The Other Omission and Commission

7 01 2010

By now, you may have read in other sources that there are two kinds of sin, the sin of commission and the sin of omission.  One is the transgression that you do, and the other is the thing that you didn’t do but should have.  However, there is another side to this story, for there are two unfavorable responses from God, along these lines.  There is a curse by commission, and there is a curse by omission.  There are the plagues that demonstrate a deliberate intent on God’s part, and there are the diseases that exist as a result of God’s lack of intervention.  We preach so easily on God’s love that we neglect his wrath.

As described in the previous post, there is old age that comes as a result of random effects from our environment, but there is also a more potent aging that comes from a deliberate function within our bodies to kill us.  On the one hand, we are weakened by God’s lack of intervention, by his doing nothing directly to heal us or maintain us in spite of our environment.  On the other hand, we have a deliberate mechanism to hasten our demise.  The same can be said of every disease.  Much as sickness looks like a shortfall of intelligent design, the tapeworm and the virus demonstrate definite design.  Unless the Devil has gotten into the business of bioengineering, which I am reluctant to accept, we might reason that God was in that detail.  This is a very hard idea to handle.

Bacteria can fall to one side or the other.  Some of them make us sick because they happened to be in the wrong place.  Sometimes there might be some ambiguity as to whether the toxins that they produce were a deliberate attack on our health or a means for some other function.  However, there exists an entire category of microbes that fall into the classification of gram-negative cocci, which can be described in no other way than that they exist to make us sick.  Specifically, they exist to make the promiscuous among us sick.  Remove these organisms from the body, and they die very quickly.  They have no natural home outside of a human.  The Evolutionist might not have trouble explaining this one, but there is a certain spirochete called syphilis that defies a naturalistic explanation.  It appeared suddenly, from seemingly nowhere, with no relatives, to infect an entire army of French soldiers after their conquest of a single Italian city.  One might say that sickness is not a function of intelligent design, but the design of a microorganism is clearly evident.  While sickness caused by microbes does not always indicate deliberate intent, there can be no question that this microbe was specifically designed to cause sickness.  It is a curse of commission.

Diabetes, many cancers, hemophilia and other genetic diseases all find their causes in the omission of an intelligent design.  There was supposed to be a function in the body to keep a person healthy, but random change destroyed that function, and God did not reverse that change.  We are not hurt by what God did, but by what he didn’t do.  We can easily overlook the rest of the genome that still serves to keep us alive.  We could easily see that one little missing thing as a direct attack on our health.  However, what it all comes down to is the original curse, the Fall of Man, when disorder was allowed to come into the world.  The curse, here, is not that God brought things into disorder, but that he does not actively keep it in order.  Fortunately, he did build within us a great many functions to resist random change.  As time produces random change that ruins a person, it also produces random change that ruins humanity as a whole.  We accumulate this drift, and what doesn’t kill us makes us weaker.  If any random change is beneficial, then it is only because it happens to partially reverse one of the many harmful changes that came before it.  This is a losing battle we fight.

The tapeworm has intelligent design.  We thank God for the daisies and the roses, but we never thank him for the tapeworm.  I don’t think we’re even expected to.  Yet, as disgusting as this creature is, it is only acting in that great war of nature known as the food chain.  Nature is not our mother.  It is a battleground.  Animals devour each other and parasitize each other as a result of entropy and the constant battle to fight the drive toward disorder.  The virus is no different.  One particular virus appeared out of nowhere, with no known relatives and no known history.  It infected one man, who traveled the world and infected many others.  Some have said it was God’s punishment against homosexuals.  The first person to suggest this was a homosexual with that disease, known as AIDS.  God does not hate the homosexual.  Let’s make that clear from the beginning.  If he hated homosexuals, then they would all cease to exist in a moment, for there is nothing preventing him from making that happen.  His only concern is eternity.  Whether a person’s life is longer or shorter, pleasant or full of trouble, the only thing that matters is what they do with the rest of eternity.

I used to feel critical of people who saw trouble and disease as having come from God as punishment for human depravity.  I especially felt critical of anyone who might suggest that AIDS was a curse from God against homosexuals.  Then, one day, a coworker asked me where the virus came from, and we were both at a loss.  It could not be explained by evolution, or any natural means.  I had to shrug my shoulders and suggest that maybe God had produced it.  It was a paradigm shift for me.  In truth, it is the modernist philosophy ingrained in each of us that causes us to lash out at the idea that plagues and disasters befall us at God’s direction.  It is not the blacksmith that hits the anvil, we say.  It is the hammer that hits the anvil.  We like to think that the blacksmith does not exist.  The hammer just happens to be there, and it just happens to hit the anvil over and over.  In truth, without the blacksmith, neither the hammer nor the anvil would exist.  Without God, neither the homosexual nor HIV would exist.  The fact is that God does love the homosexual, and that’s why HIV exists.  The alternative is to wipe out all sexually immoral people, or else let them go to Hell without threat or warning, had he hated them.  The fact is that, if we are objective and totally honest with ourselves, then we must see that HIV has intelligent design, and, crazy as it sounds, it does, in fact, seem to have been targeting homosexuals.

There are those curses that result from our separation from God.  They exist because we change, and we don’t change according to his design.  We change as we will, because we and our world have been released to go our own way.  These are the curses of omission.  God is not our mechanic.  He does not keep us in order.  Then there are those curses that come about through causative agents containing intelligent design, like a virus or a worm, whose action against us is not accidental, but deliberate and part of the design.  These are curses of commission.  They happen because God does not want us to continue going our own way into oblivion.  He wants to get our attention, and he’s determined to do it even if it kills us.  Eternity is just on the other side of death, and we can’t afford to enter it heedlessly, as though it did not exist.

Christians hate the idea of a God that curses.  We like to see him as God the redeemer, lover of our souls.  Plagues and curses are a thing of the Old Testament, almost as though that were a different god.  Jesus came to break the curse, but his kingdom is not of this world.  Every day we still die, just like we have since the very first man breathed his last.  The laws of Moses have not been overturned, and neither has the curse, this side of death.  But there is a hope that goes beyond the grave.  Our treasure is not in this life.  No pleasure, no gratification in this life is worth the cost of losing our treasure in the next.

It is for that reason that we are scared out of our wits by the specter of a biological weapon engineered by God, himself.  If you think that cancer is scary, then you have no grasp of Hell.  If the wost thing you can imagine is losing your life, then you have no hope of Heaven.

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