God’s Clear Intent
Walking out and about in the city of Columbus, Ohio, I found two signs within a few blocks of each other.
These two black-and-white religious signs come from opposite ends of the political spectrum within Christianity, but they share some fundamental similarities. Each raised questions in my mind:
Why did God choose to say “What part of ‘Thou Shalt Not…’ didn’t you understan”? Is the “understan” an effort to speak to the people in street-wise vernacular? And what about the missing question mark — does it indicate that God is issuing a declarative without the questioning, uncertain lilt at the end of the sentence? That would make sense, since apparently God is not really a questioning, uncertain sort of Supreme Being. But it does indicate God’s willingness to place vernacular presentation and moral teaching over grammar. Will proper conjugation fail to get Josephine a place among the elect?
Moving on to the sign on the church, I wonder if ALL are really welcome (although clearly ALL CAPS are). Would the Reverend Fred Phelps, toting a “Kill The Fags” sign, be welcome? How about Lucinda, the naked worshipper? Would including these sorts be the kind of “inclusiveness as God intended”? How did the United Methodist Church receive God’s intention in this regard? By telephone, fax or e-mail? And why is it that God prefers to express His intentions in white text on a black background? Is there meaning behind this choice, or is God being arbitrary and capricious?
Of course, these questions assume that the signs really are the expressed intentions of God. The alternative — that there are just sets of people who like to tell others what they think and try to give it legitimacy by giving authorship to a “God” character who is automatically always right — is just too silly to consider. If that were really true, then we’d have to ask, “What part of ‘Thou shalt not take the Lord’s name in vain’ didn’t you understand?”