Tuesday, November 25, 2014

What Leads to Divorcing God?

Originally posted July 9, 2012

Our relationship with God is often described (collectively at least) as a marriage. So many seem to enter into that marriage covenant, but end up turning away from the true God in the long run. Why is that?

One of the major reasons I think this is the case is because people often don't "fall in love" with the whole person to whom they are married. Instead, a person will latch on to certain attributes and overemphasize those attributes as encompassing the whole person. Thus, these loveable attributes overshadow other attributes that may be less charming to the specific individual. This is called the halo effect.

We see it when a young girl can't see that the guy she's dating is a complete jerk. That's because there is some charming quality, or qualities, about him that diminish the less than charming attributes and he is perceived just in terms of those charming attributes.

What happens then is that she gets married to the guy. The halo effect slowly disappears, and she ends up seeing all of him. She then thinks, "Who is this? I don't even know this person anymore." Actually, it was that she never knew him in the first place. Her love was never based on knowledge of his whole person, and so her love was never of his whole person, just of an imaginary character that her husband once played in her delusion. She then begins to look for a "better" partner (what this usually means is she looks for someone else with whom she can do the exact same thing), or no partner at all. In other words, she chooses detachment from her covenant promise by divorce/adultery. She chooses either to remain single at that point, perhaps, realizing that the guy she imagined is not out there at all, or she chooses a different guy. The point is that she never knew the person to whom she was married. She never made a commitment to him at all. She merely had a fanciful relationship with a delusion. Her spouse was never loved by her, because he was never really known by her, and once he was known, all of his attributes displayed, he was rejected by her for having said attributes.

This is the same thing that often happens with God. People love someone who loves them. People love someone who is sacrificial, merciful, compassionate, etc. But people do not love someone who demands obedience, is condemning of their wayward beliefs and deeds, and who is exclusive, rejecting those who are not in accord with his standards. Hence, when God is accepted by many individuals today, He is accepted as the "loving and gracious God," which then overshadows His other attributes of holiness and being just. He hates sin and is wrathful toward those who practice it without the fear of retribution. But all of this is not usually seen by so many. When they finally come into contact with all of who God is, they are appalled, as our rebellious and corrupt minds and hearts hate authority and a holiness that places us in a less than positive light.

When one of these individuals comes into contact with all of who God is, they want a divorce. They may become atheists, or they go off to some other religion that is "less judgmental," which is connected to the idea of God's holiness and justice, or they may simply still attend a fellowship and call themselves "Christians," but simply reject the God of the whole Bible for the God of half the Bible.

This last group is sort of like the woman who never finds out who her husband is, and instead, desires to live in a delusion. She, in all reality, hates her husband and loves someone else who is not her husband. She just thinks of her husband as that someone else.

Churches have helped in this delusion, as many pastors are equally deluded. They have a half-revealed God, because half truths allow us to distort the truth via willful ignorance. A half truth is a lie, not because it is not true in context of other truths, but because it lacks those other truths to clarify and define the whole truth. It's like saying, "If you jump out of a plane, you'll be fine," and leave out the part where such is only true in the context of one wearing a parachute. Half truths are false truths (if I can put it that way). Likewise, loving half the character of a person is not loving the person at all, as in reality, the truth of who that person really is is not known, and in fact, he would be hated if he was fully known. That person has been rejected for another within the imagination of his spouse.

This is why Jonathan Edwards once argued that one can only finally come to know that he is a Christian who has fully embraced God when he loves God's holiness as much as His other attributes. By nature, we are children of wrath, but we want to see ourselves as good and saved. God's holiness tells us otherwise, so it is something we hate. We hate God's condemning of sins of which we approve. We hate God's wrath upon the Canaanites for their sins when their sins look a lot like ours. We hate God's wrath upon sinners in hell when those sinners look a lot like us as well. We hate God's holiness because it demands of us that we must be holy as well, and we don't want a Holy God, just a gracious God who overlooks sin.

But the Christian has been transformed by God's love to see all of God as good and loveable. He is given a new heart to love what is good despite himself. He understands the gospel fully, rather than only partially, because he understands the holiness of God and what it demanded of us. And, through trial and tribulation, he seeks to become what he loves. The real Christian never divorces God, because he fell in love with all of who God is, not just a god who was glued together from different parts of the Bible outside of their context of His whole character revealed upon all of its pages.

The truth is, we have a lot of "Christians" who divorced God a long time ago. We also have a lot of atheists and other religious adherents who were supposedly once married to God as well. But the point I'm making here is that none of these people were ever married to Him, because they never knew Him, nor were they known by Him. They were always lovers of another god. Such a thing always leads to divorce in one way or another, and so it does with God as well.

For this is a rebellious people, false sons,  Sons who refuse to listen  To the instruction of the Lord; Who say to the seers, "You must not see [visions]";  And to the prophets, "You must not prophesy to us what is right,  Speak to us pleasant words,  Prophesy illusions. "Get out of the way, turn aside from the path,  Let us hear no more about the Holy One of Israel." (Isa 30:9-11)

"For your  husband  is your Maker, Whose name is the Lord of hosts; And your Redeemer is the Holy One of Israel, Who is called the God of all the earth. (Isa 54:5)

God says, "If a  husband  divorces his wife  And she goes from him  And belongs to another man, Will he still return to her? Will not that land be completely polluted?  But you are a harlot [with] many lovers;  Yet you turn to Me," declares the Lord. (Jer 3:1)

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