Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Magic formulas

On some of the fundie women's forums I frequent, there is a recurring theme that if you only do all the right things--homeschool, dress modestly, don't use credit or loans, be a stay at home mom, and become pregnant every eighteen months--God will bless you abundantly and fulfill all of your of your needs, both financially and physically.

Here is how this is working in my life:

On Saturday, I got my first homeschooling catalog.

On Sunday, I took a home pregnancy test and found out that I am, indeed, pregnant.
On Monday, I fell off my porch that is being remodeled(debt free, I might add), and tore 75% of the ligaments in my left foot and ankle.

Fortunately, I am only a part-time stay-at-home mom, and I have Aflac through work, and my husband is not self-employed and thus has Blue Cross Blue Shield through his job, so the ER and X-ray bill are completely paid for and Aflac will send me a nice check.  

So according to my fundie friends, God is blessing me with something good(my hospital bill paid and the Aflac check on top of it) for something bad that happened, and the only reason that bad thing happened is because Satan doesn't want any more godly children and was purposely tripping me to make me decide to use birth control.

You can't make this stuff up.  That last paragraph is pretty darn close to what a fundie friend told me this morning.

Works-based religion is one of my biggest pet peeves with any legalistic movement.  There is zero Scriptural evidence that God considers birth control a sin, and a whole lot of evidence that God can send a baby to a couple whenever He wants, regardless of their age, status as a virgin, or usage of conception.  The passages describing things such as debt free living and modest dress are not commands, but guidelines.  Yes, it is wise to live life without buying things you really can't afford on credit.  Yes, it is probably wise to dress in such a way that cars aren't pulling over and asking how much you charge whenever you walk down the street.  Those are good things--but they are not Biblical commands. And God does not love a stay-at-home, headcovering, homeschooling mom any more or any less than he loves the single mom next door who is working two jobs to try and pay the bills and wears jeans.   Scripturally, there is nothing we can do to make God love us any more or any less than He already does.  That doesn't mean we have free license to do whatever we want--Jesus was pretty clear that we need to love God and love others, and He had strong words to say about those who put on a show of better-than-you to try and earn points with God.  The Pharisees, anyone?  The ones who prayed loud prayers thanking God for how wonderful they were?  Jesus couldn't stand them.
And neither can I.

So that is what bothers me about works-based religion.  If I can do all the "right" things to earn favor and be blessed by God, what was the point of Jesus?  If all I have to do in order to have a good life is A, B, and C, then why are there so many struggling people doing all those things?  Why do I know so many young adults who grew up hard-core fundie who want nothing to do with God or church, and many who have significant anxiety and depression issues? 
Because there is no magic formula. Regardless of what the Pearls, Doug Phillips, Geoff Botkin, fill-in-the-blank tell you, there is no one magic formula for a happy life.  There is no guarantee that if you homeschool/home church/shelter your kids that they aren't going to grow up and hate you, and then go live a normal American life.  Good things are not going to happen to you just because you are living a certain way that a teacher is telling you. 

What really happens is that good things, like this baby coming next June, and bad things, like a sprained ankle, happen to everyone no matter what.  Accidents happen and people get hurt; it doesn't mean Jesus is unhappy with you.  Good things happen, and it doesn't necessarily mean that you're living the right way.
There is no formula.
No magic.
Only life.

1 comment:

  1. This is so true. The part that really bothers me is the judgement that often comes with that attitude and the hurt is causes.

    I've seen people leave the church and even lose faith in God because they did everything the "right way" according to what they were told and still had tragedies happen, marriages fall apart, or children go astray. Even worse is when people are struggling with that sort of outcome and others in the same belief systems start judging them and saying bad things only happened because of "hidden sin" or because they weren't following closely enough or trying hard enough.

    God does promise us grace to get through problems and trials, but He never promises we won't have them. Many early Christians faced immense persecution and even martyrdom, so it's sort of crazy to believe that God allowed that but is obligated to provide us with a comfortable life just for meeting certain man-made standards.