2013-NOV: Same-sex marriages (SSM) & civil unions in Illinois.
Does God send messages via
tsunamis, tornadoes, etc.? -- two opinions.
Was God sending messages? Personal comments by Susan Humphreys, a long-time, major contributor to this web site:
I hadn't heard about the exorcism by Thomas Paprocki, the Roman Catholic bishop of Springfield, IL or comments in various Internet web sites about God punishing Illinois with massive tornadoes that killed six adults. When I heard of them, I just had to write a short reply.
What message is "God" really sending?
Did God punish Illinois for legalizing same sex marriage by sending a freak November storm with tornadoes to wreak havoc and destruction? It amazes me that anyone would be self-righteous enough to even ask such a question. And for a Catholic Bishop to hold an “exorcism”. I certainly hope it backfired and exorcised his own demons, he seems to have sold his own soul to the devil (so to speak) or to be less self-righteous on my part, he seems to be filled with plenty of demons of his own creation and needs to clean his own house before he worries about others houses. (as in he should tend to the beam in his own eye before worrying about the dust mote in his neighbors eye)
BUT I am willing to address the question since I have been an outspoken supporter of marriage equality, of a woman’s right to choose, of helping those in need (supporting welfare programs, head start programs, food stamp programs, etc.), supporting universal health care….and the right of people to not believe in any God/s/ess/religion or the right to believe in God/s/ess/religion if they choose to do so….
- I have said publicly in many forums it isn’t what religion you believe in or whether you believe in any. All that matters are your day to day actions, how you treat your fellow humans, especially those that are different from you, and
- I have said in an essay on this forum that the Theists and Deists idea of God doesn’t exist, and
- I happen to live in Illinois about an hour and a half drive south of Gifford -- one of the towns that was hardest hit, and in a county that escaped damage which is south of a county that sustained major wind damage.
In the 13 years since I have lived here. storms have gone around me (north or south as with this last storm system, one wind hitting a few years back about 200 yards south of my house and one tornado hitting an area about two miles northwest of my house in the next county) I grew up in Illinois, in Champaign and Piatt county. Gifford is in the northern part of Champaign county. All of the years in those two counties (21 years for me, my parents were there for 43 years) I (nor they) never saw -- let alone had -- any damage to a home or building I (or my parents) was/were in from a tornado.
Is "God" protecting me because he likes my message and he wants to make sure I am safe and free to continue to spread it?
Does God send messages via disasters? Interpreting the horrendous loss of life due to tornadoes on 2014-APR:
Multiple tornadoes ripped through the central United States on Sunday, APR-27 leaving major loss of life and massive trails of devastation. As of the early afternoon on that day, the media estimated that the total death toll was 16 people.
- In Arkansas 14 people died.
- In Oklahoma one person died.
- In Iowa one person died.
Many religious conservatives in recent years have been suggesting that God sends tornadoes and other natural disasters in order to transmit a message to humanity, Frequently, they have suggested that the message involved marriage equality -- extending marriage to include same-sex couples. If God does use disasters to send messages in instead of transmitting messages rapidly and unambiguously via email, the Internet, TV, radio, Facebook, Twitter, telephone, etc., then what would be the message associated with this particular tragic event?
From the difference in death tolls in the three states, one might assume that Oklahoma and Iowa share some factor of which God approves, while Arkansas differs in some way from both Oklahoma and Iowa and is doing something of which God disapproves. Frequently, religious conservatives have speculated that God's messages often involve what is currently considered by many observers to be the greatest religious conflict in the U.S.: marriage equality -- extending marriage to include same-sex couples.
We note that:
- Arkansas does not allow loving committed couples to marry. That state suffered the greatest loss of life by far.
- A federal District Court in Oklahoma recently legalized same-sex marriage in that state. That decision has been temporarily stayed pending an appeal to a higher court.
- On 2009, by an unanimous vote, the seven justices on the Iowa Supreme Court determined that the
state's ban on same-sex marriage (SSM) was unconstitutional because it
violated the equal protection clause of the Iowa constitution.
One might conclude that:
- The tornadoes struck on Sunday, a day that is observed as the Lord's Day by most Christian denominations. This might be interpreted as increasing the likelihood that the tornadoes were actually sent by God and not a natural occurrence.
- The tornadoes happened on the fifth anniversary of the date -- 2009-APR-27 -- when same-sex couples across Iowa began obtaining
marriage licenses and marrying. This might be interpreted as increasing the likelihood that God's message in 2014 involved same-sex marriage.
- Perhaps the worst damage in Arkansas happened in Vilonia, which is north of Little Rock, AR. Three years previously -- almost to the day -- a similar storm following what the mayor said was essentially the same path also devastated the little town. 3
- Arkansas, where 14 people died, the state does not allow same-sex couples to marry.
- Oklahoma's federal court has authorized same-sex marriage. Iowa has allowed same-sex marriages for five years.
- What was Arkansas doing wrong while Oklahoma and Iowa are doing right? Arkansas does not allow same-sex couples to marry, while both other states permit same-sex marriage. The evidence seems to point to God approving of same-sex marriage.
On the other hand, these tornadoes and loss of life might have been perfectly natural tragedies that were not orchestrated by God. That is the frustrating thing: we can never know for certain.
Was God sending messages? Personal comments by B.A. Robinson, webmaster of this web site: [Bias alert]:
On the matter of homosexuality, it is obvious that a massive gap exists concerning the nature of sexual orientation:
- Most religious conservatives tend to believe that:
- Homosexuality is a chosen behavior and can be changed through prayer and counseling.
- God hates same-gender sexual behavior, whether by heterosexuals, homosexuals or bisexuals.
- Bible passages reflect this hatred.
- God strongly favors making same-sex marriages unavailable everywhere.
- Most religious liberals and secularists tend to believe that
- Homosexuality is a discovered sexual orientation that cannot be changed in adulthood
- God accepts non-exploitive, consensual same-gender sexual behavior by homosexuals and bisexuals.
- The Bible reflects this acceptance.
- God loves human diversity, in gender, race, religion, sexual orientation, gender identity, etc.
- God strongly favors making marriages available everywhere to same-sex and opposite-sex couples.
Many theists believe that one can learn the will of God through prayer. So, this web site did the logical study: to have theists -- both religious conservatives and liberals -- assess the will of God towards same-sex marriage through prayer.
We conducted a pilot study and found that:
- About 70% the of volunteer participants in the study were confident that they had been able to assess the will of God through prayer.
- Among that 70%:
- 100% of those who were personally opposed to SSM at the start of the study reported that God agreed with
- 100% of those who were personally in favor of SSM at the start of the study reported that God agreed with
- 0% found that God took a compromise position, by supporting or opposing SSM depending upon the specifics of each
We concluded that there is no way to assess the will of God through prayer as in this pilot study. Whatever still, "small voice" 1 that the volunteer heard comes from within and not from God. Earlier, we had concluded that the will of God, for Christians, cannot be assessed by reading the Bible, because believers tend to bring their own opinions to the book and leave with beliefs that match their opinions. Intelligent, devout, sincere, thoughtful, analytical theologians derive very different beliefs from the book.
Assuming that God is all powerful, all knowing, all present, and values having a personal relationship with humanity, then one might assume that God would have some reliable method of communicating. Yet God apparently has no email address, postal address, phone number, twitter account, facebook page, fax number, or web site with a "contact us" link. He seems to have no reliable group of clergy speaking for him, because the leadership of different denominations teach very different beliefs. Also, they sometimes feel that they have to apologize for errors made by their denomination in the past.
Many Christians believe that his only method of communication is via natural disasters: earthquakes, tornadoes, tsunamis, etc which seem to kill people at random while leaving no clear indication of God's precise expectations. In the case of the November tornadoes in Illinois that killed six, the victims all lived in predominately rural areas of the state where voters are generally opposed to same-sex marriage. There are no reported deaths from Chicago and other large cities whose voters generally favor same-sex marriage.
It seems obvious to me that God is probably not trying to communicate by killing people via result of natural disasters. If God is trying to communicate, perhaps it is to promote marriage equality.
That said, natural disasters do happen at random times in random locations around the world. It is best to assume the worst and be prepared.
We seek different opinions:
We would like to add opinions from some of visitors to our web site who differ from the two shown above. Please read the introduction in our visitors' essays menu, and send us your comments in an email. You can use the Contact Us button below.
This topic is continued in the next essay with brief
accounts of the first same-sex couples to marry in Illinois
The following information sources were used to prepare and update the above
- I Kings 19:12
- Mark Berman, "At least 16 dead after tornadoes in Arkansas, Oklahoma; more tornadoes expected in the South," Washington Post, 2014-APR-28, at: http://www.washingtonpost.com/
- Ed Payne, et al., "Chaos reigns as deadly tornadoes slam several states," The Muslim Times, 2014-APR-29, at: http://www.themuslimtimes.org/
Copyright © 2013 by Ontario Consultants on Religious
Originally written: 2013-NOV-25
Latest update: 2013-NOV-29
Author: B.A. Robinson