Countless individuals have posed the question, “How could God let this happen?” Some debate God’s “allowance” of evil from an intellectual standpoint. Others are drawn to this age old question because of their own personal encounters with evil. These encounters could be with the evil of natural disasters, untimely death, or the evil of one human being harming another, etc. This post will speak to the last of these.
Not long ago, I received a ticket for a front row seat to Man’s Capacity for Evil. A show story lining a rape by an acquaintance who cornered his victim by offering her a ride home. That victim was me. Trapped in his car, trapped by my surroundings of endless field, trapped by my own fear of making the situation worse, I was held for three hours while he “took his time with me” and then ultimately took what he wanted.
I remember a moment while he was raping me, wondering where God was? I had prayed that if ever something like this were to happen to me that God would provide some miracle to protect my purity, like with St Agnes when she was stripped of her clothes and her hair immediately grew long and covered her. But there I was, stripped and naked and unprotected from the man defiling me.
I have spent countless hours since pondering God’s presence in my assault. So many say, “…God allows everything for a reason…” I think this statement is true, but I think what it infers is not. It seems to suggest that God allowed that evil to happen to me. Instead, I believe it refers much more powerfully to the gift of our Free Will and that God DID NOT in His infinite love for me desire or will for me to be hurt, but also in His infinite love for humanity, he DID allow my assailant to utilize his free will and choose freely.
You see, one thing has been made so clear to me through this recent event, that I propose that when God states in Genesis that He made us in his Image and Likeness, that he is referring in large part to our Free Will. It is in many ways our most God-like quality, the ability to choose freely, and therefore our greatest gift. I’ve also meditated on what it would mean if God were to have interfered with my rapist’s free will that night. Knowing that God Cannot Contradict himself, if he were to interfere in order to prevent our choosing evil, he would also have to interfere in our ability to choose good. And as soon as he begins interfering at all, it’s no longer freely chosen. And what is love worth if not freely given? What would compassion or charity be worth if they were only robotic functions? With the gift of Free Will comes great responsibility because we as human beings have an immeasurable capacity for good, but also an incredible possibility for evil. The choice is ours.
Here are some things that I know…That it pained God greatly that his son, the man who assaulted me, chose to use the gift of his free will to hurt another. That God was there as a light in the midst of one of my darkest moments. And that God did not desire for me to be hurt, SO THAT he could bring something good from it, BUT, because I was hurt, he will take my pain and make of it a new creation if I allow him. Of these things, I am certain.
May we see our Free Will as the immense gift and responsibility that it is and use it to become lights, loves and joys in this world that can sometimes seem so very dark.