For 40 minutes, at the gym this morning, I jogged on the treadmill and watched the only thing on the TV hanging before me: a televangelist. I couldn’t tell too much about him because the show appeared to be an infomercial (read: No Commercial Breaks or Station Identification) and, for 40 minutes, he kept talking and talking, a phone number appearing at regular intervals I was implored to call.
His message wasn’t too hard to get, as it was repeated… repeatedly as I watched. It was abhorrent enough to make me remember and to make me write.
The crux of it was to explain why God allows suffering, which you’d think would be a noble enough thing to talk about.
According to this preacher – a Baptist preacher if you believe the captions – “God allows suffering to increase righteousness.” God allows suffering to increase righteousness.
Not a bad thought. Suffering increases righteousness. Kind of a Lord of the Rings kind of worldview, right?
But then, you throw the word “allow” in the mix. God allows suffering to increase righteousness. So, then, children starving and dying in the Sudan are very righteous! Children in Iraq are righteous! A kid raped and tortured by his parent is righteous!
But why couldn’t we just skip the suffering and have God increase righteousness??
And that’s not the worst part. The worst part is that if suffering increases righteousness, more suffering bring more righteousness. So, we should kill more children in Iraq. More kids should be raped and tortured! (And the best part is that the Bible doesn’t have a problem with either.)
And finally, this means that suffering is a good thing that should be promoted, cultivated, and allowed to thrive.
Then, this idiot went on. His next message was “God allows suffering to increase obedience”. Both of these messages were so important, they were captioned on the screen! “God allows suffering to increase obedience.”
Now, not only is this saying that God wants you to obey and that he’ll punish you if you don’t but, if suffering brings righteousness and obedience, then if you are one you are also the other. So, an obedient person is a righteous person! Righteous people don’t think for themselves. They follow blindly. They do as they are told. And God wants you to be this way – if you’re not, you’ll get it!
… sounds a bit wrong to me.
Oh, and if that wasn’t the final insult, each time this message was repeated, the preacher started in about tithing. If you want to be righteous, he seemed to say, you’ll be obedient and give us your money!!!
And he was doing God’s work – spreading the good word… and making a few bucks while he was at it.
Now, I know I’ve been going on for a bit but I want to test this theory for a second. If suffering brings righteousness and obedience, you would think it should apply to me. I mean, I can’t seem to get a job – I’ve become the least likely person to get hired. I get turned down almost daily with no encouragement. My friends are bailing on me about as badly as during my divorce. Things are looking pretty bad for me and my family.
That should make me pretty righteous and obedient… right? Well, probably not. I mean, would you call me righteous? I’m a friggin’ atheist. And as for obedience, well, let’s just say, “Good fucking luck.”
Let’s face it, this jackass preacher didn’t know what the hell he was talking about. He was just using God to make a buck, which is neither righteous nor obedient… but then, I don’t see him suffering.