Everybody knows the Christmas story. We all cheerfully recite as Mary is visited by an angel who tells her she will be the bearer of God’s seed. We praise Mary for her willingness to accept this challenge; to be the mother of God made flesh. And rightly so. But with this willingness comes the realization that God allowed her the choice. He had already handpicked her. He could have just implanted himself in her with no warning. “You’re gonna do this, Mary, because I’m God and I say so.” But God didn’t do that, did he? What was the purpose of the angelic pronouncement? Was it just to give Mary a heads-up? “Just so you know Mary, you’re gonna get pregnant with my baby. I’m telling you now so you don’t get all freaked out.” No, I don’t think so. Certainly it is an announcement (the Catholics call it “the annunciation”), but we all like to believe that Mary had a choice in the matter.
Mary is not alone. Throughout the Bible and Christian history God comes to people and gives them choices to be his man or woman. So often God’s favor is predicated on an “if - then” statement. If you follow His commandments He will prolong your days. But it’s always offered to people that these are the terms. God always tells his people what he’s doing, or what the rules are. If he wants you to do something, he will tell you, but you still have the option to back out. Moses was told to lead the people out of Egypt. Moses wasn’t exactly keen on the idea, and tried to present reasons why he might not be the right guy. Here’s what I like about God: he’s willing to negotiate. In this case, Moses doesn’t back out, but does get a concession: Aaron can speak for him. An overbearing god might demand Moses do what he said or else. God didn’t do that.
In Christian circles I’ve often heard the phrase “the Holy Spirit is a gentleman”. What people mean by this is that He doesn’t force himself on you. He will convict you, he will impress you, he will move you, but you still control what that means. Paul said that in Christ we live and move and have our very being, but that doesn’t mean we are all God’s puppets. God doesn’t just sweep in, take what he wants from us, throw out what he doesn’t, and get on with his plans. He keeps us involved as active participants.
I say all this to say that I got to thinking about God and the way he works. I got to thinking about how he came to Mary and essentially asked her for her consent before impregnating her. Right now, my world is upside-down. Everything that I’ve known as “normal” is being thrown into upheaval. The only things I’ve ever cared about are disappearing around me. My world has been raped. It’s all being taken away in one fell swoop. There are those out there who want me to believe that this is all God’s doing; God has some wonderful plan out there, but he has to do all this first. I should be glad. They couch it in feel-good easy words like “transition” and “direction”. But none of that changes the fact that my world has been raped. I cannot think of a single instance in scripture where the rape of one’s world was some wonderful plan of God’s. At times God does exact judgment. When the Babylonians sacked Jerusalem, this was an act of judgment. It was awful because it was supposed to be. And even then, that was a last resort. God didn’t just out of the blue wipe Judah off the map; he sent prophets for decades with warnings. That’s what God does: he gives a heads-up. Just like he gave Mary a heads-up. What we do with that then determines the rest. But God is not a rapist. I’m sorry, the God I know does not just come in and rip everything apart for the sake of his own purposes. God didn’t rape Mary. Why not? He could have. Because God is not a rapist.
Furthermore, I have to say that in the midst of this nonsense, I am under definite spiritual oppression. Everything feels wrong. These things that others are couching in “transition” and rainbow daffodils do not leave me with good feelings. Maybe they think that I’m just not in tune with God like they are. Well, I’m going to say that’s wrong. I know God. I’ve felt God. I’ve had God literally hold my hand. The best way I can describe it is that what I feel so often now is not a God feeling. God feelings are like a needed rest. The Holy Spirit feels like radiation. He feels like warm soup in an empty stomach; it’s a good feeling. This other feeling is not. I walk around in darkness. This feeling is oppressive, dangerous. It feels like drowning. It feels like fear and hatred. Is this of God? No. God has not given me a spirit of fear. God is not a rapist.
I know people are well-intentioned and want to see the bright side of everything. Yes, I believe God can bring good out of anything. I believe God wants to bring good. But I don’t think he does it by causing chaos, anarchy, dysfuntion, and pain. Jesus said that his yoke is easy and light. The Spirit came to be our Comforter, that is, He brings us comfort. So sure, God can work this all out eventually. Does that mean He is the originator of the situation that ruins my life? I have to look back on the evidence in scripture. When God has the opportunity, he speaks first then acts. He leaves choices to his people. He even negotiates. Therefore, I must conclude that it is NOT God who has raped my world, nor is God behind it, because God is NOT a rapist. I venture to point out that just because a Christian comes out proclaiming some endeavor in God’s name it doesn’t necessarily make it so. Nor does it mean that all consequences are just God’s stops on the way to glory. God allows trial, yes. God brings judgment, yes. But does God CAUSE these things? I think the text is on the side of no.
In Matthew 12:43-45, Jesus tells of a demon being cast out of a man only to return bringing with him seven more. He concludes with the statement “so shall it also be with this wicked generation.” The man’s heart was seemingly made clean, but it was temporary. The demon wasn’t gone for good. He looked back at that clean house and said to himself, “I bet I could fit 7 more guys in this place!” And that’s what he did. To me this speaks of well-intentioned people manipulating forces they do not really understand. It is a wicked generation that believes itself impervious to invasion by dark spiritual forces. I may seem like I’ve rambled a bit. Maybe I have. But this scripture illustrates to me that Satan is a rapist. He comes to take what he wants, to change things to his way of thinking. He makes things worse than they were before. And if he sees the opportunity, he will bring in more with him. Man is flawed. This is a fallen world. We delude ourselves if we believe we are great because our demons have been cast out. If we are not careful, we open ourselves to be refilled with the not just the thing that beset us before, but now he brings his friends. I do believe this still applies in the Christian world. Maybe Christians are not possessed by evil spirits. But we are certainly under attack, and churches and Christian organizations are susceptible to infiltration. I worry that many have forgotten these verses, and believe any change to be from God. Christians are sometimes the worst about discerning spiritual forces for good or ill.
The turbulence of my life is a terrible frustration. The worst thing about it is knowing deep in my soul that it is not the work of God. God has allowed it for some reason, and I’m hoping to come through the other side victorious. But that does not change the fact that in essence mankind has allowed seven more spirits in and called it the Holy Ghost. My church is in ruins, my people are wounded and scattered. My life is upturned. My home is gone. My parents are phantoms. My fountains are dry. And My God is present, but not responsible. God is not a rapist, and if my world has been raped the blame rests squarely on the rulers of this present darkness, and the fools they have found to do their bidding.
God save us all.