Does God Send Terror Attacks because of Bathroom Rights and Evolution?

Anne Graham Lotz

Anne Graham Lotz

Those Christian fundamentalists are at it again!

This time it’s Anne Graham Lotz, daughter of the famous evangelist Billy Graham.

According to recent statements by Lotz, terror attacks such as 9/11 and the mass shooting in San Bernardino, CA, are the result of the United States abandoning God by promoting such “godless” ideas as gay marriage, evolution, and bathroom rights for transgender people. And naturally she’s touting a new book that tells us how we can put an end to terror attacks and even natural disasters if we’ll just pray and return to God. You can read all about it here: “Anne Graham Lotz Says God Sends Terror Attacks Because Of Bathroom Rights And Evolution,” by Ed Mazza, in the Huffington Post.

Lotz said:

Our nation seems to be shaking its fist in God’s face and telling him to get out of our politics, get out of our schools, get out of our businesses, get out of our marketplace, get off the streets. It’s just stunning to me the way we are basically abandoning God as a culture and as a nation.

And when that happens, she says:

God abandons us and he backs away and takes his hand of favor, blessings, his hand of protection away from us and he abandons us.

If people would only pray and return to God, she says:

God will begin to reveal the plots of our enemies and terrorists before they are carried out. Even the weather patterns, he can even control the weather patterns and protect us from the violent storms that are taking human life.

Yes, that’s what she said.

Well, I’ve got some news for you:

  1. Although everything does happen according to God’s laws, God sends neither terror attacks nor storms to hurt and kill us.
  2. Although we may abandon God, and reject God’s protection, God never abandons us.
  3. Our nation is not abandoning God. Our nation and our world are abandoning outdated, narrow-minded views of God—and the churches that promote those views.

Terror attacks don’t happen because of gay rights and evolution

I realize that to fundamentalist Christians such as Anne Graham Lotz it sounds very reasonable to think that God is punishing us with terror attacks and natural disasters because of our wicked ways—such as legalizing gay marriage and teaching evolution in the schools.

About those natural disasters, please see: Is Hurricane Sandy God’s Punishment on the Wicked?

And as for the terror attacks, there are much more direct and relevant reasons why they happen.

This is a spiritual blog, not a political one, so we won’t go deep into the politics of terrorism and international relations. But consider this saying of Jesus:

All who draw the sword will die by the sword. (Matthew 26:52)

Ever since World War II, the United States has engaged in an increasing number of military interventions in various countries around the world, including in the Middle East.

Is that right or is it wrong?

That’s for you to decide.

But it’s a simple fact that when a country intervenes militarily in another country, the people who are attacked are going to get angry, and they’re going to retaliate. Those who use military force will inevitably have military force used against them. That’s just the way human nature and human society works. “All who draw the sword will die by the sword.”

There is no need to invoke evolution, gay rights, and bathroom bills to explain why Europe and the United States have been attacked by radicalized people from the Middle East.

Are those attacks good, right, and justified?

Of course not. They are terrible acts of violence.

But all we have to do is read the history of the Middle East, and of the U.S.’s long record of military intervention in the Middle East, and the reasons the United States is being attacked by people from the Middle East—and by people sympathetic to the Middle Eastern factions whom the U.S. military has attacked—will become abundantly clear.

Once again, you’ll have to make up your own mind whether or not you believe that the U.S.’s actions in the Middle East are justified. The point here is that the U.S. is not immune to the basic laws of human relations. The simple fact of the matter is that if the United States attacks others, others are going to attack it.

That is why the United States is suffering from terrorist attacks—not because of its supposedly godless actions in accepting evolution, legalizing gay marriage, and allowing transgender people to use the bathrooms that correspond to the gender that they identify with.

God does not abandon us; we abandon God

What is even more disturbing is the idea that God abandons those who violate God’s laws.

I am aware that there are various Bible passages that make it sound that way. But the deeper reality is that God continues to love all people, both those who love God and obey God’s commandments and those who don’t. That’s why Jesus said:

You have heard that it was said, “You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.” But I say to you: Love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who abuse you and persecute you, so that you may be children of your Father in heaven. For he makes his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sends his rain on the just and the unjust. (Matthew 5:43-45)

Jesus says that if we want to be children of our Father in heaven, we must love both our friends and our enemies. In other words, Jesus is telling us that whatever the outward appearances may be, God loves both God’s friends and God’s enemies. God loves and cares for both the evil and the good. God loves and cares for both the just and the unjust.

No, God never turns God’s back on us and abandons us.

Rather, we are the ones who abandon God when we refuse to live according to God’s commandments.

Now, I’ve read the Bible more than a few times, and:

  • I have not seen any commandment in the Bible saying that we must not believe in evolution.
  • I have not seen any commandment in the Bible saying that we must not allow transgender people to use the bathroom of the gender they identify with.
  • And there are only five or six verses in the entire Bible that even mention homosexuality—and Jesus himself never mentions it at all. (For more, see: “Homosexuality, the Bible, and Christianity.”)

What I have seen in the Bible is this:

“Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?”

Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.” (Matthew 22:36–40)

The greatest commandments in the Bible, on which all the others depend, are to love God above all and to love our neighbor as ourselves.

If instead of following these commandments we engage in bigotry and intolerance against people who have “broken” commandments that aren’t even in the Bible, or commandments that were given to deal with cultural circumstances that no longer exist today, then aren’t we ourselves abandoning God, and ignoring God’s commandments?

And when we abandon God, then it is quite true that we bring damage and destruction upon ourselves. However, that destruction is not in the form of terror attacks and natural disasters. It is in the form of damaging and destroying our own humanity and our own soul as we turn away from the universal love that God commands us to engage in, and turn instead to self-righteousness and condemnation of all who do not share our particular religious beliefs.

And when we face the music, it will not be God abandoning us or hiding from us. It will be us abandoning God and hiding from God. The book of Revelation describes the situation metaphorically:

Then the kings of the earth, the princes, the generals, the rich, the mighty, and everyone else, both slave and free, hid in caves and among the rocks of the mountains. They called to the mountains and the rocks, “Fall on us and hide us from the face of him who sits on the throne and from the wrath of the Lamb! For the great day of his wrath has come, and who can withstand it?” (Revelation 6:15–17)

The reality is that when we turn away from God by refusing to love our neighbor as ourselves, we are the ones who hide from God. And if we bring pain and suffering, broken relationships, and personal failure upon ourselves as a result, that is not God’s doing, but our own.

Oh, and about that wrath of God, please see: What is the Wrath of God? Why was the Old Testament God so Angry, yet Jesus was so Peaceful?

The world is not abandoning God; it is abandoning outdated religion

Now, I do have some sympathy for Anne Graham Lotz and her fellow fundamentalists. They are fighting a losing rearguard battle against the forward momentum of human society. And it’s always painful to be on the wrong side of history.

Despite the hand-wringing and heart pangs of the fundamentalists, the reality is that human society has been making huge advances in knowledge, understanding, morality, ethics, and spirituality in the last few centuries. We are working very hard to banish many old evils from our world.

Slavery, racism, bigotry, gender inequality, domestic violence, corruption in politics and religion, and even war itself . . . yes, we still have these things in our world today. But they are now widely seen as evil, and as things that we must fight against and bring to an end. And we are making many gains against these old evils throughout the world.

Unfortunately, traditional Christianity—especially the evangelical and fundamentalist kind—is a holdover from an earlier era of humanity, when many of these evil institutions were simply accepted as inevitable and even as good and right. Many of the Biblical laws that conservative Christians seek to maintain and enforce were given in an earlier day and culture, when humanity still wallowed in these old evils, and God had to treat us more strictly in order to get us to straighten out and fly right.

But at least since the mid-1700s, humanity has been making rapid strides forward. Secular society looks back to that time as the “Age of Enlightenment.” But I believe that God was bringing about the beginning of a new spiritual era in the world. See: Is the World Coming to an End? What about the Second Coming?

To people still stuck in the old religious paradigm, it looks very much as if the world is abandoning God.

But the world is not abandoning God.

Rather, the world is abandoning an old and outdated concept of God, in which God is a supernaturally powerful human-style king sitting on a throne in heaven and hurling thunderbolts at all who do not cringe in terror at his absolute and arbitrary rule.

The world is not abandoning God.

The world is abandoning the outdated religion that people like Anne Graham Lotz still cling to despite its increasing irrelevance to the new era of humanity in which we are now living.

The world is embracing a higher and better concept of God, in which:

  • God loves both friends and enemies.
  • God is merciful to all, both the good and the evil, both the just and the unjust.
  • God commands us, also, to love both friend and enemy, and to act with mercy, kindness, love, and justice toward all people—both those we agree with and those we don’t.

No, God isn’t bringing terror attacks and natural disasters upon us because we no longer believe in evolution and we no longer condemn homosexuals. The traumas we are experiencing in our world are only the growing pains in our new struggle for a more just and loving society.

As Jesus said:

Watch out that no one deceives you. For many will come in my name, claiming, “I am the Messiah,” and will deceive many. You will hear of wars and rumors of wars, but see to it that you are not alarmed. Such things must happen, but the end is still to come. Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be famines and earthquakes in various places. All these are the beginning of birth pains. (Matthew 24:4–8)

For further reading:

About

Lee Woofenden is an ordained minister, writer, editor, translator, and teacher. He enjoys taking spiritual insights from the Bible and the writings of Emanuel Swedenborg and putting them into plain English as guides for everyday life.

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Posted in All About God, Current Events
17 comments on “Does God Send Terror Attacks because of Bathroom Rights and Evolution?
  1. Özcan says:

    Frankly, religions turn people into complete morons, they are no longer able to use their intellect or conscience. I no longer believe that God sent “holy books” or religions to earth, but strongly suspect that they are all man-made. Because when you read about the history of religions, the ancient conception of the universe and other ancient mythologies and religions you can see many similarities. Things that can be easily debunked by scientific facts.

    I have discovered that the conception of the universe according to the Qur’an is the same as the ancient Hebrew conception of the universe, which in turn was derived from other ancient cultures, especially Sumerian theology. For example the same ancient belief of 7 layers of heavens can be found in the Qur’an. Here is the ancient conception of the universe; http://www.patheos.com/blogs/exploringourmatrix/2012/11/ancient-hebrew-cosmology.html

    • Lee says:

      Hi Özcan,

      Thanks for your comment. Of course, you’re free to believe whatever you want to believe. However, you might want to consider that the purpose of holy books such as the Bible and the Qur’an is not to convey scientific and historical information, but to convey spiritual concepts and to lead people toward living better, more thoughtful, and more loving lives toward their fellow human beings.

      I’m well aware that they don’t always succeed. We humans are a stubborn bunch.

      But they wouldn’t succeed at all if they didn’t speak to us in our own language, using our own experiences and concepts of the world and of human society.

      The Bible and the Qur’an didn’t invent that ancient conception of the universe; they just used it to convey spiritual, moral, and ethical ideas and ideals to people in a language that the cultures and people of their day could understand. The science and history may not be correct, but the deeper ideas conveyed through the use of those scientific and historical ideas as metaphors are still valid. We simply have to chip away the matrix of faulty and dated human ideas in order to find the precious gems of spiritual truth hidden within.

      For more on this, please see: How God Speaks in the Bible to Us Boneheads

  2. Özcan says:

    When the 1999 earthquake happened in Turkey, some religious figures said it was because adultery / fornication had become widespread and God was punishing those people.

    • Lee says:

      Hi Özcan,

      Yes, it’s a common idea among fondamentalists of all different religions. The Bible itself makes similar statements, primarily in the Old Testament. That’s because people of simple minds and limited education need to believe that God is in control of everything, and will punish them for sin, or they wouldn’t respect God at all, and would thumb their nose at God’s commandments relating to not doing evil and doing good instead.

      With greater education, understanding, and spiritual development comes a more accurate conception of how God actually works. Then we can leave behind some of the older, more simplistic conceptions and replace them with better and deeper ideas about God, spirit, and the purpose of our lives here on earth. See, for example: Heaven, Regeneration, and the Meaning of Life on Earth

  3. Walt Childs says:

    Lee, this article is excellent and very helpful, as is all your work. Through your work God has and is opening my mind to who he is and how things work in this world he has created for us. Thanks.

  4. Cheryl says:

    Jesus did not mention every single sin. He did however mention in the Book of Matthew about marriage, between a man and a woman. He didn’t need to spell it out and say not man to man, woman to woman, etc. He didn’t also mention having sex with children was a sin, but we know it is. He mentions sexual immorality. I think that covers what he didn’t specifically didn’t say. It is not logical to think Jesus approves of it just because he did not mention it. The bible is the word of God and it is mentioned specifically numerous times.

    • Lee says:

      Hi Cheryl,

      Thanks for stopping by, and for your comment.

      You’re right, of course, that Jesus didn’t mention every sin. We do have to use our thinking minds to evaluate many different situations and actions that aren’t specifically covered in the Bible. And a major criteria to use in making those evaluations is whether a particular action in a particular situation will cause real and lasting damage.

      In the case of having sex with children, we have extensive knowledge of just how damaging it is to the victims. Some of that knowledge is summarized on Wikipedia: Child sexual abuse -> Effects. Knowing just how destructive it is to its victims, we can make a clear judgment that having sex with children is evil.

      There is no such evidence of damage resulting from committed, monogamous, faithful homosexual relationships as we know them today—a type of relationship that was unknown in Bible times. For more on this and on your other points in relation to homosexuality, please see: “Homosexuality, the Bible, and Christianity.” If, after reading that article, you wish to discuss the subject further, please feel free to do so in the comments section for that article. Thanks.

      • Tori says:

        I’m just curious to know: What if someone WANTED to have sex with a child, but never actually did it?

        I’ve heard a couple people say “It’s okay to be a pedophile as long as you don’t actually have sex with children” and I wanted to know God’s view on that. I’m not saying pedophilia is okay, I’m just curious.

        • Lee says:

          Hi Tori,

          I’m not sure I can give you God’s view of this, since I’m not God. 😉 But I can give you my view, which I think and hope is not too far from God’s view.

          We humans have all kinds of evil and destructive desires. The acid test is whether we act upon those desires. And more specifically, from a spiritual perspective, the key issue is whether we do not act upon them because we know and believe that they are wrong and contrary to God’s commandments.

          If an adult desires to have sex with children but doesn’t do it because s/he is afraid of getting into trouble, that’s certainly much better than going ahead and doing it anyway. The problem is that if such a person thought s/he could get away with it, s/he would go ahead and do it. So that person is a real danger to children.

          However, if an adult desires to have sex with children but absolutely forbids him- or herself to do so because s/he knows and believes that it is wrong, terribly harmful to its victims, and contrary to God’s commandments, then that person is a very low danger to children. Very low and not nil because we humans are imperfect, and sometimes we do violate our own rules for ourselves. But if such a person continues in that conviction, God will gradually weaken and push to the side those desires for sex with children, and replace them with a healthier interest and desire for sex with adults who are their equals, and who can therefore have a real mutual romantic relationship with them.

          So no, it’s not okay to be a pedophile as long as you don’t actually have sex with children. Our desires are what lead to our actions. And we must fight against our evil desires—especially the truly awful and destructive ones—in at least two ways:

          1. By absolutely forbidding ourselves to act upon them not just because we’d get into trouble if we did, but because they are evil, wrong, damaging to other people, and contrary to God’s will and God’s commandments. Asking for God’s help when we’re feeling weak can be a big help with this battle (because it often is a battle).
          2. By progressively turning our mind and heart away from them and developing a disgust and horror for them such that in time we have little or no desire left to engage in them even within our mind. This is something God helps us with from within as we focus our mind and heart on better loves and desires.
    • Özcan says:

      Hi Cheryl,

      I hope you realize that, according to the Bible, Jesus also approves a lot acts that are immoral to us in the 21st century? Below are a few examples.

      The God of the Bible allows slavery, including selling your own daughter as a sex slave (Exodus 21:1-11), child abuse (Judges 11:29-40 & Isaiah 13:16), and bashing babies against rocks (Hosea 13:16 & Psalms 137:9).

      God orders the destruction of 60 cities so that the Israelites can live there. He orders the killing of all the men, women, and children of each city, and the looting of all of value (Deuteronomy 3).

      He orders another attack and the killing of all the living creatures of the city: men and women, young, and old, as well as oxen sheep, and asses (Joshua 6).

      In Judges 21 He orders the murder of all the people of Jabesh-gilead, except for the virgin girls who were taken to be forcibly raped and married. When they wanted more virgins, God told them to hide alongside the road and when they saw a girl they liked, kidnap her and forcibly rape her and make her your wife.

      Jesus promoted the idea that all men should castrate themselves to go to heaven: For there are eunuchs, that were so born from their mother’s womb: and there are eunuchs, that were made eunuchs by men: and there are eunuchs, that made themselves eunuchs for the kingdom of heaven’s sake. He that is able to receive it, let him receive it (Matthew 19:12).

      In 2 Kings 10:18-27, God orders the murder of all the worshipers of a different god in their own church.

      • Lee says:

        Hi Özcan,

        While I do understand and sympathize with your point, it’s not really accurate to say that Jesus did all of the things described in the Old Testament. At that time Jesus had not yet been born. But on that general subject, see my article, “What about Violent Religions? Is God Really Bloodthirsty and Vengeful?

      • Lee says:

        Hi Özcan,

        About Matthew 19:3-12, I don’t agree that Jesus promoted celibacy or castration. Here is the full passage:

        Some Pharisees came to him to test him. They asked, “Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife for any and every reason?”

        “Haven’t you read,” he replied, “that at the beginning the Creator ‘made them male and female,’ and said, ‘For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh’? So they are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate.”

        “Why then,” they asked, “did Moses command that a man give his wife a certificate of divorce and send her away?”

        Jesus replied, “Moses permitted you to divorce your wives because your hearts were hard. But it was not this way from the beginning. I tell you that anyone who divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality, and marries another woman commits adultery.”

        The disciples said to him, “If this is the situation between a husband and wife, it is better not to marry.”

        Jesus replied, “Not everyone can accept this word, but only those to whom it has been given. For there are eunuchs who were born that way, and there are eunuchs who have been made eunuchs by others—and there are those who choose to live like eunuchs for the sake of the kingdom of heaven. The one who can accept this should accept it.”

        The traditional interpretation that Jesus is here supporting celibacy assumes that when Jesus said, “Not everyone can accept this word,” he was referring to what the disciples said in response to him rather than to his own statements. That doesn’t make any sense. Why would Jesus give the disciples’ response more weight than his own original statement?

        It makes much more sense that Jesus was referring to his own statements about the sanctity of marriage and the prohibition of divorce except for unfaithfulness, not to the disciples’ statement that it is better not to marry.

        Jesus then goes on to say talk about what the people reflected in the disciples response, who aren’t able to accept his (Jesus’) word about marriage do: they make themselves eunuchs—i.e., become celibate—for the sake of the kingdom of heaven, because they are not able to handle marriage and faithfulness in marriage according to Jesus’ teachings.

        This is not an endorsement of castration or celibacy. It is a recognition that not all religious people will be able to accept Jesus’ teaching and commandment about the divine origin of marriage and his prohibition of divorce except in the case of unfaithfulness, and that those who can’t accept his teachings about marriage and divorce will go for the lesser state of celibacy.

        He ends by advising those who can accept his (Jesus’) teaching about marriage to accept it.

        In other words, this passage means the opposite of what it is traditionally interpreted to mean. It is a strong endorsement of marriage as a God-given state, and of commitment and fidelity within marriage, and a mention of celibacy as a lesser state for those who cannot handle the higher, God-given state of marriage.

  5. Alice says:

    What does it mean to love God?
    Thanks!

  6. - says:

    How do I learn to forgive those who have done terrible things?

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