Respecting All Things that God has Made

buddingTree1The Book of Common Prayer gives us an important focus for Lent by starting the collect for the Ash Wednesday Eucharist with “Almighty and everlasting God, you hate nothing you have made and forgive the sins of those who are penitent.” So often, we blame the material world for our sins and then hate what God has made which God also loves. In a sense, the material world becomes a scapegoat for our own disordered desires. If we eat too much, it isn’t really the fault of the food, though we quickly blame it for our own lack of self-control. Women, of course, have been blamed for being “tempting” as if it is their responsibility to control the desires of men while men need take no responsibility for themselves.

To complicate the picture, René Girard has demonstrated many times in his books that our desires are intertwined with the desires of others in a dense network of mutual imitation. If we become ensnared in desires for certain things or certain people because others desire them, we are in a frustrating situation and, again, it becomes convenient to blame the other people and other things for the pickle we are in.

We need to remember that God is our model for perfect love for all that God has made. That means that, unlike Zeus and many other mythological deities, God does not lust after humans but loves all humans with perfect respect. The more we respect other people and all things in the world, the more restraint we have in relation to them. So it is that when we repent and turn to God, we also turn to all things and to all people that God has made with new respect and love.

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