It used to be that “the devil made me do it.”
Now it appears the devil has lost his job.
God, it seems, is now in the business of making people do some not so wonderful things.
In an interview that aired recently on Fox News accused murder George Zimmerman told Sean Hannity that Treyvon’s tragic death was, in fact, “all God’s plan.” In other words, according to Zimmerman, God wanted Treyvon dead. He just pulled the trigger.
After being called out by Rachel Held Evans, Scot McKnight, and many others, Doug Wilson played the God card in his defense against accusations of misogyny. As he explained, he shouldn’t be blamed for his views because he is simply relaying what God has to say.
And, of course, there are the religious extremists who perform heinous acts of terror, destruction, and death. They do so, as we all know, because they believe themselves to be God’s instruments of wrath and judgment.
So what gives?
Has God suddenly pulled a 180 and started doing evil?
Probably not. At least I sure hope not. I think, more likely, what we are witnessing is a refusal to take responsibility that is spreading in epidemic proportions.
I have no idea why playing the God card has suddenly become so popular. Although, if I had to guess, I would suspect it stems from a combination of things.
God makes a great scapegoat. There’s nothing good about the devil. If we had allowed him to posses us, forcing us to do evil, then that just makes us look bad. But if it is God who is pulling the strings, then we think ourselves, and whatever subsequent actions we take, to be just, or worse, divinely ordained. In short, we blame God because it allows us to convinces ourselves that, despite what others may say, who we are and what we are doing is right and good.
Likewise, as much as we don’t want to be associated with the devil, we don’t want to be associated with sin. Even if the devil made us do it, we’re still sinning. But if God forced our had, then what we are doing is, in fact, the will of God, which in turn lets us to keep our conscious clean, allowing us to sleep at night no matter how many people we may hurt, offended, or outraged. If God is making us do everything, then sin no longer exists. (And sadly, that means there’s also no more need for Jesus.)
Finally, I think, if we are really honest about it, there is a fundamental lack of courage that goes along with playing the God card. There’s nothing brave about killing unarmed teenagers, suppressing women, or terrorizing innocent people. But if you do those things everyone else despises because God told you to ignore popular criticism, that makes you brave, right?
I think that somewhere inside themselves, those that participate in these sorts of behaviors know this. But rather than admitting their lack of the real courage it takes to do the right thing, or simply not participating in the wrong thing, they instead choose to do things that seem brave, but in reality are not, because those things give them a since of courage without really having to be brave. Then, by employing the God card, they give these cowardly acts, at least in their own minds, a sense of divine nobility.
The truth of the matter is, God or devil, we are ultimately responsible for own actions. This is why there is such a thing as sin. If the devil or God made us do a thing, and we had no control to do otherwise, then we could be not held responsible for our actions. Likewise, if we were not able to choose to do the right thing, there would be no such thing as “good”, but that is a philosophical discussion for another day.
What I want to suggest, is that we all find the courage to stop blaming God, the devil, or anyone else for the decisions we make, the actions we take, and the words that we say.
If you feel God has called you do something, then do it, but do so acknowledging you are doing what you think or believe God has called you do. That way, if in fact you are wrong, God doesn’t get the blame and God’s name isn’t smeared all over the news or across the blogosphere. And, of course, if you’re right, then God’s name will be praised all the more.
All that to say, if we are going to claim to be “real men” or “real women of God” (whatever that means), then let’s act like “real men” and “real women”, stop passing the buck, and take responsibility for the things we believe, we say, and we do.
Otherwise, we should just shut up and keep our opinions to ourselves.
Grace and peace,