Is God Sadistic?
Does God inflict unconstitutional "cruel and unusual" punishment?
For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men who suppress the truth in unrighteousness, because that which is known about God is evident within them; for God made it evident to them. For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being
understood through what has been made, so that they are without excuse. For even though they knew God, they did not honor Him as God or give thanks, but they became futile in their speculations, and their fool-ish heart was darkened. Professing to be wise, they became fools, and exchanged the glory of the incorruptible God for an image in the form of corruptible man and of birds and four-footed animals and crawling creatures.
Therefore God gave them over in the lusts of their hearts to im-purity, so that their bodies would be dishonored among them. For they exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever. Amen.
For this reason God gave them over to degrading passions; for their women exchanged the natural function for that which is unnatural, and in the same way also the men abandoned the natural function of the woman and burned in their desire toward one another, men with men commit-ting indecent acts and receiving in their own persons the due penalty of their error.
And just as they did not see fit to acknowledge God any longer, God gave them over to a depraved mind, to do those things which are not proper, being filled with all unrighteousness,
wickedness, greed, evil; full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, malice; they are gossips, slanderers, haters of God, insolent, arrogant, boastful, inventors of evil, disobedient to parents, without nderstanding, untrustworthy, unloving, un-merciful; and although they know the ordinance of God, that those who practice such things are worthy of death, they not only do the same, but also give hearty approval to those who practice them.
SADISTIC ACCUSATION #2: The biblical God is also guilty of inflicting punishments that are grossly disproportionate to the acts committed. In the American legal system, such disproportion violates the U.S. Constitutions Eighth Amendment, which prohibits cruel and unusual punishments.
Obviously, to punish people who are completely innocent, as seen in the preceding Bible verses, constitutes punishment that is horribly disproportionate to the moral culpability
of the recipients.
The humanists’ attack on God and the Bible continues with more accusations of cruelty. My response to this accusation could be very short. I do not need to go through every humanist accusation and justify what God has commanded. He is God, and what He says and does is always right and good. He may not always explain what He is doing, but we can know for sure that it is always right and good, even if we do not understand.
Humanists do not need a book like this to help them see their error. God makes it clear in Romans chapter one that EVERYONE knows there is a God; and they know they are sinners under the wrath of God. The problem is that they willingly and intentionally suppress that truth. This means humanists are without excuse.
So why bother answering all of the humanist's accusations and false claims? Because everyone needs to know there are answers, and for Christians this is a good way to study scripture and learn about the consistent, unchanging character of God. It provides a framework for investigating and learning about aspects of God's character we might otherwise never study.
This is also a good way to see the emptiness of the humanists’ accusations. They have nothing. Most of their attacks involve misrepresenting what scripture says; taking scripture out of context; and not understanding the character and nature of God.
The Next Accusations – God is Sadistic
We need to define our terms. The most important one is the word “evil.” The humanists state that God is contradictory and cruel. Now they are claiming He is sadistic and mandates disproportionate punishment. What they are doing is calling God evil.
How do humanists determine whether someone is good or evil? How do they know whether a punishment is "grossly disproportionate" or is completely just? What is the source of their standards?
In this accusation, they appeal to the eighth amendment to United States Constitution, which prohibits "cruel and unusual punishment."However, they do not define "cruel and unusual." What is their basis for defining something as “cruel and unusual?” We are left to assume that whatever the humanists put on their list must be cruel and unusual punishment. Of course, without knowing their definitions or reasoning, it is impossible to refute what they say.
The 8th Amendment
God is not bound to obey a human law, but man is bound to obey God's laws.
Human laws should be fully compatible with God's laws. God's laws set the standard that human laws must meet... not the other way around.
God is the creator who made everything and who owns everything. He defines what is good and what is evil. He defines what is good for us and what is harmful to us. He defines what is cruel and what is appropriate punishment.
They also talk about “completely innocent” people. What does that mean? The humanists leave it to the reader to assume the meaning of these terms. The reader is to accept the premise that God is evil and people are innocent. Without their defining these terms there is no logical way to refute what they say. That is the way the humanists want it, because if they give details their position it will be revealed as self-centered, irrational, illogical, inconsistent, cruel, and the source of death.
However, we will try anyway. Based on the Bible we do have known standards. God has clearly defined what is just and what is evil, and His standards are neither cruel nor unusual. Here is the humanist accusation:
Obviously, to punish people who are completely innocent, as seen in the preceding Bible verses, constitutes punishment that is horribly disproportionate to the moral culpability of the recipients. And there are other instances where the biblical Gods punishments are shockingly harsh compared to the acts committed.
The Punishment Depends on Who the Offense is Against
In a previous response I gave an example that demonstrates that the severity of the punishment depends on who the offense is against. It is worth reiterating here:
If I lie to my three year old son, what are the consequences? Probably there are none.
If I lie to my wife, what are the consequences? I may a spend a night on the couch.
If I lie to my boss, what are the consequences? I may be fired and be unemployed for a while.
If I lie to a grand jury, what are the consequences? I may spend some time behind bars.
In each case the offense was the same... a lie. But the con-sequences are very different. Why? Because the severity of the punishment is related to both the severity of the offense, and who the offense is against.
Remember, God is holy, righteous, perfect, infinite, and eternal.
To sin means to break God's laws... you are created in God's image and to sin means you have misrepresented His character. So the offense is against God.
While there may be human consequences, God may also impose earthly consequences (which are designed to turn as many people as possible away from sin), and will impose eternal consequences. An offense against a perfect, holy, infinite, and eternal God, results in a penalty that is justly infinite and eternal.
We have examined all of the "preceding verses" and found that in each case none of those receiving punishment were innocent. So the humanist's first sentence is based on a false premise, and thus any conclusions based on this premise have no foundation on which to stand.
The second claim, that some of God's punishments are "shockingly harsh compared to the acts committed" is also false based on the examples we have examined. In many of their examples, the "punishment" was to give people exactly what they wanted, separation from God.
The humanist author now gives more examples that supposedly support his assertions. We will look at each of these accusations. As with the previous ones they are listed with no indication of why the humanist feel these represent "shockingly harsh" punishments. That means we will need to make some assumptions. Here is the list:
For example, the Old Testament says the Lord prescribed execution for the crimes of working on the Sabbath (Exodus 31:15); cursing ones parents (Leviticus
20:9); worshiping other gods (Deuteronomy 17:2-5); enticing a friend or family member to worship other gods (Deuteronomy 13:6-10); being a witch, medium, or wizard (Exodus 22:18; Leviticus 20:27); engaging in homosexual acts (Leviticus 20:13); and not being a virgin on ones wedding night (Deuteronomy 22:20-21).
Let’s note that the death penalty for these offenses no longer applies today. (See the section on homosexuality below.) It only applied when Israel was under the Old Testament law. Therefore, we will look at these offenses in the context of the time during which they applied.
Working on the Sabbath
To understand the penalty, you must understand the purpose of the Sabbath, and that starts with the Ten Commandments.
The Ten Commandments can be divided into two parts. The first three are about loving God perfectly. The last six are about loving man perfectly. In between is the fourth... the commandment about the Sabbath.
For six days work may be done, but on the seventh day there is a Sabbath of complete rest, holy to the Lord; whoever does any work on the Sabbath day shall surely
be put to death. - Exodus 31:15
If the humanist had started reading Exodus 31 just three verses sooner, he would have his answer. Keeping the Sabbath was a sign to remind the people of Israel of their creator and their obligation to keep God's law. Keeping the Sabbath is not a moral command, but a sign you are agreeing to be under the law.
But as for you, speak to the sons of Israel, saying, “You shall surely observe My sabbaths; for this is a sign between Me and you throughout your generations, that you may know that I am the LORD who sanctifies you” - Exodus 31:13
The Abrahamic Covenant had a sign, circumcision. The Noahic Covenant had a sign, the rainbow. Every Sabbath day was a sign to remind the people of Israel that they were to keep (obey) what God commands.
This is serious. God did not want people to be distracted from the purpose of the Sabbath by their normal daily activities. He did not want the Sabbath to be a day like any other day. It was a day to remember that God created them and He was the lawgiver. It was a day on which they remembered their status before the holy law of God, and their obligation to love God and love other people. It was a day on which to remember their inability to keep God’s law.
Having a day dedicated to focusing on their creator God and His laws, and meditating on their inability to keep those laws, was important for their eternal sake. The Sabbath was a sign of the Mosaic covenant. Breaking the Sabbath symbolized a total rejection of God and the Covenant of God's law. By not keeping the Sabbath, they were rejecting God. In addition, those who disregarded the Sabbath, by their example, would lead others to follow them in turning away from God. That spread eternal death to others (just as the humanists are trying to do). The physical death penalty for violators of the Sabbath was appropriate.
There was another aspect to breaking the Sabbath. Since breaking the Sabbath meant the person was no longer a part of God’s covenant with Israel, they were now dead in the sense of being separated from God. Therefore, although they may not have received the physical penalty for breaking the Sabbath, they did receive the ultimate death penalty… separation from God.
Cursing One's Parents
If there is anyone who curses his father or his mother, he shall surely be put to death; he has cursed his father or his mother, his bloodguiltiness is upon him. - Leviticus 20:9
The overall context is that of horrendous and atrocious types of sins, such as burning your children as an offering to Molech (a pagan god). The sins in this chapter of Leviticus are ones that will destroy a family or a nation. This is serious. Deuteronomy 21 gives us more detail about this specific commandment:
If any man has a stubborn and rebellious son who will not obey his father or his mother, and when they chastise him, he will not even listen to them, then his father and mother shall seize him, and bring him out to the elders of his city at the gateway of his hometown. They shall say to the elders of his city, "This son of ours is stubborn and rebellious, he will not obey us, he is a glutton and a drunkard." Then all the men of his city shall stone him to death; so you shall remove the evil from your midst, and all Israel will hear of it and fear.- Deuteronomy 21:18-21
This commandment is not talking about a one-time moment of anger, as the humanists are implying. This law is not about a minor infraction, but a serious rebellion. A deep hatred that was a danger to both the parents and society in general. The Hebrew words used here indicate this is a continuous rebellion and a long-term, ongoing refusal to respond to his parent’s discipline ("he will not obey us"). The son's character is that of a self-centered, troublemaker characterized as a "glutton and drunkard."
The humanist imply that, if a child simply curses their parents, the parents can stone them. Tha¬t is not the case. Notice in Deuteronomy that the rebellious son is brought before the elders of the city. In other words, there is trial... evidence is presented... and a judgment is made as to what punishment is appropriate. Only if the son is proven guilty, and is a danger to himself, to his family and to society, AND if the elders judge it appropriate, is the death penalty applied.
If you'd like to do deeper, the Got Questions web site has more information.
Worshiping Other Gods
Here is the scripture the humanist references:
If there is found in your midst, in any of your towns, which the Lord your God is giving you, a man or a woman who does what is evil in the sight of the Lord your God, by transgressing His covenant, and has gone and served other gods and worshiped them, or the sun or the moon or any of the heavenly host, which I have not commanded, and if it is told you and you have heard of it, then you shall inquire thoroughly. Behold, if it is true and the thing certain that this detestable thing has been done in Israel, then you shall bring out that man or that woman who has done this evil deed to your gates, that is, the man or the woman, and you shall stone them to death. - Deuteronomy 17:2-5
Idolatry is serious and is dealt with severely in the Bible. Notice, however, that the judges are commanded to do a thorough investigation: "you shall inquire thoroughly" and it must be both true and certain that the accused is serving and worshipping other Gods. Only then can the punishment be imposed.
Also, notice that in every humanist example God has clearly established the law in advance; there must be proof of the offense; and the penalty is stated and known to all. In addition, in cases of group or national sin, God warns them in advance that what they are doing is wrong and justice is coming. What is wrong with that?
What the humanists are saying is that they do not like God's laws... they do not want to be accountable. They want to make the rules and determine the consequences. John 3:19 says:
This is the judgment, that the Light has come into the world, and men loved the darkness rather than the Light, for their deeds were evil. -- In other words they love their sin (darkness), and that is why the reject God (the Light). Their problem is not that God is cruel, the real issue is that they worship (honor, respect, praise, etc.) themselves and don't want to obey God... and they evangelize to convert others to their rejection of God. (As demonstrated by their web site.)
In other words, humanists love their sin (darkness), and that is why they reject God (the Light). Their problem is not that God is cruel, the real issue is that they worship (honor, respect, praise, etc.) themselves and do not want to obey God... and they evangelize and attempt to convert others to their rejection of God (as demonstrated by their web site), just as God said they would.
Worshiping other gods is a serious offense against God. Not just because individual humanists reject God, but also because they lead others away from life and into rejection of God. Notice Deuteronomy 17 includes the requirement "it is told you and you have heard of it." That means that they have made their rejection of God public knowledge. They are talking about it to others, and this has become public knowledge.
If someone rejects God, and keeps that to himself or herself, there was no penalty. Their penalty will come after they physically die. However, if they start telling others, that becomes a danger to the community. Innocent people will be deceived and led away from God (exactly what the humanists are trying to do). That must be stopped, and so the death penalty was applied. It is just and fair.
This becomes clear when we look at the humanist's next accusation:
Enticing a Friend or Family Member to Worship Other Gods
If your brother, your mothers son, or your son or daughter, or the wife you cherish, or your friend who is as your own soul, entice you secretly, saying, "Let us go and serve other gods" (whom neither you nor your fathers have known, of the gods of the peoples who are around you, near you or far from you, from one end of the earth to the other end), you shall not yield to him or listen to him; and your eye shall not pity him, nor shall you spare or conceal him. But you shall surely kill him; your hand shall be first against him to put him to death, and afterwards the hand of all the people. So you shall stone him to death because he has sought to seduce you from the Lord your God who brought you out from the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery. - Deuteronomy 13:6-10
This is the same situation as we discussed above. What is interesting is that the humanist did not include verse 11, which explains why the death penalty applies. Here it is:
Then all Israel will hear and be afraid, and will never again do such a wicked thing among you. - Deuteronomy 13:11
The reason the penalty was so serious is that allowing the person to continue was a grave danger to all of Israel. Many innocent people will be deceived and led to their death. This is something that had to be stopped and the punishment was designed to prevent others from repeating this error.
Notice that Deuteronomy 13:10 provides an additional detail: the offender sought to seduce others away from God, who saved them from slavery in Egypt. God bringing Israel out of Egypt foreshadows Jesus bringing us out of sin. He will save you from slavery to sin, if you accept His gift of life.
Jesus answered them, Truly, truly, I say to you, everyone who commits sin is the slave of sin." - John 8:34
Today, humanists and all non-believers, are being given grace. They are given a second chance after second chance to repent and trust Jesus as their Savior. This incredible grace continues until the moment they die.
It is appointed for men to die once and after this comes judgment - Hebrews 9:27
Being a Witch, Medium, or Wizard
You shall not allow a sorceress to live. - Exodus 22:18
Now a man or a woman who is a medium or a spiritist shall surely be put to death. They shall be stoned with stones, their bloodguiltiness is upon them. -
Let's define some of the terms so we will know what scripture is talking about:
Sorceress - A woman who engages in occult practices.
Occult - Pertaining to demonic powered supernatural, mystical or magical beliefs, practices, or phenomena. The occult also includes New Age beliefs and practices such as yoga, mindfulness, entering the silence, and listening to god's "inner" voice within you.
Medium or spiritualist - people who act as go-betweens in contacting the spirits of the dead (who are in reality impersonated by demons).
The occult is real. In some instances, there is fakery, but do not think it is all fakery. The occult is real and powerful, and very dangerous. Scripture has many warnings against the occult:
When you enter the land which the Lord your God gives you, you shall not learn to imitate the detestable things of those nations. There shall not be found among you anyone who makes his son or his daughter pass through the fire, one who uses divination, one who practices witchcraft, or one who interprets omens, or a sorcerer, or one who casts a spell, or a medium, or a spiritist, or one who calls up the dead. For whoever does these things is detestable to the Lord; and because of these detestable things the Lord your God will drive them out before you. You shall be blameless before the Lord your God.- Deuteronomy 18:9-13
Why are these things detestable to the Lord? Because they involve demons, and demonic powers and forces. If you are involved in the occult (including contemporary New Age, yoga, or mindfulness), you are worshipping demons. Some people think that through the use of spells and incantations they are controlling demons. That is not true. The demons are using them.
This places the occult into the same category as worshipping other gods. Sorceresses, mediums and witches are the priests and priestesses who are interceding with demons and leading people away from God. Scripture even warns us that as we approach the end times, doctrines of demons—referring to the occult and including New Age and some charismatic practices—will become popular:
But the Spirit explicitly says that in later times some will fall away from the faith, paying attention to deceitful spirits and doctrines of demons. - 1 Timothy 4:1
This is dangerous stuff and those who lead others into the occult needed to be stopped. Thus, at that time, the death penalty was just and appropriate.
Engaging in Homosexual Acts
Leviticus 20:13 is given as the scriptural example:
Leviticus 20:13 is given as the example: If there is a man who lies with a male as those who lie with a woman, both of them have committed a detestable act; they shall surely be put to death. Their bloodguiltiness is upon them.
Other Old Testament scriptures also declare that homosexuality is a sin: Genesis 19:1-13; and Leviticus 18:22. The New Testament also states that homosexuality is a sin in Romans 1:26-27 and 1 Corinthians 6:9.
In other responses to humanist's accusations, I have mentioned that when people turn away from God, God gives them what they want. He withdraws, which includes withdrawing His protection and blessings. Romans 1:26-27 tells us that when God withdraws, homosexuality and acceptance of homosexuality greatly increases. In other words, the growing homosexuality we see today is a result of denying and disobeying God. When people continue in sin and unbelief, God withdraws and "God gives them over to degrading passions." What this means is that God reduces His restraint of sin and people start doing the evil they naturally want to do. By God doing this He is letting people experience what life is like without Him. It makes sin real and demonstrates the futility and hopelessness of life apart from God.
What about today? Is the death penalty appropriate for the sin of homosexuality today? No, it is not. I'm going to quote from the Got Questions web site where they address this question. They point out that:
It is crucial to understand that Jesus fulfilled the Law (Matthew 5:1718). Romans 10:4 says that Christ is the end of the Law. Ephesians 2:15 says that Jesus set aside the Law with its commands and regulations. Galatians 3:25 says, now that faith has come, we are no longer under the guardianship of the Law. The civil and ceremonial aspects of the Old Testament Law were for an earlier time. The Laws purpose was completed with the perfect and complete sacrifice of Jesus Christ. So, no, the Bible does not command that homosexuals should be put to death in this day and age.
This means that for everything we've been discussing here, the death penalty is no longer required... and that includes homosexuality. But, what about back in the time when Leviticus was written? Again I quote Got Questions:
The Bible describes homosexuality as an abomination, an immoral perversion of Gods created order. The purity of Gods people in the Promised Land was vitally important, as was the continuance of bloodlines (one of which would lead to the Messiah). That is why God demanded the death penalty for those who engaged in homosexual intercourse.
The Got Questions web site says a lot more than I have room for here, so I suggest you read their full answer to this question. Click/tap here.
Not Being a Virgin on Ones Wedding Night
But if this charge is true, that the girl was not found a virgin, then they shall bring out the girl to the doorway of her fathers house, and the men of her
city shall stone her to death because she has committed an act of folly in Israel by playing the harlot in her fathers house; thus you shall purge the evil from among you. - Deuteronomy 22:20-21
Notice this scripture quote starts with the word "but." That means it is referring back to what was said previously. The humanists did not include those verses. The result is you are not seeing the context. If we go back to verse 13, we see this is a law relating to misrepresentation, deception, and adultery.
If any man takes a wife and goes into her and then turns against her, and charges her with shameful deeds and publicly defames her, and says, “I took this woman, but when I came near her, I did not find her a virgin…. - Deuteronomy 22:20-21
To start, sex outside of marriage is forbidden. That means when a woman (or man) married, they both had to be virgins.
>Starting in verse 13 the scripture says that if a man marries a woman, and decides he does not like her, and he wants to get out of the marriage, and to do that he accuses her of not being a virgin… there is then a process that protects the woman. If his accusation is true, that ends the marriage. However, if his claim is false, and the man is just trying to get out of the marriage, there are serious penalties for the man.
However, if his charge is true, and it is proven the woman was not a virgin, it is a very serious situation. First, it means she lied and misrepresented herself in order to get married. Second, it means she is committing adultery, as she has already become one flesh with another man. Adultery is punishable by death. Third, she has brought her new "husband" into an adulterous relationship, essentially making him guilty of adultery. All of this makes the death penalty just and appropriate.
Although the law prescribed the death penalty, there is no record that it ever was imposed for this reason. An interesting example is Joseph and Mary (the mother of Jesus). They were betrothed, which meant that they were legally married. Then Mary, through the Holy Spirit, becomes pregnant with Jesus. When Joseph finds out, what is he going to think? Mary is pregnant, that means she is was not a virgin... and that means she should be stoned.
What does Joseph do?
At first, he wants to send Mary away to a place where she is not known. She can have the baby, and because people do not know what happened, she will escape the shame of adultery. That is not a Biblical response to the situation.
An angel then explains to Joseph what is happening. Mary is pregnant, but the baby is from the Holy Spirit and she is still a virgin. There is no deception nor adultery, and thus no reason to a stone her. Therefore, Joseph stays with her, adopting the baby as his own. They remain married and Jesus is born.
We have looked at all of the examples the humanists brought up, placing them in their scriptural, cultural and historical context. The conclusion? The death penalty was appropriate for these offenses at the time the referenced scriptures were written. God is not sadistic. His actions and punishments are just and appropriate.
Next accusation: In the New Testament, God became far worse in regard to imposing excessively severe punishments. It would be hard to imagine anything more cruel and disproportionate than punishing people with eternal torture for mere disbelief that Jesus was the son of God.
The inability to believe that proposition harms no one, and it has been disbelieved by some of the greatest benefactors of humanity. Nonetheless, God promises to punish them and all other nonbelievers with the most horrible pain conceivable.
Is what the humanists say true!? Let's find out. Tap here.