Don’t blame God for the floods

Church news
Church news

As I think I said a week or maybe two ago, I’m not sure about this growing verbal traffic, filling the airwaves with allegations that God has sent the storms and floods and tidal surges as a punishment on Britain for secular ways.

I just don’t see God like that. The human misery that has been inflicted since before Christmas is almost apocalyptic in scale and nature, and yes, there is a great wickedness in the land, an unprecedented degree of godlessness, but if God happened to be of a mind to shock the British people into some sort of reality check, why choose Somerset?

If those who stalk the corridors of power have offended him by recent legislation, such as the relaxation of abortion laws, the redefinition of marriage, placing homosexual relationships on a par with those of the heterosexual world, surely it would be unfair to target hardworking farmers?

My wife bought herself a new car a couple of weeks ago, and don’t misunderstand me, in our home we do not have ‘blue jobs’ and ‘pink jobs’. She is quite happy to paint and decorate, do the gardening, shovel coal, and I do my share of cooking, dish washing and ironing. But she will not wash the car, dip the engine for oil or check the tyre pressures.

The owners’ handbook says what must be done, or else. Now that might sound like a threat, but it is not, it is simply a statement of the obvious: allow the car to drive at speed with neither oil in the engine nor coolant in the radiator and the results will be catastrophic, so to avoid that outcome, I assume responsibility for those functions.

This struck me the other day as I walked through Belfast, hundreds and hundreds of vehicles, all emitting their noxious fumes into the atmosphere, and that’s only Belfast. Add in Los Angeles, Delhi, Beijing, where pedestrians must wear surgical masks to protect their lungs from the pollution, and you face the obvious question: can the planet survive unimpaired if we continue to pump billions of tons of so-called greenhouse gasses into the atmosphere?

So, what I’m suggesting is that there’s a difference between offence and punishment on the one hand, and cause and effect on the other. If I fail to ensure that there is sufficient lubricant in the car’s engine, yes it will seize, but is the manufacturer punishing me for not looking after the piece of machinery they created? No, and yet in a way I am being punished, but it’s cause and effect.

If you read carefully through the first chapter of Genesis you can detect in some of the versions of the Bible that God commissioned Adam and Eve to be ‘responsible’ for his pristine new creation, and that is where things have gone wrong.

We have been, and continue to be, irresponsible; we have wantonly wasted, destroyed and abused the beautiful world that was made for our enjoyment; and now perhaps it has jumped up and bitten us on the backside.

But do we have no right to complain? I don’t think so, and neither do we have the right to blame God for inflicting destruction on the Somerset Levels out of a sense of anger and retribution. He doesn’t do that!