I always hope that if one’s views of God changes, they may be more open to God or at least spiritual matters. Richard Dawkins in The God Delusion says: “The God of the Old Testament is arguably the most unpleasant character in all fiction: jealous and proud of it; a petty, unjust, unforgiving control-freak; a vindictive, bloodthirsty ethnic cleanser; a misogynistic, homophobic, racist, infanticidal, genocidal, filicidal, pestilential, megalomaniacal, sadomasochistic, capriciously malevolent bully.” I get why some may accuse God of some of these behaviors after reading the Bible. I think God is “God-enough” to handle the criticism.
Is God an unforgiving control-freak? There is no evidence in the Bible that God sends people to Hell eventually if they don’t believe in God. God has respected freedom of beliefs from the very beginning; otherwise, God who is powerful enough to create would annihilate immediately those who oppose God by choosing evil. God forgives those who forgive others (Mt. 6:14). Those who seek forgiveness but are unwilling to forgive others clearly don’t recognize the pain they have caused others, or they would quickly forgive others to relieve them of such horrific pain.
Is God really a misogynist who hates or doesn’t trust women? I doubt God would suggest women be under the authority of men rather than mutually submissive, especially when men are prone to dominate women anyway. God did not create a male-controlled relationship between Adam and Eve in the beginning. Nations thereafter chose to be patriarchal. God simply doesn’t impose their will on others. Jesus was a male, but if people already didn’t listen to Jesus do you think they would listen to a female Jesus? Jesus encouraged equality between the sexes against culture norms. Religious extremists would read be dead than advise husbands to love their wives as their own bodies as the Apostle Paul did.
Is God really a bloodthirsty, ethnic cleanser? No one nation or religion was ever wiped out in the Bible. God was always willing to live in peace, but war is unavoidable when others impose their beliefs by violating the rights of others. Do nations simply stand by while others prepare to attack or torture their own people? But, the Bible quotes God saying: “Now go, attack the Amalekites…put to death men and women, children and infants, cattle and sheep, camels and donkeys” (I Sam. 15:3). Rhetoric is often used (i.e. evil must be dealt with come hell or high water) to embolden the victor or inspire fear in the enemy. It is plausible the OT writers used hyperbole language for effect. The Israelites didn’t hunt down those fleeing, but families may stand by their man despite immorality. It is not always possible to avoid destruction of life.
Is God really homophobic? Biblical passages against homosexuality were in the context of infidelity or violence such as rape. Who doesn’t know that any sexual behaviors that are mindless, selfish, uncommitted engagements, as opposed to consensual monogamous relationships, are wrong? I personally don’t believe the Bible address monogamous homosexual relationships. Each can seek God’s voice in their personal, sex life. Church folks condemn gay relationships but they get divorced half the time. One best examine their own life before condemning gay couples who are committed.
Is God really a filicide who approved killing their child? Jesus’ death was not necessary to appease God; Jesus was willing to die for His beliefs in hopes to convince others of His message. Soldiers die for one another because they believe that the fight for freedom is worth it. Jesus could have simply denied being the Messiah to save His skin. God could have overrun the Roman kingdom with God’s kingdom, but God knows authentic relationships only happen if chosen freely. Jesus was willing to die for a message He felt lead to true freedom rather than personal and worldly destruction. What does it say about God if requiring the blood of the innocent! A loving God only requires confessions of wrongdoings for this leads to healing.
Is God really a sadomasochist by enjoying inflicting physical and mental suffering on people? It is hard to believe a loving God would actual tortures people forever for beliefs they had while a short time on earth. God doesn’t! No such place as Hell exists according to the Bible. Jesus used the Greek word Gehenna, wrongly translated as Hell, to warn against self-centeredness. Parents warn children similarly of paths of destruction. Gehenna, a real valley never Jerusalem with a history, was used by Jesus to illustrate spiritual death is as bad as physical death (Gehenna).
Do you have any beliefs about God that keep you from wanting a relationship with God? There may be plausible, biblical, interpretations that don’t suggest God is an unforgiving control-freak; a misogynist; a bloodthirsty ethnic cleanser; a homophobic; or a filicidal, sadomasochistic kind of God. I just don’t think it is possible that a loving God would be guilty of any of these behaviors. If we are created in God’s image, we would not understand such behaviors are immoral in our own relationships. If you are aware of any beliefs that prevent you from being more open-minded about God in your life, I encourage you to identify them and seek to find answers. God may not be your problem.