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It never fails. If I suggest that anything good could possibly come out of a divorce—and especially if I suggest that God might have something to do with that redemptive turn—some Internet troll is sure to surface, spouting accusations, condemnation, and predictions about how I will surely always suffer as a result of this sin, which is apparently bigger than God.
Last week, it was my column over at RELEVANT that caught the attention of someone, whose user name is “Lovedandforgiven.” (I kid you not.) My post was about how redemption stories don’t always turn out the way we might predict, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t redemption stories. I referenced both my divorce and Vernon’s recent death (which I wrote about here) as examples. Here’s what Lovedandforgiven had to say:
Not everything is redeemed. Vernon was in sin and died from his sin. That’s not redemption. If there was no physical abuse or adultery, then there’s no redemption in your failed marriage. If one person forced the divorce, and the other person didn’t want to divorce, then the former is guilty of sin. If both agreed to divorce, you’re both in sin. Not redeemed. These stories you used aren’t a mysterious form of Gods redemption, they are examples of what happens when something isn’t redeemed. Read your bible.
When I first read the comment, I was stunned.
Then I chided myself for EVER being surprised about the words Christians are capable of uttering.
Then I got really pissed—especially in defense of Vernon, the lack of compassion, the idea that HOW he died mattered, and the ridiculousness of a Christian not getting that death doesn’t have the last word. In fact, it seems that Lovedandforgiven thinks he/she gets the last word, at least when it comes to which lives and stories get to be redeemed by God.
And the “Read your bible.” part? I had SO many things I wanted to say in response to that, starting with the fact that if Lovedandforgiven would read the Bible, he/she might notice that it’s jam-packed with stories about humans who are more broken than we can imagine, and a God whose love, grace and forgiveness are more powerful than we can imagine. (I touched on this a few months ago in the post God doesn’t use checklists.)
But I didn’t respond to Lovedandforgiven. I know the Internet is full of haters and trolls, and it’s best if I don’t give them the satisfaction of their comments even being worth my time.
Here I am, though, writing a whole post about it—a decision I definitely had a good internal debate over. Did I want to write about it just to gather my loyal troops around me and elicit your sympathy and outrage? I have to admit, some of that impulse is probably at play. But the personal surface wounds inflicted by this instance are really so small. I am sure of God’s love for me, and of the redemption he is working out in my life. After all, I am living it—I’m the product of it! I see and feel it every day.
What I really worry about are all the people out there who aren’t so sure of God’s love for them, or his ability to redeem any mess we make. I worry about the people who believe they’re beyond hope, who see Christians as judgmental perfectionists, and who imagine God as an angry and punishing father. I’m reaching out to the people who think “I will never step foot in a church again, because churches are full of people who seem to revel in the pain of others’ sins, and celebrate when people get what they deserve.”
I’m writing this post for them. I’m writing to counter the loud voices of people like Lovedandforgiven, who don’t seem to understand that the entire message of the Gospel revolves around God NOT giving us what we deserve. I’m writing because this message of love has to be louder than messages of condemnation.