God’s ways are not our ways” Elizabeth said. “Who are we to demand things from our Creator?”.
Zach clutched Elizabeth’s hand a bit tighter than normal. “But what if Jesus came down from heaven right now and told you to kill me? Would you do it?” Elizabeth sighed and rolled her eyes a bit. “But Jesus would never do such a thing. Don’t you know that God is love? How could it be a loving thing for me to kill you?” Elizabeth laughed. “That doesn’t make sense!”
The laptop on Elizabeth’s lap went into sleep mode. It looked like their late-night marathon of “Mystery Science Theater 3000” would take a break midway through “Manos: The Hands Of Fate” for a theological intermission. Zach looked at the black screen intently while Elizabeth studied Zach’s facial expression. She could see that he was off in another world, as if contemplating the next move in a chess game.
Zach looked up and back at Elizabeth, staring into her eyes. “You know I love you, Lizzy. Right?” he said. The inflection in his voice tone gave the words an unromantic matter-of-fact feel, yet at the same time underscored a deep-seeded conviction. “I would never let anything happen to you. But… your answer didn’t give me that same assurance towards me.”
“What do you want me to say?” Elizabeth exclaimed. “There’s no way a situation like what you just asked me would happen. It’s impossible!” Elizabeth let go of Zach’s hand. She looked at him and stated with a sprinkle of disappointment “I love you too, you know, but sometimes I think my friend Jeff was right about this sort of relationship”.
“Yeah, well… he thinks that we shouldn’t be together because you’re a Christian and I’m an agnostic. That might work for him, but I’m dating you an not him. Besides, he’s not my type!” Zach replied. “But seriously, I think he likes you anyway, and wants to steal you from me.”.
Elizabeth shrugged her shoulders. “Don’t worry, he’s not as hot as you. Besides, we’ve been friends forever. That would be like dating my brother!“
“Yeah, well, I still don’t trust him. So wait, what if he got it in his head that you two were destined to be together because he prayed and God told him so?”
“I think that he would be making it up.”
“How do you know? Or you know… what if… what if some burglar barged in here and tried to rape you. What if it was God’s plan that you get raped? Do you think I should try to stop the rapist?”
“How… ! I don’t think God would plan for me to get raped! That’s such a horrible thought, I… I…” Elizabeth began shifting in her seat on the futon, looking down at her lap and furrowing her brow while fidgeting a bit. “I don’t think I like this…”
Zach responded abruptly “There is no way I would let ANYONE hurt you. They would have to kill me before that. They’d better kill me, because oh, man, would I kill them. Broken arms, legs, stab wounds, whatever… I would stop at nothing to kill them for doing that to you. No question. But, thousands of women are raped every day, all across the world. You’re special to me, but are you special to God? I mean, more special than all of those women in your God’s eyes? Are you saying that God cares about them less? Commanded their rapes? Why didn’t he stop those from happening? What if God commanded you to be raped because it would start a like chain of events that like makes everyone on the planet Christians? And because I would stop at nothing to prevent you from being hurt, from being attacked, wouldn’t that mean I was going against God’s divine commands? Wouldn’t that make me immoral for attempting to stop your rape, if God commanded it?”
“That would… that would never…”
“But it has happened. Not to you, but to other women. Why would I stop at nothing to keep some guy from attacking you, but God wouldn’t? Hasn’t, at least in the case of other women?”
“I believe that… well, I don’t know… I… I think that free will–“
“Do you really think that the hundreds of women being raped is better than preventing free will? Or that God cares about them less than you? What makes you more special — in your God’s eyes — than the many other women who are attacked?!”
Elizabeth fell silent. Her mouth slightly agape, as though she were going to speak, yet no words were spoken. She stared at the black screen on her laptop, and placed her arms across her upper body as though she were shielding herself from a cold wind that only she could feel. Zach looked at her arms folded across herself and looked back up at her somewhat startled facial expression. He reached over to her chin with his index finger and with a soft, suggestive nudge turned her head towards his, where their eyes met. He looked fixedly into her somewhat sullen gaze as though he were looking into a deeper part of her; a part beyond all social conventions and pretexts; a part beyond all polite or impolite society; to the part of her that defined the very essence her soul. He looked with an intensity that almost betrayed a brooding anger.
“As long as there is breath in my body…” Zach paused, “…you will be safe with me. Always.” His eyes squinted. “But if your God exists, and it was just him looking out for you… I don’t think… well, I don’t think he would feel the same way.”
Elizabeth’s face warmed up, and a soft smile graced her lips “He does feel the same way. That’s why he gave me you.”