Arbtirary thoughts on nearly everything from a modernist poet, structural mathematician and functional programmer.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

God of Judgment?

A friend of mine recently posted something about his uncle's response to him being gay. It included "I guess that’s why you decided you really didn’t believe in God. Made it convenient to act in ways He condemns.”
this reflects a sentiment which is rather common in modern "Christianity": that the Christian God is a God of condemnation. A cursory reading of the Bible might lead one to suspect this is so, but a little more depth shows something quite different.

I'll start with the "curses" God pronounces. And he pronounces several. But all of them amount to this "The consequence [not punishment] of this action is as follows. Choose wisely." God pronounces several curses before the choice is made (e.g. Genesis 2:16-17, 1 Samuel 8:11-18), and a few after the fact (as in Genesis 3:6-19).

The first curse, in Genesis deserves particular attention. First he says "If you eat of this fruit, you will surely die." After they eat the fruit (and don't die), he says "All these bad things will happen to you."

But what about death? There are two things: They did die... later. Would they have died otherwise? The passage (Genesis 3:20-22) suggest otherwise. Also there is spiritual death, which we as humans, most certainly do experience.

So, why would God condemn us to this, simply for wanting a fruit which made us "wiser"? There is a lot happening in this curse, but it boils down to 2 things:

Firstly, it is not "I sentence you to this" but "this is the result of your action." God wants us to choose to love Him. Choice requires that we can choose not to love Him. Since choosing "not God" is the same as choosing sin (by definition). Choice means sin can exist. The existence of sin implies the existence of evil. So God enabled the existence of evil. His statement in Genesis 3 is that we have actualized that opportunity.

The second thing is that he wanted Adam and Eve to be happy (because he loved them). To choose to eat of that fruit meant to choose not to trust God; to not trust God is to reject his love. To be unloved is to be unhappy, and so choosing wisdom over love is to choose unhappiness.

Beyond that, God pronounces other curses, which contain similar sentiments: "Love me (or come to me, or repent or ...) or this bad thing will happen." They represent the same idea: This is a result that follows from your actions.

There is more to say on this topic, but it really doesn't matter. It comes down to this: God did not create us to condemn us; He did not send His Son to condemn us. He created us, and He sent His Son to love us. "Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres." (1 Cor 4-7)

Christianity is missing a lot of things these days, the most important one is Love.

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