So That They Are Without Excuse

One of the passages I reflect on often, as it relates to a great many of my intellectual debates concerning the existence of God and how it can be clearly understood from what has been created, is Romans 1:18-21 [1], which reads as follows: For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who suppress the truth in unrighteousness, because what may be known of God is manifest in them, for God has shown it to them. For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead, so that they are without excuse, because although they knew God, they did not glorify Him as God, nor were thankful, but became futile in their thoughts, and their foolish hearts were darkened.

Given that this passage is a familiar one, it is always striking to me when someone draws a connection or a parallel that I had not mused on before. When I examine this particular passage, I tend to think about the morality and philosophy of God’s interaction with mankind as a result of what can be clearly understood from nature, but the minister’s use of this question discussed a matter of identity, specifically the identity of God as a Father that can be clearly seen from His creation, namely us. Now, any reader of mine ought to clearly understand that family concerns and specifically the issue of fatherhood are concerns I address often [2] here, for very deep personal reasons. Yet, perhaps oddly, this has never been a particular passage that I have dealt with in that context, given that my knowledge of God as a Father is not something that has ever been particularly easy to learn given my own personal family history.

Some years ago, I went to Argentina for the Feast of Tabernacles, and while there I was asked to translate the wedding ceremony from Spanish into English without notes for my fellow congregants there who were not bilingual. I was not given a great deal of time to prepare for this task, nor did I happen to know either the bride or the groom beforehand. He was a young man in his mid-20’s of what appeared to be mostly Ladino appearance, and she was an older woman (about fifteen years or so older) with substantially more native inheritance. The wedding itself was one of my earliest witnessing of the immense racial prejudice that still holds in that part of the world, as the father of the bride, a somewhat uneducated old man from a remote part of northern Argentina near the Paraguayan border, was basically ignored by most of the wedding guests. I chatted to him a fair amount, and found him to be a very decent and friendly gentleman. Yet besides my shock that the father of the bride would be so deeply disrespected during his daughter’s wedding, a moment when he ought to have been honored, what stuck with me was the rather ironic commentary of the minister who officiated the wedding about how Satan wishes to attack the family by attacking marriage, and how this is an indirect attack on God.

I think that my minister had something similar in mind in talking about this subject. A great many people (myself included) grow up in very disadvantageous circumstances when it comes to understanding fatherhood. This may occur because fathers are absent in the lives of their children, or because the example of a father is one of abuse and harshness rather than kindly affection. The fifth commandment requires explicitly that children honor their fathers and mothers, and its extensions require respect for authority in general. Authorities do not hesitate to use this divine requirement in terms of bolstering the way that they are viewed by those they are supposed to serve, but this often misses the larger point. Authorities are held accountable for the example of God that they portray to those they lead. The fact that God’s ways are blasphemed because of the poor example of parents and other authorities is itself an immense evil, and one that God promises to deal with. Showing the proper honor and respect for authorities is something that we should all pay attention to for ourselves (and it is something that I have reflected on often for myself, not always satisfactorily), but making sure we are setting the right example of God’s example, given that people are supposed to learn about the nature and character of God through our behavior.

This is an immensely heavy responsibility. Yet in many ways it is a labor of love. Although I have yet to father my own children, a task I would like to accomplish well at some point in my life, I must say that in general I find much to enjoy in those children that have been around me. There is a sense of satisfaction in seeing babies develop a strong intellect and the communication skills to express their thoughts and feelings and opinions and beliefs, a pleasure in seeing growth and development and maturity, and an enjoyment in the many cute moments that children supply through their innocence and openness. What is it that leads so many people to see in God a harsh Father who must be appeased, rather than as a loving and gentle Father who absolutely hates to condemn and punish? Why is it so hard for us to feel and recognize the love of others, or to show it ourselves?

[1] See, for example:

https://edgeinducedcohesion.wordpress.com/2013/08/19/romans-1-18-23-concerning-foolish-atheists/

https://edgeinducedcohesion.wordpress.com/2014/04/20/little-ones/

https://edgeinducedcohesion.wordpress.com/2011/11/02/between-athens-and-jerusalem/

https://edgeinducedcohesion.wordpress.com/2014/01/09/book-review-no-one-sees-god/

[2] See, for example:

https://edgeinducedcohesion.wordpress.com/2014/03/30/father-knows-best/

https://edgeinducedcohesion.wordpress.com/2014/03/30/father-hunger/

https://edgeinducedcohesion.wordpress.com/2014/02/13/book-review-forgiving-our-fathers-and-mothers/

https://edgeinducedcohesion.wordpress.com/2014/02/12/for-my-father-has-many-offices/

https://edgeinducedcohesion.wordpress.com/2013/09/03/book-review-jesus-my-father-the-cia-and-me-a-memoir-of-sorts/

https://edgeinducedcohesion.wordpress.com/2013/06/16/the-curious-history-of-fathers-day/

https://edgeinducedcohesion.wordpress.com/2012/08/25/i-am-no-better-than-my-fathers/

https://edgeinducedcohesion.wordpress.com/2012/06/23/dance-with-my-father/

https://edgeinducedcohesion.wordpress.com/2012/06/17/honor-your-father-and-mother-that-your-days-may-be-long-upon-the-land/

https://edgeinducedcohesion.wordpress.com/2011/12/05/the-father-of-his-nation/

https://edgeinducedcohesion.wordpress.com/2011/08/14/this-is-my-fathers-world/

https://edgeinducedcohesion.wordpress.com/2014/04/23/book-review-the-good-dad/

https://edgeinducedcohesion.wordpress.com/2014/04/13/and-if-she-is-a-door-we-will-enclose-her-with-boards-of-cedar/

https://edgeinducedcohesion.wordpress.com/2014/03/16/bringing-many-sons-to-glory/

About nathanalbright

I'm a person with diverse interests who loves to read. If you want to know something about me, just ask.
This entry was posted in Christianity, Love & Marriage, Musings and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to So That They Are Without Excuse

  1. Pingback: Who Says? | Edge Induced Cohesion

  2. Pingback: Book Review: The Parthenon Code: Mankind’s History In Marble | Edge Induced Cohesion

  3. Pingback: Movie Review: The Privileged Planet | Edge Induced Cohesion

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