In an interview with Irish broadcaster Gay Byrne on a television show called The Meaning of Life, Stephen Fry takes God to task for the pain and injustice of the world. His intellectual reasoning is utterly convincing and convicting. And this I say as a Christian.
“Bone cancer in children? What’s that about? How dare you. How dare you create a world in which there is such misery that is not our fault. It’s not right. It’s utterly, utterly evil. Why should I respect a capricious, mean-minded, stupid God who creates a world that is so full of injustice and pain?”
He goes on to say, “the God who created this universe is quite clearly a maniac, utter maniac, totally selfish…yes the world is very splendid, but it also has in it insects whose whole life cycle is to burrow into the eyes of children and make them blind …why, why did he do that? He could have easily made a creation in which that didn’t exist. It is simply not acceptable.”
He’s RIGHT. It is simply NOT acceptable. We should be ANGRY. Full of RAGE.
About the SELLING OF CHILDREN.
About GREED and GLUTTONY and ALL MANNER OF AWFUL HUMAN THINGS.
These are the exact human responses God would want us to feel toward these injustices…to propel us to DO SOMETHING about them. Because if we sit on our laurels and just accept that that’s the way things are, then we too are utterly responsible for the misery we see around us.
There is SCIENCE and MEDICINE.
There is DOING GOOD TO OTHERS.
There is HELPING THE POOR.
There is LIVING RESPONSIBLY.
There is KINDNESS AND CIVILITY.
When my husband goes away to Cambodia to build the business he’s created to liberate girls from their misery of sex slavery and build better lives for themselves, their families and their offspring, he faces so many challenges he could just about GIVE UP. What is the point? Better to just build your own fortress, buffet your existence with fluffy pillows and the comforts of home. But he doesn’t. And what keeps him going is the ABSOLUTE CONVICTION that if he turned his back on these girls, then he will ultimately be held accountable to the God he believes in for doing so. It is a WEIGHTY LOAD.
And I get ANGRY for him.
Angry at the Cambodian government for not taking care of its poor; angry at the funds leached by the corrupt at the top and those who drive around in Porches and Mercedes while others don’t have enough to eat; angry that my husband works like an absolute dog to fund this business and help these people; angry that things aren’t easier for him; angry that my own selfishness and needs and emotional wellbeing often present a challenge to him.
But FESTERING ANGER is a cancer. And so it must be redirected. And so I need to write all this not only to save my own soul but to honour my God. A God who does not grow weary under accusations that he is unjust, a God who has an immense capacity to forgive even those who hate him, a God who has saved my life and given me the gift of my own child, a God who has restored my marriage, broken destructive habits and has given order and purpose to my life.
I’m sorry, Stephen Fry, but if there’s anyone to be angry at, it is ourselves, for the demands we place on the omniscient God when we are each responsible for taking care of the world and the people who dwell within it. It is a privilege to have such work to do and it’s our duty to do it. To do anything less is to sniff at our humanity, to belittle our personhood and the God that gave it to each of us to dispense for the greater good.
As William Wilberforce, the great slave liberator once said, “true Christians consider themselves not as satisfying some rigorous creditor, but as discharging a debt of gratitude.”