Friday, February 19, 2010

Sensitive nature

**Note -- I had hesitations in making this commentary, given the subject nature of rape. I believe I would have refrained, had it not been for the idea presented of wanting everyone to come to know and believe in the God who had not abandoned the victim.

I read a story recently about a woman who was raped, and later explained the situation, thanking God for providing her with grace. She also thanked for giving her a sort of protection against feeling rage or bitterness about what happened, and part of this protection included a sense of God sheltering her unmarred soul despite the rape on her body.

Now -- I truly do find that incredible, because if I was in that situation, I don't think I'd be able to stop myself from descending into that rage and bitterness. I'd want justice -- lots and lots of justice, and I'd definitely my definition of justice twisting to include vengeance.

However, in reading commentary on the story, one of the things that I'm getting confused over is the idea people want other people to know of this same God who loves and never abandoned the woman who was raped.

And I don't know what "never abandoned" means in this case. That's the part that I'm tripping over. If this woman's ability to resist bitterness and respond with grace is tied to her belief in God, I'm happy for her. As it sounds like her belief in God and His grace will aid in her healing, I'm happy that she has something to rely on and help her.

But basically, how this is read is that "Before the rape, during the rape, and after the rape, God will not abandon you." The only way for the word "abandon" to still function as a "to leave completely and finally; forsake utterly; desert; to give up; withdraw;" in this context is for the "you" to be defined as something other than a body. Something apart from your body. For the lack of abandonment is now directly associated with the feeling the woman had with God protecting her soul, and how it felt undamaged, compared to the attack on her body.

Yet, if this were reversed, and for some reason the guy had been about to rape her and then suddenly stopped, saying that God had convinced him of the error of his ways, and in fact the would-be rapist had now converted to Christianity ... wouldn't this also be seen as God not abandoning the woman? Only this time, the lack of abandonment would include a prevention of rape on her body?

And, if there is this clear line between the body and the soul, and we extend that definition of a person into other cases ... then when someone's murdered, they aren't really murdered, it's just the body that's killed. When someone's starving to death, they aren't really starving, it's just the body that's denied food.

Which we clearly don't see. Not in our sense of justice, not in our laws, and not even in good outcomes that are attributed to God. Those outcomes where believers thank God for preventing a plane crash, or thanking God for sparing a loved one in a war.

There's also the issue that "never abandoned" also means that a person is not abandoned even though there's an entity fully aware of the rape and does nothing to stop it.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

I may love you, I just don't love anything that you do.

I think we've all heard the saying "Love the sinner, hate the sin." I hear it most frequently applied to homosexuals, but it's used in even the less mouth-frothing sins: greed, lust, adultery, murder, negative emotions.

Now, the comparison I'm about to make works best when just looking at homosexuality, because of the issue of identity. Essentially, what's said is "Love the person, hate who/what the person is."

What if that was reversed? What if people started saying, "Love the Christian, hate the theology/religion?" Can the two really be separated so easily then? Isn't it like telling the Christian, "While I say I love you, I actually hate everything that makes you the person you are." You're saying you hate the concept of God, you hate their view of humanity, you hate how they use the religion to define themselves. And since Christianity is supposed to be everything, and is supposed to shape everything about the person, aren't you hating the person themselves?

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Let's be frenimies!

For if, when we were God's enemies, we were reconciled to Him through the death of His son, how much more, now that we are reconciled, shall we be saved by his life! Romans 5:10

For he is destined to reign until God has put all enemies under his feet; and the last enemy to be abolished is death 1 Corinthians 15:25

I thought there was another New Testament verse referencing humanity as God's enemy, but I'm not able to locate it through Google.

I was struck by the first verse a couple days ago. I came across it in another location, and starting ruminating. Now, humanity as a whole, if born into a state of sin thanks to Original Sin, is born as God's enemy. To me, "enemy" isn't a casual word. This is someone who has the potential to cause serious harm to one's opponent, and also greatly dislikes the other person.

I can see where the Christian would say that all unsaved people meet the second criteria, as they'd (the conservative one, at any rate) say that all people are hostile to God by default, and it's only by accepting Jesus that one changes to a non-hostile state.

But the potential to cause serious harm? God's omnipotent. I can't even get my perfect-candidate-for-the-Darwin-Award cat to stop using my stairs as a scratching post. We simply don't have the power to cause any damage to an omnipotent being. Especially once the omniscience is thrown in, because not only is God all-powerful, He can foresee any futile attack in the first place.

Not only that, but this enemy list includes death. Any unsaved person is on the same list as death (though I would hope not on the same level). This is a serious enemy list.

Yet I also constantly come across the idea of humanity's level of importance compared to God. We are jars of clay, and jars of clay don't talk back to the Potter. God can do whatever He wants with us, just like an artist can with a painting he creates. We should be grateful, period, that God even deigns to notice us, given how more more superior He is to humanity, and how better. We should be flattered that God even wants us, as He doesn't need anything.

If humanity's that low on the totem pole, how can it possibly be a credible enemy? If it's that "nothing" compared to God, how can it be a viable threat? How can God even feel threatened in the first place? Especially if both humanity and death are enemies of God? Jars of clay aren't the Potter's enemies. If we have no power whatsoever, how can we be any sort of enemy, period?

Monday, February 1, 2010

Future, future, burning bright.

I was feeling pretty optimistic about the future of society last week. I fixed that by reading Righteous: Dispatches from the Evangelical Youth Movement by Lauren Sandler.

I'm just going to type out some overall impressions.

One of the things she described was Mark Driscoll's church, and part of the doctrine where the woman marries, stays at home, and raises the children. Preferably lots of children, so that the culture can shift to a conservative Christian one in the next twenty years or so. It's like a subdued version of the Quiverfull movement.

Women can choose whatever path they want. They can work and have children. They can stay at home and have children. They can have no children whatsoever. The path they take depends on their dreams, their desires, what they want in life. Their individuality. In Mark Driscoll's doctrine, that individuality is stripped from them. Biology is destiny. If you're born a woman, than you have one path and one path alone in life. The woman herself doesn't matter. Her individuality doesn't matter. In that movement, all women are alike because all women -- if they want to be "Biblical" -- must have lots of children and stay home with them. The only value they have is their biology, whereas the men are allowed to have more dreams than simply procreation.

And yet, he says he constantly preaches that people can "come as they are."

Uh-huh. I am more than my uterus, and yet this doctrine can't see past that one organ in my body.

The book also went into how many evangelicals are changing to the culture. Not in terms of the pre-marital sex or anything, but in terms of what kids like. They'll discuss tattoos, they'll discuss skateboarding, they'll discuss video games or wrestling. Evangelicals plug into the culture that the youth follow, and then from there, are able to sway young people into becoming evangelicals themselves. This even extends to concerts, where they'd send out fliers, and then when non-Christians attended, they'd be so emotionally overwhelmed that they'd convert to Christianity.

All of these are excellent marketing techniques. They're also incredibly manipulative, as all marketing techniques are. It uses the kids interests or emotional vulnerabilities against them, in order to have them change to what the Christians want.

The last section of the book was dedicated to the "End Times" craze, and how since so many Christians are convinced that Jesus will return any second now, it's pointless to try and help those who are homeless, suffering, end wars, work on the environment -- basically, there's no point in trying to make sure anyone has a future as that future will be gone when Jesus comes back in the next second or so. Rather, all the time should be spent saving souls (and ignoring any state of suffering said soul might be in).

I could spend blog post after blog post about how angry that viewpoint makes me. Perhaps even try and reverse Pascal Wager it: since there have been a lot of discredited "End Time" claims, why not at least work on stabilizing the future in case Jesus doesn't come back?

One of the reviews of this book at amazon said that it was "alarmist." I'm very much hoping the reviewer is wrong.