In perhaps the most shocking development to come out of the Trayvon Martin shooting, since George Zimmerman‘s alleged plans to flee the country, occurred in an interview with Fox’s Sean Hannity. During the interview, Zimmerman discussed a number of topics, but the one that caught my attention the most was his comment about God in relation to the shooting:
I feel like it was all God’s plan and for me to second guess it or judge it…
Later in the interview, Zimmerman said that he prays for Martin’s parent’s daily.
So let’s take a step back here. We have to ask, “What’s really behind Zimmerman’s comment that the shooting was, “God’s plan”? Why does he pull out the God card? According to George Zimmerman, God works through a plan in which he orders shootings and people are devoid of responsibility?
Trayvon Martin’s father, said later in an interview with the Associated Press:
We must worship a different God. There is no way that my God wanted George Zimmerman to murder my teenage son.
It appears that George Zimmerman sees God has a divine force that causes both good and evil. In addition, it appears that Zimmerman believes that God causes people to die a horrible death (e.g. dying from a gunshot). Seeing God through these lenses forces us to believe that there is no cause and effect to our actions. If we bring a gun to a conflict and shoot someone, then we are responsible (though, legally we may not be liable for punishment). Often, people think that the Bible answers the question, “Why do bad things happen to good people.” The Bible holds no such answer because it is an epic story of God’s people living in relationship with their Creator. Scholar N.T. Wright help us to understand God’s involvement in evil and suffering:
I don’t think much of the Bible is actually addressing the question, ‘Why is there suffering?’, but rather the question, ‘What is God doing about it?’. When cause-and-effect sequences do occur, as in Amos etc., I read them within the prophetic call to Israel and the warnings, proper to humans in general and covenant people in particular, about the consequences of not going with the grain of the creator’s purposes. (If I say to my teenage son, ‘The reason you came off the road is that you were driving too fast round the corner,’ I am pointing out a cause-and-effect sequence which he was apparently ignoring…
For George Zimmerman, it appears he believes that his actions and the actions of Trayvon Martin were completely beyond their own control, since it was “God’s plan”. However, there are causes and effects to our actions. When something bad happens we cannot just throw up our hands and say, “Well, it’s God’s plan.” That is one of the most callous things to say to someone who just lost a loved one or is experiencing some extreme hardship. Saying such a poor theologically constructed statement gives no regard to the free will of others and disregards the nature of choice. In addition, it displays so a lack of understanding of how God created an orderly universe. If you walk outside in the cold, and walk around naked for hours, you are most likely going to get sick. Some people die from such unfortunate decisions. God didn’t make you walk outside naked, but some blame God for the cold and a world of gems if that person were to die. God didn’t make George Zimmerman shoot Trayvon Martin.
On the other side of this argument, people lament God’s inaction: “Why did God let my grandmother die in a car accident?” We become angry at God because God “failed” to act. God performs miracles for others, why not me? To that question, no one has an answer. However, if God were to intervene everyone time we asked him to, we see a world like in the movie “Bruce Almighty”. In that movie, Bruce gave so many people lottery winnings that inflation rose. Cause and effect. If God answered every prayer (the way we want), then you would not be able to get to work on time because God would have to prevent thousands of car accidents by making cars not start or traffic lights work in erratic ways.
For George Zimmerman, saying that it was God’s plan that Trayvon Martin died is a half-hearted attempt to not claim responsibility for his actions. He played a role in Martin’s death whether justified or not. In life, we cannot escape responsibility for the things we regret. Deep down inside, Zimmerman is in a world of hurt and he does the world no good by acting like he isn’t responsible.