Friday, April 11, 2014

6 Most Absurd Things Right-Wing Christians Have Blamed on Gays

From AlterNet:

“We have displeased the Lord and the earth is going to answer,” so-called prophet Cindy Jacobs warned in advance of the Supreme Court’s ruling on the Defense of Marriage Act last summer. If this warning sounds familiar, it should: right wingers have a long history of blaming everything from earthquakes to recession to climate change on the advance of gay marriage, and they’re only getting more ridiculous.

More here.

Asserting that natural disasters and other bad things that have perfectly obvious causes based in material reality are, instead, manifestations of God's wrath is, at face value, utterly absurd.  But enough religious leaders continue to make such assertions, and one assumes that these leaders have constituencies here and there which more or less agree with them, that it seems reasonable to explain why, exactly, saying such things is so completely head-embedded-in-ass stupid.  And just to keep things on the up and up, let's assume for discussion's sake that the Bible is, in fact, the word of the Lord.

We do see God behaving this way in the Old Testament.  Indeed, we've got the "Creator" in this new Noah movie smiting most of humanity for their sinfulness.  There's also Sodom and Gomorrah.  So imagining that God might continue with this modus operandi even today isn't necessarily out of bounds.  There's definitely precedent.  Of course, on other occasions He commanded the Israelites themselves to commit genocide on His behalf, so it doesn't always have to be a natural disaster.  But I digress.  The point is that we have some reasonable basis for imagining Yahweh as angry, vengeful, and homicidal towards humans who offend Him--on the other hand, we don't see this so much in the New Testament, what with all its messages of forgiveness and love, but the Old Testament is a bigger book, so let's give some theological leeway to those who wish to embrace the understanding of God as Divine Homicidal Punisher of Mankind.

But there are a couple of real problems when it comes to saying this or that disaster or terrible event is God punishing this or that group for their sinful ways.

First, how do you know which disasters are God's wrath and which disasters are just disasters?  I mean, surely, some disasters are simply disasters.  You know, sometimes things blow up.  Sometimes hurricanes and earthquakes are simply byproducts of how physical reality functions.  Sometimes lots of people die in one fell swoop, saints and sinners alike.  Sure, you might be someone who believes that EVERY SINGLE EVENT AND PHENOMENON in the universe is personally orchestrated by God, which makes the concept of free will, and therefore sin, problematic, but guess what?  I'm not talking to you.  Your universe is so utterly alien to mine that I don't think we can really have a conversation about this.  I'm only talking to people who think that sometimes disasters are simply disasters.  And I'm asking these people how they can tell the difference between a God disaster and a normal disaster.

Second, what does it mean when the most obviously sinful cities AREN'T destroyed or heavily damaged by such disasters?  What happens when nothing happens at all to, say, extraordinarily gay San Francisco?  Or did God create the San Andreas fault only once it became clear how swishy the City on the Bay was going to be?  Another related question: what does it mean when cities that aren't sinful are hit with disaster?  What happens when God-fearing Kansas City gets hit with tornadoes?  What happens when bad things happen to good people?  If AIDS is punishment for sodomy, then why sweep up all the hemophiliacs?  And why did God's agent Katrina spare the French Quarter, the gayest neighborhood in all New Orleans?

Don't hand me any of that "mystery of God" crap on this, either.  You're on shaky ground from the get-go here because you have no real Scriptural support for this other than pointing to God's behavior four thousand years ago, which was then explained to mankind by prophets other writers directly inspired by God.  If you're going to push this stuff, then you need to have some good answers.  Otherwise, you're a snake oil salesman.

Or are you telling me that you're a prophet, too?

And that's really the crux here.  In order to say that specific disasters are manifestations of God's wrath, one must NECESSARILY claim to have knowledge of God's mind which has not been revealed in the Bible.  That is, anybody who makes such a claim is implicitly telling us that he has personal one-on-one conversations with the Almighty, that God reveals to him secret knowledge nobody else knows.  If you say Katrina was God's wrath, you are also telling us you are a prophet of God.

But no.  You're NOT a prophet of God.  You do not have personal one-on-one conversations in which God gives you information unknown to others.  Instead, you are a false prophet.  And I think that the Bible, in contrast to the issue of God's wrath and earthly disasters, is perfectly clear about what happens to false prophets.

Lake of fire and brimstone.  Death.  That's what you get.  So you'd best shut the hell up if you value your soul.  Clearly, being perceived as a sadistic asshole is not a disincentive.  Perhaps self-preservation is a better motivator.