My Bible Disturbs Me
Every now and then a story shows up in the Bible that really disturbs me. I hope they disturb you as well. When Abraham ejects Hagar and the boy Ishmael from the camp I feel a visceral repulsion. How can God’s people be so cruel and why would our ancestors make such a story part of our scripture? And there are lots of stories like this: Jephthah's daughter, the Levite's concubine, Ananias and Sapphira just to name a few. And I no longer accept my juvenile rationalization that God will make me understand it in God’s time. The stories bother me now.
The Judeo/Christian/Muslim scriptures do not whitewash the fact that often, God’s people are jerks. That’s the way humans often are and the Bible might as well be honest about that.
Accepting that disturbing fact, then, the amazing part of stories like Hagar’s and Ishmael’s anguish is that somehow God comes through to see that the great journey of humanity continues. While the “chosen” Sarah and Abraham celebrated and partied over the birth of Sarah’s son, God went out to the desert, to the outcast, and saved them.
God’s people had better take note of this.