Saturday, February 5, 2011

The Acorn 2

“Would God let us…”
by Teresa Franklin
I’m currently leading a Confirmation Class of five young and eager learners, ages 11, 12, 12, 13 and 14. But don’t think that just because they’re young they don’t ask poignant questions or think deeply about life, because they do. In our third class meeting we were discussing the story of Noah and the Flood, and the 14-year-old posed the following question, “Do you think God would allow human beings to completely destroy ourselves in nuclear war?” My first thought was, “Wow, I think I was close to 40 before I asked myself that question. And he’s just 14!” Maybe it’s a sign that we’ve progressed in our acclimation to the nuclear age in the years since I was fourteen. That would have been 1974, less than thirty years after the atomic bomb was dropped on Hiroshima and more than thirty-five years ago. In 1974, we were still too close to the real-life drama of the Cuban Missile Crisis to put such a threat in historical perspective. We were still reading about the Cold War in the newspaper, rather than the history books.
But what did I think? And was I willing to tell five young people under the age of 15 what I think? I took my cue from the 14-year-old and decided to answer honestly. “Yes, I imagine God would probably let us.” He didn’t seem particularly disturbed by my answer. Rationally, he questioned the basis for it. “What in the Bible makes you think God would let us destroy the human species?” he asked. We’d just finished talking about the Garden of Eden. “God allowed Eve to taste the forbidden fruit, knowing the consequences would be serious. God let Eve offer it to Adam. God allowed Cain to kill Abel, even though the act would introduce the worst of all human sins to the world.”  There are consequences to our actions, and God doesn’t shield us from those consequences, not even in Genesis. I didn’t elaborate with the Confirmation Class, but it seems to me that if a person is hell-bent on self-destruction, it usually occurs. Likewise, if a society is determined to implode, it does. Why not a species?
Maybe what’s changed since 1974 is that young people are ready to accept responsibility for the welfare of our planet and its life, whereas my generation was so afraid of the implications that we felt compelled to hide behind the assumption that God would protect us from the worst of the consequences of our destructive patterns.
Almost two thousand years ago the Apostle Paul wrote the following words, “As it is written, ‘What no eye has seen, nor ear heard, nor the human heart conceived, what God has prepared for those who love him’ – these things God has revealed to us through the Spirit; for the Spirit searches everything, even the depths of God.” (1 Corinthians 2:9-10) Let us pray today that God will continue to give us courage to face the truth from which it has become dangerous to hide.