Monday, December 17, 2012

The Philosophical Christian: 5 Reasons Not to "Fear God"

Today I finally got back on Facebook for the first time since the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School. I've been intentionally avoiding it. It's made my wife cry multiple times already and, since we don't have television, I was able to have a nice weekend without being confronted with the tragedy continuously.

When I finally did log on to Facebook, I was prepared for the assorted pro- and con-gun control/Second Amendment posts ... but I was not prepared for the bizarre religious trend to many posts. I was not prepared for the proclamation, from seemingly sane friends of mine, that this sort of thing happens because God is absent from schools.

And perhaps most bizarrely, I was not expecting the post which said the problem is that children are not taught to "Fear God." (The above picture isn't the one from Facebook, but you get the idea.)

The entire notion of "God-fearing" has never resonated with me, but to invoke it in the wake of this tragedy is absolutely perplexing to me on a number of levels. Specifically, I can think of 5 huge problems with it:

1. You Can't Love What You Fear - You cannot have a healthy, loving relationship with an entity that you fear. You can certainly have strong emotions, but if you love someone and fear them, then your relationship is dysfunctional. Most people who believe in God have a dysfunctional relationship with the notion of God because they hate and fear it at the same time. Unless you drop the notion of God entirely, the best approach I've seen is to let go of the fear part.

2. The Best Christians Don't Fear God - If you look at the Christians who are worthy of the name - including the big J.C. himself - you'll find very little "fearing" in relation to God going on. They exalt God, because they believe in a God who's worth exalting.

3. It's Blasphemy - The phrasing "Fear God" should be absolutely offensive to any God that's worth worshiping, and equally offensive to his followers. If you're going to use "fear" and "God" together, it should be as a negation, such as "Because I believe in God, I fear no evil" or something like that. If you believe in a God who relishes that those who believe in him fear him, I humbly submit that you worship a psychopathic bully.

4. God Didn't Do This - Specifically in the wake of these shootings, this comment to fear God is especially bizarre, because the implication is therefore that God was somehow behind the shootings. Or, at the very least, he removed his hand of protection from innocent children because of offenses committed by others. Most Christians would, I believe, find this highly offensive as well.

5. In conclusion, children (and the rest of us) certainly have enough to fear in this world. There's no need to add God to the list.

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