Is God a sadist?

Fresco with image of Abraham to sacrifice his ...
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The question might seem shocking if you’ve been raised in Church. After all you’re not supposed to ask that sort of question. Are you? It’s rude. It’s disrespectful. It’s blasphemous. So might the rebuttal go. Yet, if you’re going to show any sort of reasonable reason for why a non Christian should believe in and place their trust in the God of the Bible, you had better learn how to ask and answer it.

There are lots of, shall we say, difficult to reconcile, accounts in the Bible where God asks people to do some very difficult things. In fact, in any other context, they might be called disgusting or horrific. So, is God a sadist? What’s the deal in asking his “friend” to sacrifice his only son?

Nancy Guthrie deals with this question and few others to point Christians towards a biblical and gospel oriented answer.

Why would God ask Abraham to offer his son as a sacrifice? Is God trying to teach us that we should be willing sacrifice what is most precious to us? No. This story is not recorded to inspire sacrifice to God. Instead, it paints in vivid colors the sacrifice of God. The point of this story is not to convince you that you must be willing to sacrifice to God what is most precious to you, but rather to prepare you to take in the magnitude of the gift when you see that God was willing to sacrifice what was most precious to him—his own beloved Son—for you.

If we read the Bible assuming that we are expected to follow in the footsteps of those who are featured in its pages, we will find ourselves always trying harder to sacrifice and obey but never measuring up. We’ll assume that God asks us to do things that will make us miserable just to put us through a test of our allegiance—diminishing, rather than magnifying God in our hearts. But when we read the Bible recognizing that it is not about what we must do for him, but about what he has done for us through Christ, rather than being offended by what we fear he may ask of us, we find rest in what he has done for us.