Saturday, June 30, 2007

The blindness of the abused

Let’s start with this: Christians defend God. As you’d expect, right? They love God. They’ve been redeemed by Jesus. They’re in a relationship in which they’re getting something out of it (eternal life, of course, but also a day-to-day presence & guidance).

In such a loving relationship, Christians will not blame God when disappointing or unexpected or bad things happen. “It was God’s will.” “I needed to crucify my desires, anyway.” “It was selfish, what I wanted, it wasn't what God wanted.” “God is trying to teach us something through this suffering.” “We just can’t understand…God’s ways are higher than our ways.”

In other words, God always gets let off the hook. Always, always, always. It’s the assumed stance: God can simply do no wrong. So it is always the human’s fault, the human’s misunderstanding, the human’s limited pea-sized brain that can’t understand the perfect workings of an infinite, and infinitely good, God.

And let me be clear: I believed this myself, for decades. So I am not saying it lightly, and I am not saying it from an outsider’s perspective. I lived this for 20+ years.

At risk of offending the Christians that read this blog: isn’t this pretty much the same dynamic you see play out in abusive human relationships?

A woman falls in love with a man. He treats her well, at least at the beginning. She feels loved, she gets attention…she’s getting something out of it. But over time, the abuse begins. Maybe it’s verbal abuse at first…but it eventually escalates to physical abuse.

Yet, when a woman is way deep in the relationship, she will defend her man no matter what he’s done: “He just had a bad day.” “I interrupted his ball game, so really, I don’t blame him for getting mad.” “You don’t know him the way I do – he is actually very tender and loving.” “He had told me twenty times not to hang out with this friend, but I did it anyway. I had it coming.” “He’s big and strong and understands the world better than I do…I need him!”

When you’re inside an abusive relationship, you are brainwashed to actually believe that you’re at fault, you deserve the abuse, he’s justified in doing it, he’s still a good man. I have watched women make these kinds of justifications for men who yelled at them or hit them. I lived through a milder version of it with a narcissistic boyfriend some years ago.

Any person outside of this relationship can clearly see it for what it is: the woman is obviously trapped and brainwashed, unable to even consider the possibility that what her man is doing is wrong, unable to even conceive of leaving him, unable to imagine having any kind of different life.

A Christian reading this entry might well be offended that I’ve just compared God to an abuser, and thus immediately dismiss the whole idea. But what I am trying to describe is a dynamic in which Christians repeatedly, consistently, and perpetually try to explain away clearly terrible things that don’t square with their notions of who God is – because those notions of who God is are inviolable. Psychologically, I don’t see any difference from that which happens in an abused woman’s mind. And I am finally in a place where I have stepped outside of my faith and my church to examine who it is I have believed in all these years. To allow for the possibility that maybe my notion of who God is isn’t inviolable. That maybe there are other explanations for why all the things that don’t add up in the faith don’t add up, including the possibility that God doesn't actually exist.

I did not arrive in this place overnight. As I mentioned in one of my comments to Bible Student, I have struggled for 6 or 7 years to reconcile my God with what I saw happening around me in the world. I have not stepped out of the faith lightly, and I don’t make this comparison lightly.

Someone early on read my blog and said that she doubted I was ever a believer, based on what I am saying today about God…an accusation I will probably have to get used to hearing.

To the commenter I will say this: it’s not terribly unlike an abused woman who finally does leave the bad relationship. As the scales fall off her eyes and she sees her man for who he truly was, she gets angry. She may cut him down, criticize him, get angry with herself for not seeing it earlier, may even try to warn others off from getting involved with him. But it doesn’t mean that she didn’t love him while she was in the relationship. It doesn’t mean that she wasn’t devoted to him. And it doesn’t mean that there weren’t occasionally good times.

But most of us would say that any human who would deliberately harm, or allow significant or long-lasting harm, to come to their loved one doesn’t actually love them. We usually call them sick.

So why we don’t apply the same reasoning to God, who supposedly has a supernatural-awesome-cosmic-everlasting-deep-deep-overpowering-love for us?

32 comments:

Heather said...

At the risk of offending as well ... it exactly mirrors an abusive relationship. And I once came very close to saying that to a Bapist friend of mine, when we were discussing theology. She prays that I might see the "truth" and thus have her beliefs. I wanted to say to her, "Do you have any idea what you're asking me to sacrifice here?" Not just a matter of my intellectual honesty, because much of the conservative system doesn't make sense to me. But also that it just seems to fall into the abusive cycle.

notabarbie said...

Hey, nice post. That is a great analogy. Any of us who have been in fundamentalist Christianity for any length of time know just how abusive it can be.
I love your blog! Thanks for adding me to your blogroll. I'd add you to mine if I had a one and knew how to use it :-)

It's not that I'm completely lame, it's just that I'd rather read everyone else’s stuff than take the time to figure it out. I will eventually.

And Heather--Wow, I know exactly what you mean.

The Church said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Chris said...

I do think this is an interesting analogy, and in it's own way, it is an appealing argument that seems to make intuitive sense. The aspect I personally think it hits on the best is the fact that in much of Christian culture, honest, raw questioning of things is discouraged - people are guided away from really even expressing to "God" (and one another) how hurt they feel, which at the end of the day is a total diservice to the person, and, I think, to God. I have personally experienced this exact cycle of abuse in many churches- where people are manipulated by leaders or others to gloss over horrible, immense pain or hypocrisy.

So I see a reinforcement of the abusive cycle in many circles of churches, but I don't see how bad things happening make God the 'abuser' necessarily. I suppose He is if He is in total control of everything that happens in our lives - for better or worse, but I don't think He is. I don't feel like I 'let God off the hook', because He wasn't really on the hook to begin with - one of the assumptions in the human abusive cycle is that the abuser is directly in control of causing the abuse taking place. I don't think God 'causes' our pain - that's our pain, caused by the very real choices of other individuals, ourselves, or a creation that is 'broken' from the way God created it. He gets credit for the good stuff usually, becuase that represents creation as it was meant to be (and if 'creation' as a term catches people up - I'm speaking in general terms, however you might think that creation came to specifically exist). The bad parts really aren't creation as He designed it - but it's creation as He allows it to be now, because that's the trade-off of us getting to freely choose whether or not to love him or have anything to do with him. Sure, an 'all powerful' God can do whatever the heck He pleases, but if he swooped in to stop us from ever hurting each other, He would be violating that most crucial thing: free will.

You can say 'free will' is a cop out - that allows God, the abuser, to keep on abusing while we let him off the hook - but again, the logic of the argument depends on your starting view of God. If He controls everything that happens - then yes, I suppose He is a tyrant and the worst of all abusers. But if free will exists, and beacuase of it we create the pain and suffering present in the world... well, that's where God allows it, because to not allow it would mean He controls us like robots, making him a tyrant all over again.

Slapdash said...

Hi notabarbie, glad you stopped by for a visit!

Chris, thanks for your thoughtful response. You're right that there may well be distinctions between God as abuser and members of the church as abusers. Lots of interesting thoughts for me to mull over. For now I want to comment on this:

***because to not allow it would mean He controls us like robots, making him a tyrant all over again.***

Look, free will in which we screw up and have to bear the consequences of our own actions is all well and good. But the robot/tyrant analogy completely falls apart for me when you are talking about one human exercising his/her "free will" to hurt another human being. We would not call it tyranny for an outsider to stop one person from attacking someone else. No one in that scenario becomes a robot because one person's bad actions were prevented/stopped.

The harsh fact of life is that God does nothing to protect his supposedly loved creations from the evils of his other loved creations. God allows even the worst imaginable atrocities to occur (Darfur, Rwanda, rape, etc), and Christians wring their hands and say that God would be a tyrant to stop them.

To that I say, bollocks.

Why would it be tyranny for God to stop it, when we human beings are in the business of restricting one another's free will in the name of safety and security *all* the time? Is the UN being tyrannical to send troops to Darfur? Are people whose evil acts have actually been stopped robots?

I know I'm being really blunt here. But the tyranny/robot thing is a totally lame and incoherent argument. Are Christians not praying for God to help bring an end to the genocide in Darfur? If they are, then that completely belies the stupidity of this argument. You can't on the one hand ask God to intervene and stop somebody's suffering, and then turn around and say it would be tyranny and we would be robots if God actually stopped it.

Heather said...

notabarbie,

Thanks. There are times when I've said this, and just gotten blank looks (and by blank looks, I mean blog responses that didn't really address my point).

Slapdash,

You pretty much said what I was going to say in response to Chris. Under this system, we have a God that values free will above all else. Even we don't do that. We restrict someone's free will for his/her own good.

Jen! said...

Wow - great blog and interesting dialogue! I found you through "Stupid Church People." While I do not agree with everyhting Chris said, I do agree with and get what they're trying to say - and yet I understand why the free will argument doesn't seem to stand. I guess the only thing I could say to the whole thing is that when we restrict each other as humans not to hurt other humans that's very different from a "Being" who was in some way involved in our creation and thus is more powerful than us stepping in and forcing us not to do evil against our will. If God had made the world such that no pain could be inflicted on one another or atrocities could happen, it seems to me it would just be a world of sunshine and butterflies and none of us would know the power of being able to choose. Thoughts?

lowendaction said...

way to keep it light 'n fluffy
S-dash! NICE!

I would like respond to your response to Chris:

First of all, if we truly wish to know the "mind of God", which is what this discussion is really about, right?...we must try to examine this through a Godly perspective. You refer to the "horrors" and "suffering" of humans here on earth. To God, these things are a mear temporary inconvenience in comparrison to the eternal destination of ones soul. I am not dismissing these real and sub-human attrocities, but in the light (or darkness...) or eternity, these things are no more than plucking out a nose hair.

So all these churchy prayers for relief to those who are suffering are really misdirected. We should be praying that they have come to know and faithfully accepted God, as well as maintaining the streangth to hold on to this truth, so that they end up in a far better place than this earthly shithole. Of course, if you have a hard time accepting the concept of Heaven/Hell, than none of this really makes any sense.

So the statement that God loves all creatures equally, and only wants the best for them, is a true statment, but again, it only makes sense through a God-sized perspective. These are after all His words, not ours. I just wish people would stop trying to take credit for things they have absolutely no control over.

Only once we've accepted a heaven-bound mindset will we understand the differnce between the things that REALLY matter, and those that are temporary--tragic, but none the less temporary.

Heather said...

Lowendaction,

**I am not dismissing these real and sub-human attrocities, but in the light (or darkness...) or eternity, these things are no more than plucking out a nose hair.**

The problem is, this type of comparison comes across as doing just that: dismissing all the atrocities. That may not be how you mean for it to come across, and you did say the disclaimer. But the comparison comes across as contradicting that.

**So all these churchy prayers for relief to those who are suffering are really misdirected. We should be praying that they have come to know and faithfully accepted God, as well as maintaining the streangth to hold on to this truth, so that they end up in a far better place than this earthly shithole. **

The prayers for those who are suffering to find relief ... are misdirected. This is coming across as the only thing that matters is finding the right belief about God, so that the right belief gets them into heaven. It doesn't matter what happens in this life, as long as the right belief is there. That's all this life is good for. Please know that this is not an attack on you, but my trying to decipher what it is you're saying.

But let me ask a question: if one prays to a loving God for help during an awful event and no help comes, why would one continue to trust the God? If someone said to you, you can always call on me for help, and then the person doesn't respond when you need help saving your children, are you going to trust anything that person says?

harleyrev said...

Not all churches nor church members are like that. Not all churches or church members believe that God is able to be an agent of abuse in relationship. Not all churches or church members believe that everything in life happens (or doesn't happen) as a result of some predestined will of a capricious god. I understand and appreciate the pain of your analogy and I don't defend God (now there's a concept!) nor any abusive church or theology, of which there are many these days. I just want to put in a plug for those of us who love the church, who follow Jesus, and who understand (although fall very far short of) the discipleship to which we are called. God's "will" is that we love God and love one another. It is our human failing and sin that causes abuse and dysfunctionin the church and everywhere else; not God. (Oh wait, maybe I'll defend God a little..)

Thanks for your post and this discussion.

SocietyVs said...

But do all the atrocities exist because God allowed them to? (Ex; Rwanda, Darfur, Crusades, etc). It's an interesting road to blame God for his lack of - well anything - on our human behalves. This is a path to consider but if in the end you just have to blame God - then what can anyone do here about that?

To be honest, as a Christian person the Tanakh is a Jewish history - and isn't actually my own. Now I am a Gentile - I do not fully understand the Jewish concepts within the Tanakh altogether since it is neither my culture nor historical background - but I try to. A lot of the Tanakh is based in war - call it genocide and all the rest - it is simply war from a time and place not from our day (so the writers wrote in that era). How many other nations thought like this (conquering nations) and committed the same atrocities in the name of their 'gods'? All things being equal - it's just another 'war' and that in peudo-history texts of the Israelite nation.

So where does a 'Christ' figure and that theology enter into this whole dialogue? I see in Christ the exact opposite of what I see practiced religiouly within the Tanakh - a point of view reflecting a fuller life - and that outside the warrior spirit. Not to say the things in the Tanakh did not exist - they did - but those people were subjugating themselves to a basic warrior society (if anything) and that was a prime concern (over land). That perspective does not seem to be reflected in Jesus' message.

So what do I see...a seperation of nation and faith. Nations will continue to fight for land/territory and resources - faith minds itself on the things of the person not the statehood (I'd call it personal in that sense). This where there seems to be a deviation within Paul's letters and the gospelic writings from the Tanakh. No New Testament person fought for their land (or property for that matter)...maybe they realize the holy land is everywhere a human foot sets down.

But I can understand the angst and problem you see - but I also notice the fact we are looking at books/letters the Jewish faith rejects in terms of the NT - all the while Christians accept the Tanakh (which is not out history to contend with nor explain on some level - making the books dualy hard to answer for).

One must consider the fact the writings are quite different and unique coming yet from all Jewish authors - and these ones in the NT bring about another perspective to faith ideals - with various gospel writers and letter writers....even so much as condemnig the practices of the people that upheld the law in rigidity (nevermind war).

Does this make the problem go away? Not really but it's a start in the idea of context and a study in the writngs which range from the torah (law), exodus, war stories, poetry, wisdom lit, prophetic utterings, exile literature, gospels, parables, histography lit, letters, and apocalyptic lit. These things bounce all over the place and come from a variety of perspectives - and in them we also see a re-examination of God from time to time, period to period, writer to writer.

I think it is easy to point out God as to blame in war stories that see their God as defending them (nation-wise) - but what is not so easy is finding that same mentality within the wisdom lit (ex: genocide) or letters of Paul? Even the prophets scorn the very nation of Israel and lay the same charges at their feet for not following God righteously (they will be wiped out)?

God does not change - human perspective does and so does our society and view-points - this is also recognized within those 66 books (a shifting from exclusive one nation to inclusion all nations). We can say God changed if we want - fact is we don;t know that - what we can be sure of is - society did and the writer's penned it.

marie said...

This is such a good post. I have thought about this before, but I couldnt describe it like you did. It is so true that we make excuses for everything God does or does not do, but in all actuality, he DOES NOT do the same for us. In fact, if we fuck up we are sent to eternal damnation?

Great post, I amm so pumped to read your other entries!!!

marie said...

Slapdash said, "Are Christians not praying for God to help bring an end to the genocide in Darfur? If they are, then that completely belies the stupidity of this argument. You can't on the one hand ask God to intervene and stop somebody's suffering, and then turn around and say it would be tyranny and we would be robots if God actually stopped it."

that is genius

marie said...

Jen said, "If God had made the world such that no pain could be inflicted on one another or atrocities could happen, it seems to me it would just be a world of sunshine and butterflies and none of us would know the power of being able to choose."

To me, sunshine and butterflies without choice sounds a hell of a lot better than a world with ENDLESS suffering and rape and torture and war and atrocity and poverty and starvation...I dont think I am the only one either

marie said...

societyvs said, "But do all the atrocities exist because God allowed them to? (Ex; Rwanda, Darfur, Crusades, etc). It's an interesting road to blame God for his lack of - well anything - on our human behalves. This is a path to consider but if in the end you just have to blame God - then what can anyone do here about that?"

If the christian God exists, then I do believe that these atrocities exist because God allowed them to. for one, God is omniscient, so he has known of ths suffering for all eternity, and still he let Adam and Eve have the capacity to commit the first sin that essentially allowed sin to be committed on earth. He allowed the first sin, he allows all sin--all so that we will choose him and worship him. So in effect, atrocity is the biproduct of his own self-centeredness

If God is all-powerful, then he essentially made up this whole game of being saved and forgiveness of sin so it is his fault that we are in this mess in the first place.

i can put a snake and a rat in the same cage and the snake will eat the rat. is it the snake's fault? I knew that he would eat the rat before I put him in there and I could have separated the two--so is it not my fault? and moreso, should I mourn the loss of the rat when it is my doing that put him in there unwilligly? that analogy was made up on the spot so it might not be that good

Slapdash said...

For anyone reading this post that hasn't already checked out the blogs that are linked to it, I'd encourage you to do so (Stupid Church People and Evangelicals Anonymous). Lots more commentary, sometimes heated, sometimes (too) personal, on the theme of this post. But interesting nonetheless.

Slapdash said...

***i can put a snake and a rat in the same cage and the snake will eat the rat. is it the snake's fault? I knew that he would eat the rat before I put him in there and I could have separated the two--so is it not my fault? and moreso, should I mourn the loss of the rat when it is my doing that put him in there unwilligly? that analogy was made up on the spot so it might not be that good *** (Marie)

I think it's pretty good, myself. :)

lowendaction said...

marie - though I too think your analogy is a good one, I don't think it applies to God's plan.

If we were powerless against sin and death, I would say you were right on, but through God's grace, we are not. This does not exclude suffering, but again I point out the greater implications of the eternal state of ones soul. Compare all of the suffering in the world: from the meanest paper cut to the unspeakable attrocities in some of the third world countries, to an eternity in Hell (use even the most liberal and "light" versions if you like)... Our brains aren't really even set up to properly comprehend such eternal concepts.

Of course, to accept this, we must also accept that God is who and what He claims...ah faith, isn't it fun?

SocietyVs said...

"God is omniscient, so he has known of ths suffering for all eternity, and still he let Adam and Eve have the capacity to commit the first sin that essentially allowed sin to be committed on earth." (Marie)

If you believe this premise then God must know all - even your beginning to end? But do you? What difference can you make knowing God knows and allows your choices in life (good and bad)? Is that un-fair of him to allow choice? Good things come from choice also (ex: kids, mates, building a home, sharing your wealth with people in need, etc) and yet we do not blame God for that - we overjoy in decision there.

So Adam sinned - to me the point of that exercise is the explanation of freedom of choice - notice they ate from a mythological tree with the knowledge of 'good and evil' - ie: we are endued with this knowledge - and choice was represented in their eating from it in the 1st place. But all humana are under this condition now - it's called the power of good and evil - it rests upon your shoulders and mine - call it a condition of 'sin' (Paul's explanation) or the human condition - irregardless we need help in determining the mitgating factors that we base our decisions upon.

"He allowed the first sin, he allows all sin--all so that we will choose him and worship him. So in effect, atrocity is the biproduct of his own self-centeredness" (Marie)

He did not allow the 'sin' first - what did he allow was the humans to exist (firstly) and then they made a decision to not 'obey Him' (after they are made and loved) - and he still allowed them to 'exist' (thus proving his creation is still 'good'/important/valued).

So if we choose to worship God - we do on the basis of that story as one who admired His creation - even respected their choices. His self-centredness is in effect His love for His creation - which in the mythical story - has the right to do him wrong (if so chosen). I still see a story of choice - which God had built into this creation (it would seem).

"If God is all-powerful, then he essentially made up this whole game of being saved and forgiveness of sin so it is his fault that we are in this mess in the first place." (Marie)

In the mythical story of the beginning - who made the choice to betray confidences - humanity or God? The story starts with us making choices and never stops. Even in the event of salvation (Jesus' life) we see choice again - not like he was a robot or something (they say he was human) - we see a person who desired to follow God with his choices. But he made his choice and lived then died by it. And if Jesus' teachings on choice are so bad - show me - so I can neither obey them nor follow this God who cares nothing for humanity. Paul calls this person the second 'Adam' in the sense his life was made of making the 'right choices'(righteousness) as opposed to not (key point seems to be following God). Paul also brings in the atonement idea from the Passover - this is in it's own thing another topic - but irregardless it has to do with inclusion of many nations at Abraham's table (which seems in the gospels to be the original intent of Judaism) - and this by one man's choice (attrbuted to God's path).

So choice is in the beginning and the end and in the current context - as far as 'right choices'...which is my point from the get go on this idea. It's like asking questions like is winning a choice in sports or failing a biology test a choice we can make? All things go back to original decision of Adam - knowledge of good and evil - we have been endued with it from the start (according to the story) - and we can blame God for that but choice by nature is neither good nor evil (it just is) - but the tree we choose to eat from is labelled.

SocietyVs said...

I would also like to add - if my thinking on the matter is wrong theologically (and realistically) - then point out to me a more honest reason for all the world's problems and sufferings - one that we can make sense of because - as a rule of thumb - blaming God is something most psychologists would never advise their patients to do as a reasoning for the problems in them and around them (not Christian pshycologists nor secular).

Sorry if I sound harsh here - I am not meaning to be.

Slapdash said...

***If you believe this premise then God must know all - even your beginning to end? But do you? What difference can you make knowing God knows and allows your choices in life (good and bad)? Is that un-fair of him to allow choice? Good things come from choice also (ex: kids, mates, building a home, sharing your wealth with people in need, etc) and yet we do not blame God for that - we overjoy in decision there.*** (societyvs)

Parents restrict the negative/bad choices of their children when they will clearly hurt themselves or others.

This is the crux of the matter for me - we act as though for choice to matter, God has to step completely out of the picture and let us fumble around and either make good choices, or shitty bad/evil ones.

And I still don't get how you [general you, not specific you] can argue free will til you're blue in the face and still PRAY TO GOD to intercede in this world in big or small ways.

Of course, you get big kudos, SocVS if you never actually pray for God to intervene in this world...because that would at least be consistent. :)

SocietyVs said...

"Parents restrict the negative/bad choices of their children when they will clearly hurt themselves or others." (Slapdash)

Correction - you try to restrict their choices - even as a parent it is impossible to control their minds and choices they will make on a daily basis (ex: run away from you in a supermarket, smoke pot as a 15 year old, go into something even when forbidden, etc). You literally could write a memoir and ask your kids to obey it and demand it of them (of all the things you have taught in yoru life to them) and they might or might not obey...kinda like this whole choices thing we discuss about God (who also left us some remnant of writings to peruse - I would use Jesus' myself). Interesting parellel for me - at least - this is the way I see the whole thing.

"This is the crux of the matter for me - we act as though for choice to matter, God has to step completely out of the picture" (Slapdash)

I don't think God is out of the picture - this is a viewpoint we adopt when things don't work out - but it's not my perspective. The crisis' we all spoke of in all of these forums have either ended or will end at some point - yet we have a timeline all our own for them (since we play God in that aspect also). Or am I wrong? Will the problems in the Sudan be everlasting? Even dictators get killed, die, or kill themselves. Evil and good work out their own timelines in grudge matches with one another on this planet it would seem - and this is quite common (I am using black n white terms here for no good reason). But maybe things are that simple? Choices come from voices.

"And I still don't get how you can argue free will til you're blue in the face and still PRAY TO GOD to intercede in this world in big or small ways." (Slapdash)

Why not? I am free to make chocies irregardless of what any philosophy says either way - in the present tense.

My example is simple - I want to own a home and their quite a few barriers in the way to that goal. Now I can look at this two ways (both of them choices) - go for it (don't pay homage to doubts) or give up (pay homage to my weaknesses at this point). Now my view of prayer is that God is acting - but he also requires our action in that endeavor - partners of sorts - for what we need (shelter is a neccesity). If I ask, seek, and knock on doors - guess what happens? I get answers to the questions I am asking and helps in removing the barriers to the problem (I ask around about how to solve credit issues, seek out mortgages and financial help, and knock on doors of which people are willing to work with me on this). Then I develop a plan for my goal - let's say 9 months (following through on my asking in prayer). This is a real situation. I am currently doing this process - I'll update on the details and struggles I go through (if need be) - but I believe in the end I will own a house even without the actual means to do so at this point (except I have a job).

But that's how this all works for me and I see that as the clear biblical strategy laid down in Jesus teachings. If you ask and recieve nothing - you never asked for something you saw as possible (which is a belief we all hold dear to).

"Of course, you get big kudos, SocVS if you never actually pray for God to intervene in this world...because that would at least be consistent. :)" (Slapdash)

I don't need to pray as much as I need to believe the words that come out of my mouth. This seems to be the problem with the wholel dilemma - this 'what is possible' ideal?

nanc said...

perhaps you should re-read job.

God is incapable of evil, but will allow us to find that out on our own.

why the verse, "in ALL things give thanks"?

there have been many times i had to look to the total outcome rather than the midst of the circumstances to realize that what the enemy meant for evil was turned to my own good.

it's a thought.

caught your link at stoopidchurchpeople.

Diane said...

re-read the book of Job... it doesn't say that god is incapable of evil, actually. In fact, it pretty much puts God in the center of the evil that happened to Job...and it's in the Bible...and Job has all these people trying to defend God, and God pretty much comes in and says, "Don't defend me."

becky said...

Hello,

I am a counselor and I could tell you stories that would make you want to literally vomit of the dastardly things people do to one another. One of the things you have to understand and I realize this is more on GOD than it is the person, but you have to understand the problem of abuse the what is called the attachment to the perpetrator, the power of co-dependent relationships as well as evil.

I could write a whole post on this but it will take me some time. Not all believers make excuses for GOD for me personally I go at it with GOD regarding many of the horrors of this world. For my part, it is my passion to make a place for people who are abused, raped, beaten, tortured etc and help them find a place of rest.

thanks for your honesty.

becky

Adrienne said...

I apologize if someone else spoke on this thought... my attention span didn't stick with all the other comments.

"God always gets let off the hook"
Why do we just assume that God is the only power at work in life? Satan is real and he is attacking and he is most definitely a cause of pain and suffering in our life. Someone mentioned Job. Job is a prime example! Sin is in our lives (not necessarily, 'You are a SINNER! Therefore your life sucks!' but sin is in us and around us and causing pain to even the nicest, most God-fearing people out there.

When a child is molested or a parent dies while their children are young or people in Africa die of genocide (the list goes on) it is not God working against them. It is Satan attacking that which God loves most.

Unfortunately, God will not always take us out of these situations. However, God does offer us something more wonderful and important than anything here on earth and that is eternity with him. And I'm guessing that someone will counter with the argument of 'tell that to a child that's being molested... a child that lost their parents.. etc.' but, like I stated before... we can not possible know now the greatness of our God, and the greatness of spending eternity with Him and only Him and no sin, no pain, no death.

In short... Satan and sin are real and working against all of us. This is the cause for such pain in our lives. This is also 'taken care of' not when we might want (i.e. RIGHT NOW!) but in eternity when God's followers will spend eternity with him and without any sort of evil.

FlipTheComposer said...

Slapdash: Interesting thoughts.

However, you must think of God, "good" and "bad", and "hurt" in relative terms.

Your argument roots itself in the idea that bad things happen all the time. Girls get molested and raped. People are murdered. Wars etc.

Questioning and even being pissed at God is not that novel of a concept. Let us analyze what is good and bad.

Hypothetical: A girl gets raped when she's young. Of course this sucks. To every human eye and ear this is the tragedy of tragedies. However, this girl is strong in Faith and uses this trauma as fuel in her fight against evil. She grows up to be a loving mother and wife. She gives money to the poor. She is a little mother teresa. This woman has experienced real loss, thus she takes back what was stolen from her 3-fold. A million fold. This was God's plan from the beginning. God willed the rape as such and in perfect consequence she delivers the mighty hand of God and power of good because she suffered!!

Now is this outcome good or bad?

Slapdash, you can question God no doubt. But who are you to question God really. I've been pissed at God before for about 3 minutes. But I came to my senses. You presume to understand that War, Rape, Greed, Murder, are all bad. They should be wiped out right? Who are you to assume that they are not tools of God to perform rebirth, renewal, regeneration, and truth. After all, if it wasn't for the Romans and the Roman Govt. Jesus would have never been sacraficed. Not trying to shock, but thank God for their beastly sense of duty and ignorance. Thank God for their spears and thank GOD they did HIS will. Even though it was evil!!

FlipTheComposer said...

let me also reiterate that I would never claim God wills rape. I think God uses such atrocities that the devil clearly sows. He defeats Satan because Satan believes that these atrocities will destroy man.

Thankfully, because of the nature of man and the nature of faith, man is reborn because of suffering and sin and goodness gains strength. Such has been and will be true for eternity.

FlipTheComposer said...

God has to step completely out of the picture and let us fumble around and either make good choices, or shitty bad/evil ones.

Slap: You assume that these bad/evil choices are evidently harmful to them and humanity in the end.

I used to get hammered and hook up with girls I didn't know. Big mistake. Sin? You betcha. Shit happens. Now what can I do as a believer? Not do it ever again! That's what. Not only can I articulate the thousands of reasons why it's wrong in as many ways, but I can reason with and understand those who do, and also reason with my children as to exactly WHY it's wrong.

I have a direct, unique way of relating to sinners and laughing at/with their ignorance in their braggardly state. Do I yoke with them? NO! Do I stand my ground? Hell yes. Will it be uncomfortable? Sure. Hasn't happened much to be honest.

But regardless if I hang with the same crowds anymore, people know where you (I) stand, and friends and family can read into my silence, sugar-coating, small talk and know where I've been and what I believe. Been there done that, but I understand that hooking up is wild and fun. My face and actions tell other people that regardless, it's WRONG. Who knows what happens b/w the lines, slapdash. Don't presume to know.

out of Evil can spring forth a fountain of great Faith and goodness in the world. What happens when people die?? Others around fold in sensitivity. Sensitivity is a GOOD thing that many people mock. But when your brother or spouse dies, that reality of death, God, and mortality bitchslaps you in the face.

Good and Evil are necessary for the will of God.

Slapdash said...

***Questioning and even being pissed at God is not that novel of a concept.*** (Flip)

Hi Flip. I know it's not novel in general; but it's novel for me, having tried to live a devout Christian life for roughly 30 years without ever seriously questioning the foundations of what I believed.

***Let us analyze what is good and bad.***

Sure, okay. You give an example of a girl being raped.

First, let us not dilute the nature of what's happened to her: even if good comes from it, what has been done to her is evil, bad, wrong. (I don't think you disagree here.)

So sure, let's further imagine she uses the experience to transform her life, help others, becoming a little mother teresa, etc.

You say this was God's plan the whole time.

I think: why did God's plan have to be accomplished with such evil? God can do anything; he could have catapulted her to the learning / mother teresa part without making her suffer like that.

I also think you don't need a concept of God for someone to create good out of a bad situation. In fact, we see it all the time when people get motivated to help a cause after they have some personal brush with it: family members with cancer, being the victim of a crime, having an injury or disability, etc.

FlipTheComposer said...

hey slap:

you said, "I also think you don't need a concept of God for someone to create good out of a bad situation.

I wanted to address this first. This could be said about anything. A person can rationalize God out of anything if they are clever enough.


you say, "I think: why did God's plan have to be accomplished with such evil? God can do anything; he could have catapulted her to the learning / mother teresa part without making her suffer like that."

Tough idea i know. We all struggle with this. I guess it all goes back to Lucifer and the fallen angels. Why would the all powerful God let an angel fall? How could imperfection exist if created by God?

Likewise, why does God allow rape and such to happen.

I'm not sure. I gave one of my best answers.

Another thought is this. My wife was sexually abused multiple times as a child. She says now that she barely remembers it, and that it hardly affected her emotional state. (I know there are tons of variations of such abuse but bare with me)

My point is, I believe God mysteriously blesses us with natural "endorphins" to pain/hurt in lots of ways. We lose too much blood we pass out. WE get hit in the temple we get knocked out. Passing out is an awesome thing.

Repression. Repression is great. We can go on living without moping and cringing.

Yes I think rape is evil. I think murder is evil. Perhaps in a twisted way they keep us alive. These things that happen relatively to us and our personalities. God gives us what we can handle. Can a girl handle rape? The rape was meant as evil but maybe God protected her during the rape. I dunno.

I watch the UFC. (ultimate fighting) I guy named Georges St.-Pierre, arguably the most talented fighter alive just got pummelled in his first title defense. He was beaten senseless. (it was awesome)

Beaten senseless=bad thing. One would think. Not for Georges, he came out next fight and dominated a worthy opponent. In the post-fight interview he said the loss was the best thing that had ever happened to him. (cliche I know but another example)

I don't understand the notion of good springing from bad either. All I do know is that bad/evil exists, and the all powerful creator allows it to be carried out.

hm. think of what it is in our nature that makes us go on. Pain keeps us alive. If there is no pain, we jump off a cliff because of the thrill. plop. dead. Good thing we could imagine the pain. (or consequence) Perhaps in a more abstract, subjective way, rape, murder, et all are forms of temporary emotional pain, renewal states, and absolutely necessary to our individual paths. On the surface this seems unnecessary. Why would God not just understand this from the get go?? Why all the harm in the process?? I believe it's not harm at all. At least this idea keeps my mind at ease. It is a rationalization, BUT it holds some water.

It is all relative. One cannot understand the strength or weaknesses in another because it is too complicated. This is why it is silly to question God's authority in this matter. Words, books, articles, movies, documentaries containing undeniable "facts" are but fancy manifestations of the telephone game. (remember the telephone game?? whispering around in a circle and the original message is all messed up)

I think that what you think is bad, awful, terrible is a conclusion based in superficial pretenses. Your imagination tells you the rest of a very slim story and you myopically conclude is already terrible.

Sin is bad because it destroys the transgressor, but sin rarely destroys the victim. (even if it is murder or rape) again, "destroys" is relative. But I do not pretend to know what "destroys" is, no matter how many scholars or how much evidence I seem to possess.

Perhaps you're confusing the initial transgression with the act. In other words, you equate evil with the act and its consequences. I see evil as the source and determination. The "no turning back" moment.

Ok i'll shut up now.

Anonymous said...

Mankind has always been in existence n I believe it is man who created God. Otherwise Why would the loving God let one hurt the other? As a parent would u wanna see ur kids hurting each other?