By Mike Edwards
What we assume God is like may be why so many believe there is a God but don’t feel like they have a close relationship. We yearn for close relationships. What grown child doesn’t wish a close friendship with their parents? We don’t have a physical relationship with God, but most want God to believe in us, allow us to make our own decisions, to pull for us even when failing. Because I do the same for my children.
God must be Perfect!
I don’t know one person, whether a church-goer or not, that doesn’t think any God worth believing in must be a perfect, loving God. Even atheists would agree if they thought a Supreme Being existed. The Bible even implies such an idea: “Be perfect, therefore as your heavenly Parent is perfect” (Mt. 5:48). We still must decide what perfect love is, but God surely didn’t create us to be totally clueless.
What is perfection?
What human relationship comes to mind how a Creator might love their creations — the employer/employee relationship, the marriage partnership, or the parent/child relationship? I believe the latter. A parent’s perfect love is the same as God’s love. God may be different than what you have heard. God’s love surely is other-directed not self-consumed. We may not always know what true love is, but we somehow know we ought to love others like we want to be loved.
Can Hell really be true? No loving person would create a place of lasting torture that serves no real purpose. Does God really condemn gays when most would tell you they can no more control being attracted to the same gender as you are to the opposite gender. Could a loving God possibly believe women should submit to husbands in ways husbands shouldn’t submit to their wives? I believe I could win that debate based on the abuse resulting from such a theology. What God’s perfection is like must be an open discussion as we seek truth.
What about the Bible?
Something is true whether in the Bible or not. We don’t need a Bible to know we should treat others like we want to be treated. The Bible can’t be an end-all as literature has to be interpreted and many don’t agree on how God is portrayed in the same passage — even moral issues regarding gays, women, destiny of people of other religions, etc. To claim the “Bible says” is frankly a little naïve. Besides, even if we agreed on interpretation, we can’t prove God controlled the thoughts and recording of the writers of the Bible, thus having a perfect view of what God is like.
It is only intuitive that a Creator loves the ways their creations ought to love one another. Many of us are into God but many of us left the institutional church because claims about God’s character according to the Bible was contrary to our deepest moral intuitions. It is hard to believe in a God you can’t respect. We don’t always know what perfect love entails but we seem to know the question we ought to ask ourselves — am I loving others perfectly or like I want to be loved? Our moral intuitions aren’t the enemy in deciding what views best described a loving God.
What about WJWD?
It is argued, because of the challenges understanding what writers in the Old Testament claimed about God and violence, that Jesus is the final word in understanding God. Jesus claimed to be God and His moral legacy seems undeniable. But God-followers don’t always agree what Jesus taught because the Bible requires transmission, translation, and interpretation. People who love Jesus with all their heart don’t agree if Jesus would rule out war when evil is rampant and victims can be saved. We can’t know for certain by claiming What Jesus Would Do.
What is God like?
We must stop claiming we are right according to a Book. It is better to be uncertain than wrong about God. One can’t be certain about an inaudible, invisible God. Allow open discussions what a loving God is mostly like. Choose biblical interpretations and understandings of God that don’t contradict your moral sense of a loving God. You may be right! We seem to know we ought to love others as perfectly as we can. I believe God is kind and relatable like the parent you always wished for.
Mike Edwards has been writing for Done with Religion for some time and has been a great addition to the site. Mike also has his own site where he writes that can be found at What God May Really Be Like He can be contacted by email at: email@example.com