This is God’s Fault
Let no one say when he is tempted, “I am being tempted by God,” for God cannot be tempted with evil, and he himself tempts no one. James 1:13
In my addiction, I prayed for God to take away my self-destructive appetite for pills. My idea of faith and recovery was that I would ask God for help, he would remove the desire, and then I’d be sober. When he didn’t take away the hunger, and I found myself still addicted, I blamed God. You made me this way. You could take it away if you wanted. This is all your fault. Honestly though, when I asked God to simply erase my appetite for pills, I didn’t understand what I was asking for.
What I was asking of God, was that he revoke my free will. If I’m addicted to pornography or an extramarital affair, and I ask God to take away my sexual appetite, I’m actually asking for metaphorical castration. If I’m addicted to unhealthy food, and I ask God to take away my hunger for food, I’m asking for an illness. Healthy bodies have some appetite for sex and food. Donuts are always going to taste good. To pray for that to be removed is to ask for the pathologic.
Often, we blame God for our self-destructive appetites. You made me like this. This is your fault. What is the alternative though? If we only desired good things, and if we had no appetite for the alternative, then there would be no opportunity for goodness. If we were simply robots, programmed to be obedient to God, then we’d cease to have any choices. We’d simply follow our preset programming. Yes, there’d be no addiction, failure, or sin, but there’d also be no success, joy, or love.
Today’s passage reminds us that though God created everything, he is not directly responsible for our temptations and failures. He created us and he loves us. He longs that we love him back. For love to be real, there must be an option. We must have free will. We must be able to love and obey God, but we must be able to not love and to disobey. For it to be a choice, there must be some option. If our only alternative option is to stick a fork in our eye, it wouldn’t really be a choice.
When tempted by evil, it’s not helpful to blame God. We can ask him to remove the appetite, but often, we don’t realize what we’re asking. When struggling, we must go to him, asking what it is he wants us to do. Then, we must do it. It is often only in our obedience that we find that we want authentic life more than the alternative.
Authors Note: The blog was down yesterday due to technical difficulties. Thanks for your patience.