Peter had just returned from apologizing to his parents again. It’s not that he had done anything wrong in particular. In fact, he is usually unaware of what it is he is apologizing for and would often invent “bad stuff” that he supposedly did during the day just so he would have something to apologize for. It was a family tradition, and 8 year old Peter, as well as his 6 other siblings, had to go through the ritual every single day. That night, like any normal, frank, irritable 8 year old boy, Peter decided to ask his father, “Dad, why must I say ‘I’m sorry’ to you every night?”
His father held him lovingly in his arms and relayed the following story:
“A very long time ago, before you were born, your mother and I had a son named Paul, who made a terrible mistake. We lived in the countryside then, where there were lots of fruit trees of all kinds. But there was this one mango Palwi tree that we specifically asked Paul not to eat from. I must confess that I allowed the neighbor, a very clever young man, to persuade him to eat the mango just to see how obedient Paul was. But he shouldn’t have listened to the neighbor. He disobeyed us and we had to punish him. Although he died many years ago, what he did was so terrible that I would have had to kill every child that your mother and I made thereafter, including you. But fortunately, because I love children so much I was able to come up with a brilliant plan so that this wouldn’t happen.
“When we had our second son, I paid some gangsters to torture and kill him so that I wouldn’t have the cause to kill the rest of my children anymore. You see, my second son already paid the penalty that I would have given you guys. All you have to do now is to acknowledge and accept all what I did to save you and apologize to me everyday.”
“But Dad,” Peter whined, “None of this is my fault. It’s not fair.”
“I understand how you feel son, but you must trust me. It was the best decision. Because of what Paul did you were cursed and you had to pay. When Paul ate that mango Palwi, it caused you and all your siblings to be evil and corrupt from the day you were born. But at least, now I don’t have to kill you anymore. You have a choice. You can either acknowledge the trouble I went through to save you and do exactly as I say, or I will burn your little body very slowly over the barbeque grill in the yard. I brought you to this earth son, and I have the right to take you out.”
Without a second’s hesitation, Peter apologized again to his father.
One may argue that the story above is certainly not the most complete or accurate depiction of the fall of man. I agree and it was not intended to be, but it does capture, in my opinion, some key elements of the story on which the entire Christian religion is based. Because of the bad judgment of two perfect human beings about 6000 years ago, an immortal God had to die in order to save us from the consequences of a decision that we were not responsible for making. Even though the debt that we never owed has already been paid in full on our behalf, because of God’s “unconditional love”, we are still not entitled to it unless we meet certain conditions. The penalty for making the wrong choice, or refusing to believe a ridiculous myth, is eternal suffering because God loves us all so badly.
Religion has a strange way of making many things which would normally be wrong, or evil, perfectly acceptable because God is supposedly incapable of doing wrong. No matter what he does, it has to be right.
The God of the Old Testament is guilty of indiscriminate mass murder and making Peter pay for Paul. In the Old Testament, a group of small boys jeered at the prophet Elisha and called him a “baldhead”. How did God handle that on Elisha’s behalf? He caused two bears to tear up 42 innocent children to pieces (2 Kings 2:23-24 NAB). In Beth-shemesh, some men decided to look inside the Holy Ark. What a mistake!
As many as 50,000 men were destroyed as a result (1Samuel 6:19-20 ASV). God promises to kill children, even unborn children, old men, and young women for the wickedness of a few (Hosea 9:11-16 NLT; Ezekiel 9:5-7 NLT; Jeremiah 51:20-26). This God was also guilty of having a lack of patience, the inability to forgive, anger management and jealousy issues, preferential treatment for his chosen ones and inconsistent and unfair judgment and punishment. His moral standards are obviously not to be emulated because they are the opposite of what he wants for us. It basically boils down to “do as I say and not as I do.”
Unlike Peter in my introductory story, I grew tired of apologizing and repenting a long time ago. I have no interest in paying for the curiosity of two prehistoric people, or for crimes that I have not committed. I am not an evil person and the “sins” that I may have committed and will continue to commit are all a necessary part of being human.
One cannot be human without making mistakes or unwise decisions, and it is those same bad decisions which shape us into the people we are today. Sin is inevitable and necessary for personal growth and “spiritual” development. All criminals may be sinners but all sinners are not criminals. Why must anyone keep apologizing for being human? According to Robert G. Ingersoll, “If our thoughts and actions can lesson or increase the happiness of God, then to that extent, God is the slave and victim of man.”