Last week, the Central Lutheran Church in downtown Mineappolis was beset by a rare and unexpected tornado – upturning Lutheran food stands and damaging the church steeple. The winds, which brought with them something of a strong rain which flooded nearby highways, managed to detach the cross from on top of the steeple, causing it to hang down in what ended up being a cracking photo op. Fortunately, nobody was hurt and the only real damage was to the building and the “Potluck Favorites” Supper, which had to be rescheduled due to damage to the food stall.
Rev. Rick Nelson, Central’s senior pastor, says of the freak tornado:
“We give thanks to God that no one was injured by today’s tornado” – Source: www.centralmpls.org
So far, so normal. But not everyone was as willing to take it as a random act of weather as we reasonably sorts might. In fact, soon after the reports went out, the hardline Christian blogs were alight with tales of fearful vengeance from the magic sky man. Especially given the unfortunate fact that, at the same time as the tornado landed, an Evangelical Lutheran Church in America debate was taking place over the road, in order to decide whether to allow practicing homosexuals to be ordained clergy. So, of course, the more hardline and nuttier elements of the church – and the wider Christian community in America – have taken this freak weather event as some kind of warning from God, a kind of ‘Repent lest ye be blown!’
One great such post I found was from John Piper of the DesiringGod.org blog – a particularly creepy and smug character who I urge you to check out, if you can stand it. He wrote of the whole affair:
Let me venture an interpretation of this Providence with some biblical warrant:
The unrepentant practice of homosexual behavior (like other sins) will exclude a person from the kingdom of God.
“The unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality, nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God.” (1 Corinthians 6:9-10)” – Source: www.desiringgod.org
This, I think, is a great argument from John, because it’s so clearly self-defeating – if homosexuality is a sin on par with adultery, greed, thievery or drunkenness, then surely we should be having a hell of a lot more tornadoes! Strange then that God only seems to take weathery vengeance on the gay community. Also, and it might be childish of me to point out, but I fail to see how anyone who has a website called ‘Desiring God’ can criticise anyone for being gay…
I did, however, find a nice reasonably rebuttal from ChristianityToday.com, where Julia Duin wrote:
“If God was speaking in downtown Minneapolis through the twister, no one was listening… if God had wanted to get through to the assembly, why didn’t he send the tornado a day earlier so word would have gotten through to everyone?” - Source: blog.christianitytoday.com
And she has a point – exploring the story more, I found that many of the voting committee were only informed of the damage to the church a long time after they’d voted. And as it turns out, the vote ended with a two thirds majority in favour of allowing homosexual clergy. So they failed to take heed of God’s warning – surely we should expect some even greater catastrophe to befall them? Surely God’s not going to take it lying down?
Seeking a slightly more independent source, I found reports of the incident on Associated Press:
“Residents began cleaning up Thursday after tornadoes and severe storms slammed a large part of the Midwest, tearing the roofs from buildings and overturning vehicles” - Source: Associated Press
So unless the Central Lutheran Church can be considered to be ‘a large part of the Midwest’, it seems like the Lutheran’s who think God’s holy rage is upon them are just being a little self-centred. Didn’t I read somewhere that vanity is a sin…?