Tuesday, 1 May 2012

Science, Suffering and Sex

Recently I was asked to do a number of talks about common issues people have with Christianity. Again it seems like people see these three issues as huge stumbling blocks to Christianity. I want to suggest that these three issues are more often than not mere smoke and mirrors or red herrings. It never ceases to amaze me how often these three come up in conversations about Christianity so here I am going to spend a few lines just seeking to explain why I see these as fundamentally non-issues.

Science - OK so here's my issue with science - the Bible rarely if ever deals with science. Genesis 1 and 2 look nothing like the Origin of the Species. In fact the Bible encourages people to explore the world, to seek to understand it and through that to understand something more of the God who created the laws and environments which make that possible. I'm not here arguing that science will drive you to God but rather that science is not ultimately the reason you're not a Christian.

Suffering - So we move onto suffering. I have spoken to a number of people recently who have said 'I would believe all this Christian stuff except that if there was a God like this there would not be all this suffering in the world.'. Yet again it seems to me impossible that this could be the demonstration of Christianity's impossibility. You see for a start suffering has been around for a while. It's not like in the 21st century people suddenly started suffering and as a result of this suffering concluded that Christianity could not be true. People have always suffered. People in the Bible suffered and yet Christianity has never previously found this to be an insurmountable problem. Suffering may be difficult but that'd because it's suffering. The Bible talks about suffering a lot. The Bible is willing to face up to suffering and give some explanations for it. If suffering creates a problem with Christianity for you it's not because it's the question the Bible can't answer but it's because you don't like the answers it gives. If suffering was such a powerful barrier to believing in Christianity then the Bible would have to look very different, Christianity would not have survived millennia of suffering and the Christian life would not be one so often linked to great suffering.

Sex - And finally we move onto sex. How can you believe something which has such outdated views about sex. 2 consenting adults - why on earth would God care about that? So people go on and so many people are unwilling to even consider Christianity because they feel it would impact on their sexual experiences/expression. Yet again this cannot be your problem with Christianity. Just think for a minute about the calls Jesus makes on your life?
He calls on you to stop ruling your own life and let him do it.
He calls on you to love God with everything in you
He calls on you to love other people like you love yourself
He calls on you to not cling onto your money but see it all as a gift from him and as such rightfully his
He calls on you to love people who hate you
He calls on you to sacrifice your money, your comfort, your popularity, your time and all sorts in loving and joyful worship of God and service of others
He calls on you ultimately to take up your cross (be willing to die) and follow him.

Jesus calls on you to completely hand your life over to him and you think his big demand is about your sexual expression. People get hung up about Jesus' demands over their sex life as if this is a huge problem for Christianity when this is peanuts compared to the demands he makes over what remains (however promiscuous you are) the vast majority of your life. By all means get hung up over Jesus' demands. They are huge but to get hung up on sex is to get hung up on a detail and miss the truly radical stuff.

So science, suffering and sex - they are not your problem with Christianity. They often seem to be but in my mind it seems unlikely that they actually can be. However, all of Christianity's claims and calls only make sense when you get to see a God who became a man, who loved you enough to die for you and who then wins your heart. It's only then that you understand the sheer wonder of Genesis 1 and 2, of what the Bible says about suffering and of the radically demanding, but ultimately freeing, calls of Jesus.

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