I recently drove 14 hours from Rock Springs, WY to Surprise, AZ. On these long drives my mind tends to wander in a writing sort of way. So, for the first hundred miles I tried to address the Islam-Christian conflict… in an ignorant and allegorical way. (Yes, I am claiming my ignorance here.) The resulting “notes to self,” however, I found mildly amusing. Please, don’t take this little story too seriously, in spite of addressing a very serious topic. It is out of Biblical context, out cultural context, and out of temporal context . It is unrefined, highway hypnotism, mind-chatter, that’s all. I could never really solve Islam-Christian conflict in a hundred miles.
Firstly, Sarah needs to admit that she caused all this conflict. She convinced Abraham and Hagar to have Ishmael in the first place. Ishmael (and his behavior) is just as much her responsibility, being her brain-child. Then, Abraham needs put his foot down, keep his firstborn son and raise him to manhood. He needs to teach Ishmael to be a kind and gentle man, not such a bully to his brother. We all have to address sibling rivalry, do we exile an aggressive child? Ishmael has to stop blaming Isaac for not being born a bastard. Isaac should stop acting like he is entitled to inheritance by virtue of his birth alone. They should be taught to treat each other like brothers, instead of enemies. They should defend each other. They have different mothers , but they have the same father. Which brings us back to parenting these two half-brothers. If they are trying to kill each other, they need boxing gloves and a referee, in the front yard. When they realize there’s no two ways about it, they are both sons of Abraham and he loves them both, send them to their room and tell them they can’t come out until they work it out. If they can’t share nicely, nobody “gets it.”
I spent the next forty miles trying to figure out if we are in the front yard, with boxing gloves or in the bedroom sorting it out or what?
Having researched the story a little bit, Abraham prayed about sending Ishmael out. God did not say “Yes! He is bad, send him away!” God said, “do as Sarah wishes”. Then, God saved Ishmael in the desert. God was with the boy as he grew up and made a great nation of his descendants. Sarah had worried that he would be a bad influence. Apparently, he had been observed worshiping idols. Her concern is valid, but again, God was with the boy and he was Abraham’s son. I have a difficult time reckoning what I read in Genesis with what Paul writes in Galatians. Any thoughts?