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All you need is love?

By Graham Young - posted Wednesday, 7 April 2021

Christian love does not mean gentle love either. The Easter story is a modulation on one of the most gruesome and difficult to morally justify stories of the Old Testament. Abraham takes his only son Isaac up onto a mountain to sacrifice him to Yahweh, because he believes that is what God demands of him.

At one level the morality of the story is saved by God sending an angel to stop Abraham, and providing an alternative sacrifice. At another level it is a declaration that, unlike their pagan neighbours, the Hebrews will not practice child or human sacrifice. But you still have to wonder what sort of god this is. It might be a test, but it is a cruel one.

The Easter narrative deliberately references and replays this story, but with variations. At Easter it is God who takes his son not to the temple mount, but to a hill nearby, and allows him to be tortured and put to death in the most gruesome way. God does with his only son what he would not allow Abraham to do with his.


The morality of this seemingly immoral act is salvaged in the first place by Jesus acting of his own freewill, and in the second, under the concept of the Trinity, Jesus is one with God, so his pain is God's pain, and his death God's death.

This isn't schmaltzy Aquarian love this is extremely tough love. And as Christians are told to "take up their cross", it's applied equally to all those who want to be "saved".

This episode also provides the tinder for the valorisation of the victim. Jesus is the victim here, and through his acts of civil disobedience leading up to his crucifixion – the Palm Sunday demonstration and the riot amongst the moneychangers in the temple – he courts that role.

This isn't the same as the identity group version of victim. Jesus is in control – he is active, not passive - and he is a victim as an individual, not as a member of a group. As a victim he doesn't ask for special treatment, but accepts the punishment the law metes out. Being a victim is a strategic gambit in a game which brings huge benefits. He doesn't say to the oppressor "you owe me", he accepts the punishment.

You may find all of this a little esoteric…I do. But if you want to understand the success of Western Civilisation, and how it is being subverted by progressivism, this story, its concepts, and its terms, esoteric as they may be, have been central to the culture we've built.

For example our justice system combines elements of retribution and rehabilitation, objectivity and independence. It stands apart from the mob, and there are people who are prepared to bravely put their lives on the line to enforce and administer it.


It is the antithesis of Cancel Culture, which says no matter how much good you have done, it can be erased by one thing that is judged to be unforgivable and you can never be rehabilitated. While you must empathise with me, I will never empathise with you.

The Greek word for the love of John's Gospel and Paul's epistle, agape, is translated into English as "charity". At this Easter it's charity I think the world needs most urgently, not a woke version of love.

We all need to give each other the space to be wrong, and to hurt ourselves and others.

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About the Author

Graham Young is chief editor and the publisher of On Line Opinion. He is executive director of the Australian Institute for Progress, an Australian think tank based in Brisbane, and the publisher of On Line Opinion.

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