27 October 2018
Second Thoughts ~ Anne’s Question(s) Part III
Greetings Dear Reader,
As I approach this for the third evening this week, I do so with a heavy heart. The conjunction of dealing with this part of the topic and my current distress walk hand-in-hand to remind me just how far we are from what we could be as humans. I am going to do my best to stay objective and kind but I will ask for a little forbearance in advance please.
When we ask if God is responsible for the evil that men do, we first have to identify what evil is. In her question Anne gives us clear idea of what she sees as evil. I do not disagree with I am simply making sure that we all remember the foundation of our journey together. Here are Anne’s words again:
This is something that I don’t understand: what about all the truly horrible things in life? I mean things like wars, terrorism, exterminations, children dying, people and animals being tortured to death, you name it. How do you account for all that in respect to God?
In attempting to draw a line of responsibility for evil, we need to clearly define what evil is. I am not playing with words here. I have friends who think that rooting for the wrong sports team is evil. Whilst this is a humorous example, it makes the point. Evil, if left to subjective definition, is hard to define. Here is something else that Anne posted that I feel is important to this thread.
Thank you, I appreciate your honest and open response. And to continue with complete honesty, as much as I want kindness to guide me more and more, loving my enemies is not something that I am capable of or even willing to do. For example, I could not love or respect a terrorist, and by that I mean someone who is willing to commit mass murder and is himself driven by hate and intent on inflicting pain. I could not love or respect someone who abuses children, the elderly, animals... No abuse of anyone really, but of course my thoughts first go to the most innocent of us. You, and anyone who follows me, also knows that I cannot love or respect our current president. And I even have no desire to change on these things. These are some of my limits.
This puts an important light on how we define evil. Jesus said that we are required to love our enemies. We are even told that if our enemy is hungry we are to feed him. What I am getting at is the idea that we judge some people as unworthy of our love. We may be angry at someone and withhold our love from them or we may see him or her as evil and judge that person as undeserving of love from anyone.
The difficulty with this as I see it is that if everyone chooses an individual standard for who is worthy of love then there will be justification for hating everyone. Your standard of worthiness may not match mine. You may be willing to withhold your love simply because you do not like something. I am not saying that horrendous things that Anne said are not evil. I am saying that the problem of evil cannot be addressed without an objective standard of who is and is not worthy of love.
If, therefore, we are going to have an objective standard then I submit that it must not be set by humans. We will always find a way to now show love to someone. It is what we do. If, however, as I have written over and over again, we are going to love it must be unconditionally held, delivered, applied, and demonstrated.
Pause on this for a moment. At what point of withholding love from someone else do we pass from being good to being evil? Where is the line. Again, if it is not drawn by God then it is elusive and inconsistent. I cannot claim that someone is unworthy of love because of his or her actions making myself unworthy of love in the eyes of someone else. If I say “but I am right and they are wrong” are they not going to say the same thing?
I am required not only to love everyone (friends, neighbors, family, strangers, enemies), I am also required to show them love through my thoughts, words, and actions toward them, no matter what it costs me. I fail at this but it is still the standard. I cannot say that I am a good person if it is not.
In light of this we need to understand that the summation must be that it is evil to fail to show love to everyone. Withholding love or proclaiming anyone unworthy of love is an evil act on our part. I will stop there for now because this is very weighty to consider.
Tomorrow we will begin to address the actual question of why God then allows evil to exist. Stay with me and try to love me if you can Dear Reader.
Wishing you joy in the journey,
Mat 13:52 So Jesus said to them, "That is why every writer who has become a disciple of Christ’s rule of the universe is like a home owner. He liberally hands out new and old things from his great treasure store.”
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