Noah, John, Luke, Paul, and Mary

When God speaks to you, He asks you to listen to Him, believe what He says, and follow His instructions. It is a sin to disobey God. Kierkegaard has described the ways that one can follow God when he gives a command that violates your morality in Fear and Trembling. Through its four tellings of the story of Abraham and Isaac, Kierkegaard explores the relationship between what he labels the ethical and what he labels the religious. In the book, Kierkegaard explicitly states that in his opinion one can do something that is ethically wrong, but religiously right.

Kierkegaard felt that one must have an existential stance to follow God in spite of one's ethics. That the voice of God trumped all other characteristics. He has been profoundly influential, and was a major inspiration to Dietrich Bonhoeffer, who further refined Kierkegaard's ideas in The Cost of Discipleship.

It is interesting to note that in no description of the religious stance did Kierkegaard describe a method to distinguish between hallucinations and the voice of God. In fact, to my knowledge there has never been a clear instruction given to Christians that allows them reliably to distinguish between the voice of God and a hallucination.

Yet this is not a minor point.

In one cell in a mental institution in Texas, there are two women whom killed their children to please God. The first is Andrea Yates. She believed God had told her to have as many children as is possible, and soon she decided that she was unworthy to bring them up. Her five children, named after Bible characters: Noah, John, Luke, Paul, and Mary, were all at risk of hell because of her failures. In 2001, she became convinced that the only way she could save their eternal souls was to do away with them before they could sin.

A psychiatric examination was ordered for Andrea. One psychiatrist, featured on Mugshots, asked Andrea what she thought would happen to the children. She indicated that she believed God would "take them up." He reversed the question and asked what might have happened if she had not taken their lives.

"I guess they would have continued stumbling," which meant "they would have gone to hell."

He wanted to know specifically what they had done to give her the idea they weren't behaving properly. She responded that they didn't treat Rusty's mother well, adding that, "They didn't do things God likes."

Andrea believed the only way her children could have eternal life that wasn't torment was if she killed all five of them. She believed this after careful study, prayer and consultation with her church. Andrea presumed she knew the mind of God and that he was speaking to her through the testimony of her church and family.

In the cell with Andrea is Dena Schlosser. Dena cut the arms off her baby in 2004. She saw a news report on television about a boy being mauled to death by a lion and decided that it was a sign of the apocalypse. She then heard God's voice telling her to remove her own baby's arms and then her own. After putting on the song “He Touched Me”, she cut the baby's arms off, resulting in his death.

It is clear that both Andrea Yates and Dena Schlosser are ill individuals. Yet it is remarkable that there are two women who did this within 3 years of one another in the same state in America. It is also clear that the primary cause of both of these unbelievable acts of filicide is that both women believed God was very active in the world, that they knew what he wanted them to do, and that they would be punished severely if they failed to do it. My questions to those who believe that atheism is dangerous, that it allows you to “do whatever you want,” and that universal moral values are upheld by religion are these:

Why can God not make it plain that it is wrong to kill your children? Why can he not make that plain broadly, by putting it in bright letters somewhere on every 3rd or 4th page on the books he writes, dictates or inspires? And why can he not make it plain specifically by speaking that information into the diseased brains of psychotics who are already hearing voices and aren't likely to be believed by another living human regardless of what they say God told them?

What possible good comes to the world from the actions of these mothers?