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Do Our Sins Wound or Hurt God?

downloadQuestion

My question is when we do something that might hurt others— does it hurt God, too?  If our sins wound God, does this mean that he has emotions like us?  Does God love and feel as we do?  This confuses me because we also sometimes speak about God as if he is something utterly alien, perfect in every way and unmovable.

Response

This is a question I repeatedly get asked. God as an immutable and perfect spirit cannot be harmed. Our sins have dishonored the supreme dignity of God. God the Father does not have human emotions. However, God can be honored or dishonored. The justice of God demands that we maintain the correct posture before him. Sin offends him.

It is only with the incarnation, God becoming man, that we can speak of a divine Person being targeted by our sins and wounded.  All the sins of the world, throughout all time, and in every place, found their terminus in Christ and his Cross. Jesus embraces his Cross and surrendered his life as a sin offering for the whole world. The suffering Sacred Heart of Jesus is precisely the betrayed, scourged and crucified Christ. Our Lord’s Paschal Mystery takes place in time and yet it is not locked in human history. The Mass through an unbloody but real re-presentation brings us back to the sacrifice of the Cross and permits us to offer ourselves as an acceptable oblation to the Father, albeit joined to Christ. Jesus knew betrayal, abandonment, suffering and death. The risen Christ can never suffer or die again. But the sacrifice of Calvary has an eternal dimension.

Confusion about emotions in God is often due to the many definitions given to love. The Gospel understanding of love is not as an emotion although human beings often relate to love as an emotion or as chemistry. Theologically, love is an act of the will, not of the emotions. Our participation in divine love or charity is the infusion (with saving grace) of the virtue of love within the rational will. It is this supernatural love that would have us embrace or even sacrifice ourselves for those whom we have trouble in liking. This is the meaning behind loving those who hate you, giving to those who take from you and forgiving those who hurt you.

Thomists speak of God as the Unmoved Mover. God as such is a perfect Spirit and there is no biological chemistry or emotions. He possesses every perfection. He creates us with our emotions, even though because of Original sin, we must deal with concupiscence. Jesus is the incarnate God and in him there is both divinity and humanity, the latter including a body (with its emotions) as well as a human soul and his divinity. Of course, Jesus is the All Holy One and is not subject to the brokenness we experience because of the primordial fall. Jesus is defined as a Divine Person, not a human person. This is his ultimate identity. We are saved by Jesus who is God.

The Scriptures will sometimes resort to anthropomorphic language because this is all that we know. That is why God, especially in the Old Testament, often seems to reflect human wrath. Our language and categories are strained in trying to express the deity who reveals himself to us. For instance, ours is a jealous God. What does this mean? It actually says more about us than God. We were made for God. Separated from him and we are frustrated in terms of our ultimate ends.

What does it mean when we say that GOD IS LOVE? It is appreciated within an understanding of the Trinity. The Love of God is eternally generated between the Father and the Son. This perfect good will or the Holy Spirit is a divine interior power that harmonizes our hearts with that of Christ. God moves us to participate or to share in his love; a love that the Cross shows us is sacrificial. We are summoned to love one another as our Lord has loved us. This “personal” divine power or energy (not an impersonal force like Star Wars) always calls us to conversion or transformation. Hardened hearts are softened or changed within the body of the Church. This is what it means to witness the love of God to the world around us. We are made adopted sons and daughters to the Father. We are invited to abide within the Trinity (the inner life of God) forever.

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