Patience

Mano Paul asks how one can define patience. What is wrong with using a dictionary? Apparently it isn’t appropriately deferential to God’s will. If the biblical definition of patience really amounts to longsuffering by God’s capriciousness, then society is better off when we are all impatient.

To follow Abraham’s example is particularly abhorrent. No modern court would acquit infanticide on the grounds that “God told me to do it”, and rightly so. I hope that anyone would sooner assume of themselves that they were suffering from mental illness than to trust that the murderous voice in their head really was the voice of God asking for blood sacrifice. And what bastardization of the English language would be necessary to accept murder as a logical consequence of patience?

If we are to believe that death, disease, and suffering are all part of God’s plan, how do we understand our own pain and rebelliousness against them? Why would God create us to be capable of such suffering and then inflict it upon all of us? Why should we be accomplices to our own misery and not stand up to such injustice?

Instead, we should celebrate our impatient heroes, like Joseph Lister who helped develop the germ theory of disease and prevented billions of untimely deaths. What Christian could honestly condemn our efforts to cure cancer as the thwarting of God’s will? Who could curse the meteorologists for learning the patterns of weather and providing millions of people with the information they need to escape the devastating path of hurricanes?

It is hypocritical to claim deference to God’s will and at the same time enjoy the conveniences of modern technology (the fruit of the tree of knowledge). To truly exemplify the “virtue” of Mano’s version of patience, one must forego all earthly will and accept whatever we have coming. I would rather applaud those who pursue a better fate for humanity than the one we would expect from a jealous, genocidal, arbitrary, and vengeful god.

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