Since I have SO VERY MUCH TIME on my hands to wander the internet haplessly and eat Bon Bons I decided to lavish some of my endless leisure time on a blog post I stumbled upon entitled “Why I Raise My Children Without God.” Such a title was obviously written to get my personal attention, right? But seriously folks, Bon Bons aside, my heart goes out to this mother of two teenage boys. Her objections deserve a response, but to address each of her points would take hours of conversation and, as we know, I hate to cut too much into my ME time. Alas, I feel I should address some of them. At the least. Give me a moment to go wash my hands.
The underpinning of this mom’s objections is the insufferable injustice and anguish in the world. She has a palpable response of being positively incensed by all the worlds’ misery. My question to her would be, “why is that”? Why does she expect justice and goodness and equity? If we are indeed the product of random evolutionary forces (Read: There is no God) and that there is no moral law-giver, why then do we hunger for justice? We should be satisfied by, encourage even, a hedonistic attitude. The very fact that she recognizes a standard of justice indicates the existence of a just law-giver (to all you unchurched out there, no surprise, I am talking about God).
She asserts that if God was a good parent, He would not allow his children to inflict such harm on one another. The problem, as I see it, is that very few people are truly God’s children. Jesus states explicitly that those who “do the will of His Father in heaven” are part of His family. Yes, God loves everyone. Enough to send His Son, in a very realistic human costume mind you, so that God could be fully revealed to the world in terms we humans could understand. However, very few people are willing to surrender their personal plans for the sake of joining God’s greater story. You know, that whole redemption gig? You will know God’s children by their love and good deeds, and by how they die to themselves so that they may fully live for Christ. This is seriously absent in our culture and around the world.
This mother longs for a world that is free of suffering, where “murders, child abuse, wars, brutal beatings, torture” are non-existent. She wants a world without disease and death. She aches for a world, let me see, it will come to me….. a world without sin. Why? Something imprinted on her very soul knows that this world is broken. She senses that she was made for a different world. She wants this existence to be like the one her son used to ask about- a sort of, I don’t know, heaven? Maybe?
No Christian doctrine makes sense without heaven. In scripture, God identifies Himself as a God of justice who will repay the wicked for their deeds. And often, as the author notes, that justice is not visible on earth. God promises the restoration of the whole earth, and yet everyone is touched somehow by brokenness of their body, mind or heart. Death robs us when it finds a family member or friend. Against all of these circumstances, we cry out. Because none of these were part of God’s original plan. This is why death feels so unnatural, why it tears our heart to pieces. The first two chapters of scripture describe the utopia that this woman longs for. The last two chapters of the Bible do too. But through the filthy middle we trudge through the wreckage of people rejecting God and His laws- the ones that tell us not to covet, steal, cheat, lie and murder. The only possible way we keep those laws is if we have no other God before Yahweh. (Wait, I think I might have read that somewhere before. I digress.) I know for a fact that in the homes and churches where Jesus is King, you will find people striving to live by those right, correct moral principles. There we gain a glimpse of God’s will being done on earth as it is in heaven. Those who want God above all else in this life will get God and that perfect existence for all eternity. Those who reject God with their words and life now, will not have to spend eternity with Him where “He will wipe away every tear from their eyes; and there will no longer be any death; there will no longer be any mourning, or crying, or pain…”
If God is not present, then we above all men are to be pitied. But if God is who He says He is, then we will find God if we seek Him with our whole heart. That Presence, once discovered, is more precious than wealth, comfort, and the shallow trinkets of amusement for which we often settle. A Presence that can sustain us through all the flipping horrible things that happen in this life. This Presence compels us to be the instruments of healing, justice, wholeness, and peace to this wretchedly broken world. Faiths built upon an encounter with that Presence will not be absent of reason, but animated by it.
I may not be able to sit down with this particular mother, but I know we all know her. We need to be daring. We need to walk with the skeptic for the long-term so that they can ask us these questions and we can wrestle through them together. Face to face. I suggest you have a good supply of Bon Bons on hand at all times for such encounters. Everybody loves Bon Bons.