Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Quake in Haiti an Act of Godly Love?

As the Haitians struggle through the ruins of cities after a tragic natural disaster, the famed American televangelist, Pat Robertson, makes the claim that perhaps this tragic earthquake is a "blessing in disguise." He blames the quake on the Haitians' "pact with the devil" two centuries ago while seeking liberation from the French.

It is almost astonishing that anyone would believe that an instant event that leads destruction of communities and the loss of lives would be an act of God. Furthermore, it raises the question: why are the victims the one to be blamed?

I want to be upset with Robertson, but I have to ask myself first, what is it that leads to his conviction that a violent and tragic event (albeit, yes, caused by nature) is an act of God's love? The real question here is about violence and love.

Can the two be used in the same sentence? If God is love, then perhaps we need to look at what love is to understand the nature of God.

To borrow from the Christian text of 1 Corinthians 13, "Love is patient; love is kind; love is not envious or boastful or arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice in wrongdoing, but rejoices in the truth. It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things" (NRSV). Furthermore, we learn from Romans 13:10, that love does no harm.

It is difficult to imagine then that God would wipe out people on the basis of love, when it contradicts the very idea that love is about kindness and doesn't do harm to ones neighbor. Perhaps Pat Robertson needs to check his convictions regarding love.

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