Gary W. Summers
Periodically, over a few weeks’ time, Parade Magazine has published responses of young people to the question, “Do you believe in God?” Much of the thinking has been quite superficial and insubstantial, whether the person believed or disbelieved. The truly disturbing thing about many of the responses that created beings seem to think they have the right to sit in judgment on the Creator.
Consider what an 18-year-old girl from Riverdale, New Jersey, writes:
I was taught that God was the Almighty and was good, but the past few months have set me straight. There is no God. At least not the God everyone is talking about. If He/She was real, then there wouldn’t be so much disease, death, hurt and heartbreak in the world. In December, one of my friends lost her mother. In January, a friend was killed on his way to school. In April, a friend of the family lost his long battle with AIDS. And in May, one of my best friends also lost her mother. What God would do this to anyone? None that I know of or believe in (This scathing denunciation of God appeared on page 23 of the October 15, 1995, issue).
What an outburst of unrighteous indignation! Her philosophy of God may be summarized as follows: (1) God does not run the world the way I think He/She should; (2) Therefore, God does not exist. How arrogant for one merely eighteen years of age to think that she has disproved God’s existence based on so few observations. Those who have watched their loved ones be killed in Nazi death camps (with much greater reason to doubt God’s benevolence) have emerged with a strong faith in God while she has barely become acquainted with life’s tragedies.
She is obviously even less acquainted with the Word of God, to which one goes to find reality and truth. A study of some fundamental matters might be of some help to those who feel as this young girl does. Some crucial doctrines follow.
God is Almighty
The Scriptures affirm this truth in a number of passages, but it is the inference some draw from this fact that is erroneous. Many think that since God is Almighty, He will control everything that happens, but such is not the case—yet. When God created man, He gave us “free will.” We may choose to obey or disobey Him. If we choose the latter option, many evil things will result. Suppose, despite all of the warnings against the dangers of drinking and driving someone goes ahead and does so. If he loses control of the vehicle and crashes into a tree and is killed, whose fault is it? If God prohibits harm, there is no free will; if He allows free will, tragedies will abound. God does not stop people from bearing the consequences of their actions.
God is Good
God created a perfect world in which man could dwell, but we exercised our free will in a negative way and allowed sin to enter Paradise. Man could not be man without this possibility. We either must be robots, programmed to always do right, or we can enjoy freedom (recognizing that such a privilege means we bear the consequences of our actions). Unfortunately, when a person chooses to sin, innocent people usually suffer, also. The drinking driver, for example, may not simply hit a tree and kill himself; he may suddenly swerve across the center line and kill a family of innocent people. Does God cease to be good because He does not intervene in the natural course of daily events?
Certainly, we are tempted to think so—especially if the victim were our family. But God cannot be blamed for man’s decisions. The person who acted irresponsibly is the one who is at fault. God is doubly good in that He not only created us—He recreates all who obey the gospel.
He allowed Jesus to die on the cross for our sins o that we could be redeemed from the consequences of our own actions. Accepting the salvation He offers through repentance and baptism (Acts 2:38) enables us to triumph even over death.
God’s gender, despite the feminist influence, is not a mystery. The student of the Bible realizes that God is not He/She, but He. We pray to “our Father” (Mat. 6:9). The female respondent needs to spend some time in the Book to learn about the One she apparently hates so much. Why do disease, death, hurt, and heartbreak dominate this world? There is an answer for each of these things—SIN!! God did not sin; man sins.
Because we have chosen to disregard God’s commandments and principles, all these things plague us. Why does AIDS exist, for example? Did it come about by mankind being morally pure? No, it developed because of man’s perversions of sex—the practice of bestiality, homosexuality, fornication, and adultery. All of these are denied in the Holy Scriptures as violations of God’s holy law, but mankind has repeatedly rejected these teachings because he would rather satisfy unlawful lusts. As is usually the case with sin, innocent people have suffered for a no more sinister reason than that they needed a blood transfusion (through which they contacted the AIDS virus). But most contracted and suffer from AIDS because they chose to disregard the warnings, just as cigarette smokers indulge themselves—although they are fully aware of the suffering they will one day face.
Man’s dilemma is that he wants to sin without facing the consequences of his actions. “Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap. For he that soweth to his flesh shall of the flesh reap corruption; but he that soweth to the Spirit shall of the Spirit reap life everlasting” (Gal. 6:7-8).
We tell children that fire burns. If they choose to handle it, they will suffer for their poor judgment. God likewise warns against what will burn us spiritually. If we choose to ignore the truth, does that make God evil?
“What God Would do This to Anyone?”
This statement is biased enough to be laughable. The youth who wrote it apparently pictures God as a capricious individual who takes delight in finding unsuspecting souls to inflict with pain. God is a God of comfort (2 Cor. 1:3-4) and a help (Psa. 46:1). Satan is the adversary (Job 1-2). No reason is assigned for loss of either friend’s mother, nor is it explained why a student was killed on the way school. But without knowing the details, there can be no doubt that the cause as sin. Somewhere Satan is laughing at all the hurt which people experience; he probably doubles over and rolls in the aisles when mankind then tries to pin the blame on God instead of him and themselves. Do we mistakenly think that if everything always went well, everyone would we and serve God? What happened in the garden of Eden disproves that faulty notion, live tragedy free lives and do not believe God. Why not concentrate on the things that had done for us and ask ourselves, “Why; God done all this for me?”