Things God does not do (Attn: Richard Mourdock and a lot of other people)

Not sure what God’s doing here, but I know what he isn’t doing. He isn’t assisting in a rape so that more babies can be made.

Attention people with microphones/bully pulpits and all other people of earth:

God does not give people cancer/seizures/heart attacks/HIV, STD’s, any other diseases. God does not cause car accidents. God does not assign people to murder others. God did not make that hurricane/earthquake/other natural disaster happen because he was mad at the people living there. God did not do something so that he could have another angel in heaven. GOD DOES NOT CAUSE PEOPLE TO RAPE OTHERS SO THAT BABIES CAN BE MADE.

God is not the catch all excuse for why bad things happen. So stop using it. Please. It gives God a bad name. In fact, these accusations/excuses might be the worst way we use the name of the Lord in vain. Because shit like this breaks people, it makes God seem downright evil, and it makes God’s people look like a bunch of mean assholes. Stop it.

Bad things happen because we are a broken people living in a broken world. Bad things are usually a result of our bad choices or other people’s bad choices (or the earth’s desire to renew and refresh itself, like volcanoes). Rape? The rapist made a bad, horrible, hurtful choice, and was possibly surrounded by others making mad choices at one point or another. God was not in that.

My dad’s cancer? My dad smoked for 40 years, ate poorly and lived in an environment and food chain that has been broken by the way we misuse it.God didn’t need him in heaven, God didn’t take him because I needed my faith tested.  God did not do that.

Kids with cancer? Awful. Painful. They did nothing and yet are sick. But we messed up the environment; they were born into a broken world, and sometimes, bad things happen for no reason other than we live in a broken world. And it sucks and is painful. But God did not do that.

Car accidents and other seemingly random deaths and painful incidents? There are probably a million little reasons that either boil down to bad choices or shit happens. Either way, God does not make them happen.

Natural disasters? Sometimes nature just needs to clean itself up. Other times, particularly in our day and age, Nature is responding to being fucked with. Killed. Abused. We have made a ton of choices that have gotten us where we are with nature. We are causing many of our natural disasters. God is not.

Also, God does not bless nations more than other nations or pick leaders of nations. We pick our leaders. That’s on us as well.

What does God do? God is always present in our lives. God loves us, God walks with us, God calls us to be better than we are today, to be in relationship with God. God tries to guide all of us to make the best possible choices and we so often ignore God’s voice in our own lives (and have little influence over how much random attackers listen to God). When bad things happen, God is still there, walking along side of us, surrounding us with people who love us and will care for us through the pain, suffering and darkness. God provides the light at the end of the tunnel. God comes to us in ways small and gentle and large and loud. Sometimes we miss the point, sometimes we don’t hear, sometimes we can feel so very alone and wonder why God has cursed us.

But God hasn’t.

God has redeemed and rescued us from ourselves, and we have to accept it. We have to accept God’s love, we have to accept God’s guidance.

Even then, bad things will still happen. Loved ones will still get sick, accidents will claim people, people we love will be victims of violence. We might be victims of violence. Violence that has no face and answers to no name but Sin.

Some think that this makes our God an impotent God. God doesn’t swoop in and rescue us from the evil of this world. Speaking for myself, there are a thousand times God has tried to save me from myself and I have ignored God’s voice and done what I wanted and paid the price. In part, bad things are a price we pay for free will. Otherwise we’d all just be little pieces on God’s chess board — and what would the point of life be then?

We are not little pieces on God’s chess board; we aren’t a part of some kind of grand game God is playing. We are the result of God’s love and our brokenness (individual and communal). We are imperfect. All of creation is imperfect. And shit happens.

But God does not make that shit happen. Not to punish us, not to teach us a lesson, and most certainly not to make babies. God does not make the bad things happen. That is a result of sin in us and sin in the world.

How do I know this? How can I speak with such certainty about God? It is certainly dangerous to make statements about what God does and who God is, because we are so often wrong. But what God in Jesus tells me is this: God loves us. God makes love happen. God makes beauty happen. God makes life happen. That is what God is: life. Things that negate life are not God’s. That is sin. That is brokenness. And that is not God. For God is whole, holy, and wholly loving. And the brokenness in the world is not God’s. It is ours. God did not do that.

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About Elizabeth Rawlings

Lutheran. Feminist. Child of God. Thinking about how to be a leader in a church that is trying to rediscover itself and what it means to live simply so that others may simply live in tandem with what exactly is the fast God asks of us. Chronic alliterator. Generally silly person. View all posts by Elizabeth Rawlings

21 responses to “Things God does not do (Attn: Richard Mourdock and a lot of other people)

  • Silkk the Shocker

    Uh ohhhhhh… Did I do that?

    Seriously though, good post.

  • Eric Friend

    God does pick leaders: Romans 13, “There is no authority except that which God has established”.

    God does bless some Nations: Israel is his “chosen people”.

    God has created natural disasters: Noah & The Great Flood, Sodom and Gomorrah.

    Cute message, but it really was based on how you feel, not truth. God has wrath towards us, God does demand death for all sinners. It is because of Jesus’ intercession that we can have eternal life with him in heaven. But you made a lot of unwarranted claims here that seemed to simply be an attempt at a feel good message, rather than studied, meditated and thought over.

    God Bless you.

    • ERW

      By your reasoning, then God established the reigns of Hitler, Pol Pot, the varieties of oppressive and ruinous governments in Guatemala. Paul was writing to a specific people at a specific time in history with a specific purpose. We can’t just grab sentences from Paul’s writings and plop them int our world without context.
      The Hebrew Bible (and the book as a whole) is a collection of stories of how a people related to people and to God. It’s not a factual record of history. Moreover, Jesus paid for our sins on the cross — why would God punish us again with illness/natural disaster if we are forgiven?
      You are a sinner. Does God demand death for you? On the contrary, Christ came that you might have life and have it abundantly. Christ wants you to live and to live in him. We are all sinners, if God wanted to kill all sinners, there wouldn’t be people.
      Jesus said that the kingdom of God is here, among us. It’s not a faraway place we go to after we die, it is what happens when we accept God’s loving grace and let it flow into our lives and out of our hearts.
      Also, cute is pejorative, you were trying to insult me. Don’t clothe insults in kind words. Would you have called the message cute if I was a man? Doubt it.
      Ending argumentative statements with God bless you doesn’t come off as kind, or loving or like you wish God’s blessings upon anyone, they come off as condescending.
      I am assuming that none of this will mean anything to you because you interpret the Bible as literal, that all of the things in it happened and that it doesn’t contradict itself. I disagree. I believe the Bible is a divinely inspired work that speaks to how God moves in people’s lives and still speaks to us today, with the help of the Holy Spirit and God’s word that it indelibly written on our hearts. I pray that you grow to see the beauty in the story and the metaphor and learn to look at God’s word in light of context then and now. Because there are times when it gets hard to hold onto a literal interpretation of scripture, when too many things don’t work, and that can break people.

      • Eric Friend

        1] The ESV note on Romans 13 regarding governing authorities instituted by God, “God gives good authorities as blessing, and sometimes he institutes evil rulers as means of trial or judgement”. You have to remember, Paul was writing this to the Romans, people wrought with experience of unjust rulers, therefore, my citing is not out of context. (And the writers of the notes for the ESV bible know far more than the both of us).

        2] The Hebrew Bible is, in-fact, a factual record of history. I believe that 6 day creation was representative, I believe there are certainly figurative elements of the OT, but that does not mean the stories told are not true, and did not happen. A man named Walter Kaiser, Ph.D, has been studying outside sources recounting many events in the OT and finding incredibly parallel results.

        3] God does demand death from me. And from you. It doesn’t say that it has to be immediate, like you so contend when you say “if God wanted to kill all sinners, there wouldn’t be people”. But that death was satisfied through the intercession of Christ, his dying on the cross satisfied the wrath of God, allowing the ones who accept Christ eternal life. God has to be just, for that is his nature, and that is why Jesus died – so we wouldn’t have to.

        4] “Cute” was not ad hominid, it was against your argument and you took it personally. But you are right about it being pejorative, for I was expressing disapproval of your argument. I had no idea you were a woman, and frankly that changes nothing. Some of this passage just wasn’t sound.

        Try to steer clear of presumptuous, audacious claims, especially when dealing with matters of this magnitude, unless they are warranted and backed with study, prayer and biblical orientation. Thank you.

    • Jeremy

      Eric,

      I think it’s really sweet that you play “Bible Bingo” in your comments (taking Bible verses from context). But I wonder of you have finished the Book of Romans? I wonder if Romans 14:4, “Who are you to pass judgment on the servant of another? It is before his own master that he stands or falls, and he will be upheld, for the Lord is able to make him stand,” means anything to you? (I’m just playing your game [Bible Bingo] by your rules).
      I think it odd that you would challenge ERW’s authority by correcting her when clearly she has been set up as an authority for the congregation she works for. In fact you are disobeying Romans 13:2 by even posting the terse remedial comment on this blog.

      Does God Bless Nations? Nope. God Blessed A NATION in order that they bless the world.

      Has God caused natural disasters? You are correct in saying yes. The Bible clearly says so, but I wonder if you even get the point of what the sermon was about in this respect. Are you going to be the judge of which ones God is causing today? Are you going to let us know which one is a punishment for Homosexuality and which one is because America is no longer a Christian nation? Please let me know, that kind of insight would be nice to have.

      Your dismissive condescension by calling it a cute sermon angers me. Because as someone who should know better from reading the Bible you seem to lack grace and instead come off as an arrogant tool.

      As far as your atonement theology, your commitment to scripture seems to be singular in focus. You should try reading all of the passages that describe the atonement rather than just the ones that support the penal version.

      How exactly do you know her claims are unwarranted, that’s right you don’t.

      Lastly, you have no idea how much she has studied, meditated, and thought over the scripture text, your assumption here again just makes you look like an ass.

      • RB

        there is no “punishment for homosexuality”. there should be punishment for the the heterosexuals who pass judgement on them.

  • Eric Friend

    2 Timothy 3:16: “All scripture is God breathed and is useful for teaching, correcting, rebuking and training in righteousness.”

    She said that God does not cause natural disasters, and that was it. She did not further qualify it, therefore, she was incorrect.

    You say: “How exactly do you know her claims are unwarranted, that’s right you don’t.” Ummmm, warrant is explicitly in the argument or isn’t. Some of her argument simply wasn’t warranted. I’m questioning if you know the definition of “warrant”.

    She made a lot of claims without quoting scripture once. How is that okay? You say I take things out of context but she skipped a lot of internal links and made huge claims without saying where she got it from. The bible is a living text that is applicable in our lives today, and she didn’t once make mention of it.

    Who defines “position of authority” in this case? You tell me I’m sinning, breaking the decrees of Romans 13:2, immediately following your scolding of me to not judge her. I honestly laughed out loud at how contradicting that was. A pastor over a church I do not attend does not have dominion over me, therefore, I did not break Romans 13:2. Following this logic, would I have to submit to Rob Bell’s universalism? Or how about another religion’s leaders? Nope.

    I’m sure you’ve studied scripture, both of you, but that doesn’t change the fact that you were both fallacious in some of your arguments. I’m a student of the good book at Wheaton College, so when you insinuate that I have only looked up enough scripture to refute your arguments, I’m telling you that is also untrue.

    I’m interested in a loving discussion of these points, not an emotional attack of each other. That certainly is a biblical stance. So please, refute me, but do so in a manner that attacks my argument, rather than passing judgement on where you think my heart is. I apologize for coming off condescending, it was inappropriate, but it truly wasn’t against her as a person, simply it was against her arguments.

    Jeremy, I’m sure that you agree with my point about her need for biblical backing in her arguments. I think we can at the very least agree on that.

    And if you disagree with my atonement theory, so be it, but don’t think that I simply picked that theory to refute you. I have wrestled with many options and that was the one I’ve settled on. I have read all biblical dealings with the atonement, so please don’t make lofty presumptions libeling my salvation.

    Sincerely, have a great day.

    • ERW

      So, I took a break from the discussion and I’m not really interested in debating this post any further, largely because the tone of your initial comment was so condescending that I am just frustrated by the whole thing. In the future, if you are really interested in loving conversation, try asking questions (that aren’t snarky) to get into the discussion. Remember that it is much harder to read intent on the internet, so you must craft your words carefully. However, you have reminded me that I need to use scripture more often in my discussions of God, for which I think you. My tradition doesn’t always do that, which leads to me forgetting. It has been a while since I have been called to the carpet on that, and I will be more careful in the future. I have not changed the thoughts in this post, by any means, but the next time I share them, I will have more scripture contained in my discussion.
      Blessings to you!

  • Jeremy

    Eric,

    Your use of 1 Tim (and what you read into it), your lack of knowledge of Rob Bell (have you even read his books for yourself?), and the University in which you study (actually, I know some people from my seminary out of there and they would have a gripe with your positions) tells me all I need to know about your theology.

    I do not have the time nor energy to engage in this matter. We would have to start out with basic questions like what is the Bible? How should it be read? How should it be applied?

    Since you are unable to take a historical critical position, or you haven’t learned what that means yet, we have nothing to which even begin this discussion. We would do nothing but talk past each other, like we have been, because we are coming from different starting points.

    If you want to know what those points are read a primer on them. I suggest Beyond Liberalism and Fundamentalism by Nancy Murphy.

  • Daniel Schumacher

    Eric’s right on this one, I have to say.

  • jpserrano

    Eric,

    I am going to try another route (probably the one I should have started off with) and deal with one topic without attacking you personally.

    ERW originally wrote, “We pick our leaders. That’s on us as well.”
    To which you responded, “God does pick leaders: Romans 13, ‘There is no authority except that which God has established’”.
    I told you that this was taken out of context and I still hold fast to this position. Here’s why.
    The verse you chose to play Bible Bingo with is actually this, “Let every person be subject to the governing authorities; for there is no authority except from God, and those authorities that exist have been instituted by God” (Romans 13:1 NRSV). I get that you short handed it, which is acceptable in passing reference, but not if you are going to base your understanding of God on it.

    If I am reading you correctly, and I think I am, you are saying that God picks individual leaders based on Romans 13:1.
    But there is problem with this. Nowhere, does it actually say this.
    The context of this passage begins in Romans 12 and extends past Romans 13. The focus of the larger pericope is how the Christian is to live in the world. So to take one phrase, which is actually tangential, and create a view of how God works is taking it out of context.
    You are taking a general statement–“there is no authority except from God” and “those authorities that exist have been established by God”–And distilling them down to the idea of specific leaders- “God does pick leaders.”

    It is clear that your understanding of “authority” and “authorities” is the people in the positions of authority they are in.

    A better reading of this passage, my reading and many others, is that Paul has no interest in specific people as authorities, based on the fact that he does not go into what a better authority structure would be (it’s not the point of this pericope). Instead, Paul is actually saying that God establishes not specific people in leadership but “authority as such.”
    God has ordered the world so that there would be both civil government and The Church. These are the left and right hands of God (for more on this read Luther). God establishes governments so that people would not just do whatever they wanted but would be restrained. The authorities that are established are not specific people but general systems of government. In short: “Authorities” in this passage is structures and systems not “Leaders.”

    I think in order to get the nuance of this passage it’s helpful to know the original language. Now the ESV people are good at what they do, but they’re not the only kids on the block. See what Karkainen, Wright, Hinkelammert have to say on this subject.

    Now the question is- has God established/ordained/fixed (its all the same Greek word) people in positions of authority? The answer to this is of course YES. BUT, we can only know who these people are in hindsight through what has been revealed in scripture. To try to make the case beyond scripture that a specific person is put into a place of power goes beyond what has been revealed. To try to make a case that every authority is picked by God is a fool’s errand and unbiblical because it actually goes beyond what is said.

    People like Piper, MacArthur, and Falwell have done this frequently.

    So back to what ERW. Based on the above, what she wrote was actually correct-“We pick our leaders. That’s on us as well” based on her “study, prayer, and mediation.”
    Your interpretation of how God works is probably based on several things. First, the fact that God has chosen specific leader before, but that is no indication that it continues to happen. Second, notes from the ESV, which are only someone else’s thoughts. Third, this passage itself, but I have shown that you actually read your own predisposed position into the verse because it doesn’t actually say what you think it does.
    Ultimately God does establish authorities, we choose (at least in the U.S.) who fills in the spots.

    -Jeremy

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  • Greg

    This is a lively rant, and I appreciate the intent behind it. However, it seems quite poor Christianity. To put it another way, God certainly did this throughout the Bible. (For easy examples, think the book of Job, the great flood, etc.) Where does Christian doctrine say that things are different now?

  • Henry

    God didn’t help Tim Tebow or Tom Brady (member of my parish) throw that touchdown. God doesn’t care about the homerun derby, slam dunk contest, Stanley Cup, etc. Praying about the weather or the lottery has more relevance than praying about any sports event.

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  • talithaturner

    Reblogged this on Talitha Turner and commented:
    SO TRUE

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