Why do you still believe in God?

This question was asked of me recently by a friend and former coworker. It was asked after reading one of my recent posts.
The question at first stunned me. Wow! I said in my reply. Why do you ask? The response was curious. “I am struggling with the concept of God/god; so much hate and cruelty in our world. How do I reconcile with any god where there is so much human horror?” Questioning that belief system is timely.
It is timely because over these last few years my own quest for my love for God and Christ has waned. The Facebook website opened my eyes to the breadth and depth of human cruelty toward one another; and, worse, toward the animal kingdom.
A passage in The Gospel of Matthew remarks how “evil lives in the hearts of men”. I might add “women” to that in today’s context. In a recent Memorial Day movie made for TV by the same title, one of the lead characters, “Opa” the grandfather speaks to the one remarkable difference between humans and the animals: “We humans can kill at a distance,” he muses.
Take that comment one step further: Humans kill for pleasure, recklessly taking the life of any creature we believe it our right to take. Animals on the other hand kill for defense, protection of their young, for food and often in the mating battles between males. Except for the domestic household cat, I know of no other species that kills for the sheer pleasure of it.
Trophy hunters kill for ivory from elephants and rhinos. China supports this massive destruction of both populations. Thousands upon thousands of elephants have been killed just in recent years. The photos of these travesties make one want to vomit.
Then there are the big cat kills, heads for trophy walls; coats for new apparel or for rugs. There is an ongoing massive slaughter of gray wolves in the United States, cattlemen insisting that is the only way to protect their livestock. Not true! Cattlemen simply do not want to spend the money and effort for better ways to protect their livestock; better ways that in fact exist.
In Asia, dogs are killed for food or simple pleasure. Try explaining that one to canine loving Western culture. In the United States dog fighting continues as an underground epic crime against the canines most claim to love so much.
There is absolutely no existential reason to kill for pleasure or sport. Yet, we do it with reckless abandon. I belong to a number of wildlife and wilderness groups. Sadly, while their missions are beyond laudable their successes are not as great and wide as they could be or should be. The thrill of the kill embedded so deeply in the evil hearts of men and women trumps the efforts of environmental protectionists. Even organizations such as the United Nations cannot rein in these earthbound barbarians.
The Jewish Talmud speaks to the proper care of animals, going so far as to insist the animals be fed before their owners feed themselves. Such instruction can be found nowhere in Christian culture. “Christians” have an altogether nefarious and perverted sense of what it means to care for the Creatures of God. God’s “other” creatures are owed and deserving of as much “Grace” as we believe due each human. Simply take a moment to look at our slaughterhouses, havens of the most heinous and despicable “crimes against nature” anyone could dare to imagine.
Yet, humans also are candidates for “free range killing”. The injustices of murder, human against human across this land underscores how we as a people have lost all sense of the Holy Spirit. I don’t like “your ugly ass?” Well, then, I’ll shoot ya. By whose authority? Surely, not God’s!
As a nation Americans worship guns more than God. Guns and greed have become the gods of America. The Commandment “not to murder” rings hollow in the ears of far too many.
But then, we must travel to the outer reaches of our universe to places such as Somalia and Rwanda; the Ukraine; lands of current day barbaric murderers. Genocide is widespread. The media rages onward and outward about this despicable carnage. It rages on, unabated. We wring our hands, shake our heads and then we simply move on. We do nothing. But, we, too, kill by remote control. Gotta love those drones!
For most of my life I have held Native America in the highest esteem. Their “god” was Great Spirit. They sought to work within the balance of ecology and environment. But, wait! “Christian” white men appeared on the scene touting our “manifest destiny”. Was our manifest really inscribed with the right to slaughter thousands of men, women and children? Were we ordained with the right to kill thousands upon thousands of buffalo and wild life, simply for their skins while leaving their skinned bodies on the open prairies to rot?
So. I return to the original question: Why do you still believe in God? Frankly, I am not certain that I do; or, that I can; or, even why. Of course, during graduate study in theology the conundrum between free will and godliness was at constant tension. But, “free will” should not be and must not be construed as freedom to allow all forms of destruction of life, human or animal, including the creatures of the seas.
Growing up on a small seven acre farm in Maryland farm country where my family’s farm was surrounded by other farms reaching 1,000 acres, I learned to appreciate all of life. My parents taught me well. Choirboy, Boy Scout, youth leader and fundraiser, I was the stereotypical “good Christian” boy. That was my “Leave it to Beaver world.” God and Jesus were central to my faith.
Now with consternation, I wrestle with my faith in God, my belief. Human behavior as I have come to witness it is counter-intuitive with “God”. “The sins of the few shall be visited up-on the many.” It is time to rein in those few, that we might live in harmony with all creatures small and large. We are failing the Kingdom. Killers at heart, humans have become the anti-God, the ultimate Satan of Creation. Until we have come to grips with our consummate wrong-doings and turned more aggressively and assertively to becoming the custodians of this Earth as we were instructed by God to be, we simply will continue to live out the evil that lives in the hearts of men and women.

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