God Is Where He’s Always Been: Acting in Love to Overcome Man’s Evil
People who mindlessly ask: “Where is God when tragedies like that of Newtown, Connecticut happen?” need to re-examine the premises of their question.
First of all, they are assuming that God must not have been there (on the scene), or else He could have prevented its happening.
But of course He was there—He is omnipresent God, and not the slightest blade of grass, or hair on your head, escapes His glance.
“But if God is omnipresent,” you respond, “why does He allow such awful things to happen?”
Again, the question assumes, as we lawyers are accustomed to say, “facts not in evidence.”
God is certainly omnipresent, so God was certainly at the scene of the Newtown shootings. And God is also certainly omnipotent, so that He could have intervened to strike the shooter dead, or to deflect the shots, before any bullets from the shooter’s guns took innocent lives. That much, at least, is not open to question.
But when the question is asked: “Why did God allow this tragedy to happen?”—well, then, we are on different ground. For God allows everything to happen, just as it has been “preordained” to happen. For it is a truism to observe that if God “allows” something to happen, then that something was “preordained” from God’s omnipresent point of view.
“Allowing” something to happen implies that “not allowing” it was also an option. But that observation tells us nothing about the choices which God had. Perhaps “allowing” this tragedy to happen meant avoiding a still worse tragedy elsewhere, and at some other time—and only God knows (and could know) that.
(Note: I use the scare quotes to emphasize God’s gift to us of free will, to make what indeed are our own choices. That God “allows” us those choices does not mean He does not know what choices we will make, or that He has to wait for us to make them before He can deal with their consequences.)
We mere (and fallen) mortals, limited in both the time and the space that we occupy with our presence, are in no position to make celestial judgments from an omnipresent, omnipotent perspective. Everything we do is centered around the “we / us” by which we define ourselves. And unlike God, we cannot on most occasions see clearly the future consequences of our present choices.
God, on the other hand, makes billions and trillions of “choices” every day—among them being who shall die on any given day. Newtown is a human tragedy because so many of those who had to die had barely begun to live. But many more children of their same age also died on that day, as well—their deaths just did not make the news. Yet (unlike us, again) God knew about each and every one of them.
Therefore, do not seek to question where “God was” in Newtown. The question is impertinent and tries to put man on the same level as God. God indeed was there (and everywhere), and was mediating the lives of the innocent and the guilty through His only Son, Jesus Christ.
Those who would use this tragedy to urge the passing of more gun laws are committing a similar sin of human pride: they conceive that more human control of the means of force will result in less deaths. Humans, as already noted, are fallen—and that means any attempt by fallen humans to control their peers is a recipe for failure.
Here is a powerful argument, stated more than five years ago, which expresses this point better than any I have currently read (H/T: Ace of Spades):
Human beings only have two ways to deal with one another: reason and force. If you want me to do something for you, you have a choice of either convincing me via argument, or force me to do your bidding under threat of force. Every human interaction falls into one of those two categories, without exception. Reason or force, that’s it.
In a truly moral and civilized society, people exclusively interact through persuasion. Force has no place as a valid method of social interaction, and the only thing that removes force from the menu is the personal firearm, as paradoxical as it may sound to some.
When I carry a gun, you cannot deal with me by force. You have to use reason and try to persuade me, because I have a way to negate your threat or employment of force. The gun is the only personal weapon that puts a 100-pound woman on equal footing with a 220-pound mugger, a 75-year old retiree on equal footing with a 19-year old gangbanger, and a single gay guy on equal footing with a carload of drunk guys with baseball bats. The gun removes the disparity in physical strength, size, or numbers between a potential attacker and a defender.
There are plenty of people who consider the gun as the source of bad force equations. These are the people who think that we’d be more civilized if all guns were removed from society, because a firearm makes it easier for a mugger to do his job. That, of course, is only true if the mugger’s potential victims are mostly disarmed either by choice or by legislative fiat–it has no validity when most of a mugger’s potential marks are armed. People who argue for the banning of arms ask for automatic rule by the young, the strong, and the many, and that’s the exact opposite of a civilized society. A mugger, even an armed one, can only make a successful living in a society where the state has granted him a force monopoly.
When I carry a gun, I don’t do so because I am looking for a fight, but because I’m looking to be left alone. The gun at my side means that I cannot be forced, only persuaded. I don’t carry it because I’m afraid, but because it enables me to be unafraid. It doesn’t limit the actions of those who would interact with me through reason, only the actions of those who would do so by force. It removes force from the equation…and that’s why carrying a gun is a civilized act.
The author speaks common sense. Civilization is based on reason, and on the controlled use of force as guided by reason. Civilization based solely on force is “might makes right.” More gun laws will simply bring back the dark ages, when that was the rule.
God gave man his reason, but man abuses it badly. On the one side, he thinks he can use it to protect the weak, while in reality he only makes the criminals (the ones who do not use their God-given reason properly) stronger. And on the other side, man thinks his reason can compete with God on His own level.
With the psalmist, I ask: “What is man, that thou art mindful of him?”
Right now, after the tragedy of Newtown, quite a few of God’s creatures are making fools of themselves.
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