In the time of the Judges, there was a man named Gilead who fathered several strapping young lads. One of them, named Jephthah, had the misfortune of being pushed from the womb of a prostitute. (Men in those days were not very keen on monogamy.) His family shunned him and sent him into exile.
Years later, the good folk of Gilead (the place, not the man) were having trouble with some uppity neighbors, the Ammonites. Deciding that practicality was better than tradition, they approached the exiled bastard, who had become quite the warrior, and asked if he wouldn’t mind coming back to the family homestead to defend it from the nasty invaders. Jephthah was understandably perturbed, but agreed to come lead the battle if they’d make him the Big Kahuna after he smote the Ammonites in good Biblical fashion.
After a high handed and rather imperialist appeal to diplomacy failed (LINK), Jephthah saw that the Lord, who is the same as Jesus, had been flying around in his invisible form, surveying the land his followers had conquered. (LINK) He offered him a deal:
“If you will give the Ammonites into my hand, then whatever comes out from the doors of my house to meet me when I return in peace from the Ammonites shall be the LORD’s, and I will offer it up for a burnt offering.”
Jesus thought this was a pretty good deal, and when the battle was engaged, he took a very active roll in the proceedings, and delivered the agreed upon victory. (LINK) Jephthah returned home, and lo and behold, the first thing that stepped through his doorway was his very own daughter, who happened to be a virgin.
Somewhat distraught, but perfectly willing to live up to her father’s end of the bargain, the young lady took two months to live in the mountains and cry about being a virgin. Then she came back to town. Her father, the new Head Honcho of the Lord’s Chosen People in Gilead, took her to an altar and burned her as a virgin sacrifice to Jesus. (LINK)
There it is, in the Ultimate Holy Book with the Ultimate Prescription for Ultimate Objective Morality: Virgin Sacrifice is something Jesus is OK with from time to time.
Oh, sure, it’s in the Old Testament, and we don’t take much heed of the Old Testament these days. Except for the Ten Commandments in every government building we can sneak them into. And the bits about homosexuality. And witches. But for the most part, we don’t pay very much attention to the Old Testament because those were different times.
Still, one has to ask some pointed questions: If Jesus is the same as God, then we have to admit that Jesus accepted a virgin sacrifice. Right?
Since anything that God approves of is by definition “good,” we have to conclude that Jesus thinks virgin sacrifices are a morally good thing at certain times. Right?
How are virgin sacrifices a good thing? Can we think of any instance in which we would condone one? Is it ok to burn your daughter alive to thank God for giving you a new job? For letting you win the office football pool? For giving Christopher Hitchens cancer?
Interestingly, there is not one single prohibition of virgin sacrifices in the Bible. Read it for yourself and see. Not a single one. The all-knowing, all powerful deity who can have things absolutely any way he wants to have them allowed (or forced?) Jephthah’s daughter to be the first thing he saw. Jesus did this after fulfilling his end of the contract Jephthah had offered. Jesus did nothing to stop the sacrifice. By all Biblical accounts, Jesus was absolutely fine with the whole thing, and thought it an acceptable trade for his services rendered on the field of slaughter.
Virgin Sacrifice: The part of Christianity nobody mentions in church.
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