Friday, November 9, 2012

Does God Intend for Bad Things to Happen?

Recently Republican senatorial candidate Richard Mourdock weakened his campaign for the Indiana Senate with a comment he made concerning pregnancy caused by rape.  Many blame his comment for his loss to Joe Donnely 50% to 44%.  Mourdock's comment is as follows:

"This is that issue that every candidate for federal, or even state, office faces, and I too stand for life. I know there are some who disagree and I respect their point of view and I believe that life begins at conception. The only exception I have [for abortion] is in that case [where] the life of the mother [is threatened]. I struggled with it for a long time, but I came to realize that life is a gift from God. And I think even when life begins in that horrible situation of rape that it is something that God intended to happen." (Emphasis added)  

That last phrase, "something that God intended to happen." perhaps lost Mourdock the election.  As I watched the election on CNN Tuesday night, one of the reporters stated that Mourdock made a "blunder."  Perhaps it was a political blunder.  Most people find it hard to believe that God would use evil to do good.  But was Mourdock correct to say that God intended it to happen?  

One could ask whether Mourdock meant that God intended the rape or the pregnancy to happen, or both.  Without a doubt this is a tricky subject.  As Christians, we believe that children are a gift from God.  
"Behold, children are a heritage from the Lord,

    the fruit of the womb a reward.
Like arrows in the hand of a warrior-----------
    are the children of one's youth.
Blessed is the man         ---------------------------
    who fills his quiver with them!"
 [Psalm 127:3-4]

However, what about when a child is conceived in rape?  Does God use rape to give a gift?  Does God intend on the rape to happen?  Indeed we know that God abhors sin and that He Himself is not capable of sin.  "This is the message we have heard from him and proclaim to you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all."  [1 John 1:5]  However, we also know that God is the source of all life and that nothing is made or does anything without God.  "All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made."  [John 1:3]  And, "In him we live and move and have our being"  [Acts 17:28]  

How can this be?  How can God hate that, which is evil, but also cause all things to be?  Can God cause evil things to happen?  Does He cause them to happen?  Would God intend for a child to be conceived from rape or for a rape to happen?  To answer these questions, let us review what Scripture tells us about God's relationship with His creation and His relation to sin.  

First, we know that God is the creator of the Universe (Genesis 1:1)  We also know that God continues to preserve His creation (Acts 17:28).  Also, "All things were created by Him all things hold together."  [Col. 1:16-17]  To be more specific to our topic at hand, "For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother's womb."  [Psalm 139:13]  As Lutherans and based on Scripture we confess that God is omnipresent, holding the entire creation in His presents, and omnipotent, all powerful.  Herein lies the problem.  Does then God also cause sin?  

Here is what we know about God and Sin.  First, God hates sin.  "You shall have no other gods before me....You shall not murder."  [Exodus 20:3 &13]  Second, God often prevents sin from happening, as in the case of Abimelech and Sarah.  "Then God said to him in the dream, 'Yes, I know that you have done this in the integrity of your heart, and it was I who kept you from sinning against me. Therefore I did not let you touch her.'"   [Genesis 20:6]  Finally, God also uses sin to serve a good purpose, such as the example of Joseph being sold into slavery.  "you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good"

This third point is the focus of this whole post.  God does in fact use evil to do good.  We know that God does permit evil, if not from our own experience, from Scripture, "So I gave them up their stubborn hearts, to follow their own counsels."  [Psalm 81:12]  But in what way does God cause sin to happen?  All actions that we witness are causae secundae, that is second causes.  Nothing can move or act, without God's operations.  Neither the sun can rise nor your eye blink, the devil can't even roam the earth without God's operation.  So God does indeed concur with every action, however, He does not agree or approve of sinful actions.  A man cannot shoot his neighbor without God's operation, but that does not mean that God shoots the man's neighbor.  God Does not endorse evil.  This is a paradox.  Our human reason cannot understand how God can be omnipotent, the source of all actions, concur with every action and hate sin.  Along with the Crux Theologorum, this paradox will never be understood through human reason, but it must be believed by faith.  

Must it really be believed?  Yes, it must.  This topic is more than theological jargon or the defense of a senatorial candidate, who is behind the times, or ahead of the times... well, out of these times.  There is another great evil that was done, which God permitted, indeed concurred with, was innocent of it, and with it benefitted the entire world.  Jesus Christ was innocent of any crime.  He never sinned.  He obeyed the government.  He obeyed every iota of the Law of God.  He did not deserve any punishment, let alone death.  Jesus gave warning to Judus when he planned to betray Jesus, "woe to that man by whom the Son of Man is betrayed! It would have been better for that man if he had not been born."  [Matthew 26:24]  Jesus also warned Pilate that sentencing Him to death was a sin, "he who delivered me over to you has the greater sin."  However, God concurred with Jesus' betrayal (Matt. 26:24), unjust sentencing, and death.  "For I tell you that this Scripture must be fulfilled in me: ‘And he was numbered with the transgressors."  [Luke 22:37]   

Candidate Mourdock was right when he stated that it was something God intended to happen, when he referred to the conception of a child through rape.  An evil act does not undo the good that God does.  Children are gifts from God.  God knows what He is doing.  He has done all things for good.  Even the sin of betraying the Son of God and sentencing Him to die a criminal's death, God used to do the greatest good for mankind.  God used that evil to save the entire world.  Mr. Mourdock could not expect the public to understand his comment, because it is paradoxical.  We Christians don't understand either.  But we accept it for truth, because we know that the evil done to Christ was intended by God for our good.  


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