Tuesday, May 5, 2009

God did not Give Man Aids-A post from a reader

I received this email from a reader and thought I would post it since I feel it makes some good points.

I was walking to lunch today and I overheard a girl talking to a guy in a black suit with a white collar.

She said "If I loved this world filled with people, I would not have created AIDS, I would not have created the black plague..."

This is something that I often found myself grappling with. If God truly loves us, then why did he create all of the horrible things? Why was there AIDS and the black plague. Then I realized that God wouldn't create those things because God did not create those things. Man created them and perpetuated them.

God did not randomly give 10,000 people AIDS. AIDS spreads because of the choices that people make. If you go back to the conversation that started this thought journey, the girl said that God gave us the black plague. However, if you think about it, many fewer Jewish people died from the plague because of their kosher laws. By following God's commandments, they were able to save themselves from the disease. Similarly, if people followed God's commandments about abstinent, and keeping your body pure, then many fewer people would die from AIDS. If EVERYONE, not just women, had only one sexual partner, and if people did not use IV drugs, then it would stop much of the spread of AIDS. If wealthy countries tried to help countries with fewer resources, instead of holding fast to medical patents, then this would also help stem the tide of the AIDS epidemic.

I do not believe that God gave people AIDS as a punishment. I believe that this is a cruel belief which fundamentally misrepresents God*(see note). Instead, I believe that God gave us commandments so that we would be protected from the natural order of things. I have heard, but have not confirmed that AIDS actually has existed for a while, but has been relatively benign until recently. Its transformation to a super virus probably had no malevolent or judgmental purpose. It was probably just the virus transforming, evolving as all things do. God gave us commandments, not because he enjoys spoiling our fun, but because he loves us and wants to protect us from making bad decisions since, in spite of all of our science and knowledge, we do not know that much about how the world works.

It reminds me of my childhood. My father had a really cool pair of nun chucks that he would swing around. I thought that they we so cool. When I was two, I asked it I could try. My dad wasn't so sure, but I begged and begged. So he gave them to me. I swung them around and hit myself on the head. I did not hurt myself because I did not have the strength to swing them with enough force, but I started to cry and ran out of the room sobbing, "Daddy hit me with the nun chucks."

As a society, we are not much different than two year old me. We build our towns by oceans and gulfs, we cut corners and don't protect the poor, we don't enforce the levies, when the levies break we say that it is God punishing the homosexuals. God is not punishing anyone because God played no part in any of the decisions. The bible never said that it was okay to leave people in a town without water or electricity. God did not command that you should keep refugees in a broken city so that they will not overwhelm yours. People made those decisions.

As a society, we make decisions, but do not want to live with them. We want God to create a rule free world with sawed off edges so that we can run around with scissors, but are not hurt when we fall. We want to pollute as much as we want, but have God somehow bend his own rules so that we do not have to deal with asthma, or global warming created by the pollution. However, every parent knows that you cannot protect your child from his mistakes forever. If you do, the child will never grow.

As children of God, we have to listen. I am not advocating blind following, because I believe that many times that also misses the point. Just like it is a bad idea to not introduce yourself to your new teacher and classmates on the first day of school, because your mommy told you to never talk to strangers, it is bad to strictly enforce some of God's commandments over others because it is expedient, especially when we ignore the context in which those commandment were given. (Gay marriage comes to mind. And don't get me started on how "servants obey your masters" is perverted.)Instead we have to use the knowledge that we so badly wanted in the garden to follow God wisely, remembering the letter, but more importantly, the spirit of his commandments. If we remember that the commandments were not given from some arbitrary dictator, but from a parent who loves us and knows MORE than we do, we might jus avoid putting our hand on the stove.

{* I know that if people showed more concern for others. If religious and political officials concerned themselves more with saving lives than perpetuating their own views, then we might have more effective AIDS responses which did not focus on abstinence alone, or prevented people from getting condoms because someone feels that condoms are wrong.}

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