April 19, 2019

Celebrating Human Sacrifice

crucifix

Suppose for a moment that there really was a historical Jesus. Also, suppose that the manner in which he is depicted in the book some Christians regard as "holy" is at least somewhat accurate. None of the miraculous things took place, of course, but the words and deeds attributed to the Jesus character were at least close to what really happened. If all of this was the case, wouldn't most people be able to agree that this Jesus person was a fairly decent guy? Even if he was fully human, not divine in any way, and never performed a single miracle, wouldn't we regard him as a generally good guy? Maybe not. But it seems very unlikely that we would label him evil.

Why would anyone celebrate the torture and murder of a good guy each year? I can understand why some Christians would choose to celebrate Easter if they think it was when the Jesus character came back to life. But why celebrate his brutal execution? Why glorify his torture? If the response is that it was necessary for the resurrection, I'd have to disagree. He could have been revived no matter how he died. He did not need to suffer as much as he allegedly did. "He died for your sins, bro!" Salvation could have been accomplished in many ways that did not involve his gruesome death. So why wasn't it?

When I see legions of Christians welcoming Good Friday, my first thought is often some variation of, "Man, you must really hate this Jesus person." I usually manage to keep that thought to myself, but it is there. Had Jesus been some sort of depraved monster, maybe it would make sense to honor his demise. But that does not appear to be the case here. Are people really selfish enough that they'll celebrate everything Jesus supposedly endured just because they think it was good for them?

Good Friday is a celebration of torture. That may seem bad enough, but it gets even worse. It is not just the celebration of torture; it is the celebration of the torture and death of someone who seemed to be a good guy. It would be one thing to celebrate the execution of a notorious serial killer. That might not be consistent with humanism, but we could at least understand the impulse. Celebrating the execution of someone we regard positively and who did not do anything to deserve it is baffling. Celebrating Good Friday amounts to a celebration of human sacrifice involving someone many claim to admire.