Wednesday, March 16, 2011
In Which I Rant About Religious Pet-Peeves
I've been doing lots of reading and researching this past week. Plus it's been raining which makes me feel all melancholy and thoughtful. Plus my husband started trucking again this week so I'm lonely and single-moming it. All of which seem to enhance those little irritations and pet-peeves of mine. Plus several of them were triggered this week, resulting in a not-so-subtle brain twitch, that seems to be causing random and intermittent exclamations of "GAAAHHHH!!!!". So in no particular order, here are some mini-rants for your enjoyment (or not):
1. The Shepherd Breaking the Lamb's Leg Analogy
I'm really tired of this one. If you've been anywhere near a conservative church, you've probably heard it a few times. The story goes that shepherds would break the leg of a wandering lamb, then carry the lamb around on their shoulders while it healed. Thus the lamb would wander no more, but following the Shepherd everywhere devotedly until death do them part. And then this is applied to God and how He treats us, since the Lord is my Shepherd and all that jazz. Besides the inconvenience of having to carry a lamb around for weeks (what if you have 10 wandering lambs at the same time?), and having an entire heard of sheep co-dependant on you for the rest of their lives, and the possible historical inaccuracy of the illustration, I'm having trouble seeing how this applies to God and us at all. Sure, David did famously say "The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want" and poetically made an analogy between his own profession and his relationship with God. But I don't think you can apply it as far as some people want to. I mean, the Shepherd analogy is beautiful to a point but shepherds do lots of things that really don't apply to our relationship with God. (Artificial insemination, anyone?) I really think we should resist getting all analogy-happy and taking things farther then God did. Our theology tends to suffer when we do. Besides all that, where do people get the idea that God forcibly breaks people to get them to follow Him unquestioningly? I thought He bound the broken and healed the wounded? I thought He asks, seeks, and knocks, desiring us to give Him our hearts willingly? I thought it was His kindness that leads us to repentance? I thought that He draws us to Himself with His grace, love, and mercy? Where in scripture does anyone get the idea that God is sitting up there, with an attitude of "You don't want to follow Me? Well, fine, see how you like this trial! And I'll throw in a natural disaster, just for kicks"? Preachers need to stop using this false analogy and misrepresenting God.
2. Modesty and Shame
This could be a whole entire post by itself. Why do Christians reduce women to objects and men to base animals? Do we really think so little of men that we believe they cannot be responsible for themselves? That they can't be expected to choose righteousness and purity when a curvy body and pretty face walks into their view? And the women....how many of us grew up afraid of our own beauty, with eating disorders, or fear of men because we were taught that our bodies were somehow shameful and men were sex-crazed animals? How unfair it is that we take ordinary girls and force them to bear the weight of all men's purity on their shoulders! And the shame of all men's sins. If I never hear the word "defraud" in this context again it'll still be too soon. Girls, we are beautiful. God designed us that way. Guys like us. God designed guys to like us. We have boobs and cleavage and legs and butts. Don't flaunt them for the purpose of distraction, but don't fear them either. Don't be ashamed of being pretty. You are not responsible for what men think when they look at you. Someone's going to argue with me on that one but I don't care and I won't qualify it or take it back. Every good man I know declares the same thing. Even if a woman walked in front of them naked, they are still the only ones responsible for their thoughts. My husband says that any man that blames a woman for his lack of self-control is no man at all.
3. Parenting Wars
Guess what? The Bible never prescribes a parenting method. It just doesn't. So anyone that claims to know "The Biblical Parenting Method"(TM) is full of it. Parenting is a very personal, very individual thing that the Bible really doesn't talk much about. It is multi-faceted and complex and even changes from child to child within the same family. The only principles of parenting that the apostles ever addressed was summed up in two sentences: "Do not discourage and provoke your children to wrath" and "raise them up in the nurture and instruction of the Lord". That's it, folks. He didn't lay out 10 steps of how to do those two things....I think he left that up to us, to use discernment and wisdom and love and knowledge of our children to figure out the best way to "raise them up" and nurture them. I also think that everything we need to know about parenting, we can get from looking at how God "parents" us. And from following the "one-another" scriptures in regards to our kids. They are people too, after all, and I fail to see how "be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving each other" doesn't also apply to how we interact with our children. There are no Bible laws that say your kid must obey immediately every single time with a smile on their face. Do you obey God that way every time He asks you to? And isn't God still good and merciful when we complain and stomp our feet? How many times has God extended mercy to you when you didn't obey Him instantly and cheerfully? I'd venture to say more times then most people extend mercy to their own children. So why in the world do we think we should expect more of an immature child then we are able to do ourselves??? If God is loving and gentle and merciful and abounding in loving kindness and patience toward us, how can we not extend that to our children? Don't judge another parent because they are doing things differently than you. Until you have to raise their unique children, you don't know their story and you have no right to tell them they're doing it wrong. And do not feel guilty if others seem to condemn you for your parenting choices. If you are confident that you're doing the best you can to love and raise your kids in the way that THEY need you to, forget others' condemnation. They are not the scorecard on your parenting.
4. End Times Paranoia
Besides the fact that I'm a Preterist and don't believe in "End Times", even if I did, the extreme paranoia and second-guessing that goes on everytime some natural (or unnatural) disaster happens would still drive me crazy. I hate to break it to ya, but earthquakes, volcanoes, economic failures, wars, terrible world leaders, and every other Bad Thing has been happening, over and over again, since the beginning of time. Go Google "10 worst earthquakes" and you'll find historical proof that some of the worst earthquakes happened a very long time ago. The world didn't end then and I highly doubt it's going to end now. There is nothing new under the sun. I really wish people would stop sitting around wondering when Jesus is going to come take them out of this mess we've made and start putting their energy into fixing the mess. One of the last things that Jesus prayed about His disciples before He died was "I do not pray that You would take them out of the world, but that You would keep them from the evil one". So stop praying "Come, Lord Jesus and save us out of this wicked world" and start praying instead that He would give you the strength to change the world you live in. This attitude could make all the difference. And even if I'm wrong, and Jesus is coming back to whisk us all away, at least I won't have wasted any time worrying about it.
5. Stating that God is Judging Someone Because Bad Things are Happening to Them
This really irks me. Who are we to judge someone in their troubles? A wise man once said "Then I saw all the work of God, that a man cannot find out the work that is done under the sun. For though a man labors to discover it yet he will not find...for I considered all this in my heart so that I could declare it all: that the righteous and their works are in the hand of God. People know neither love nor hatred by anything they see before them. All things come alike to all; One event happens to the righteous and the wicked; to the good, the clean, and the unclean....the race is not to the swift, nor the battle to the strong...but time and chance happen to them all." (from Eccl. 9) You cannot know whether someone deserved love or hatred, blessing or cursing, just by what you see them going through. Other world religions teach this...some call it Karma, among other things. But our God is merciful and often doesn't give us what we do deserve and gives us what we don't deserve. That's called grace. You obviously haven't received everything you've deserved. Don't play God by assuming others are getting their just due.
6.Stupid Worship Songs
Being a musician, sometimes I sit in church and cringe. "I really want to worship You, My Lord!" After singing that ad nauseam, you'll start to wonder if it has any meaning at all. "Great are you, Lord, Great are you Lord, great are you Lord....." YES, wonderful, the Lord is great. We get it. Can we move on now? And can you songwriters please dig into your creative side a little more and come up with a harmony that's more than 1-4-5?? Oooo, you added a minor 6? Yay for you. Ever heard of the circle of fifths? Nope, didn't think so. :P Also, just because a song is played on the Christian radio station, doesn't mean it makes a good corporate worship song. There's nothing more awkward then watching a congregation trying to follow a guitarist who's jammin' and singing a song that should've been a solo. Tenors who are also worship leaders, please remember: not everyone is a tenor. Have a little heart. And I'll leave with one last, helpful word for all worship leaders to commit to memory: tessitura, my friends. Tessitura. ;)
I'm sure there's more but that enough ranting for the time being. I feel loads better now. :) Feel free to disregard all of this and go on your merry way. Peace, y'all!