A Targum* for my children based on Romans 1:18-28
St Gregory of Nyssa said that it is impossible for one to live without tears who considers things exactly as they are. How can God be faithful to his creation when things like the World Trade Center bombings are going on? I know that he promised to fix things through the People of the Old Oath- Israel, but they have fallen under his judgment and are sidelined and cursed. They can’t help themselves, much less the rest of us. It sounds like a botched operation, doesn’t it? What’s up with that?
To understand how the current reign of King Joshua answers all of these questions about God’s faithfulness we need to start at the very beginning- at Creation itself:
The first thing to remember is that because everything visible and invisible originated in the mind of God, everything seen and unseen is at its heart good. America is not evil for existing. Power finds its origin in God himself. Handsome faces and round bottoms are proof that God loves us and wants us to be happy. The creator delighted in making trees and animals. He said so himself and called it all "Good"! Agreed, then. We should be thankful for America, bodies, markets, wealth, etc.
But even more fundamental than the goodness of creation is the fact that God is God and Creation is not.
Since the beginning mankind has known the truth about God, but the very first man and woman (as every man and woman after them) chose to serve and worship creation rather than creation’s God. They traded God in for a critter.
God’s love for his creation necessarily means his hatred of anything that would hurt or destroy it. God’s “Yes” to us is a loud “No!” to our enemies, and underlying all of these enemies is the idolatry of putting creation in God’s place.
It’s an inviolable law that human beings become like that which they worship. While being made to mirror the glory of the true God, they instead fell into behaving like beasts. Angered at the destructive choices his vice regents had made, God turned them over to the consequences of their unthankfulness and pride. He gave them what they chose.
Men and women’s existence focused only on the gratification of their selfish desires. Gross shame resulted from the debauchery that followed. Women lived for their passions and took for themselves forbidden lovers. The offspring increased in wickedness until God destroyed the entire world of mankind during the days of Noah. It didn’t end there. Again mankind disgraced itself. Men refused to be satisfied with the restraints placed on their passions by their own humanity. They were consumed with cravings towards women and even each other, and like the women before them, sought forbidden sexual partners- the angelic messengers that God’s grace had sent to them- even to the point of violent rape. God again destroyed them.
Even worse, not only were they disgraced in their own bodies- their lives being indistinguishable from those creatures they were created to rule over, but they devoured each other with bestial violence. Many of their most vile acts of brutality took place in hearts and speech. One doesn't even need a body to hurt and defraud as they chose to.
With their minds darkened they taught others that this type of existence was how humans were meant to live. When goodness and wickedness are confused, the dehumanizing effect of idolatry is complete. There seems to be no escape. Humanity perishes.
I know this seems to apply very clearly to those who were never part of God’s Old Oath people- Israel, but didn’t she also “trade” the living God for an image of a beast while in the wilderness (as her ancient King David declares in Psalm 106:20)? Aren’t all the horrific resulting consequences present in her subsequent history, too?
*A Targum was an expanded paraphrase of the Hebrew Scriptures composed by Rabbis during the diaspora to aid the understanding of their “Hebrew challenged” congregations. I thought something similar might be of help to my kids. So I’ve started with Paul’s Epistle to the Romans.