A Jealous God 

Our God is a jealous God, something that atheists do not find life-affirming. They laugh at his pretensions:

"For the old gods, after all, things came to an end long ago; and verily, they had a good gay godlike end. They did not end in a 'twilight,' though this lie is told. Instead: one day they laughed themselves to death. That happened when the most godless word issued from one of the gods themselves — the word: 'There is one god. Thou shalt have no other god before me!' An old grimbeard of a god, a jealous one, thus forgot himself. And then all the gods laughed and rocked on their chairs and  cried, 'Is not just this godlike that there are gods but no God?'" (Thus Spake Zarathustra, The Portable Nietzsche, edited by Walter Kaufmann, p. 293).

Affirmation is what they want, but God is not open-handed enough in doling this out, they believe:

  • “God, as we have seen, is jealous of nature and man; He wants man to honour, love, and serve Him alone; He wants everything else to be nothing and Himself alone to be something; in other words, theism is jealous of man and the world and begrudges them any good. Envy, ill will, and jealousy are destructive, negative passions. Atheism, on the other hand, is liberal, open-handed, open-minded; an atheist acknowledges every being’s will and talent; his heart delights in the beauty of nature and the virtue of man: joy and love do not destroy, they are life-giving, affirmative.”
  • (Ludwig Feuerbach, Lectures on the Essence of Religion, Lecture XXX).

Perhaps it would have been more "liberal" and "open-minded" of God to leave room for polytheism, but He did not. The Bible teaches, not only henotheism, which is the worship of one God only, but true monotheism: the existence of only one God. However, while the Bible teaches more than henotheism, it is a certainty that it teaches that much: that it is lawful for God's people to worship no more than one God:

  • "For thou shalt worship no other god: for the LORD, whose name is Jealous, is a jealous God."
  • (Exodus 34:14).

  • "For the LORD thy God is a consuming fire, even a jealous God."
  • (Deuteronomy 4:24).

Russian Icon

Worship One
Unfaithful Wife
No Gentleman
Open Marriage
Abusive Boyfriends
Latter Day Saints

Logo Worship One

Latter Day Saints understand the deity who delivered that injunction to be the pre-incarnate Jesus Christ, the Son. This is somewhat more than a half-truth and somewhat less than the full truth; the God of the Old Testament, like the God of the New Testament, is triune; He is, and ever was, Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Most of the Old Testament theophanies are appearances by God the Son, but not because in those days He alone was the God revealed in those theophanies. Our God is a jealous God:

"So the angel that communed with me said unto me, Cry thou, saying, Thus saith the LORD of hosts; I am jealous for Jerusalem and for Zion with a great jealousy." (Zechariah 1:14).

The requirement of sole worship is included in the ten commandments:

"Thou shalt have no other gods before me.
Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, or any likeness of any thing that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth:
Thou shalt not bow down thyself to them, nor serve them: for I the LORD thy God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate me; and showing mercy unto thousands of them that love me, and keep my commandments." (Exodus 20:3-6).

Do Latter Day Saints obey the Lord's command, even under their own terms?

Mormon Doctrine

Holy, Holy, Holy

Logo The Bible is emphatic that worship belongs only to One. In the passage quoted above,

"Observe thou that which I command thee this day: behold, I drive out before thee the Amorite, and the Canaanite, and the Hittite, and the Perizzite, and the Hivite, and the Jebusite. Take heed to thyself, lest thou make a covenant with the inhabitants of the land whither thou goest, lest it be for a snare in the midst of thee: But ye shall destroy their altars, break their images, and cut down their groves: For thou shalt worship no other god: for the LORD, whose name is Jealous, is a jealous God: Lest thou make a covenant with the inhabitants of the land, and they go a whoring after their gods, and do sacrifice unto their gods, and one call thee, and thou eat of his sacrifice; And thou take of their daughters unto thy sons, and their daughters go a whoring after their gods, and make thy sons go a whoring after their gods. Thou shalt make thee no molten gods." (Exodus 34:11-17).

Other passages reinforce the lesson:

"But thou shalt remember the LORD thy God: for it is he that giveth thee power to get wealth, that he may establish his covenant which he sware unto thy fathers, as it is this day. And it shall be, if thou do at all forget the LORD thy God, and walk after other gods, and serve them, and worship them, I testify against you this day that ye shall surely perish. As the nations which the LORD destroyeth before your face, so shall ye perish; because ye would not be obedient unto the voice of the LORD your God." (Deuteronomy 8:18-20).

"Take heed to yourselves, that your heart be not deceived, and ye turn aside, and serve other gods, and worship them; And then the LORD’S wrath be kindled against you, and he shut up the heaven, that there be no rain, and that the land yield not her fruit; and lest ye perish quickly from off the good land which the LORD giveth you." (Deuteronomy 11:16-17).

"And Joshua said unto the people, Ye cannot serve the LORD: for he is an holy God; he is a jealous God; he will not forgive your transgressions nor your sins. If ye forsake the LORD, and serve strange gods, then he will turn and do you hurt, and consume you, after that he hath done you good. And the people said unto Joshua, Nay; but we will serve the LORD. And Joshua said unto the people, Ye are witnesses against yourselves that ye have chosen you the LORD, to serve him. And they said, We are witnesses. Now therefore put away, said he, the strange gods which are among you, and incline your heart unto the LORD God of Israel." (Joshua 24:19-23).

"God is jealous, and the LORD revengeth; the LORD revengeth, and is furious; the LORD will take vengeance on his adversaries, and he reserveth wrath for his enemies.
The LORD is slow to anger, and great in power, and will not at all acquit the wicked: the LORD hath his way in the whirlwind and in the storm, and the clouds are the dust of his feet." (Nahum 1:2-3).

Now consider how these injunctions operated in the case of the apostles. After Christ's ascension, the went to the temple to pray: "Now Peter and John went up together into the temple at the hour of prayer, being the ninth hour." (Acts 3:1). To whom was the temple at Jerusalem consecrated? Jehovah God. Healing a lame man, they explained to the men of Israel gathered there, "The God of Abraham, and of Isaac, and of Jacob, the God of our fathers, hath glorified his Son Jesus; whom ye delivered up, and denied him in the presence of Pilate, when he was determined to let him go. But ye denied the Holy One and the Just, and desired a murderer to be granted unto you; and killed the Prince of life, whom God hath raised from the dead; whereof we are witnesses." (Acts 3:13-15). Certainly they had not switched their loyalties, they were continuing to serve the God of Israel. In Mormon lingo, Jesus Christ is the God of Israel: "Christ is the God of our Fathers, the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. . . Christ is the God of Israel." (Bruce R. McConkie, Mormon Doctrine, pp. 322-323). The Talmud accuses Jesus of enticement, of seeking to induce Israel to serve other gods:

"AND A HERALD PRECEDES HIM etc. This implies, only immediately before [the execution], but not previous thereto. [In contradiction to this] it was taught: On the eve of the Passover Yeshu was hanged. For forty days before the execution took place, a herald went forth and cried, 'He is going forth to be stoned because he has practised sorcery and enticed Israel to apostacy. Any one who can say anything in his favour, let him come forward and plead on his behalf.' But since nothing was brought forward in his favour he was hanged on the eve of the Passover! — Ulla retorted: 'Do you suppose that he was one for whom a defence  could be made? Was he not a Mesith [enticer], concerning whom Scripture says, Neither shalt thou spare, neither shalt thou conceal him? With Yeshu however it was different, for he was connected with the government [or royalty, i.e., influential].'"
(Babylonian Talmud, Tractate Sanhedrin 43a).

This is the charge:

"If your brother, the son of your mother, your son or your daughter, the wife of your bosom, or our friend who is as your own soul, secretly entices you, saying, 'Let us go and serve other gods,' which you have not known, neither you nor your fathers, of the gods of the people which are all around you, near to you or far off from you, from one end of the earth to the other end of the earth, you shall not consent to him or listen to him, nor shall your eye pity him, nor shall you spare him or conceal him; but you shall surely kill him; your hand shall be first against him to put him to death, and afterward the hand of all the people." (Deuteronomy 13:6-9).

Presumably in the minds of His accusers, the enticement came when He commanded Israel to worship Him, "That all men should honour the Son, even as they honour the Father. He that honoureth not the Son honoureth not the Father which hath sent him." (John 5:23). It is the oddity of Mormon theology that when Jesus demanded worship, He was demanding worship as the God of Israel; He was encouraging them to maintain the status quo. It was when He told them to worship God the Father than He was introducing a strange god not known to their fathers! The ancient heretic Marcion also taught that when Jesus spoke of 'the Father' He was revealing a hitherto unknown God. This doctrinal confusion produces an impenetrable thicket wherein Latter Day Saints must wonder who it is they serve and worship. Unlike the early apostles, who worshipped in the temple and prayed to the God of Israel, modern-day Mormons are careful to pray to 'Heavenly Father' exclusively. They themselves do not think this is the same God but a different one:


Hostile Witnesses

Unfaithful Wife

Israel is Jehovah's betrothed wife in the Bible, but she is faithless. Israel was an adulterous wife:

"They say, If a man put away his wife, and she go from him, and become another man’s, shall he return unto her again? shall not that land be greatly polluted? but thou hast played the harlot with many lovers; yet return again to me, saith the LORD. Lift up thine eyes unto the high places, and see where thou hast not been lien with. In the ways hast thou sat for them, as the Arabian in the wilderness; and thou hast polluted the land with thy whoredoms and with thy wickedness. . .The LORD said also unto me in the days of Josiah the king, Hast thou seen that which backsliding Israel hath done? she is gone up upon every high mountain and under every green tree, and there hath played the harlot. And I said after she had done all these things, Turn thou unto me. But she returned not. And her treacherous sister Judah saw it.  And I saw, when for all the causes whereby backsliding Israel committed adultery I had put her away, and given her a bill of divorce; yet her treacherous sister Judah feared not, but went and played the harlot also. And it came to pass through the lightness of her whoredom, that she defiled the land, and committed adultery with stones and with stocks. . .Turn, O backsliding children, saith the LORD; for I am married unto you: and I will take you one of a city, and two of a family, and I will bring you to Zion:. . ." (Jeremiah 3:1-14).

Television personality Oprah Winfrey reportedly began drifting away from orthodox Christianity when she heard the pastor quote a Bible passage describing God as "jealous." Is God's jealousy symptomatic of a petty, small-minded, unloving character? Is there something mean and miserly in wanting the beloved all to oneself? Certainly there is a scary perversion of jealousy that would do no honor to God, where the beloved is suspected of infidelity for no reason. Ignorance is ingrained in the human condition and there is a toxic combination of human ignorance, fear and desperation which can corrode all bonds of trust and make a man, or a woman, suspects their beloved for no reason. In this sense of irrational suspicion and over-possessiveness, jealousy is condemned in scripture:

"Now the works of the flesh are evident, which are: adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lewdness, idolatry, sorcery, hatred, contentions, jealousies, outbursts of wrath, selfish ambitions, dissensions, heresies, envy, murders, drunkenness, revelries, and the like; of which I tell you beforehand, just as I also told you in time past, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God." (Galatians 5:19-21).

But Israel was not mistrusted by God for no reason; God, who is omniscient, and Israel, who knowingly and intentionally chased after other gods, both fully understood what the problem was. Israel strayed after strange gods:

Who are the Other Gods?

Who were the "other gods" with whom Israel committed adultery? They were a market basket filled with different items, whose ontological status ranged from total nullity to beings of splendor and power but not real deity. The sun is one perennially popular 'god,' and even a Christian author as late as Origen could not find it possible to believe this shining wonder was not a rational, intelligent being as the pagans also thought. It is the pagans' deluded adoration which constitutes the sun as a 'god.' Israel, in worshipping sticks and stones, intended to commit adultery with lovers she thought were not only real things, but real gods, and God felt the sting of her disloyalty. When the atheists object to God's jealous and exclusive love for Israel, one must wonder if they, in their own personal lives, practice free love and open marriage. If they themselves want the exclusive attention of their beloved, then of what are they accusing God? Their complaint is not only against monotheism but also against monogamy. God does not begrudge "good" to man, as is the wild accusation; and if He did, then why describe Himself as the spouse of those from whom He withholds all good things? This very language, which offends them, encapsulates a promise of good:

"Plead with your mother, plead: for she is not my wife, neither am I her husband: let her therefore put away her whoredoms out of her sight, and her adulteries from between her breasts;  Lest I strip her naked, and set her as in the day that she was born, and make her as a wilderness, and set her like a dry land, and slay her with thirst. And I will not have mercy upon her children; for they be the children of whoredoms. For their mother hath played the harlot: she that conceived them hath done shamefully: for she said, I will go after my lovers, that give me my bread and my water, my wool and my flax, mine oil and my drink. . .And she shall follow after her lovers, but she shall not overtake them; and she shall seek them, but shall not find them: then shall she say, I will go and return to my first husband; for then was it better with me than now. For she did not know that I gave her corn, and wine, and oil, and multiplied her silver and gold, which they prepared for Baal. . .Therefore, behold, I will allure her, and bring her into the wilderness, and speak comfortably unto her.  And I will give her her vineyards from thence, and the valley of Achor for a door of hope: and she shall sing there, as in the days of her youth, and as in the day when she came up out of the land of Egypt. . .And I will betroth thee unto me for ever; yea, I will betroth thee unto me in righteousness, and in judgment, and in lovingkindness, and in mercies. I will even betroth thee unto me in faithfulness: and thou shalt know the LORD." (Hosea 2:2-20).

Though Israel is faithless, God is faithful. One must imagine the very nullity of Israel's lovers adds a bitter sting to her betrayal, as if a man's wife said, 'I can't love you anymore, dear, because I'm in love with Batman.' In the Old Testament, the Israel of God is a married woman:

"For your Maker is your husband,
The LORD of hosts is His name;
And your Redeemer is the Holy One of Israel;
He is called the God of the whole earth." (Isaiah 54:5).
“'Return, O backsliding children,' says the LORD; 'for I am married to you. I will take you, one from a city and two from a family, and I will bring you to Zion.'” (Jeremiah 3:14).
“I will betroth you to Me forever;
Yes, I will betroth you to Me
In righteousness and justice,
In lovingkindness and mercy;
I will betroth you to Me in faithfulness,
And you shall know the LORD.” (Hosea 2:19-20).

"I will greatly rejoice in the LORD, my soul shall be joyful in my God; for he hath clothed me with the garments of salvation, he hath covered me with the robe of righteousness, as a bridegroom decketh himself with ornaments, and as a bride adorneth herself with her jewels. " (Isaiah 61:10).
"And as the bridegroom rejoices over the bride,
So shall your God rejoice over you." (Isaiah 62:5).

  • "Firstly, I ask what shall we do if reason prove recalcitrant? Shall we still be bound to affirm whatever Scripture affirms, and to deny whatever Scripture denies? Perhaps it will be answered that Scripture contains nothing repugnant to reason. But I insist that it expressly affirms and teaches that God is jealous (namely, in the decalogue itself, and in Exod. xxxiv: 14, and in Deut. iv: 24, and in many other places), and I assert that such a doctrine is repugnant to reason."
  • (Benedict de Spinoza, A Theologico-Political Treatise, Part III, Chapter XV, 30-33).

No Gentleman

To Julian the Apostate, who was raised a Christian but deserted the religion and ruled the empire as a pagan, the jealous God of the Hebrew Bible is no gentleman:

  • “But as for the commandment 'Thou shalt not worship other gods,' to this surely he adds a terrible libel upon God. 'For I am a jealous God,' he says, and in another place again, 'Our God is a consuming fire.' Then if a man is jealous and envious you think him blameworthy, whereas if God is called jealous you think it a divine quality? And yet how is it reasonable to speak falsely of God in a matter that is so evident?. . . Lay aside this nonsense and do not draw down on yourselves such terrible blasphemy. For if it is God's will that none other should be worshipped, why do you worship this spurious son of his whom he has never yet recognised or considered as his own?

  • “For envy and jealousy do not come even near the most virtuous men, much more are they remote from angels and gods.”

  • (Julian the Apostate, Against the Galilaeans, Book I excerpted from Cyril of Jerusalem, Against Julian )

A man who is jealous does a disservice to his fellow men, treating them unfairly with unearned suspicion. A God who disrespects his fellow gods does no disservice, because there ain't none.

Open Marriage

As we have seen, the relationship between God and His people is not an 'open' marriage, adultery will not be tolerated. Perhaps by studying what is allowed and what condemned, we can draw some conclusions about the ontological status of Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, contra the Latter Day Saints. Realizing that God will not permit Israel's dalliance with 'other gods,' then the Father's rejoicing at the marriage-supper of the Lamb is not a union with any 'other god,' but the same god.

In the New Testament, those who are in Christ are the "Israel of God": "For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision avails anything, but a new creation. And as many as walk according to this rule, peace and mercy be upon them, and upon the Israel of God." (Galatians 6:15-16). Her marital status has not changed:

"And Jesus said to them, 'Can the friends of the bridegroom fast while the bridegroom is with them?" (Mark 2:19).
“For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh. This is a great mystery, but I speak concerning Christ and the church.” (Ephesians 5:31-32).
"For I am jealous for you with godly jealousy. For I have betrothed you to one husband, that I may present you as a chaste virgin to Christ. " (2 Corinthians 11:2).
“Let us be glad and rejoice and give Him glory, for the marriage of the Lamb has come, and His wife has made herself ready.” (Revelation 19:7).

Given that this marriage is greeted in heaven with rejoicing, how can the accusation be levelled that it is in fact adulterous? God the Son is not an 'other God' respecting God the Father or God the Holy Ghost, but one God.


  • "And I John saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband."
  • (Revelation 21:2).

Abusive Boyfriends

As already discussed, some people see something mean-spirited and miserly in the lover's desire for exclusive possession of the beloved. But perhaps after all there is nothing more than indifference in the promiscuous lover's unconcern about her activities. Certainly the prostitute's faithful customer shows no unease over her crowded schedule and lengthy client list; but this is commerce not love.

Some people find it intolerable that God should show partiality:

"I should say to the advocates and professors of such a religion:
"Your God is not mine! A Being who began his dispensations with partiality, selecting one people and proscribing the rest of mankind, is not the common father of the human race; a Being who destines to eternal punishment the greater part of his creatures, is not that good and merciful God who is pointed out by my reason.'" (Jean Jacques Rousseau, Profession of Faith of a Savoyard Vicar, Part V).

But to love is to show partiality.

Be that as it may, all of us worry for our friends when we see them falling for someone who is not who he claims to be, or makes unreasonable demands, or takes and never gives. What kind of lovers were the strange gods?:


Pass Through the Fire

Latter Day Saints

The Latter Day Saints have their own unique set of ideas about these matters. First of all, they insist that Father, Son and Holy Ghost are 'three gods:' three separate beings, not 'homousias' or 'of one substance' as that 'apostate' creed suggests. So from some of them you will hear that they worship only 'Heavenly Father:'

"1. We worship the Father and him only and no one else.

"We do not worship the Son, and we do not worship the Holy Ghost. I know perfectly well what the scriptures say about worshipping Christ and Jehovah, but they are speaking in an entirely different sense--the sense of standing in awe and being reverentially grateful to him who has redeemed us. Worship in the true and saving sense is reserved for God the first, the Creator." (Bruce R. McConkie, Our Relationship with the Lord, BYU).

It is unclear why, when they do not believe it was Heavenly Father, but Jesus Christ, who delivered the law at Sinai which criminalizes worship of multiple deities. Why not join the church in worshipping Jesus?:

"Then the eleven disciples went away into Galilee, into a mountain where Jesus had appointed them. And when they saw him, they worshipped him: but some doubted." (Matthew 28:16-17).

Take prayer for example, a common and very practical act of worship. Their perplexity over praying to Jesus is a good example of the confusion generated when there is no sure foundation. The Book of Mormon portrays Jesus instructing the people how to pray:

"And it came to pass that while the angels were ministering unto the disciples, behold, Jesus came and stood in the midst and ministered unto them. . .And it came to pass that when they had all knelt down upon the earth, he commanded his disciples that they should pray. And behold, they began to pray; and they did pray unto Jesus, calling him their Lord and their God." (3 Nephi 19:15-18).

So it is with surprise that the inquirer discovers this practice is discouraged:

"Another peril is that those so involved often begin to pray directly to Christ because of some special friendship they feel has been developed. In this connection a current and unwise book, which advocates gaining a special relationship with Jesus, contains this sentence:

"Because the Savior is our mediator, our prayers go through Christ to the Father, and the Father answers our prayers through his Son.

"This is plain sectarian nonsense. Our prayers are addressed to the Father, and to him only. They do not go through Christ, or the Blessed Virgin, or St. Genevieve or along the beads of a rosary. We are entitled to 'come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need' (Hebrews 4:16). . .
"I wonder if it is not part of Lucifer's system to make people feel they are special friends of Jesus when in fact they are not following the normal and usual pattern of worship found in the true Church." (Bruce R. McConkie, Our Relationship with the Lord, BYU).

Fortunately Mormon doctrine is completely plastic, like molding silly putty; once leadership is convinced a certain policy is unpopular, whether it be polygamy, racism, or not praying to Jesus, they simply drop it. Like Roman Catholics, Mormons have bought into a certain authority structure when they adopt this religion. The process leads where it will; they cannot control it.

All Paths Converge