I am regularly amazed that some religious folk claim to know the mind of their god. I’m specifically referring to the Judeo-Christian god at this point, I have had insufficient exposure to adherents of other religions to know if there any people who claim to speak on behalf of their god/s (though given people I wouldn’t be surprised).
The god of the Old and New Testament clearly states in the Bible that:
8 “My thoughts are nothing like your thoughts,” says the Lord.
“And my ways are far beyond anything you could imagine.
9 For just as the heavens are higher than the earth,
so my ways are higher than your ways
and my thoughts higher than your thoughts.
33 Oh, how great are God’s riches and wisdom and knowledge! How impossible it is for us to understand his decisions and his ways!
34 For who can know the Lord’s thoughts?
Who knows enough to give him advice?
35 And who has given him so much
that he needs to pay it back?
So clearly the mind of at the very least the Christian god is unknowable, inscrutable and unlike any adherent’s own mind, and yet so many people claim to know and even act as if they know, exactly what their god wants.
I’ve always been confused by what god is actually like (even when I was a Christian), because the Bible is rather contradictory about that, god was jealous, loving, peace, all knowing, all powerful, all present, the light, vengeful, etc (nice list here), so clearly knowing what god thought about on any particular topic was impossible.
The Bible itself is contradictory, condemning queer people in one part and then celebrating them in others (the story of Ruth, the story of David and Saul), and then Jesus who allegedly lived during the Roman empire when same-sex relationships were part of society. Nowhere did Jesus (who was allegedly the son of God) actually condemn same-sex relationships, even though they would have been practised by the Roman occupiers of Jerusalem. Those who point to the Bible to condemn queer relationships tend to focus on two main parts of the Bible, Leviticus (while ignoring ALL the other parts of Leviticus that no longer apply in this modern day and age), and the various letters of Paul (while ignoring his other commentary, for the most part, on the role of women both in the church and in relationships, and how the end times were imminent).
So I do not understand how lobbyists from the Australian [un]Christian Lobby, or how someone like Archbishop Peter Jensen can claim, or appear to claim, that they speak not only for themselves and their own fears about queer people, but for the deity they claim to believe in – the one who they should well know they cannot speak for.
If you believe in a deity of some description, I don’t really have a problem with your personal belief, but I do have a big problem with any attempt to shift that personal belief onto the lives of other people because you believe that your deity would be much happier if segments of the population lived miserable and unhappy lives. I have big problems when people’s personal beliefs are treated like the be-all and end-all of all ethical and moral existence, so that in effect the faith you ascribe to is the only source of morality in the world. I have a big problem when personal belief is used to restrict the human rights of other people – because you believe your god (who you cannot know the thoughts of) would be much happier if queer people couldn’t marry their partner of choice.
As I have, and as many other people have, pointed out before – religion has been used to defend slavery, defend not granting equal rights for women, defend racism, defend arranged marriages, defend refusing birth control, defend not providing abortion services, etc – and these things have slowly passed and changed as society has matured.
And as society continues to mature, more will change. Queer people will get the equal rights they seek, and the versus in the Bible that condemn them will be assigned to irrelevancy just as most of Leviticus is now. This change is inevitable and is the right thing to do. Those who cling to homophobia are frightened of change, and I can understand that, but if you profess to love the god of the Bible, then you have to trust that change happens for a reason and god’s inscrutable plan is the way forward. That the god you believe in is in control (because that’s what you believe) and that you shouldn’t fight his/her wishes.
I don’t believe in any god, I believe in doing the right thing because it is right not because I will get some future reward or punishment otherwise. I believe in granting human rights to all regardless of their sexual orientation, race, religion, political opinion, place of origin, etc. My rights will not be diminished by other people having access to the same rights. There is not a finite amount of human rights in the world, which would mean that granting some to a disadvantaged group will take away any of my own rights (it might remove some of my privilege but that’s another story).
It’s time that those who campaign so tirelessly against the equal rights of others and claim that they are doing it for their god, sat down, took a deep breath, and considered whether or not they are acting for their own personal interests and whether they are indeed following the precepts of their own god. Time to examine the plank in their eye before checking the splinter in mine, as well as considering how Jesus treated the disadvantaged of his own time as a lesson on how perhaps you should treat the disadvantaged of today.
2 thoughts on “Knowing the mind of God”
Great post. Thanks for elegantly covering so much territory, making things as personal as they really are.
Anne Lamott apparently said “you know you’ve created God in your own image when it turns out He hates all the same people you do.”
Being Christian is supposed to be hard work. Because being called upon to love *everyone*, especially the people you don’ t want to love, is hard work. Being Christian is supposed to be all above love.
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