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For good reason it is harder for many to respect a God who thinks killing animals is a good thing, just so people can feel better about wronging others. Would a loving God actually desire killing of animals in the Old Testament to supposedly atone for sins one has committed?

God must accept less than ideal practices if seeking to persuade than control.

It was not God’s desire for Israel to have Kings as rulers but God accepted their wish. God never considered divorce for frivolous reasons ideal but Moses apparently permitted divorce in God’s name to give vulnerable women protection (Mt. 19, Deut. 24). God didn’t constantly condemn concubines because it may have been a more suitable option for vulnerable women in OT cultures.

God may have accepted animal sacrifices as the lesser of two evils to at least guard against the use of child sacrifices common in OT cultures. God knew the Israelites would continue to participate in sacrifices to please gods, so God set out to eventually influence what is truly important. Animals were never tortured but carefully prepared. Since people were set on animal sacrifice, God may have used extreme animal cleanliness to point toward the importance of heart cleanliness. 

Later OT writers begin to recognize animal sacrifice was not God’s idea.

Writers after the OT laws wrote that God doesn’t like animal sacrifices but contrite hearts (Ps. 51:16-17, i.e. Jer. 7:22, Amos 5:21, Micah 6:6). OT writers were surely influenced by surrounding cultures where it was sacrilegious to not think an all-powerful and controlling God needed to be appeased through sacrifices. The writer of Hebrews says God did not desire or was pleased with sacrifice and offerings though offered in accordance with the law (10:8). OT laws often originated from assumptions that God was like all the other gods in OT cultures.

But, wasn’t Jesus’ blood to satisfy God’s need for sacrifice?

Jesus didn’t die to placate a blood-thirsty God who needed their child murdered before forgiving others and have their honor restored. Jesus overpowering His enemies was expected. Miracles grab attention but then things just go back to the way they were. Jesus accepted death rather than deny His message. God sought to influence all to not just respond to evil with evil. God is not an enabler but a motive to simply retaliate than hope to influence for good continues the cycle. The Cross wasn’t meant to change God’s attitude toward us. God sought to influence and empower us to change our unloving attitudes toward others.

It is not always wrong to participate in less than ideal situations when seeking to influence.

Most are not as offended as I am of the excepted practice of coaches yelling at their players, whether children or adults, for motivational reasons. Love and calmness rather than fear and loudness is the ideal way to inspire others. Anger is short-lived and relationally destructive. I wouldn’t necessarily ban sports or coaches who yell if I had the power to do so. One reason that I coached young people was in hopes to demonstrate a better way. Long-lasting changes don’t really happen if forced rather than through health-felt choices. 

God surely hated the idea of animal sacrifice rather than one simply taking responsibility for their actions. Confession, contriteness, and amends are what lead to healing in relationships.

 

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