This Straits Times headline stoked my interest: "Activist claims priest tried to molest him." (25 June 2014) So says civil society activist Vincent Wijeysingha when he alleged that on the pretense of a wrestling match, he was touched in the crotch area. The article continued with this, "He made the allegation on Monday night in a Facebook post that attacked the Catholic Church for its stand...that lesbians, gays, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) relations are "not in accordance with the plan of God.""
Don't worry, I am not diving into all that errant-priest-sexual-deviant-gay-rights-god-loves-everybody-be-open-minded morass of never-ending screed. That would be too convenient but hardly fruitful.
What is more pertinent to me is to lament in a rather self-indulging way about the plans of God that the believers are so dead sure about. There is an old proverb that goes something like this, "God laughs when a man makes a plan." And that brings me to my point. I wonder whether God laughs too when we boast about his plan in our life. Of course there are the obvious plans of God like his redemptive works at Calvary, which believers know is beyond dispute (unless of course you are an orthodox Jew and are still looking for a messiah). But then, I am talking more about the presumptuous kind like "I know it's God's will that I marry her" or "I am dead sure God is telling me to invest in this company?"
My bewilderment is this, "How do we even know for sure?" There is also the one the social activist Vincent seemed so affirmative about as implied here: "Who says LGBT relations are not in accordance with the plan of God?" I am not saying that he is right or wrong, or for that matter, whether anyone who makes such statement about God's plan is right or wrong. Let's leave that aside for now. I am more amazed at the exuberant confidence some believers show in knowing the intimate plans of God.
It is as if they had an exclusive audience with the Master-Planner and the latter had approved their plan before they so immodestly announced it. Some of the believers even gave the impression (or insist that we take it as more than just an impression) that God had spoken to them via an inner prompting or through their own interpretation of Scriptures. It is like they had the divine seal of approval the same way Moses had when he came down from Mount Sinai with the Decalogue.
Now, these man-declared god's plans are rather strange, to put it mildly. They often, if not almost all of the time, conflict with one another. There seems to be no consensus at all. Putting aside which camp is right or wrong, I am sure the gay movement's insistence that their sexual orientation is within God's plan will in my view never see the light of day (at least not in the near future).
How about finding one's god-ordained soul-mate? Here the examples are even more strange. I have heard of a unilateral declaration of God's will to another very much to the chagrin of the latter whom God had not even spoken a word to. Go figure. Then, there are those who mutually resonated with divine approval that nearly broke the heavenly love bank. They were so sure that God had personally and lovingly match-made them that any voice of protest was immediately denounced as the voice of the devil. But when their courtship or even marriage ended up in irreconcilable bitterness, I guess they'd have wished that they had paid more attention to the voice of the devil instead. I think love is not only blind in their case but is also hearing-impaired?
How about the health and wealth gospel? Now that is one heavenly endorsement that some believers can never get enough of. "God's plan is for you to be rich" is a gospel jingle that rings most loudly in the coffers of those who bring it on most forcefully. This golden ticket to immeasurable wealth on earth has never failed to be taken out of context by both the deluded preachers and the gullible believers. If honey attracts bees, then some believers will make a bee-line for a finger-licking taste of this honey-pot promise of prosperity. And the self-assured conviction that it is in God's plan (together with the other deliberately understated plans of personal sacrifices, and persevering through trials) only makes the lack of craving for this bling-bling gospel a kind of spiritual stagnation to be discriminated against.
How about wars? It is not uncommon for leaders of warring states to declare with divine endorsement that God is fighting the war for them and their victory is therefore assured. Often, both sides are dead sure that they are in His sovereign plan. But then, didn't anyone tell them that there can only be one victor in the end? I can imagine the one who lost the war to have petitioned to a rather distracted deity? If not, I can imagine God either squinting in discomfort or laughing quietly as these desperate self-serving confirmation of his so-called plans ricochet in his holy chambers.
I wonder what was God's reaction when Jim Jones or David Koresh used his name to commit mass killing of the most despicable kind and claimed that the same was part of God's plan? He must be enraged of course; with this haunting refrain, "vengeance is mine...just you wait."
I think no other names have been used (or abused) more often than God's name as a disingenuous justification for allegedly divine acts with an unmistakable evil or personal agenda. If anyone had used the name of an earthly superstar or politician as an endorsement to commit the same dastardly acts, the namesake would have pursued the felon or group with the full brunt of the criminal and civil laws available to him or her.
I guess God's acquiescence or forbearance when some believers claim that their action is part of his divine plan is the main reason why they often get away with impunity for what seems like an eternity. But having said all that, I think when God's name is used to endorse a man-made plan, an ideology, an institution, a national creed, a political belief, a theology, a social culture, a tribal practice, a personal conviction, a self-centered desire, a conceited hope, a scriptural promise taken out of context, an argument, a religious authority, an academic theory, a secular composition, a musical performance, a movie about superheroes, a polemical position, an economic policy, a judicial pronouncement, a corporate agenda, a church rule, a religious sanction, an apparent fortuitous event (like a blessing in the form of striking the lottery), a papal encyclical, a fashion trend, a commercial success, an electoral victory, a scoring at the exams, a seemingly prophetic declaration, a pulpit message and a healing testimony (phew...), it is always wiser for one to hold his tongue first, meditate a little deeper and then double check with God later...much later. Because my concern is that we may have put our own words into God's mouth more often than we have allowed His authentic word to speak to us directly. Cheerz.