The idea that bad stuff happens because God is punishing us for our sin isn’t new; people have saying this kind of thing about as long as they’ve been able to form conscious thought. A quick read shows the Old Testament is filled with verses proclaiming tragedies to be God’s judgment on humankind.
I can understand the people of the Old Testament thinking that God caused bad stuff, that was the only frame of reference they had. In their experience, gods were capricious assholes. Nor did they have the same knowledge we do today. So, when something as enormous as a tornado occurred, for them, the logical response was “God did it”, followed quickly by “We must have screwed up somehow”. Today, we understand the science behind natural disasters. In other words, these things aren’t God’s judgment.
Well, we should understand this, but in just the last month, Tea Party darling Michelle Bachman said in a speech at a prayer event that the Benghazi attack and 9-11 were God’s judgment for the sins of the U. S.; everyone’s favorite Calvinist, John Piper, compared the tornado in Moore OK to events in the Book of Job and a certain bunch of religious crazies (who shall remain nameless) told us God sent that tornado because Kevin Durant of the Oklahoma City Thunder supported Jason Collins’ decision to come out in April. I gotta say, that’s some mighty fine crazy, right there.
Blaming God for bad stuff isn’t just the province of public figures, I’ve heard plenty of everyday folks do the same and I’ll bet you have too. Oh, they don’t think they blame God, but their words tell a different story. Almost every time something bad happens, some well-meaning soul will say “Well, it’s all part of God’s plan” or “It was God’s will” in an attempt to make sense of the tragedy. I doubt they’ve ever thought about what they’re saying though, because they’re telling the poor, grieving souls involved that the one being they thought they could turn to for help (God) is the one responsible for their plight in first place. That doesn’t do anyone any good.
In his book, “Why? Making Sense of God’s Will“, Adam Hamilton says that natural disasters happen when humans get caught in the processes of the world. Unfortunately, people have to live somewhere and sometimes that somewhere lies in the path of these processes. In other words, when you live in place called Tornado Alley, divine intervention isn’t required for a twister to come through your living room; that just comes with the territory. Blaming it on God is kind of like blaming a hammer for hitting your thumb.
What I’m trying to say is that bad stuff happens every day and it’s not God’s fault. God doesn’t punish whole populations for something one person might have done. A God that operates like that isn’t a God I’m interested in worshipping. Could someone tell me why anyone would be?