Almost everyone in the Western world has heard the phrase “It was God’s will” when faced with a challenge, a crisis, or a tragedy. You might also have heard that “God never closes one gate without opening another” or “When God closes a door, He opens a window.” If you live in another part of the world or another culture, you might hear it was the will of the god(s), that it was evidence of bad karma, or another religiously-themed admonition to not despair. While they all express a similar sentiment, I will focus on the will of the Judeo-Christian god.
What is His will?
At the risk of condemning myself to the circle of Hell reserved for heretics, I will say that not every bump in the road is divinely inspired. Some things are done to us. Some things are not meant to be. Some things need to be resisted.
I was taught in RCIA class that we have the free will to do good or evil. When people abuse their free will, that is the source of evil. When evil befalls us, it is not God’s will. It is not God punishing us. It is evidence that other people are not using their free will properly.
So if God’s not punishing us, what is He doing, sitting around letting His Creation go to shit? What’s the matter with Him? What’s the point?
The theological logic behind it is that what happens on Earth ultimately doesn’t matter. Our job is to live an godly life on Earth so that we can receive our reward in Heaven and bring others to Heaven as well. In order to live this type of life, we need to know the difference between good and evil and freely choose good. If we are forced to do good, then our good deeds lose their meaning. Just as parents need to let go sometimes and let their children make their own mistakes, God is doing the same with His children on a cosmic level. Basically, God allows evil to happen because it it a way to separate the wheat from the chaff.
To be honest? That sounds sick. The point is, though, that God does not cause evil to happen (although a perverted belief in God certainly does).
Back to my main point, I want to add “It’s was God’s will/meant to be/insert cliche here” to my list of Things I’m Sick to Death of Hearing (TM). Think about it. If everything is God’s will, what motivation do we have to change anything? None. In fact, if everything is God’s will, then attempting to change anything is deliberately disobeying God and thus is immoral. That said, those cliches serve an important social purpose.
They condone apathy.
For those who don’t want to act, “It was God’s will” is a convenient cop-out. They do not have to notice what is happening in the world around them or take action. It gives them license to silence those they disagree with. Don’t like what someone is advocating? Just tell them that they need to accept God’s will.
Notice, also, that only certain things can be God’s will. The Catholic Church would NEVER accept that it was God’s will that women use contraception. That is something they’ll come out swinging on every time. If a diocese closes a Lithuanian Catholic parish because their latest abuse scandal or financial mismanagement crisis made them go bankrupt, that’s totally God’s will. Yeah, okay.
Never mind that the allegedly family/community-oriented Catholic Church has basically destroyed an entire community. Never mind that they are denying possibly thousands of Catholics access to liturgy and the Sacraments. Never mind that these Catholics are being denied their right to their culture as promised in the Second Vatican Council. The Church needs money and they have decided that poor Eastern European Catholics are expendable.
The Catholic Church has made the (somewhat valid, but vastly overstated) point that contraception can be abused for eugenic purposes. But closing ethnic parishes isn’t cultural genocide at all. No way. People have told me that it doesn’t matter. We are all Christians, and it’s the people of God and living the life that matters, not the Church. Ironically, these people are all Anglo-Saxon and, naturally, are not affected by this.
Of course, English, Irish, French, and German parishes have closed too. Ethnic parishes from all parts of Western Europe have closed, and those communities have experienced a loss of culture in their worship. This is wrong, but for some reason, these communities don’t seem to care that much. They are content to have a bland, uniform, non-cultural (not multicultural) parish and water down centuries of heritage in the Catholic world.
Anyway, I went off on a tangent, but the point is that people are awfully selective about what God’s will is or isn’t based on what’s convenient for them. Moreover, very few of these things are inevitable.
If people contributed to their parishes and fought the destruction of communities, it would not be God’s will that parishes close. If the Catholic Church admitted and cleaned out its institutional rot, it would not constantly have to shell out money in lawsuits.
If people knew what they were doing, if people cared, God’s will would look very different.
God has the ability to take a wrong and make it right, take an evil and make it good. God has the ability to loosen stuck windows, unlock windows, lead us to windows, and send other people along to help us through those windows. He does not, however, drag us to the window, open it, and toss us out.
When a door or a gate is closed, it is not always God that closes it. He simply reacts when other people close those gateways against His will and aloow things to proceed. If someone is murdered, it was a human being that closed a door, or a gate, against God’s will. It would be silly to suggest that the murder was inevitable or that God willed someone to commit murder.
Once that door is closed, God can present you with opportunities to heal and to get active in making the world a better place.
But enough about God’s will. You have no clue what that means.