Today I read that Franklin Graham, son of renowned evangelist Billy Graham, made the following statement after the mass murders at Sandy Hook Elementary School: “This is what happens when a society turns its back on God.”
First of all, it was a young man with serious mental issues who killed those children. Not God. What kind of God would slaughter little kids just because he felt slighted and ignored? Certainly no God I would want to worship. Who in their right mind would not only believe in, but love, such an abusive and hateful God?
Here is the thing, the only people who paint God as vengeful and willing to destroy, are people who want to control you through fear. If you fear, then you don’t question, and if you don’t question, then you accept things blindly. Blind faith is simple ignorance – nothing more. And charlatans like Franklin Graham rely on ignorance for their power.
Faith needs to be informed to be valuable. Faith needs to be a living, breathing, and (here’s the kicker) changing thing. Even Paul (someone with whom I constantly struggle) knew this when he wrote, “When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put aside childish things.” The faith we had as children, predicated on simple stories and black and white solutions, changes as we question, doubt, struggle and use our minds. My faith is not something simplistic, or blind, or unwilling to change. It shifts perspective and ebbs and flows. It does that because I am no simpleton who believes everything set before him. When I was a kid, I believed it because…. I was supposed to. Now I believe it because… I want to. Because through all the doubts and questions and struggles, I still see the goodness of God in the laughter of children, the beauty of science and nature, the hand that reaches out to help. That is the God that I love, the one who walks with me, not the one who is hell bent on vengeance.
So, for Franklin Graham and his misguided ilk, who seem to live for those times when God chastens those who have turned away (definition: people who don’t believe their way), I say keep your God. He does not exist for me, and should never exist for anyone.