What does God think about it?Published 9:10am Thursday, April 25, 2013
By Rev. Bob Henderson
Some years ago, Time magazine advertised an article with the intriguing title: “What Does God Think About Sex?” I grabbed it immediately. I wanted to know what God thought, but more importantly, I wanted to know how Time managed to find out.
Well, I’m both happy and perhaps a little disappointed to report that after reading the article, it was apparent that Time had no idea what God thinks about sex, or presumably about anything else. Time does know and reported what some people say they think God thinks about sex.
Surely it is a comment on our society that the answers and opinions of a thousand randomly selected persons can be billed as “What God Thinks” – within an error factor of plus or minus 3 percent.
The fact is that we humans don’t know what God thinks, although we seem to spend an inordinate amount of time trying to find out. We examine our feelings, motives and needs. We read and study the Bible. We talk about the theological “could be’s.”
We listen to people who are certain they know exactly what God thinks and what God’s will is for them and for everyone else in the world. And, we know that “God’s Will” is unbeatable justification for our own arguments and wants – like my daughter’s fourth grade teacher who used God as a classroom monitor, saying “God doesn’t like it when you to talk in class.”
Even when we pray diligently, with pure motives, in an honest attempt to seek God’s guidance and learn God’s will for us, discerning God’s will is difficult, uncertain and scary. Those who think they know God’s will must be ever vigilant: (1) to insure that somewhere along the way, their idea of God’s will doesn’t become a vehicle for their own will and (2) that they do not become so locked in to their concept or idea of God’s will, that they cannot and will not consider any other possibilities.
That was the real problem with the Pharisees and Sadducees. It was not that they were bad people or didn’t love God. They did. They were the most religious and pious people of Jesus’ time.
However, they were so convinced they knew God’s will, that they refused to even consider the fact that God’s will for the salvation and saving of God’s people might be expressed in Jesus rather than in the Law of Moses.
I don’t know what God thinks or what God’s will is about the sexual controversies rocking society and many denominations today. I’m not sure what God’s will is about much of anything except our need, call and responsibility to love one another.
However, whenever I’m put in a situation of having to decide, know or talk about what God’s will is for me or others, I use a test devised by a priest and friend, Dave Stoner, former Rector of St. James in Alexander City. It reflects the collective experience of a 20-30 person men’s prayer group.
“You can be fairly sure you are doing God’s will,” he says, “if, after prayer, you make the decision and find that: the decision makes no real, logical sense in the world’s terms; but, even so, having made the decision, you find a sense of peace.”
The next time you are asked to report on God’s will, discern God’s will or approach a troubling problem, you might want to keep these criteria in mind. Even so, they aren’t guarantees of discerning God’s will, just pretty good indicators.
The Rev. Bob Henderson is rector of Trinity Episcopal Church in Wetumpka.