Was New Orleans Punished for Its Sinfulness?

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Let's consider how Jesus would have responded to the damage and loss of life wrought by Katrina.

Someone sent me this paragraph (anonymously authored), which seems to be circulating on the Web:


Hurricane Katrina is America’s tsunami though you might not know that unless you’re watching Fox News. What you won’t hear anywhere is that this week New Orleans was to observe Southern Decadence Day with 100,000 homosexuals gathering there to commit unspeakable acts in public. Previous events were photographed and sent to the mayor and police officials but they did not care. They had their own lust: The $100,000,000 the event brings in.

New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina. Lower 9th Ward flood devastated residential neighborhood; Jourdan Avenue. House site demolished by barge (just to right of this photo) has sign with address and “All We Have Left Is Our Life & Our Dignity.” Photo by Infrogmation of New Orleans. Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

Without investigating the accuracy of the above information, let’s consider how Jesus would have responded to the damage and loss of life wrought by Katrina. He no doubt would have said, “Do you think these people in New Orleans were worse sinners than all the rest? No, and unless you repent you will also perish” (compare Luke 13:1-5). In other words, this disaster (and all others) should serve to remind us that we need to urgently and seriously examine our own lives! Certainly we should pray for and offer immediate aid to those whom tragedy has struck, but we shouldn’t be searching for sinful behavior in the lives of those who have been stricken. Rather, we should quickly do an instrument check on our own lives. The tragedy of others is a personal wake-up call from the Lord, a loving reminder to look to ourselves, to get on our knees before Him and do some heart-searching, or soul-searching. According to Jesus, our first response shouldn’t be, “What awful sinners those people must have been!” or “Those people should have repented and averted disaster,” but rather, “Wait a minute, let me see, have I sinned against, or am I sinning against, God or a friend or neighbor, and have I deeply repented and asked for forgiveness?”

In short, were the citizens of New Orleans more sinful than you or me? Our answer should be a resounding “NO!” To save ourselves spiritually, we must stop speculating on the spiritual condition of others and tend to our own spiritual business. We urgently need to get ready to meet the Lord, who may return at any moment. We must be “repented up” at all times! Rabbi Eliezer [a Jewish sage who was active in the last half of the first century A.D.] said:

“Repent one day before your death” [Mishnah, Avot 2:10].

His disciples asked him: “But can a man know on what day he will die?”

He said: “All the more reason for him to repent today; perhaps he will die tomorrow. It follows that a man should repent every day. Thus in his wisdom Solomon said: ‘Let your garments always be white, and never let your head be without ointment’ [Ecclesiastes 9:8].” (Babylonian Talmud, Shabbat 153a)

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  • David N. Bivin

    David N. Bivin

    David N. Bivin is founder and editor of Jerusalem Perspective. A native of Cleveland, Oklahoma, U.S.A., Bivin has lived in Israel since 1963, when he came to Jerusalem on a Rotary Foundation Fellowship to do postgraduate work at the Hebrew University. He studied at the Hebrew…
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