It was a strange ten minutes.
My associate minister came into my office and asked me if I’d heard the news about Paul Williams, a gifted writer and well-respected leader in the Christian Church. I hadn’t. My associate then told me that Paul had become Paula and referred me to Paul’s website for further info. I went to the website and found a picture of Paul as Paula (in a wig and dress) and read the blog posts. It was a strange ten minutes indeed.
This blog post is not about Paul Williams, except to the extent that his choice illustrates a dangerous notion that is growing in popularity among church-goers. I’m talking about the belief that sometimes God just gets it wrong. Transgender choices, for example, suggest that body and soul have been mismatched and that a correction needs to be made.
But it doesn’t have to be nearly that spectacular.
Take the church-going couple that decides to live together before marriage. They know the Bible talks about sexual purity and maintaining a spotless witness, but they would contend that God didn’t think the whole thing through. It’s much less expensive to maintain one household. “Why, just think how much more money we could put in the offering plate if we didn’t have to make that second rent payment.” (People have actually said this to me.)
Or what about the believer who marries an unbeliever? His analysis: “I know God says not to be unequally yoked, but he obviously underestimated the epic nature of the love we share.”
What’s scary here is that these are not moments of weakness that sneak up on us and cause us to stumble. These are calculated moves that require us to somehow frame God as being mistaken or, at the very least, out of touch. And once we start down that road, we’re done with anything even remotely resembling true, biblical Christianity. We can still go to church…we can write blog posts about how much we love God and want to continue to serve him…we can trot out fancy, grad-school psychology terms to explain our choices, but what we cannot do is say we believe in the God whose way is “perfect.” (Psalm 18:30)
On the other hand, I suppose it’s not important to some people to serve a perfect God who doesn’t make mistakes. Perhaps they feel a God who occasionally messes up is more relatable. One thing is certain: A God who occasionally messes up is a lot easier to serve.
Especially if I get to be the one who decides where he has messed up.
As for me, I’ll stick with my perfect God, the one who never makes a mistake. He sure does cramp my style sometimes. But in 58 years, I’ve never once done something his way and regretted it. All of my regrets can be traced back to those times when I concluded that he was wrong and I was right.