Monday, January 11, 2016

God is Not Your Boyfriend

I'm in my friend's house one Sunday afternoon, when I hear some cheering, followed by ecstatic giggling, coming from one of the rooms. The room belongs to my friend's roommate.

What? I wonder, then think it might be better not to know. However, curiosity gets the better of me, as it always does, and I decide to ask.

"Hey," I call out his name. "What the heck are you giggling like some little girl for?" (I'm blunt like that.)

"Oh, the Passion Conference is livestreaming right now, and I'm watching it."

"Oh, um...okay. Did you go to church this morning?" I knew the answer.

"No, but I'm watching the Passion Conference, so it's basically the same thing."

Seeing that he goes to a non-denominational church, one that I've been to, I could not disagree much with his logic.

For those of you so (un)fortunate (take your pick) to not know what the Passion Conference is, it's a conference (duh) that happens once a year in Atlanta, Georgia. Here's the promotional for this year's event, which happened just a few days ago:

Now, I've never been to Passion Conference, and I never plan on going to it. At all. Ever. I'm too old now, anyway.

I'm sure it's got good preaching; in fact, I know it's got some great preachers. Francis Chan is one of my favorite preachers, despite my disagreements with him on parts of theology, and he's preached at this conference.

While I've not been to the conference, I've seen enough clips from the sermons and music to get what it's about. I've also been to Passion City Church, which was...less than thrilling for me. Call me a cranky Anglo-Catholic, but I kinda got ticked when a bunch of teens and college students started "Christian mosh-pitting" in front of the stage for the Sunday night church service; that's what I called it, anyway. It's sort of like a mosh pit, without the actual moshing. It's like when people want to go crazy at a party, but not REALLY, so they kinda just waddle around.

Anyways, I'm getting off-point.

My reason for writing this article is not so much to critique Passion Conference itself, although I might do that for a variety of reasons, but to point out the problem that that friend's roommate has demonstrated and continues to demonstrate, along with a great many others in cultural Christianity: the infatuating of the love we are to have towards God.

I am NOT saying that our love for God should be without emotion; far from it. I've cried at services, both contemporary and liturgical. Nor am I saying that the people I am talking about are somehow not Christians. NOR am I saying that modern musical instruments or even modern genres of music are bad. I am saying that there is a real problem in how we, as Christians in the United States, often find ourselves whittling down the Faith to a feeling. A strong feeling, perhaps, but one with no substance.

I don't say this as a person who was never caught up in that mentality. I went through my own "relationship not a religion" "Jesus is my homeboy" stage not five years ago. I went to one of the big mega-churches in my town, and got caught up in the whole emotional-manipulation scheme, which is all it really was. For the moment it "feels right"...but it doesn't ever actually lead to repentance and a deeper faith.

Taken from 

That being said, this is what I have to say:

Stop it.

God is not your girlfriend.

God is the creator of the universe.

You should not have a feeling towards God that is pretty much the same feeling you had when you went to your Hannah Montana concert in 5th grade.

You should not ignore the intellectual part of Christianity, because you've confused the Holy Spirit with emotional manipulation.

You should not confuse an emotional high with spirituality.

Stop getting high on an entertainment atmosphere, thinking you're somehow closer to Jesus because of it. 

Jesus Christ had something to say about such things...

The hyper-emotionalism of modern American Christianity has no roots. It creates Matthew 13:20 Christians, nothing more.

God doesn't deserve infatuation.

God doesn't deserve a one-night stand.

God deserves your devotion in its entirety, not just in momentary emotional highs, but in your intellect and spirit and body as well. And if you're a pragmatist who "doesn't have time for that theological mumbo-jumbo", I have news for you: theology is INCREDIBLY practical, and affects your beliefs far more than you realize.

You don't have to be a theologian contemplating the mysteries of the Divine in ways that would make St. Thomas Aquinas' (for my Reformed friends, insert "John Calvin"; for my "Jesus Hippie Movement" friends, put...I don't know, John Piper or Joel Osteen or whoever) head spin.

But you do have to be a theologian.

Just as you would chastise me--and rightly!--if I were to say we should worship without emotion, you should consider yourself a theologian and worship God in THAT respect as well.

I will close this article with a very good quote I recently came across; it's attributed to Warren and David Wiersbe:

"When ministry becomes performance, then sanctuary becomes a theater, the congregation becomes an audience, worship becomes entertainment, and man's applause and approval become the measure of success. But when ministry is for the glory of God, His presence moves into the sanctuary."

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Oh! And I also run a podcast with my atheist friend, Xrys! It's called The Religious Nut and Hellbound Sinner Podcast, and we have a fun time discussing all sorts of topics: religion, politics, science, philosophy, movies, etc. Check out our Facebook page on that, as well! 

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