Imagine a village in ancient times. This village is inhabited by a culture that is quite primitive when viewed through the lens of today. They don’t know much about how the world works. In good times, they are thankful to their local god for the bounty. In hard times, they feel they must have wronged the god in some way.
During one particularly hard time, a terrible drought, the villagers conclude that they must have wronged the god greatly. They are all guilty and cannot achieve blessings without some way to please the god. The villagers have a history of animal sacrifice, but that has not helped. The animals must not be enough, they decide.
So, the villagers set out to find another kind of sacrifice – a human sacrifice. But not just any human will do. No, for some reason, they think it must be a very pure human. So, they take a young virgin barely into her teen years. Yes, she should do nicely, they think. She is not stained by the filth of a man’s flesh and she has not had time on this Earth to make bad choices to anger the gods. She is faultless by anyone’s definition of the term. This young girl in no way deserves what is about to happen to her, which apparently makes her the perfect sacrifice to the god.
The next day, she is bound and dragged to the volcano nearby. The whole village attends and, while they know it is gruesome, they believe this will be their salvation. Their relationship with the local god will be restored and its good graces will again be upon them.
The girl is thrown into the volcano; she dies in agony. Her parents weep for her.
If you tell anyone a story like this set on a Polynesian island, they will be disgusted. Indeed, it is a barbaric way to think about the world and how to improve our situation. And yet, there are many similarities we can draw to the Christian story of salvation. It is a story of the perfect human sacrifice.