The Theology of Bathrooms
Flush toilets. Jesus. The Gospel.
What do these things have to do with each other?
This dichotomy of topics is screaming for an explanation and it’s about time anyway.
To ask the question more generally - Why does SuNica put great emphasis on both physical and spiritual endeavors?
We put a lot of effort into discipling kids in their relationship with Jesus, but we’re just as committed to responsibly develop and socially engineer water and sanitation projects. We’re obsessed with both and we aim to do them to our best ability.
Ten years ago, when SuNica was as fresh as a prince from Bel Air, we thought about keeping our faith in the background. We acknowledged God was THE motivating factor for caring about humanitarian issues, but maybe faith should be something that we only talked about behind the scenes. We’d seen this in other organizations and it seemed to make sense. After all, wouldn’t this open us up to involvement and funding outside of the Christian sphere?
It seemed like a wise move five years ago.
But as the organization grew and we gained clarity on the question of “why?”, it simply made no sense to screen out the One who made it all matter in the first place. There was just no good reason to care about goodness, mercy, or justice without the loving God of the Judeo-Christian scriptures.
After all, bringing clean water and sanitation to folks in extreme poverty is a justice issue. People are not poor and lacking these basics of human flourishing by some huge accident. Oh no. Poverty can be traced back to a real evil - where one people group took advantage of another.
The reason why SuNica and other NGOs exist is in response to evil itself, to right a wrong.
I like how the gospel of Mark gets straight to business. From Chapter One there’s a proclamation of the Kingdom of Heaven breaking forth on earth. If you read the New Testament, that’s the predominant theme. There’s a new Kingdom a comin’! Jesus announces it, then He fulfills it with his death and resurrection, and later yet He commissions the faithful to make disciples of all nations.
We’re still working on that some 2,000 years later.
That’s the short of it, but it leaves all of us who follow Jesus with a crazy task - if we are to be making disciples of all nations then we ought to be doing the things that Jesus did.
And what did he do? He healed people. He fed people. He cast out demons. He declared sins to be forgiven (careful with that last one). And of course He called people to a different way of living - to a Kingdom living. Jesus seemed equally concerned about our physical existence as He was our spiritual condition. It’s really hard to figure out where those two things diverge when you look at the way Jesus operated.
The story of the paralytic from Mark 2 says it well. Jesus has his showdown with the Pharisees featuring the, “Son, your sins are forgiven.” line. We always focus on the fact that the Pharisees were pissed because Jesus asserts His authority to forgive sins. To me though, there’s another implication.
The paralytic’s physical condition and his spiritual life were bound up together - like two hands clasping together.
If that’s true, then we have to care about the broken things on earth.
All of them.
I think it’s important to note that our understanding of how the spiritual and physical aspects of ministry work together formed after they were already happening and not the other way around. As if it were some sort of divine accident. I think in eternity, the same thing will be true time and time again. That so much of ministry was made up of these divine accidents that were of course, no accident after all.
This is why, as we set out in the name of Jesus to help build modern bathrooms in a community like El Porvenir, we say with confidence that the gospel and the flush toilet have a lot to do with each other.