Peter came and said to Him, “Lord, how often shall my brother sin against me and I forgive him? Up to seven times? Jesus said to him, “I do not say to you, up to seven times, but up to seventy times seven. (Matt 18:21-35)
Whenever you stand praying, forgive, if you have anything against anyone, so that your Father who is in heaven will also forgive you your transgressions. But if you do not forgive, neither will your Father who is in heaven forgive your transgressions. (Mark 11:25,26)
But I say to you, do not resist an evil person; but whoever slaps you on your right cheek, turn the other to him also. (Matt 5:39)
These are clear statements: Forgive or else. Yet, god is exempt. For the crime of disobedience, for acting how god himself created man, the entire world was plunged into death and destruction. Apparently god is unable to forgive his creation unless blood is shed. This is conditional forgiveness. “I will forgive only when my wrath is consumed and it can only be consumed by the shedding of blood.” Where is unconditional forgiveness? Where is turn the other cheek? God can’t, yet, his followers are commanded to “turn the other cheek”. How many millions of people have been supposedly condemned to hell because of the sin of Adam and Eve – a choice they never even made. Forgiveness with God only comes by a blood sacrifice which, according to many Christian doctrines, ultimately required the sacrifice of His Son. From a human standpoint (sorry, that’s the only standpoint I have), this is crazy. If my neighbor stole something from me and asked forgiveness, what would people think if I told him I couldn’t unless I killed my son for him? And, really, would killing my son for something my neighbor did make me feel better? Seriously think about this. Personally I would think that any person would actually be more angry at his neighbor if such a bargain were made. And how would killing my son make any type of atonement for my neighbors sin? (1)
I’m not saying forgiveness is bad, it certainly isn’t and there is much that is noble about forgiving freely and without conditions (and some very real dangers). What I am saying is that if man is capable of forgiving without a sacrifice of blood, indeed without any kind of sacrifice, does that make man more merciful than God? More moral than God? Why is the King above his law? I suppose one could make the argument that god freely forgives his people now, but that “freely” is tied to the blood sacrifice of his son! I suppose one could also make the argument that Christians must freely forgive because of what Christ did for them. Christians are forgiven so they must forgive. But this doesn’t hold water. The fact is many people who are not Christian freely forgive their fellow humans without the need for the torture and death of an animal or person. If man can do it, why can’t a god?
Of course a god’s unwillingness to forgive without serious bloodshed doesn’t mean he doesn’t exist, but if he does mercy is far from his heart. Justice maybe. Mercy, no.
1. The whole concept of blood atonement is primitive and makes no sense. How is watching an animal (or person) be killed in a ritualistic manner supposed to make a god feel better? If you are angry at someone will watching a goat be sacrificed appease your anger? Would watching a person be sacrificed appease you? How about watching someone torture & kill your only son? Other gods, in other religions required both human and animal sacrifice. How do you see those religions? Brutal? Primitive? Shocking? But the Christian god who required animal (and the occasional human) sacrifices in the OT and required a human sacrifice in the NT, gets a pass from believers. After all, Christ died for them. Exactly how is that either justice or mercy?