I sit here in the ole coffee shop, now that I'm up way too early to go to the office, thinking about the "God badge effect." This is where we manipulate others while wearing the God badge. We all (Christians) do it.
I was thinking about it for two reasons. The first one is directly related to my (my as in owner not writer) book, The Way of All Flesh. While my other books have raised interesting questions, as it relates to this issue of Christian Monist Vs Dualism, this book is like the turkey to Thanksgiving dinner. It is central. It takes a very candid and transparent look at a pious family in Victorian England in the mid 1800s. But you could easily transfigure the story to modern American Evangelicalism and not miss a beat.
I won't expound on the story at this point (but hope to later) but you see two parallel universes. One is the raw, selfish and sometimes barbaric motives behind actions. Then, on the surface, are the godly "Christ-centered" pretense. The author does a great job leading you by the hand between the rows of madness and piety. I will explain more later. However, if you were the product of a deeply pious home (pastor's kid, missionary kid, or just a garden variety Jesus-freak's kid) you must read this book.
The other God badge issue is some subtle guilt I feel for missing an important church meeting last night. I mentioned it a few weeks ago. It was to discuss the acute shortage of elders and deacons at our church. It frustrates the pastor that no man is "willing to step up to the plate for God's church." That's where I feel the guilt, but it is a false guilt.
I didn't go to the meeting because I knew that it would make me very frustrated. Either I would sit and listen with a smile on my face as we talked about the superficial universe issues . . . or I would open my big mouth, talk a bit about reality, pissing everyone off.
The meeting, I'm sure, had a good 45 minute lecture by the pastor giving a very good Biblical support for eldership. He is a very good teacher. I would have no problem with that. But here is the other universe. I've been an elder and as I stepped down, I told myself, "never again." The tough situation is that in this church the pastor made all the decisions and put our names at the bottom as co-signers. When I had people walking up to me challenging the decision (which I found out about at the same time they did) I felt very awkward. I have been in chruches where you could approach the pastor if you felt they were overstepping their boundaries. Not here. It aways becomes us against the Pastor and God. I have seen it played out like that in other chruches too.
But I was thinking about this "God badge." It is like the sheriff (corrupt sheriff) in a small town who uses his badge to get sexual favors, extortion and etc because that sheriff is the "hand of the law." How can you argue against "God?"
I wish that we could approach the pastor. I've tried and he gets extremely defensive.
I've seen this badge used throughout my life and I'm sure I've worn it a lot myself. I remember in our early days of marriage me telling Denise she had to do such and such (which really had selfish motives on my part) "because God wanted her to."
We used God guilt a lot on our kids when they were little. "You know when you don't do what mommy and daddy wants, then this makes God very sad."
Well, my other excuse for not going to the meeting was that Quentin was home. Even if I really wanted to, I still would have stayed home to be with him.