The Sanctity Of Suffering

There’s fire, flood, and famine, and there’s pestilence and war
And there’s cholera, malaria, diphtheria and more
Kids will die of diarrhea by the millions every year
Jesus loves the little children, so He wants to keep them near.

It may first appear a tragedy, to die at six or seven
But remember how much happier the kids will be in heaven
Though a short life, full of sorrow, might appear to be the worst
Jesus welcomes all His children, but they have to suffer first

Yes, He has to let them suffer
Make their lives a little rougher
Not too little—just enough, or
They won’t cry out in His name
So with gusto and with relish
He makes brief existence hellish
Add some heartbreak to embellish
Like it’s all some sort of game

It’s the sanctity of suffering, the cleansing pow’r of grief
It’s the lame attempt to justify what beggars all belief
When a child dies in agony, you have to think it odd
That the church finds this consistent with a kind and loving God.


  1. Steve R says

    The Abrahamic cults are ALL about suffering. If you do a good enough job of it, you get pie in the sky when you die. Even if you reject the Bible as a pile of bronze-age fairy tales, observable reality says that if God exists, he’s a sadist.

  2. Linda Grilli Calhoun says

    I have a better explanation of why xians enjoy the suffering of others.

    They’re just mean people enjoying their meanness. And, they are also enjoying the fact that in their belief system, they don’t have to own up to that. L

  3. says

    I keep an archive of news articles related to child abuse in religious environments that demonstrates just how dangerous religion can be to children. The abuses, atrocities and crimes documented in the blog, committed against children in the name of God or gods, ought to give thinking people of faith serious doubts as to the legitimacy of religious or spiritual beliefs that cause or contribute in any way to the suffering of the most innocent, vulnerable humans. It ought to, but it usually doesn’t. For example, I was recently contacted by a Christian who demanded that I remove the painting of Abraham sacrificing Isaac that appears in the left side-bar under the title Religious Child Abuse, which I think is an accurate description of what is happening in the painting. This anonymous person wrote to me in response to an article related to Catholic clergy crimes in Ireland:

    “You need to remove the Abraham Isaac image. It has nothing to do with what has been going on. Christ died for our sins and He has already said that anyone who harms children would be better off with a millstone round his neck and drowned in the bottom of sea. That is His outrage and I am baffled by the lack of connection with Christ in the church. And the lack of fear of God. Knowing of those heinious actions if you truly believed in God would strike terror in your heart.”

    What astounds me is the failure of believers to recognize that the defining moment of faith for Jews and Christians alike, and I assume Muslims, is Abraham’s willingness to sacrifice, i.e., murder, his son because God commanded him to. His willingness to kill his own son is considered the ultimate test and expression of faith. Of course, God apparently changed his mind and commuted innocent Isaac’s death penalty, so it is no wonder some fundamentalists today are willing to risk their children dying from medical neglect just to prove how faithful they are, believing that their faith alone is enough for God to intervene and save their child like Isaac was saved. Yet Abraham was guilty of attempted filicide, as are modern faith healing parents who allow their children to suffer needlessly without any professional medical care, sometimes unto death. The link between Abraham, the father of faith, and modern believers who neglect, harm or murder their children in the name of God is undeniable, so the painting stays as a symbol of all religiously motivated child abuse.

    The suffering experienced by children from the misguided actions of religious adults is a specific subset of suffering that I have purposely focused on in the archive to help expose the dogma that God is good and faith is beneficial. What kind of god or God would allow innocent children to suffer or die at the hands of believers and do nothing to intervene and stop the suffering? It is certainly not a kind, loving, compassionate god or God, at least not by any reasonable standard of kindness, love or compassion. No believer has any reasonable answer to that question of why a presumably good, all-powerful god allows innocent children to needlessly suffer. Neither does the Bible.

    The broader question of suffering, any suffering of any human whether related to religion or not, is enough to invalidate the god of the Bible, who is the god of Jews, Christians, and Muslims alike. That is the conclusion of Bart Ehrman who has a Ph.D. in New Testament studies from Princeton Theological Seminary. He was a life-long, devout and committed evangelical Christian, until he considered deeply the question of why humans suffer. In his 2008 book, “God’s Problem: How the Bible Fails to Answer Our Most Important Question—Why We Suffer”, he explains that the question of suffering is the reason he lost his faith.

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