Thursday, September 22, 2005

Divine Death Penalty?

Last week I wrote a response to a satirical article about Pat Robertson blaming Hurricane Katrina on gays; the article was fiction, but I asserted, "there really are "Christians" out there...who seek to explain natural catastrophes by claiming divine retribution." Here are two examples.

The organization Repent America directly claimed that Southern Decadence, a gay festival regularly occurring in New Orleans over Labor Day weekend, was the cause of God's ire. Concerned parent Abigail Jarboe in Pennsylvania gave the same warning: "I don't think it's a coincidence."

Personally, I'm curious as to why people would believe in a God who's so dumb that in order to stop a gay-themed party, he destroys a mostly-heterosexual city (well, let's be honest...not just New Orleans, but a broad swath of America stretching across Louisiana and Mississippi, hardly WeHo, Chelsea or South Beach), where the victims are mostly children and the elderly, the weekend before the big gay party.

I've cautioned before against anthropomorphosis, but you know, if I were God, I might wait until the fags were all there and then destroy the city. But what do I know?

Does God kill people he's angry with? Some think so. "We rejoice that [Chief Justice of the Supreme Court William] Rehnquist is dead and in Hell,” said a Fred Phelps press release. “It is a sin NOT to rejoice when God executes His wrath and vengeance upon a sorry, faggyass judge." This might be news to Rehnquist, who sided with the majority in Bowers v. Hardwick and dissented in Romer v. Evans and Lawrence v. Texas. And again, the timing is a problem for me. Lawrence, the last major pro-gay ruling from the Court, was in June of 2003. Rehnquist died in September 2005. Granted, the Lord works in mysterious ways, but one might think that if He were trying to make a point, He could do better on the timing. He also might consider smiting one of the six justices, including O'Connor, who ruled for the gays.

The logical flaw which stands out even more obviously than God's ill-chosen targets and poor timing is the underlying assumption that God lets the people he likes live. you know anyone who's lived forever? How many saints can you think of who met brutal, vicious ends? (For the non-churchy types among you, here's a few choice examples: St. Peter was crucified upside down; among the apostles, James, Matthias and Paul were beheaded, Luke was hanged, Philip, Andrew, Jude, Bartholomew and Simon were crucified (rightside up, I guess), Mark was beaten to death, and John was deep-fried.)

I mean, for God's sake, pun intended, even Jesus was beaten and crucified.

Take it from the Bible: belief in God is no guarantee of physical immortality or a calm, peaceful death.

God's bargain is with our immortal souls, not our physical bodies. I have always taken great comfort from the story of St. Stephen, who was stoned (not like I was last night...I mean, with rocks). The book of Acts tells us that as the rocks began flying his way, "he prayed, "Lord Jesus, receive my spirit." And he knelt down and cried with a loud voice, "Lord, do not hold this sin against them." And when he had said this, he fell asleep."

Fear, pain, and suffering are illusions created by Darkness. We personally, with God's assistance, have the power to resist them. Stephen's faith was so great that in his final moments, he simply gave himself over to God and his soul was swept away into paradise without him being aware of any physical pain. Because of Stephen's example, I have no fear of death. Truly.

Anyway, all of this is by way of saying not to take "Christians" who claim to detect God's homophobia in weather patterns too seriously. After all, now that Rita's on the way, it's more probable that God is angry at the petroleum industry.


Jess said...

Couldn't agree more.

Robb said...

Dude, you rock. You have a real knack for putting into words what I'm thinking. (And Phelps really called Rehnquist a faggyass? Lately my fury at him has turned into a strange fascination, I mean, what a freak!)

Thanks again. I read you every day after Andrew Sullivan. Its nice in this day and age that there are still people who do more than simply perpetuate their partisanship.

Anthony said...

The only thing I can find to criticise in what you say is that your satirical tone is unlikely to register with the Christian extremists, who are more likely to take issue with your questioning God's motives.

That said, it doesn't stop me from agreeing with you whole-heartedly.

Anonymous said...

Great entery!
Sounds like these people you are talking about havent heard of global warming just yet. :)

Esther said...

Great post. I could not agree more. I can't believe anyone would say something like that of Rehnquist (the going to hell part, I mean). It's just wrong to talk like that. And, as you have shown, it's also illogical.