I dropped an email to a friend yesterday whose son is wrestling with the big-picture issues regarding his Christian faith. I wrote
I was reading Joshua this morning and just picture Joshua and the lovers of God this morning storming Jericho, picking up rocks and beating 2 year olds with them, grabbing swords to cut off the head of some little girl who had Allie’s size and personality, and beating some poor vegetable seller senseless. Perhaps the vegetable seller was against the Jericho king’s evil and wicked ways, but because he wasn’t in tight with the whore and her family, he didn’t get saved.
If I finally had the permission to really pissed off with the author of that genocide, I would certainly be considering a divorce, or wanting to know if I could get God in for some psychiatric observation before I moved forward in the relationship.
Last night, in a separate conversation, I was talking to my wife about this (wo)Man who is now pregnant and going to have a baby. I was shocked and horrified not just that a person would despise their sexuality so much as to change it (I don’t know that I would ever give up being a woman if I was one…), and not that they would enter into a relationship with another consenting adult and take on the “Dad” role of the others’ teenage kids. It wasn’t that they were going to bring a human being into the world and pass off such transformations as “normal” (would that have been considered mental abuse in another era?). It wasn’t that all of them could appreciate good-naturedly the “change” and live the new lie, nor that the… I don’t know… heterosexual (?) wife would be down with the lack of a complete sexual change.
What was it?
Maybe it was us. Maybe it was our “front page news”-ness about the whole thing. Maybe it was the fact that we dig it so much.
As I was talking with Toni about it, it suddenly dawned on me how sick and sickening our whole stinking world can become at times. What at some times in human history would only be fodder for sensationalist rags (“Enquiring Minds Want to Know”), now only merits polite, well-meaning sensibility… “Oh, I see… how nice… how, hmmmm, interesting.”
Then I thought about God, clicking on bbc.com, reading the whole thing, and I was a bit more sympathetic to his occasional choice to wipe out vast swaths of humanity.
Sorry, if you were hoping for a theodicy here, you will have to come back another day. I will however, for your reading pleasure, or for your criticism, place the rest of my email comment to my friend here below.
I still can’t get my heart around God-sponsored genocide, but having fought that intellectual battle and surrendered to a very real psycho-spiritual (heart? spirit?) encounter with the living Christ (or whoever it is that I have by faith chosen to believe is the living Christ of the Bible), i can say, “Joshua and other genocides blow all my capacity to understand you, but nevertheless, there is no better explanation than yours for the way things are, you have drawn near to me, sung over me, called me the Beloved, and even now hold me in whatever mental/emotional chaos I enter. I surrender to you and your ways. Please don’t unnecessarily kill anyone else. I trust you.”