Using Faith to Justify Evil
Jesus said to the servants, “Fill the jars with water.” John 2:7
One of the online news sources I view daily allows readers to respond to the articles. I’m not sure why I ever scroll down to read them, because usually, they are just vile comments, meant to inflame and agitate. One caught my eye the other day, using an alleged Bible verse to support a particularly ugly, racist viewpoint. I had to look the verse up and of course, found that it didn’t say at all what this individual claimed. It was infuriating to see this guy call himself a Christian, while using a Bible verse to promote his own destructive agenda.
I’m afraid that I’ve done this though. I once used today’s passage – in which Jesus turned water into wine – to justify my own drinking. If Jesus made wine, it cannot be bad. He must want me to drink. The passage says nothing of the sort, but I had a self-destructive behavior that I wanted to rationalize, and I found my justification in this passage. I’m not claiming that wine in itself is evil and that no one should drink it. I’m saying that I – as one with addictive tendencies – shouldn’t drink.
This is a problem for us. Often, we want something so badly, that we think that God must want it too. Desiring God’s affirmation, we errantly transpose our desires on him and if we can find a Bible verse to back it up, even better!
It’s easy to see when someone else does this. Often, in jail, the guys awaiting trial, ask us to pray for them to be delivered from consequence. I’m often torn. I’ve been there. In the disaster of my addiction, I prayed that I could keep my job, that I wouldn’t have to go to treatment, and that my name wouldn’t be in the paper. I sought out Bible verses that spoke of God delivering his people from their enemies and I applied them to my situation. As it turned out though, I needed those consequences. I wouldn’t have changed without them.
How do we avoid using faith as an excuse to justify destructive behavior? It’s not wrong to pray for what we want, but we must understand our capacity for self-deception. Daily, we must pray for God’s will over our own. Not my will, but yours, be done (Luke 22:42). Daily, we must submit our plans to him.