The writer of the creation story in Genesis gives a highly-nuanced account. The author writes: “And God said, ‘Let there be light,’ and there was light. God saw that the light was good, and he separated the light from the darkness [1:3-4].” God does not eliminate the darkness, rather God places boundaries on the darkness.
Watching the news of the slaughter in Orlando
Sunday night, I again wished that God had simply eliminated the darkness, but
that is not what the text says. The
wording acknowledges that there is still darkness in the world. The image of darkness in the Bible carries a
lot of baggage. Darkness represents what
is not of God, what opposes God’s will, what is contrary to God’s purpose in
creation. This careful choice of words
makes clear what we already knew: there
is an element of creation that is in full scale rebellion against God. The killings in Orlando makes clear anew that
evil is alive and on the move in our world.
The Genesis writer makes clear that the darkness
is contained; boundaries have been imposed upon it. God is preeminently the ruler of creation; evil
does not and will not have the last word.
The writer makes clear who has imposed limitations on whom. But for now, evil is afoot in God’s good
creation. The Genesis account recognizes
this unsettling reality.
Believers must name these killings for what they
really are: evil. There is some discussion
as to whether this was an act of terrorism or a hate crime. This is a distinction without
difference. Acts of terrorism are
grounded in the hatred of those who are different, others who are not like us. Hate crimes are designed to terrorize groups
of people, to make then afraid and anxious in their own land. This killing was born of a hatred of the LGBT
folks. The killer targeted a particular LGBT
club in order to terrorize this broader community of people. Hate and terrorism are inextricably linked.
To call these killings evil does not necessary
point out a path to a safer and more loving world. Naming this slaughter as evil could lead to a
passive resignation, to saying there is nothing we can do. It does not have to lead to this. We can see these killings as a vivid outbreak
of a broader cloth of hatred and fear in the human community. I say fear because I think that a good bit of
hatred is born of fear. We are afraid of
that which unsettles us and makes us uncomfortable, and that fear spawns hatred
as a coping mechanism.
God, not evil, is the author of creation and is
preeminent. Thus there is no need for
believers to fear people who make us uncomfortable, who challenge our
worldview, whose experiences have been different from ours. In other words, there is no credible excuse
for hatred among God’s followers. Perfect
love drives out fear (1 John 4:18). .
God does not hate because God does not fear.
Executive Minister-American Baptist Churches of
New York State