…so claims, not only the Westboro Baptist Church member picketing a funeral (may he be sat on by a 300-pound Marine), but also the New Atheist, as an argument that Christianity is a terrible blight on the face of earth.
Though I wish it were otherwise, this seems to be the height of atheistic argument these days. The Christian today is rarely faced with any remonstration over his moral code, or an even halfway-decent explanation of the existence of the universe. Rather, conversations with these Deep, Deep Philosophers tend to revolve around extensive lists of how many people God has killed, how many wars have been started over God and, to stay with the subject, how God hates gay people.
The first problem with this display of intellectual genius is unintended by our Godless Friends, but is still worth briefly pointing out:
Atheist: There is no God.
Theist: Actually, I think-
Atheist: He hates gay people!
Theist: Wait, what?
|The New Atheist|
The second problem with this method of argument – or of emoting – is that the Atheist – in all his brilliance, scientific knowledge, reason and logic – devolves suddenly to the intellect of a Creationist. This wouldn’t be so bad, if he wasn’t so very devoted to making fun of Creationists. As it stands, he is, and so we are in the hilarious situation of viewing, on the one hand, a decrial of “those idiots who interpret the Bible literally and apply it directly to the modern day” and on the other hand the attack that, “Look there it is. Right there in the Bible. God wants you to kill gay people.” The atheist makes the exact argument that the WBC member might make, only while the latter says it with a smile, the atheist says it with a frown. It never seemed to me sportsmanlike, to be able to mock narrow interpretations of the Bible while narrowly interpreting the Bible.
Now, contrary to popular belief, Catholics don’t just mutter aimlessly when confronted with the Old Testament. The Old Law is not some awkward contradiction that we’ve studiously ignored for – oh, I dunno – 2000 years. There is an explanation for the seemingly harsh laws of Leviticus and Deuteronomy, and though it’s not the point of this post, I’ll give it a rundown for clarity’s sake.
The Old Law was not complete. It was a punishment; a necessity. It was given to the Jews after they returned to idolatry of the Golden Calf. It was a way to bring order, survival and rudimentary justice to a tiny nation of idolatrous, unorganized, unjust, petty, weak and evil men. The old commandment, “An eye for an eye” was not nice, but it can hardly be argued that it wasn’t fair. It was rudimentary justice. It could be equally rephrased as, “Just an eye for an eye; don’t kill the guy.”
To put it simply, the ancient world understood capital punishment as an answer to sin – sin such as homosexuality, theft and murder. This becomes clearer when you realize that much of the Law was orientated towards the Jewish people simply surviving – they could not afford to regard sex as mere pleasure or recreation, less they cease to reproduce and die out. Homosexuality leads to the death of the nation; it is thereby punishable by death. This, while rightfully outrageous in our post-Christ ears, made sense to an immoral nation fighting for survival.
These same fallen idolaters would not have understood, nor followed, the command to love sinner, hate the sin. This would take some time. And – oh, happiness! – the Old Law was fulfilled, growing to perfection until Christ said, “Alright, the world is ready. The punishment is over. The law and the commandments prepared you for this new commandment: Love.” And the world has – to a large extent – agreed to it. We could not have the mercy, forgiveness, and tolerance of the modern world without the strictness of the ancient world.
But this isn’t an unfathomable idea. Young children are likewise given harsh laws and few reasons. “If you steal, you’ll get spanked.” “If you curse, I’ll wash your mouth out with soap.” Why? Because it meets children at their level. They understand cause-and-effect, not the words, “Don’t curse or you’ll hurt your friend’s feelings.” That comes later. Apply that to the scale of humanity and you get an imperfect analogy to the work of God.
There is so much more to say, but it would require a few books. I’ll see if I can write a fuller post on the topic. The interesting thing is that I make the exact same argument with both Creationists and Atheists: it angers them both.
But this is all besides the point. The point is that the atheist argument does not even deserve this answer, because it is essentially saying that “The Author of Morality doesn’t agree with my morality.” It’s inherently contradictory. Think about it. To say that God is evil is to judge Him by a standard of morality. Where does this standard of morality come from? If our morality is simply a naturally selected, evolutionary by-product – as your average atheist will claim – then it makes no more sense to judge a supernatural being with that morality then it would be to condemn Praying Mantes for eating their mates, or a monkey for rape. If morality comes from society, then you cannot condemn some one outside of that society for immorality. If, however, morality comes from outside of us, from God, then charging him with immorality admits his existence, which admits his supremacy, which makes judging him completely ridiculous, and requires the atheist to admit the truth of theism to even cry out the contradiction that, “The giver of morality is immoral!” This argument – while wonderfully emotionally charged – is irrational, and can be ignored as such.
But we don’t ignore it. Even as the irrational judgments of the Judge fly, we never say, “He arbitrarily changed the moral code”. No, he fathered the world to the place it is now. Arguing that the Old Law should be put into place now is like washing out an adult’s mouth with soap. Arguing that because the Law strikes us as unnecessarily harsh now it was never necessarily harsh is like arresting parents for ever washing out their children’s mouths at all.
God loves our gay brothers and sisters. He dies for them. He weeps over their sins as well as my own. I thank Him for, beginning from the foundation of the Law to it’s fulfillment in Christ, calling us to that same love. I thank Christianity for transforming the culture of the world to the point where it is now acceptable to love the sinner and hate the sin. I am glad we can look back on the Old Testament and be shocked. I am glad that we can scarcely understand the ways of our ancestors, so changed are we by the law of Christ; by the law of Love.
So my atheist friends, please, for your own sake – as well as for the general level of decency and tact within the Great God Debate – stop with the battle cry, “God hates gays.”