God as the Bystander

I found this while reading another piece on Love Joy Feminism. Now, the original piece I clicked has a lot of things that need to be unpacked. Those can wait for another day/post. But the second link that I found really got under my skin, for very obvious reasons. Buckle up, because this is gonna get bumpy.

The situation described in the following letters continues to be entirely fictitious, including persons, names, crimes, sins, relationships, circumstances and all particulars. The kind of situation that is described, however, is all too common and my hope is that biblical principles applied to this fictitious scenario may be of some help to individuals tangled up in a real one.

Well, thank goodness for that. If this had been real, I might have smacked my head against a wall.

Oh, wait. I still might. Because scenarios like this take place every. Single. Day.

We start out with an introduction of sorts; the author is apparently communicating with someone named “Gabrielle”. It seems that Gabrielle wrote the author sometime back, even if it seemed to go against her “better judgement”. Trust me, had I received this as a response, I would have written two words in reply–they rhyme with “duck shoe”–and tossed anything else I received by Douglas straight into the round file. Let’s begin:

But the first thing that I would want to address was, fortunately, the centerpiece of your letter. The theology of anything is always the foundational aspect of every subject, and this, one of most evil things that can happen, means that we have to grapple with the theology of evil, the problem of evil. In brief, how could a good God let something as bad as this happen?

Oh boy, the question of evil and why god would allow it. Like I haven’t heard the platitudes that excuse this kind of thing before. They usually involve god’s plan or free will or combinations of the two.

From your letter, I see that you want to believe, that you want to be a Christian, but that you have no answer to this taunt when the enemy throws it at you. “So, you are going to pray to Him again, are you? Let’s hope He answers more promptly than all those times late at night when you prayed that your father would never come to your bedroom again.” I would guess that something along those lines has been thrown at you more than once.

For all we know, this poor young woman thought this exact same thing. It seems that Gabrielle has been molested. Her father was a sexual abuser. So yes, she’s probably been asking herself as to why she’s giving god another chance, as god didn’t help her during her darkest hours. If anyone should have doubts, it should certainly be this poor young woman.

Call me insane, but I don’t think I’d worship someone who sat by and watched as I got molested. Not only does this entity not care, it’s more than a little sick and twisted.

If there is no God, then it is certainly true that you can then give free rein to your hurt, resentment, hatred, bitterness, and malice. Just open that valve. There is no God to tell you that there is anything wrong with any of your responses. But—and here is the catch—neither is there a God who can tell your father that there was anything wrong with his lusts.

Ah, the old “If there is no god, there is no foundation for any morals”. Here’s the thing: common sense can tell you whether or not something is wrong. Seriously. If you think, “I wouldn’t like it if someone molested me” then it’s a good indication that molesting people is wrong.

If you don’t want something done to you, don’t do it to someone else. It isn’t that hard. Morals aren’t that difficult to figure out. You don’t need a “holy book” or a guy sitting on a pile of clouds in the sky to help you out with that.

And of course, we have to tell this poor girl to bury her feelings. We can’t have an angry, bitter young woman, now can we? Because we’re supposed to always be happy, no matter what happens to us. We have to walk around with a huge, plastic smile on our faces because admitting what happened to us sucks would upset people. You know, this is only of the flesh; we’ll get our rewards later in heaven.

It irritates me to no end when the religious sling the “b” word around; nothing pisses me off quicker than to see or hear someone telling an abuse victim “not to be bitter”. Although they think that they are helping, all these people are doing is silencing the victim. I have had that word hurled at me; the time it was used was when I dared to actually speak the truth about my childhood. Just hearing that word is enough to make me cringe.

Yes, I have a massive problem with that word. I probably will for a long time.

In short, if you reject God because He didn’t intervene to stop what happened to you, then what you are actually doing is surrendering to what happened to you.

Then guess what? God is a bystander when it comes to abusive situations. Which is utterly and totally shitty.

As you can see with the definition, the bystander* is someone who witnesses abuse and does nothing to stop it. They are aware of the circumstances and won’t raise a finger to prevent it from happening. This is what god is here.

Think about it: this is an omnipotent being who can create worlds and strike the inhabitants dead if he so desires. God could very easily intervene and stop this from happening. But he doesn’t. He allows it to happen because it’s either his will or it’s in his great and grand plan.

I’m sorry, but if god’s plan involves an innocent young girl being molested by her father, then the plan is utter garbage and I want no part of it. I’ll happily burn in hell rather than be a part of that plan.

So then, in summary, we know that your father’s abuse of you was wicked and sinful, and we know this because God the Father in Heaven condemns it in His Word. We also learn from Scripture that God allows sin to exist for a time, that He does not judge it immediately, and that He has wonderful reasons for delaying that judgment.

Tell me why he should delay judgement. God isn’t bound by earthly laws. He can bring down judgement whenever he sees fit. But he hasn’t. Again, he’s acting as a bystander, letting the broken, less than perfect human justice system clean up this mess.

But then again, if god had stepped in and prevented the whole thing from happening, we wouldn’t have to let the imperfect justice system deal with the fallout.

I still want to know what the hell his “wonderful” reasons are for not being proactive and stopping a child from being molested or not passing judgement on the abuser. Because that makes no damn sense to me.

In the meantime, while we wait for Him to put everything to rights, we place all our questions on the altar of what we know (that God is infinitely good and that such behavior is therefore evil) instead of going the other way around. We refuse to place this one certainty (that this behavior is evil) on the altar of our questions. For once we have done that, there is no stopping the spiral down into madness.

No, god isn’t infinitely good. As I’ve stated previously, he is a bystander at best and a total monster at worst: this is the same guy who drowned the entire world, babies and all, because he was sick of all the evil that was in it. He could do something about it if he wanted. But now he shrugs and mumbles something about free will as he rolls over while hitting the snooze button for the four thousandth time. He’s omnipotent and all powerful and could do something about this but he chooses not to, which I find absolutely disgusting.

Or in my case, he isn’t there because he doesn’t exist. That makes far more sense than what Doug is trying to peddle.

Thank you for responding. I hope that in your next letter you might expand your question about the meaning of forgiveness. This is important because a lot of Christians misunderstand what is actually involved in biblical forgiveness. And for you in your situation, I understand, it is no trivial point.

No. Just. NO. We are not going there, as the whole “forgiveness” thing is also used to silence victims; more often than not, we hear the usual “Let it go and forgive” when we dare talk about our pain.

I get it. I really do. Talking about the fact that people treat other people like garbage isn’t pleasant. It’s not fun. But holding it in is far worse. In order to heal, we need to tell our stories, speak out on what happened to us. Silencing us does nothing but keep the abuse hidden and the abusers safe, free to continue the abuse. Forgiveness, if the victim chooses it, can come later.

Douglas would rather we didn’t throw away what we already have. There’s a problem with that logic; if what we have is broken, then we need to get rid of it. It isn’t bringing us joy, it serves no purpose in our lives, it has to go. In this case, it would be best to toss these ideas out onto the woodpile and let them rot. They won’t be helpful at all to the fictitious Gabrielle, let alone to the actual living people who are reading Doug’s blog. It’s best to leave this by the wayside, along with all the other bad ideas.


*In my case, the bystander in my home was my father. He knew–and saw–what my mother was doing but he rarely intervened on my behalf. Ten to one it was because he probably thought it wan’t his place to do so; my mother was the disciplinarian during my youth. Although I love him, I know my dad was not without his flaws. This was one of them.

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About Silverwynde

I'm a Transformers fan, Pokémon player, Brewers fan and all-out general nerd. I rescue abandoned Golett, collect as many Bumblebee decoys and figures as I can find and I've attended every BotCon since 1999. I'm also happily married to a fellow Transfan named Prime and we are both owned by a very intelligent half-Siamese cat. Life is pretty darned awesome.
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