Imagine little Tommy steals a cookie from the kitchen. His mother catches him in the act, and informs him she now is forced by her just nature to nail his hands and feet to his bedroom door for a couple of hours. Mother can sense that Tommy is not happy with this decision, and says “You know I can’t simply forgive you without some type of bloodshed. That would make me unjust.” Tommy responds “But you want me to forgive others without hurting them, right?” Mother ponders this. “Yes, but that applies only to you. I need to see blood before I can forgive.” Tommy nods and sobs. Mother finally comes up with a solution. “I’ll tell you what” she says. “I’ll instead nail your older brother Joshua to the door, and we’ll consider that fair retribution for your stealing of the cookie. But only if you acknowledge that I am a loving and just mother, and that Joshua’s nailing to the door saved you from having to suffer the same fate. Fair enough?
Do you think Tommy should accept his mother’s nailing of Joshua to the door as a necessary shedding of blood for the cookie-stealing transgression? Is Tommy lucky to have such a just and loving mother that would require his older brother pay the nailed-to-the-door penalty for his own cookie-stealing iniquity? This is not hyperbole according to most Christian leaders. Christian leaders largely concur with the notion that the cookie snitching of a child requires the bloody nailing of Jesus to a cross for forgiveness. Does this make sense to you?
Most Christian parents can forgive their cookie-stealing children without bloodshed. And they do so without feeling their bloodless forgiveness is unjust. Yet many Christian parents also believe that their child’s act of taking the cookie deserves an eternal damnation that was somehow paid for in the bloody death of Jesus, a bloody death that God needed to observe in order to forgive us.
The claim is that blood (or death if a metaphor) is unavoidable, even though Christians themselves are instructed to forgive, presumably without bloodshed.
Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. (Colossians 3:13)
Look closely at this verse. Is forgiving without bloodshed how God forgave us? Or is does his forgiveness require blood as the following verse indicates?
In fact, the law requires that nearly everything be cleansed with blood, and without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness. (Hebrews 9:22)
More importantly, does it make any sense for a loving individual to require the shedding of blood before they can justly forgive? As a person becomes more like God, do they require more blood to forgive? Is is more virtuous to forgive without bloodshed or only after observing bloodshed? What rational and emotionally continent being feels pacified only after seeing bloodshed?
This notion that the Christian God seemingly has no power to forgive without bloodshed impinges upon the claim the Christian God is omnipotent. As parents, we clearly retain the power to modify or dismiss any formerly prescribed punishment for violating household rules. Invalidating our original prescription of punishment for a particular broken rule, and forgiving our children without punishment is very often considered virtuous. Would not an actual God be able to change is mind? Or is this rule that an offense against God requires bloodshed somehow above God? Is the need for bloodshed truly emergent of God’s righteous nature? Would not an actual loving God be able to modify or abolish any prescriptions of punishment previously made? Does not the very biblical notion of grace imply that God does not give us the punishment we deserve? Why then would the blood of Jesus be necessary? What would be unjust about forgiveness without any spilt blood?