Sunday, October 30, 2011

It's very hard not to derail the conversation sometimes ...

A friend of mine -- conservative Christian -- was telling me about a friend of hers. This friend had gotten married a few years ago, and the marriage didn't work out. It ended in divorce for a variety of reasons, such as the ex-husband was controlling, wasn't the devout Christian he pretended to be, and somewhat abusive. This person had told my friend that by the time of the wedding, she knew God didn't want her to marry him, but she went ahead and did so anyway.

Ergo, she did something that God did not want.

This woman and her ex-husband also have a son.

And here's where I had to bite my tongue and not derail the entire conversation. For what I wanted to say to my friend was, "You follow a belief system that believes every fertilized egg is specifically planned by God -- hence one of your reasons you oppose abortion. So clearly, your friend's son was very much planned for, and God wanted him to exist. At the same time, you're also telling me that God *didn't* want your friend to marry her now ex-husband. But in order for the son God wanted to exist, wouldn't in turn He also have wanted your friend to marry her ex-husband?"

Really, it sounded to me more like my friend's friend -- who also doesn't believe in divorce -- was subconsciously looking for a reason to justify why she had to get a divorce in the first place, and why her marriage didn't work.

Which isn't meant to sound as harsh as it looks in writing -- I truly was saddened by what this woman had gone through, and was sad for her that her marriage didn't work. But this is the same religion that my conservative friend is so desperately praying that I join, by accepting Jesus as my Savior, so I stop being so hell-bound.

Friday, October 21, 2011

He withholds no vague good etheral thing from us, part two

In which I continue my ruminations.

I've been pondering this whole "Good things God has for us." As well as the idea that in an effort to defend the conservative Christian ideology, a defense in one area greatly weakens another. Consider: Jesus advocated helping the "least of these." One great example is where those welcomed into heaven asked when they feed Jesus, or visited him in prison. As that was what earned them a place in Jesus' good graces, I would say it's a natural implication that performing such actions are what God wants, and thus are good.

Yet in Sara Groves response, she says that if God is helping someone through financial or health difficulties, then those are clearly not the good things God has for Christians. But if those are not the good things God has, why insist so strongly that Christians help those who are starving? Who are in horrible pain? Why insist that God gives someone a new heart that's filled with love for others, a love that God has, if God doesn't in turn provide those things?

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

He withholds no vague good etheral thing from us

BC: One of my favorite songs on the album is “Open Hands”. What’s the story behind this song?

Groves: I wrote this song with Alley Rogers who’s a great song writer out of Nashville and I was talking to her about the verse – you know it says in Psalm ‘He withholds no good things from those who love Him’ and I said, you know, that verse is hard for me to process. I know that its true in my own life yet its hard for me to process that He withholds no good thing.

And she had just been reading this devotional by Charles Spurgeon [that] says basically, how can this be true? How can this psalm be true when we know amazing men and women of God who struggle with health and finances and different troubles, and different troubles beset them? They have a lot of troubles. So how can we say that God withholds no good thing?

And he concludes, he says, we can only assume then that health and wealth are not the good things of God. The good things of God are peace of conscience and the joy of His holy spirit and the blessed assurance of His presence. These are the good things of God. And what we think are good things are like, hey, I want money, I wanna feel good and what Charles Spurgeon is saying is: these aren’t the good things of God. The good things of God, those things are for us.

We will get sick, we will have difficulty, we’ll have times like Paul said, we’ll have times of wealth and we’ll have times of poverty and we need to be content in both of those times.

What God offers us is peace that surpasses all understanding, the joy of His Holy Spirit, and the promise of His presence and I love that. I mean, I can say without hesitating that He withholds no good things from me if those are the good things of God.

So, in this song, I’m talking about, these are the things I’m grateful for. I’m grateful that when I did have trouble He was with me and when I was sick, I had peace, that when I did have a financial difficulty, I knew He was present and that He was working in my life. So, this song is acknowledging that He withholds no good thing from me and that doesn’t mean stuff. That means the true good things of God.

From an interview with Christian singer/songerwriter Sara Groves, on her upcoming release "Invisible Empires."

I put in bold the parts I found most interesting in this quote. It starts out saying that she has seen some people go through incredible hardships in terms of health and finances. Now, when I read that, I was thinking of big health things, like cancer or Alzheimer's. Financial difficulties where someone is about to lose his/her house, or can't support his/her family.

She admits that she struggles with reconciling a God who withholds no good thing with the struggles she sees. Yet, as she gets deeper into her answer, Sara seems to fall back on a default Christian response, where the implication is that these people are asking out of selfish desires -- such as saying, "I want money" or "I want to feel good." Or in her personal examples, such as when she was sick or had a financial difficulty.

I would think that for those who do suffer from a debilitating illness, their prayers go far, far behind "I want to feel good." These people are in pain. They're terrified. They're not able to live life as they could before.

Same with those who have no jobs, or who are about to lose their houses -- this goes so far beyond some prayer of "I want money." Again, there is terror, panic, possibly a feeling of hopelessness ...

And Sara downplays all of that in her response, trivializing the suffering. It's fascinating, really. You can basically see how she does still struggle with the reconciliation of a good God to said suffering, because she's shying away from a true reconciliation in her answer. It's like she's admitting on a subconscious level that any God who is defined as 'good' would not withhold healing for cancer, or money so people can afford food, and so she's saying, "Well, of course God is going to withhold if you say "I want money" or "I want to feel good because I'm sick." It's like she can't bring herself to say, "Well, of course God will withhold an alleviating of a debilitating , because that's not the good thing of God."

If said that way, it doesn't paint God in a good light.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Things I have been up to.

I started being more social. Joined a variety of groups. Met a boy. Dated a boy. Got engaged to said boy, and then married him over the summer.

So I've been a bit busy.

(Boy I'm now married to is an atheist, so we mesh well on the spiritual scale. And the political scale, and the variety of interests scale. We're just really good mesh-able people).

But I still find myself troubled by many aspects of Christianity, and the influence it has on people today, so back to the blogging world I go.