Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Religious sex perverts

Curt posted a couple of points on my last post that I think deserve real attention.  One was how inclined religious leaders are to get into sexual perversions, such as raping children, and the other was to note Christopher Hitchens's mistaken view that it's a nightmare to have a God who sees everything we do.  I believe these are closely related.

To have no privacy where people are concerned really is a nightmare, but the reason for this is that man looks on the outward appearance, but God looks on the heart.  To be under surveillance from men is to be under the gaze of those who do not see us as we are - worse, who inevitably see us as we are not.  It's not bad to be known for real; in fact our loneliness in the world is that we are not really known to anybody, even if people have us under a microscope.  But it's awful to be under the inspection of those who do not and cannot see us as we really are.  If a perfect stranger doesn't understand me, whatever.  If someone close to me does not, that's pretty painful.  If God were that way only more so, Hitchens would be absolutely right.  But God sees as it is and needs no explanations, only admissions of truth, and can even explain us to ourselves.  It's one of the main ways that I know God is real.

Whatever God sees is no longer darkness and no longer has to do with death.

However, all of us to some degree agree mistakenly with Hitchens, and as we see in the gospels, especially religious rulers.  Their audience is men, and not God, and once that's true, it's all trouble.  Once our audience is men instead of God, we have to take care of appearance instead of reality, because appearance and not reality is what men see.  Because we never really do see, we must incessantly search things out, whereas God is free from that because he knows everything that he has made from the inside out.  "It is the glory of kings to search out a matter, but it is the glory of God to conceal a matter."  With God you're just not getting spied on; instead God many times conceals our secrets from those who ought not to know them.  Many times, in fact, God conceals himself.  

Accordingly, religion is mostly about making sure that if God doesn't show up, we can feel like he has, remaining unaware that he has not.  People don't necessarily want God, but they want to feel like they have God whether they do or not - hence the popularity of idols.  So since religion is about concealing the absence of God, it stands to reason that especially in religion the absence of God will go undetected.

In fact, it's very good for us to know when God is absent because we might want to know why and do something about it.  Otherwise, religion can help us kid ourselves better that we're not atheists, but in his absence bad things will take his place.  No wonder then that in the gospels it's the religious people who are most zealous for God and most full of the devil.

So for sexual perversion to show up among religious leaders is to be expected.  In addition to the foregoing, there is a particular vulnerability here for Christian leaders in particular.  The body of believers stands in relation to God as wife.  Leaders that lead the disciples astray after themselves, who think the congregation is theirs, are committing adultery with the Lamb's wife, and so God will often judge that by giving them up to commit adultery with others too.  And this happens because of the emptiness that comes of seeking ultimate satisfaction in people, who can never really know us, instead of in God.  Religion makes that easy to do.  Religion is dangerous.  

Tuesday, January 01, 2013

Happy New Year

Some good and encouraging news that reminds me of God's care, to close out the old year.

I was cleaning the kitchen counter Saturday when I disturbed a black widow spider.  I went to get a glass to convey her safely out the door, but as I stepped away, she flew off the counter, making me doubt that I'd seen aright.  So I went about my business.

But presently I felt crawling on my face and reached up and touched it before I realized that might be a real stupid idea - might cause a misunderstanding.  But instead of biting me, she dropped back onto the counter, so I prodded her gently into the glass and put her out in the garden.

Black widows are generally even-tempered, but I did get bitten on the foot some years ago, and it did bother me all night.  A bite on the face would not have been a good thing.

Whether she was unusually good-tempered or whether God shut her mouth, it would certainly have been indecent to repay her with death. 

Nice way to close out the old year, with God's mercy to me.  I can't wish anyone a happy and prosperous new year 2013, as far as "grain and new wine abounding" as Psalm 4 puts it.  That won't happen.

But may you my readers and I find grace from the Almighty to put gladness in our hearts even though things do not go well with the world.  God is "a very present help in tight places," as I have experienced and can testify.  Let's find him in those tight places this coming year.