Control and flourishing

Imagine you are a farmer or married to a farmer, hundreds of years ago. Life is a grind, and you are at the mercy of the seasons.

You must plant your crops at the right time. You plant your tomatoes and lettuce in spring and your potatoes and cabbage in autumn. You harvest strawberries and berries in summer, and apples in winter.

You pray for rain. Like the temperature, rain is not something you can control. But you need both for a successful harvest.

You have little control over the soil. You can leave it fallow, and enrichen it with compost scraps. But there are no chemicals, no trucks to deliver loam. The soil of your region determines what will flourish, and what will not. As do the prevalence or absence of local pests and diseases.

In such a scenario, the elements regularly remind you that the world in which you live has an order. You must work out how to farm, what crops to plant, when, so as to conform and survive within that created order.

Now contrast that with modern life. We can control temperatures with hothouses. Or we can import out of season fruits and vegetables overnight by plane. We have watering systems, and hydroponics. We have chemicals, earthmoving and farming machinery. We can adjust the soil's structure and nutrients. Spray against diseases, and so on.

All of this gives us the idea that an abundant farm is something we can simply imagine, and then go out and create. We shape nature – it does not shape or restrain us.

Gender and sexuality are similar. Humanity has for thousands of years understood itself as part of a created order. And that order was instilled into creation, by a creator. Living an abundant life was about getting in tune with the contours and constraints of being human, or married and family life. Living and existing in ways that aligned with God’s purposes and intent as it is reflected in his created order.

Science and technology now permit us to imagine a different world. One where we choose, we control, we imagine and then we make it happen, we play god. We shape our own nature, it has no preferences sewn into its fabric by another.

Just because we can imagine it, or even achieve it, does not make it either wise or right. God is still God. We are still creature, in his creation.

Rev David Rietveld

Senior Minister

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