The YMCA locker room remains my best source of inspiration for these occasional brief essays. Today’s nugget was a snippet of conversation in the sauna. Someone had read an article about transplanting wombs into infertile women. I haven’t seen the article, so that’s as much as I know about it. That was enough to set another one off on, “The next thing you know they’ll want to use animal wombs, and then what’ll happen. I tell you they just want to play God and that’s not right.”
I got to thinking about the playing God gambit, and it occurred to me that, at least around here, playing God is brought up only when it involves some aspect of science, especially biological science. But is that what playing God is about? The various attributes we assign to God include creator, and things related to creation, but the greater number have to do with redemption, judgment, salvation, election, healing, restoration, and the like.
Maybe we should lay off the biological scientists for a while and look at our own inclinations to play God, perhaps not on a grand scale, but in the events of our daily lives. We play God whenever we assign the terms and conditions by which another human being, or class of human beings, can live in our society. We make judgments; we offer or withhold redemption; we give or take back second chances; we rule others in or out of the fullness of belonging; we curse, injure, kill, and sometimes heal; now and then we even restore that which we have taken away.
To me, that is the far greater sin of playing God. The problem is that it is so common, so much a part of everyday life, that it has become invisible. Maybe it always has been. Because we have each eaten of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, we feel compelled to make judgments that are not only beyond our competence, but we do so feeling justified that whatever condition we have imposed on another by virtue of our judgment is valid and deserved. We tend to be quite self satisfied about the whole affair.
This, of course, is your problem more than it is mine. It’s plain to see that your ongoing acts of playing God are by far the more egregious. Shame on you. My judgments, on the other hand, are fair, well reasoned, and prayerfully given. If only you could be more like me. Oh, and in case you’re wondering, God has laid it on my heart to tell you that.