Our God’s nature

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PG columnist Tony Norman has cogently summed up the issues involved in the most recent attempt to control human behavior in the proposed anti-gay legislation in Arizona (“Some Prefer Civic Wrongs to Civil Rights,” Feb. 28). But what is missing from the rhetoric of hate is a cogent reason for their fear and desperation.

Just exactly how does another person’s sexual preference specifically threaten your everyday life?”

I must assume that people continue an attempt to reconcile a “good” God with the existence of evil. In the Western tradition, based upon biblical texts, “evil” was always explained as collective punishment for human sins.

This was the rationale applied by the Rev. Jerry Falwell Jr. when he claimed that the tragedy of 9/​11 resulted because our nation permitted homosexuality. Such “evidence” can be found throughout the books of the Prophets, who castigated Israel for their “sin of idolatry.”

Explanation, however, is a rationale, not “proof” that human sin brings on collective disaster. (Individual sin, of course, may or may not result in individual punishment, but that is another topic.)

Collective punishment has always troubled me — I find a “God of wrath” to be reactionary, bad-tempered and lacking in discretion for the innocent who are collectively harmed. (Was everyone who died in the flood a “sinner,” including the children?)

Until someone returns from heaven with their iPhone to confirm our beliefs, humans will continue to describe the nature of our God according to our needs.

But perhaps we need to drop this ancient paradigm just in case God judges us on our acceptance of our fellow humans in all their variety.

South Side

The writer is a lecturer in the history of early Christianity, Department of Religious Studies, University of Pittsburgh.

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