God takes the Good People Early

This week I found myself in conversation (over the internet) with a Christian and we got onto the subject of death. I was then told that some people believe that God takes his people early and leaves the evil to live longer to give them more of a chance to repent.

I was stunned. It was a proper jaw hit the floor WTF! moment.

I didn’t ask if the person concerned believed that or if they knew anyone who did or even where the information came from. Quite frankly it wasn’t a subject I wanted to discuss, so I let the conversation move on.

The comment did get me thinking though. Why would anyone think that? And more importantly, is there actually a theological precedent or biblical passage that supports this idea? I certainly can’t think of any reason why this could be deemed a reasonable theological position to hold. I concede that I’m not exactly the world’s leading bible commentator, however with my years as a Christian and the number of sermons and Christian talks I’ve heard, you’d think that I’d have heard it if this was a reasonable position to hold.

Given this is the first time I can consciously say I’ve met this particular line of thinking, I think I can safely say that it’s something that is in the minority. However, what makes it concerning is that either there are some people who do believe and teach this, or there are some people who choose to believe this, despite not being taught it.

Of course there is the simple fact that looking at the evidence of deaths of history proves this particular line of thought to be utterly wrong.

It is not a comforting theology

The conclusion I have come to is that people who believe this only do so because it must be comforting to them. It taps into the ‘in a better place’ mentality, that being that those Christians who have died are enjoying fellowship in heaven and ultimately that’s where all good Christians want to be and death in this life is a relief, a good thing even, something to be rejoiced in even. This is denialist theology, it’s what happens when people invent things to try and ease the pain of a deeply unfair happening.

On a personal level, the only good thing about my mother’s death in her early 60s is that she is no longer suffering with cancer. If God was a merciful god and took the good people early then he should have taken this servant of His in that first year and not left her to suffer an appalling cancer for three years before finally going unconscious and dying a week later.

There is nothing good about her sons missing her terribly and there is nothing good about her never getting to see her granddaughter grow up. The suggestion that the loving God she worshiped all her life took her that way and at that time because he loved her and she was good is utterly wrong. The more I think about this, the more I get upset and angry about it. Time to go to my happy place….

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10 thoughts on “God takes the Good People Early

  1. My family suffered a lot of tragedies with early death, a series of events that were truly heartbreaking. No, God did not “take them” early because they were good and that is not Christian teaching although I’ve heard it said by people before. In fact, in the OT old age was a sigh of God’s favor. This kind of personal version of Christianity points out the problem with even the best intentions of the individual approach to faith. We could all come up with our own theology, but Christ very clearly left us a Church to keep us on track with God’s version of what we need to know. It sometimes requires us to be humble and say thy will be done, even if we think we know better.

    There are some things we will never understand or at least fully comprehend in this life. It is a comfort, not a delusion, to know that after this life we can enter an eternal life of bliss. So whether we live a few moments or a hundred and 20 years on this earth, it is no comparison to forever. And there we will know each other completely through the eyes of Love. As long as we sincerely strive to be the best we can be, which is the same as holiness, sharing God’s love with the world (even if we don’t quite realize it) the door shall be opened to Heaven and the blinders removed from our eyes.

  2. Not sure your beliefs Kevin but if you are a person who believes in heaven and hell then you must realize that millions more people will be in hell then in heaven. The whole concept of hell is appalling. A quote from Kenneth Daniels book “Why I Believed”, states “What possible purpose can hell serve but to satisfy God’s vindictiveness?” and “I can only conclude that hell exists merely as a concept, one that effectively serves the purpose of the religions that gave it birth.”

  3. There might be a psychological point here.

    The people that you find annoying just seem to be annoying for ever. So that makes it seem as if they live longer.

    When somebody you really like dies, then that seems too soon no matter how old they were when they died. So that makes it seem as if they died too early.

  4. Cerbaz,
    Yes, I very much believe in Heaven and Hell, though limited by my human perception of what they are. But their existence does not depend on my belief, just as God’s existence does not. And yes,I think it clear that people can end up in either although I can’t say where the majority go – I hope Heaven. Revelation uses a number that means a great multitude go there.God is merciful to all who are humble enough to sincerely seek forgiveness even in their last breath. But those who have led a life of putting and serving their selves first – their intellect, their desires, their passions, their opinions – no matter the cost to their fellow persons will have all eternity to keep looking in on themselves. Appalling yes, vindictive no. God’s will is to give us free choice and God calls us in so many ways to choose love. it is our greatest potential and greatest peril. And yet were God to take this choice away we would be reduced to mere animals and without the potential to walk alongside our Creator.

  5. OK. Below is something I wrote on the contraception issue that was discusses here. I realize that you may not share my beliefs but I hope it at least gives you some appreciation for why the Catholic Church sticks to Her teachings. I am putting this out here before editing otherwise I’ll never do it. I’m glad to receive your criticism and comment on positive and negative reactions. I will take what you say to edit and improve what I have written. Of course, that includes trying to answer questions not addressed.
    Then I think I will promulgate it where I can. Thanks for your time.

    The recent interjection of contraception into the political arena by the condescending elite was certainly a disingenuous political ploy and not at all done out of any serious concern or thoughtfulness. Its aim was simply to ridicule and bring down the political aspirations of their opponents. One could almost hear the snickering and guffaws as they slapped each other on the back, “Good one. What Neanderthals!” Somehow it is ironic that it was highly educated and deep philosophical thinkers from many backgrounds that came to see contraception as morally wrong and consequently damaging to the human person and not some brutish cave dwellers who came up with the idea. On the contrary, it is the brute who, blinded and enslaved by his or her passions, wants to use sex devoid of meaning and purpose to satisfy their recurring and uncontrolled physical urges.

    There is much about the human operation of the Catholic Church that is perplexing and outright maddening even to the real believers of this Church founded by Christ. In fact, were it not the guardian of Truth (that’s with a capital T) I would have abandoned it long ago. However, I discovered that if you take the time to examine authentic Catholic teaching and living it even before or ever understanding it, one finds beauty beyond compare that rings true in the human heart. There are simply some things too big for the human mind to express or comprehend.

    The Church’s teaching on contraception (not that many Catholics have heard it explained) is not so big that it is an incomprehensible mystery. That’s not to say that it is all that obvious either, but it has its roots in the nature of love and the human person – so it is something we can grasp. Unfortunately, this teaching is rarely if ever presented in terms that the average person can relate to, instead it gets stuck in philosophical vocabulary that is off-putting to many. Thanks to the recent controversy contraception and sexuality have become much discussed topics on the internet and I think Catholic leaders are missing a potential teaching moment while the topic is “hot.” I am going to attempt to explain the rationale for the Church’s teaching on contraception not in a scholarly way, but hopefully in a manner more attractive to those turned off by a more sophisticated approach.

    To begin with, this is the basic situation: The Catholic Church teaches that using contraception to avoid the possibility of pregnancy is a moral evil, something that falsifies love itself. Contraception doesn’t just block biological functions and the potential of life, it actually distorts human relationship. It is not that the Church is against something, but rather it is FOR something. The Church is for Love and healthy relationship. And within the mantle of Love, one finds the Truth.

    Now the word love has been so overused to mean so many things, it’s necessary to at least describe something about what love truly is. Let it be understood that I am not attempting to adequately define it, but more to give you a sense of it that strikes the human heart. Whereas I might rely on “love is to will the good of another”, I’d rather begin with Aquinas’ “Love takes up where knowledge leaves off.”

    We have all heard that God is love. Simple, profound and true. Love means God is present. Love then is infinite without any boundaries and its source is God. We did not invent love (God) and we can not change what love is. Atheist or believer, if you truly love another you participate in the life of God whether you acknowledge it or not.

    God loves us unconditionally and irretrievably. He gives love to us, a free gift requiring nothing in return, and it is that love that gives us life. As a symbol and a real life example, Jesus Christ hanging crucified is what true love is all about. It says, “I love you so much for who and everything you are that I give you myself. You can spit on me, beat me, torture me, curse me, deny me and kill me on this cross, and I still love you.” There Jesus hangs with his arms forever outstretched. That, is love. And that same beautiful, indescribable and selfless love is also meant for sexual intercourse because all true love focuses outward on others and not what’s in it for me.

    Jesus gives his life to us because love doesn’t “hold back.” We frequently if not always “hold back” in our relationships with others, but that does not mean we actually have extra love in our possession. “Holding back love” really means we are not allowing it to fully exist. Instead of letting love (God) flourish, we stifle love and keep the fullness of God out. Love that is retrievable and conditional is love that was never fully existing or given.

    The mystery of God as a Trinity of persons in relationship is also crucial to understanding the meaning of love, even sexual love. If God were not a community of persons, how could God focus outward loving another before he created? The Father so loves the Son, the Son so loves the Father that the Holy Spirit eternally proceeds from this love. From this relationship of love the Trinity freely brings forth all of creation. And we participate in God’s life of creativity when we love.

    Let’s take a break from love and talk about cars. Cars were basically designed for the purpose of transportation. Nonetheless, the mobility, sense of freedom and practical uses of the automobile have dramatically changed our culture physically, socially and psychologically. Regardless of the thrill about getting a new car, in the end it is designed for something to get around in. Now if a friend purchased a really nice car and with the best of intentions to protect it never let it leave the garage, you would say that the car was wasted. With the same good intentions if the friend used the car constantly to meet needs without the upkeep of oil changes and tires, the car would get damaged. Finally, if the car was used for the good intentions of having a good time, and haphazardly playing bumper cars with oncoming traffic, it would be destroyed. Regardless of good intentions in each case the car was either wasted, damaged or destroyed when treated in a way that does not fit its design.

    Now let’s move on to human sexual intercourse (sex). We did not create or design human sexuality. God did. We were made so that sex impacts us psychologically, biologically and spiritually. The purposes of sex include sharing God’s unconditional love in a very special relationship with our spouse that can bring a new life into existence. If God designed it just for having babies, a child would be conceived every time and neither marriage nor family would have to mean very much. But human sex was also designed for a relationship where it is safe and open to fully and freely give of oneself, unconditionally and irretrievably; to fully and freely receive love from another, unconditionally and irretrievably; and whatever becomes of that love it is to be cherished and protected, even if children are not the result. At all times, however, life is still welcome. That’s what we call marriage.

    Hopefully that sounds beautiful, but perhaps far from the sexual impulses that drive our personal desires in every day life. The problem is, impulses are not supposed to control us we’re supposed to control them. The momentary desire to wolf down a bag of chips might temporarily satisfy us, but it is quickly forgotten and returns. In the process we become fat, and often lose our appreciation for the chips. Mastering the impulse is the only way we can really enjoy the chips and stay healthy. Sex is much the same, but a hundredfold in consequences.

    The idea of contraception is to escape the biological consequences of sex. To be able to eat as much of those chips you want without ever getting fat. For chips one could vomit them up every time, or take diarrhea pills and avoid the weight gain, but both bring on more serious problems. The same can be said for contraception and sex. And although “the pill” has many serious medical concerns, these will not be considered here. It is the psychological and spiritual consequences that are most damaging.

    Basically contraception is at least a lie to biology. It is also a “no” to God’s design, God’s purpose and flourishing love. “I want to make love to you, but let’s trick our bodies to not do what they were designed to do” Obviously contraception is meant to correct God’s flaw of fertility, so it is a spiritual attack as well. In another sense it is a lie about the nature of love. “We don’t need to fully give or fully accept ourselves to make love. Put this shield on, ok?” Despite the claims of making one feel more free, the exact opposite is really true. It requires that you lock up part of who you are.

    Contraception says “I don’t want all of you. It is a “no” to fully giving to or accepting the complete other person. “I love you for the pleasure of sex, but not everything about you, at least not right now.” Or how about, “I love you. But I need to protect you from my biology and me from yours so we can enjoy sex together.” Real and full love does not ever hold back.

    Which brings up pleasure. Is pleasure a purpose of sex that I overlooked? Did you ever eat food you did not particularly like because it was good for you? Or take medicine that tasted badly? Of course. That’s because the purpose of food is nutrition and for medicine to cure, and good tasting is only a bonus. Pleasure, is not a purpose of sex but a blessing and too easily becomes a focus. And when pleasure is the focus, loving the other person is not. If pleasure was God’s purpose, doing it anywhere, anyhow with anything would be fine.

    Contraception makes sex dead on arrival. It demands we be less than human. No matter how you may try to justify it, contraception is the death of some part of another’s personal being. It cannot say, “I love you just for who you are,” because it clearly denies the total person’s by denying their fertility. But it goes deeper. No longer do partners have to be as sensitive or even as caring with each other. “Why not? What do you have to worry about?” And if we are brutally honest it easily becomes “I want to blank you or you to blank me,” treating each other as objects of pleasure and not as human persons. God did not design us to be objects of any kind. No matter the intention being an object demeans who we are.

    Sure you can do whatever you want. With the “best of intentions” you can give yourself all kinds of reasons why you need to use contraception. But as with an automobile, if sex is misused according to God’s design, like a bumping car the human person gets damaged and possible destroyed. And love not fully given is love that does not fully exist, less healthy and more likely to whither on the vine.

    Deep down I think most people have inkling that contraception has more to do with selfishness than selflessness. But even if you think all of this is just hogwash, at least consider the facts:

    Since the dawn of contraception, which of the following are true:

    There are less STDs.
    There are less abortions.
    Adultery is less common.
    Divorce is less common.
    There are less single parents
    Relationships are more stable.
    Children are more welcome.
    More people express fulfillment and meaning to sex.
    Sexual expressions are more sensitive.
    Pornography is way down.
    Rape is almost non existent.

    Ok, I could go on. But you should get my point. Instead of curing the ills it promised to, contraception has led the way to vastly increase them all – just as a pope predicted it would. While demeaning the human person this seemingly small perversion of the meaning of sexual intercourse is an attack on truth, God’s design, sincerity, life and love itself. That is why the Church teaches that it is evil by its very nature. It doesn’t matter if 100% of people are using it, that just mean 100% are suffering from the damage it wreaks and less free to be fully human.

    Before I close, let me say that the Church’s job is to preach the truth regardless of public opinion. Unfortunately She has not done a very good job of in on this issue. The Catholic Church has nothing to gain by this teaching except happier people who realize a higher plateau of love. After all, contraception ensures less children which would mean more money and time to share with the institutional Church. And people would praise Her for her good common sense. She would finally join all the other faiths that jumped ship on this 80 year ago. But you see, Christ promised us that regardless of her many faulted people, the Church He founded would not falsify Truth. And so, whether you believe or not, you might better understand and admire why the Church holds to this teaching.

  6. dear limy, I just have one quick question for you. Do you have a major in biology? I have been wondering this for months.

  7. Pingback: More on Contraception « Confessions Of A YEC

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