Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Here We Go Again: Separation of Church & State, Part 3

Ok, maybe this isn't entirely about the separation of church and state.  But it sort of is.  This morning's newspaper featured a letter to the editor opining that, "God will not bless any place where sin exists, and _____ is a sin."  In a previous sentence the writer made it clear that by "any place," he meant the entire country, the United States of America.  I leave it to your imagination to fill in the blank (he didn't).  Suffice to say, it was a sin the writer was pretty sure he'd never commit.  It wasn't HIM that was the problem--it was all the sinners that surrounded him.  All the people who didn't agree with his particular interpretation of the Bible. 

If God in fact will not bless any place where sin exists, we're screwed.  All of us.  We will never be blessed, not one blessed second.  We were born into sin, redeemed, forgiven, and yet, perpetually, we stumble and fail.  There is still injustice in this world.  There is still hatred.  Children still die, of hunger, of abuse, of diseases we could have fixed with 25 cents worth of vaccine.  Christ gave us only two commandments--love God and love each other--and yet we fail.

I looked up "God blessing Nations" in the Bible (this is easy to do online), and the only verse that stood out was Psalm 33:12.   When I went to read that, I found it was the last line of a stanza.  Here's the whole stanza:

Let all the earth fear the LORD;
let all who dwell in the world show him reverence.
For he spoke, and it came to be,
commanded, and it stood in place.
The LORD foils the plan of nations,
frustrates the designs of peoples.
But the plan of the LORD stands forever,
the designs of his heart through all generations.
Blessed is the nation whose God is the LORD,
the people chosen as his inheritance.

None of this suggests that we are in charge.  None of this suggests that we humans, by our actions or inactions, can call down a blessing from God.  Can earn one.  God spoke, and it came to be:  we are chosen, not choosing.  By our election, by our redemption, we are called to a closer relationship with God, but we are never the ones in charge.

Jesus never said, "Love the sin and hate the sinner."  St. Augustine said something similar to it, and Gandhi said it, but Jesus didn't.  Jesus said, (Matthew 7:1) "Stop judging that you may also not be judged. For as you judge, so will you be judged, and the measure with which you measure will be measured out to you."