I wrote a blog about evolution being taught in public schools and my belief that it should either be taught differently or not taught at all. An extremely intelligent atheist named Ron responded to my blog, and we began a discussion that has accounted for most of the 60 comments on that blog.
The discussion with Ron, along with my thoughts on why God allows Christians to sin, led me to contemplate both why a loving God would allow Christians to sin and why He would allow enormous tragedies such as the Holocaust, as well as how I could declare that God is just although He allows both sin and tragedies to happen.
The short answer to the “why?” on both issues is for the glory of God. I would have given that answer before the discussion with Ron, because I have been told that all things happen for the glory of God and I believe that to be true. But I could not have begun to answer how allowing those things to happen glorifies God. I believe that I can now answer the “how?” on both of those issues in a way that is at least satisfactory for me and hopefully will benefit others.
How does allowing Christians to sin glorify God? God hates sin. God would prefer for us not to sin. God could prevent us from sinning if He wanted to. But we do sin. Why? God can do all that He pleases, therefore it must be pleasing to God for some reason and in some way to allow Christians to sin. A better way to say that, I believe, is that there must be something that is more preferable to God, for the sake of which God allows Christians to sin. There must be another variable that comes into play, and for the sake of that variable, God prefers to allow us to sin. That variable, I believe, is God’s honor, or to say it in another way, His glory and His name.
For although they knew God, they did not honor Him as God or give thanks to Him. –Romans 1:21
And because “they” did not honor God as God or give thanks to Him, God gave “them” over to all this. So when people do not honor God as God and give thanks to Him, God allows them to sin. This applies to Christians and non-Christians alike, and in all people this glorifies God. The question then is: “how does this glorify God?” This glorifies God because when we honor Him as God and give thanks to Him, He gets the glory; not us. When we do not honor Him as God or give thanks to Him, we get the glory. Therefore, it is just and good and loving of God to allow people to sin when they do not honor Him as God and give thanks to Him, because He is worthy of honor and He is the giver of all. If we were able to abstain from sin apart from God, then we would do so at the expense of God’s name and God’s glory. If we were able to overcome sin apart from God, on the basis of some quality that we possessed, then we would not need God.
If I overcome sin on my own and apart from God, then my name and my glory are inflated, and God’s name and God’s glory are insignificant and unnecessary. Therefore, for the sake of His name and His glory, God must allow us to sin when we do not honor Him as God and do not give Him thanks. Although He hates sin, allowing us to sin is preferable to the defamation of His name and His glory. And that is why each and every strategy for overcoming sin that is not centered on honoring God as God and giving Him the thanks that He so greatly deserves will fail.
So we now move on to the Holocaust.
I believe that all evil in the world that is performed by the hands of men is an example of what I have just discussed. And, I believe that the rest of Romans 1:21 and verse 22 shed more light on this subject:
For although they knew God, they did not honor Him as God or give thanks to Him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened. Claiming to be wise, they became fools
Futile thinking and foolish hearts. Does that sound like Hitler and the Nazis? Did they not claim to be wise? The blood of the victims of the Holocaust is unquestionably on the hands of Hitler and the Nazis. However, if there is a loving God, then He either refused to prevent the Holocaust from happening or He was unable to. This is the issue that Ron brings up, and it is a big one. I can very easily identify with Ron on this one. If He didn’t have the power to prevent it, then He’s not worthy. And if He had the power to prevent it but didn’t, then He’s not worthy. I believe that He is worthy, so I have some reconciling to do.
Some might try to “get God off the hook” here, so to speak, and say that God didn’t want the Holocaust to happen. That angle leads to what I just mentioned- if God didn’t want it to happen, then He was either unable or unwilling to prevent it from happening. Saying that God was unable to prevent it from happening, either based on evil in the world or the free will of man that God cannot interfere with, paints a picture of God that I really don’t like. That view of God implies that God is at the mercy of evil in the world or the free will of man, and if that is the case I might have to side with Ron and say that that God is unworthy.
However, I do not believe that to be the case. I do not believe that God was unable to prevent the Holocaust from happening. Which leads us to the question: “If God was able to prevent the Holocaust, why didn’t He?”
I believe that the answer to that question is the same as the answer to why God allows Christians to sin. Just as God allows us to sin, even though He hates sin, when we fail to honor Him as God and give Him thanks, He allowed the Holocaust, even though He hated the Holocaust, because Hitler and the Nazis failed to honor Him as God and give Him thanks. His name and His glory are so important to God, that He allows both sin and tragedy to take place when He is not given the honor and thanks that He deserves.
So, God allows us to sin when we fail to honor Him as God and give Him thanks, even when our sin will affect others who had nothing to do with the sin. And when governments and leaders fail to honor God as God and give thanks to Him, the results of their sins can affect a great number of people.
Just as Pharaoh did not honor God and let the Israelites go, until His refusal brought down plagues on His people that culminated in the death of the firstborn of every Egyptian, so Hitler and the Nazis’ failure to give honor and thanks to God resulted in the Holocaust. And just as Pharaoh and Hitler’s decisions resulted in an unfathomable amount of innocent bloodshed, so the failure of America to give honor and thanks to God has resulted in the murder of 40 million innocent babies in the name of Roe v. Wade. Pharaoh, Hitler, and any leader who believes that “the woman’s right to choose” supercedes the life of an innocent, defenseless, unborn baby may believe that they are wise, but they are fools, with futile thinking and darkened hearts.
Honor and thanks be to God, who is the Creator of all and the Giver of every good and perfect gift!
I am listening through John Piper’s sermon series on the book of Romans, which he started in 1998. Piper starts off every new year with a set of topical sermons, the last couple of which correspond with national “holidays.” I say “holidays” rather than simply holidays because the two “holidays” don’t necessarily bring the usual happiness that I associate with the word “holiday.”
Depending on whether “Racial Harmony Sunday” falls on the second or third Sunday, either the first or the first and second sermons of the new year are on prayer and/or meditation on Scripture. Then, for “Racial Harmony Sunday,” he preaches a sermon on racial issues past and present.
The Sunday after “Racial Harmony Sunday” is “Sanctity of Life Sunday,” since MLK, Jr.’s birthday and holiday are celebrated on January 15, and the Roe v. Wade decision fell like the blade of a guillotine on January 22, 1973.
And so, after 26 sermons through the first chapter and first sixteen verses of Romans, Piper paused to reflect on Meditating and Delighting in the Law of the Lord and Praying Without Ceasing, followed by Class, Culture, and Ethnic Identity in Christ for “Racial Harmony Sunday.” I include MLK, Jr’s birthday with the anniversary of Roe v. Wade in that it does not have the usual “happy holiday” connotation because I cannot fully celebrate MLK, Jr. Day. There is no racism behind my lack of unbridled celebration for that “holiday.” The reason that my celebration is tempered is twofold- first because of the sorry situation in our country that necessitated Dr. King’s actions. And second, the fact that I don’t think racism is absolutely absent in our country today. But, that will have to be another blog at another time.
The reason for this blog is Piper’s sermon Visiting Orphans in a World of AIDS and Abortion. That abortion is legal in these United States is a travesty. In Piper’s sermon, he argues- convincingly, I think- that children who are aborted are in a worse position than orphans. His logic is that orphaned children have been abandoned by their parents in some fashion, whereas a baby on its way to an abortion has parents that want to kill him or her.
“Pro-choice” people (or “pro-death” possibly, as they are the counterparts to the “pro-life” faction) generally try to argue either that life begins at birth rather than conception, or that to abort or not to abort is a decision with which government should not interfere. In one of my college Political Science classes we read an article in favor of legalized abortion, but never read anything from the alternative perspective (We were encouraged to read the pro-life article in the same book of essays, but it was neither required nor discussed in class like its pro-choice counterpart). The article was well-written and persuasive. And with my safe disance- nowhere near any abortions, pictures of abortions, details of abortions or of the effects on mothers who abort- and only a pro-choice “expert’s” article against my own personal previously anti-abortion position, I joined the pro-choice fold.
I was still opposed to abortion personally, but believed that the best position politically was to allow for those who wanted to have an abortion to be free to do so.
If you find yourself believing, as I used to, that abortion is a decision in which the government should abstain, I would strongly encourage you to google “abortion pictures” and “Post-Abortion Syndrome.” I think that, as with many things, a person should not base their beliefs on impractical things. I do not believe that a person should base their beliefs purely on emotional reactions either, but I think that it is foolish to base your beliefs on abortion without knowing about the process involved, seeing pictures, and knowing about the effects on mothers who abort.
According to this site, there are approximately 46 million abortions per year in the world, and about 1.37 million in the U.S. per year. One of the more appalling statements on the site was that, “93% of all abortions occur for social reasons (i.e. the child is unwanted or inconvenient).” So, if you hold that abortion should be legal for circumstances such as rape, incest, or when the mother’s health is in danger, then you are arguing for only about 7% of abortions. And it is certainly conceivable that abortions could be banned with an exception for circumstances such as those.
More liberal beliefs about the beginning of life place that occurrance somewhere between 15 and 22 weeks, and many believe that life begins when the baby is conceived and the pregnancy begins. You can read an argument for life beginning at conception here, or for 15 or 22 weeks here.
And you can find some graphic abortion pictures here.
I personally now totally reject the idea that abortion is a decision in which government should not be involved. I believe that abortion is murder, and that government should be involved with the murder of unborn babies the same way government is involved with all other murders. I also believe that the potential mothers who are considering abortions should know of the experiences of Post Abortion Syndrome (or Post Abortion Stress Syndrome) before they decide to abort.
This site puts the number of abortions since 1973 somewhere around 40 million, or to put that number in a bit of perspective, almost 7 times the number of Jews that were killed in the Holocaust.
- "The Dawkins Letters"
- "The God Delusion"
- 2 Samuel 20
- 2008 Presidential election
- Acts 17:24-31
- Anglican Church
- Anthony Flew
- Australian Christian music
- Ayn Rand
- Charles Darwin
- child of God
- Christ crucified
- Chuck Norris
- Church History
- David Robertson
- Desiring God
- Doers of the Word
- Dr. Jim Hamilton
- expository preaching
- Gene Robinson
- glory of God
- I Was There
- Intelligent Design
- James Hamilton
- Jesus Christ
- Joel Osteen
- John Piper
- justification by faith
- King David
- Lee Strobel
- Mark Driscoll
- Mars Hill Church
- Mike Huckabee
- Nathan Tasker
- preach the Word
- Psalm 1
- Richard Dawkins
- roe v. wade
- seminary professor
- Sermon on Mars Hill
- Sex and the Supremacy of Christ
- the apostle Paul
- the Bible
- The Case for Faith
- The Law of the Lord
- the rebellion of Sheba
- The Resurrection
- the Word of God
- William Tyndale