Monday, 26 May 2014

Concerning floods, Conchita and an angry God

This picture of the Shard being struck by lightening is a great piece of photography. I have to say that I was surprised that no Christian group tried to blame it on the LGBT community. They do seem to be blamed for many things.

The most recent and possible the most bizarre was the claim from church leaders in the Balkans that devastating floods were caused by Conchita winning Eurovision –

I think we need to stop and think for a minute here. So God is so interested in the outcome of Eurovision that he would bring down death and destruction? But this is far from being a quirky Eurovision thing. Blaming gay people for disasters is nothing new.

The trend goes back, at least, to 2005 with the terrible tragedy of Hurricane Katrina. One Megachurch Pastor said - “God caused Hurricane Katrina to wipe out New Orleans because it had a gay pride parade the week before and was filled with sexual sin.” Earlier in 2014 a UKIP Councillor blamed the worst floods in UK living memory on the government’s acceptance of inclusive marriage –

And so we could go on. It is easy to laugh but these views are damaging. They damage the dignity of ordinary LGBT people who just want to get on with their lives like the rest of us. They damage Christianity by portraying a distorted view of God. So it is not something we should just ignore as the ranting of a few cranks.

Firstly we need to focus on the issue itself. Let’s just suspend reality for a minute and assume that God would send bad weather because he was angry with us. Why would God choose this particular issue as one which merits the lightening bolt treatment? I don’t propose to repeat what I have said in other blogs save to say that it is hardly a subject to which the bible gives any great attention. In fact it does not give inclusive marriage any attention at all –

On the other hand the issue of poverty and inequality rolls off the pages. How about this from Jeremiah 22 - “Woe to him who builds his palace by unrighteousness, his upper rooms by injustice, making his own people work for nothing, not paying them for their labour”. For the prophet Amos the unrighteous - ‘trample on the heads of the poor as on the dust of the ground and deny justice to the oppressed.’

The gap between rich and poor, in the UK, is wider than ever –

So why does this not cause severe weather? Or what about climate change? Or bombing of Iraqi children?

Those who blame bad weather on the LGBT community seem to be more interested in their own prejudices than in the truth.

But in fact we do not need to suspend reality. The whole idea of God using weather to express anger is flawed. Let’s go back to the UKIP Councillor and the UK storms.

What he said was this –

“The scriptures make it abundantly clear that a Christian nation that abandons its faith and acts contrary to the Gospel (and in naked breach of a coronation oath) will be beset by natural disasters such as storms, disease, pestilence and war."

It is hard to know where to start. What on earth is a Christian Nation? There is no such thing. Jesus called individuals and groups to follow him. There was no concept of any nation being ‘Christian’ before Constantine made it the official religion of the Roman Empire.

Mr Silvester seems to assume that any comments from the prophets about the nation of Israel can be seamlessly translated to modern western countries. What is very disturbing is that many of those who come out with these comments have a very literal and conservative view of scripture.

I would challenge any statement that the bible makes any thing ‘abundantly clear’. There are interpretations of most passages of scripture except perhaps that God loves us and does not want anyone excluded from that love. Just read the book of Jonah which tells us how much God cares for the inhabitants of a pagan city that was the enemy of Israel.

These attempts to blame God for bad weather – which is the reality of what they are saying – can be laughed and disregarded. 

But they give a distorted image of God that has to be challenged and rejected.

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