Two Moralities and a Gospel

In the beginning of Luke 13, people are talking about “the Galileans whose blood Pilate had mixed with their sacrifices.”

Their assumption seems to be solidly based on a “Strict Father” view of God: ~”Those people must have really sinned, if God punished them with such a violent death.”

Jesus insists that this is not the case: “These were not [worse sinners than anyone else in Galilee], but unless you repent, you will all of you come to the same end.”

This doesn’t sound like it’s stepping outside the “Strict Father” moral universe. It only seems to imply: “God was not punishing those Galileans, but will punish you.”

Wait a minute… What about that second part? Jesus doesn’t say, here, that God intends to punish anybody. If you don’t “repent,” yes, ~’same thing gonna happen to you’– but is that any more “punishment” than what happened to that first set of Galileans?

It certainly isn’t “accident”. Implicit in the whole mission of Jesus is the belief that God does intervene in human life, is massively intervening in his very mission. What isn’t happening is the simplistic moral equation: “Bad => punished; Good => rewarded.” The historical fate of Jesus himself undermines any such assumption.

“Repent” can mean “improve your behavior”; it can also mean “turn around”, “change your path,” “change your way of thinking.”

Jesus’ people have, at this point, suffered over a thousand years of trying to be good– and failing– and suffering consequences. One could say that they’ve done everything they possibly could– except “change your minds.”

To change their minds would entail accepting a “Nurturant Parent” concept of God. What?– Doesn’t Jesus, in fact, lay down a long series of ethical prescriptions? Yes, but. All of this is based on his view of God as one who “sends sun and rain for the Just and the Unjust,” and asks us to do the same.

A parent may love her children dearly, hope for them to find great fulfillment and happiness– and not want them to burn the house down. Would insist, and intervene decisively, if she caught them doing any such thing.

If there’s too much hostility in an environment, then somebody’s likely to get hurt. If you can avoid getting mentally caught up in that hostility, you’re much better able to dampen the fires, or at least find your way out in time… As many of Jesus’ followers were said to have escaped the fall of Jerusalem.

So if God is such a nurturant Parent, how come this world can be so harsh; how can it take so many suffering generations to learn “a new thing”?

Gabor Mate [quoting ___?] recently put this very well: “Something loves you so much… that it will send you whatever suffering you might need… to wake you up.”

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