God doesn’t hate, nor punish

The evangelical prophets of God only took a few hours to say that God was punishing homosexuals with the massacre at the Orlando nightclub. A Baptist minister in California actually said he was happy that 50 “pedophiles” were killed in Orlando because this was clear evidence of God’s hatred of gays and lesbians.

These people feel they know God’s will so well that they can prophesize to the rest of us. If God kills those whom he hates, I guess God hates preschoolers because he sent Adam Lanza to kill 20 of them at Sandy Hook in 2012.

I am not sure whom God hated when he sent Dylann Root to shoot up the Baptist church in South Carolina last year. Does God hate Baptists, Christians, blacks, South Carolinians or just that particular church?

The God they worship also hates Virginia Tech where 32 people were killed in 2015, and he is apparently no fan of Fort Hood, Texas where 13 people were killed in 2009 and four more in 2014.

God must really hate Texas because he has sent historic floods to kill 47 people in the state and he also apparently has a problem with the four Army soldiers who were drowned when they tried to help the people God had chosen to punish.

Far too many Christians suffer from two disturbing ailments: Schadenfreude and Pecksniffianism. Schadenfreude is a German word that means a pleasurable feeling arising from contemplating the misery of others.

Pecksniffian refers to a character from Charles Dickens’ novel Martin Chuzzlewit, Seth Pecksniff, who liked to preach and brag about his own piety when in fact he was nothing more than a hypocrite intent on furthering selfish goals.

Reactionary politicians were quick to identify the tragedy in Orlando as the result of radical Islam, but it took me less than two minutes to find the names of several Christian ministers who have publicly called for the killing of gays and lesbians. In 2014, the renowned preacher Pat Robertson waxed nostalgic about the good old days when gays were stoned to death.

Humans have suffered from these ailments since the beginning of time. In the Book of Job, four of Job’s friends try to explain why God had afflicted him with so much bad fortune and they used exactly the same arguments these modern, self-appointed prophets of God use.

God harshly rebuked each of Job’s friends for their shallow theology and smugness. In the end, God never explains his motives for Job’s misfortunes.

Hundreds of innocent Americans have died in mass shootings in this country since the first one in Texas in 1966. The victims include all races, both genders, all religions, all socioeconomic levels and all ages. Is it any wonder that people are abandoning Christianity that proposes we worship a God who vindictively butchers so many people without any justification?

I am neither vain nor fatuous enough to suppose that I know why these tragedies occur. People who are not inclined to seek religious reasons for life’s events may believe they are inevitable statistical results of stochastic processes when 300 million people interact on a daily basis.

People who choose to believe in religious philosophy should recall these words from Isaiah 55:8-9:

“For my thoughts are not your thoughts,

Neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord.

For as the heavens are higher than the earth,

So are my ways higher than your ways

And my thoughts than your thoughts.”

Hiding behind the name of God to justify our personal bigotries and hatreds is the ultimate example of using God’s name in vain.

Perhaps those individuals who revel in judging others and relishing the sufferings of their fellow humans should spend more time actually reading the Bible they claim to already know.

Roger Guffey of Lexington teaches math and Sunday School.