No Matter What God Tells You to Do, Do It!

never question god

And Samuel said (to Saul), Hath the Lord as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, as in obeying the voice of the Lord? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to hearken than the fat of rams. For rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft, and stubbornness is as iniquity and idolatry. Because thou hast rejected the word of the Lord, he hath also rejected thee from being king. (I Samuel 15:22,23)

 Then Peter and the other apostles answered and said, We ought to obey God rather than men. (Acts 5:29)

Like all despots, dictators, and potentates, the Christian God demands his followers obey him. When he says, JUMP, the only proper response is, HOW HIGH? The Christian God has no tolerance for those who dare to disobey him. Doubts, questions, or concerns are not permitted. John Sammis’ 19th century hymn Trust and Obey says: Trust and obey, for there’s no other way To be happy in Jesus, but to trust and obey.

Those of us raised in Evangelical churches know all about obedience. Obey God. Obey your parents. Obey pastors. Obey adults. Later in life, women are told that not only must they obey God and their pastors, they must also obey their husbands. As with all cults. obedience is key to a compliant, easily manipulated group. Jim Jones, once an ardent Evangelical, commanded his followers to drink cyanide-laced Kool-Aid, resulting in the death of over 900 people — including 304 children. Evangelical pastors and Catholic priests sodomize, rape, and molest children who have been taught from a young age to implicitly obey them. Trust me, I am a pastor, are words that have caused incalculable harm to young and old alike. Taught to be obedient, these Christian sheep obey the commands of their shepherds. Once robbed of the capacity to think and reason, church members are easy prey for predator pastors and priests.

Of greater concern is the belief that God directly speaks to Evangelicals. Pastors routinely tell congregants that God spoke to them and told them to do ______________.  Church members, supposedly indwelt by the Holy Spirit, believe God directly speaks to them with an inaudible, small voice (I Kings 19:11-13).  According to the New Testament, the Holy Spirit is given to Christians to be their teacher, voice, and guide:

But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you. (John 14:26)

But when they deliver you (the disciples) up, take no thought how or what ye shall speak: for it shall be given you in that same hour what ye shall speak. For it is not ye that speak, but the Spirit of your Father which speaketh in you. (Matthew 10:19,20)

Which things also we speak, not in the words which man’s wisdom teacheth, but which the Holy Ghost teacheth; comparing spiritual things with spiritual. (I Corinthians 2:13)

But the anointing which ye have received of him abideth in you, and ye need not that any man teach you: but as the same anointing teacheth you of all things, and is truth, and is no lie, and even as it hath taught you, ye shall abide in him. (I John 2:27)

According as his (God) divine power hath given unto us all things that pertain unto life and godliness, (2 Peter 1:3a)

Consider, for a moment, that tens of millions of Americans believe that God lives inside of them and directly talks to them. This should scare us, especially considering that one of the Republican candidates for president, Ted Cruz, thinks God talks to him. Do we really want a president who hears voices in his head, thinking it is the Christian God telling him what to do? What if God tells him to launch a nuclear strike on China or Russia? Should Christians such as Cruz be anywhere near the nuclear football?

Today, Randall Murphree, editor for the American Family Association Journal, perfectly illustrated the mind-numbing, reason-killing obedience the Christian God expects from his followers. Murphree recently took a trip to Kentucky to see Ken Ham’s monument to ignorance, Ark Encounter.  Reflecting on his visit to the Ark ParkMurphree wrote:

 Answers in Genesis (noted for its Creation Museum in northern Kentucky) is building a full-scale replica of Noah’s Ark in Williamstown, Kentucky, about 30 miles south of Cincinnati. I was blessed to tag along a few days ago when AiG hosted a media tour of the Ark under construction. Wow!

We think we can imagine what it would look like, but to walk up to it in real life took my breath away – 510 feet long (more than a football field and a half), 51 feet high (4-5 stories).

AiG cofounder Ken Ham led our tour, taking us through the four levels and to the top deck, explaining how Noah could realistically have cared for two of each kind of animal on the Ark, pointing out interior framework and structure that will house 132 exhibits lining the long walkways, explaining that animals on the Ark itself will be realistic sculptures but a petting zoo will adjoin the Ark property. And there’s so much more to anticipate.

….

As exciting and stimulating as the Ark was, I began to decompress on the long drive home. An unlikely metaphor came to mind – extreme sports, those over-the-top, beyond-reason, insane physical challenges people are tackling these days.

Extreme! Now, Noah was really into the extreme – extreme obedience! I thought. What he did was impossible for man. But God gave him specific directions, and Noah obeyed, giving himself fully to the calling…

….

Unexpectedly I was suddenly doing some real soul searching, taking a little inventory, and considering God’s direction in my life. Sometimes I think He calls me to a task too great. How often have I not been obedient? My little Ark encounter humbles me and challenges to listen more carefully for God’s voice and be ready to demonstrate – as Noah did – extreme obedience.

Murphree says that God demands EXTREME OBEDIENCE! If God tells you to go into the desert and build a huge boat, do it!  If God tells you to move to Africa and be a missionary, do it! If God tells you to give all your money to the church or a TV preacher, do it! If God tells you to pitch a tent in your back yard and fast and pray for 40 days, do it! Whatever it is that God tells you to do, DO IT!  Any doubt or hesitation is a sin, an affront to the God who hold the keys to life and death in his hands.

obey god

Evangelicals are frequently reminded that God only wants what is good for them. So whatever God commands, he means it for their good. God is good all the time, all the time God is good, says Evangelicals. Since God is a pillar of moral purity and virtue, Evangelicals can trust him when he tell them to do _____________.  According to the Biblical passage mentioned above, God isn’t interested in sacrifice (religious works). All God wants is for those who worship him to obey his commands. And not just the commands found in the Bible. God can, and does, command Evangelicals to do things that seem crazy to unbelievers. Better to be viewed as crazy than disobey God.

Remove religion from this story and such voices in one’s head would be viewed as a sign of mental illness. But because it involves religion, we are supposed to accept that Evangelicals do things because God told them to. Having spent most of my adult life in Evangelicalism, I understand the belief that God talks to Christians. God talked to me many times, telling me whom to marry, where to live, what churches to pastor, and whether I should buy something or give money to a religious cause. For five decades, I believed God lived inside of me. I believed God and I were best of buds. I would pray (talk) to God and he would often respond. When I needed to know what to preach or what direction to lead the church, I always asked God to tell me what I should do. And guess what? God, ever the chatterbox, never failed to tell me what he wanted me to do.

I now know, of course, that the voice in my head was my own. The God who was talking to me had red hair and his name was Bruce Gerencser. (Please see A Few Thoughts on a Lifetime of Praying to the Christian God.) No big deal right, right? Who cares if Evangelicals think God talks to them? No harm, no foul, right? I used to think so, but as I continue to write about my past life as a soldier for the Christian God, I now think otherwise. I now see how believing God talked (leading, directing, showing, moving) to me hurt my family and me. Instead of being proactive and acting as a reasonable, rational adult would, I allowed the voice in my head to keep me from acting responsibly. From selling family heirlooms and collectibles so I could use the money to “help” someone, to living in abject poverty so I could “minister” to God’s people, I know firsthand how “listening” to  the voice of God can cause untold heartache and loss.

Every month or so, we hear of stories about someone who killed or severely hurt themselves or others, all because God “told” them do it. Several days ago, a Muslim woman cut the head off a child because Allah told he to do so. I am sure Evangelicals saw this as an example of what happens when someone listens to wrong god. However, there are plenty of stories about Evangelicals hearing the voice of God and doing things such as: drowning their children, gouging out their eyes, cutting off their penis, or making the top 12 on American Idol or The Voice. I put “God told me to do it” in the search box on Huffington Post and it returned stories such as: Teacher Says ‘Higher Power’ Told Him To Attack Kid With Skateboard, Mom Allegedly Tries To Drown Son In Puddle Because Jesus Told Her To, Man Allegedly Stabs Grandma, Blames Archangel Michael, Nurse Thinks Grandmother Was Possessed, Beats Her To Death, Jesus And Mary Told Me To Kill Him Because He Is Satan’s Spawn!

hearing gods voice

Jack Schaap, now serving a 12 year federal prison sentence for having an illicit sexual relationship with a minor girl in his church, told his young lover, “This is exactly what Christ desires. He wants to marry us + become eternal lovers!” Countless religious leaders have used similar lines to seduce women. How do we know it wasn’t God telling them to do what they did?  After all, the God of EXTREME OBEDIENCE might ask Evangelicals to do things the unsaved world might not understand. God expected the original woman, Eve, to sleep with her sons and expected Noah’s grandchildren to have sex with their sisters (or mothers). So why is it shocking to hear that sexual predators such as Jack Schaap prey on young women because God told them to do so?

The belief that God talks to you is a great way to get what you want or to justify your behavior. All Evangelicals need to do is say, God told me, and discussions are over. God is the E.F. Hutton of the universe: When God speaks, everybody listens. His voice must always be obeyed, regardless of how silly, crazy, or irrational his commands sound. While I am sure that Evangelicals will object to my extreme presentation of their beliefs, am I really being extreme, considering that the Bible is littered with stories of people doing irrational things? If an Evangelical somewhere says that God told him to move to Montana and build a compound in preparation for the end of the world, should any of us think that the man is a nut-job? Isn’t that EXACTLY what Noah did? Isn’t that what Moses did? How about the Mormons, Branch Davidians, Heaven’s Gate, or the people who took over the federal building in Oregon? All of these people have one thing in common: they believed God told them to do what they did. Either God is schizophrenic or his followers are.

Did you, at one time, believe God talked to you?  Have you ever made an important decision based on God telling you to do something? Please share your story in the comment section. I promise, I won’t call the men in white coats to come and get you.

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10 Comments

  1. Geoff

    To me, who has no belief whatever in any sort of deity, it’s very easy to see how ridiculous these reports of god speaking to people really are. The trouble is, how does the more reasonable side of society deal with this, and I think it’s beholden on us all to publicly dismiss the concept of god speaking to anybody.

    The problem we have is that we are overly polite about belief and religion, and deferential to the feelings of others. So, by our silence, we encourage others to think we approve, when quietly we think they are foolish. And, as you point out, in the main when ‘god speaks’ to someone it’s usually pretty harmless. But that’s not always the case, as the various references to examples of positive harm testify.

    In reality when people say that god has spoken to them, it’s an excuse to act in a way that is contrary to what others may expect, and somehow we in the west have developed a feeling that we should indulge this nonsense. Not at all. Let’s call it what it is; delusion, nothing more. If it causes you to act in a way that is harmless then you’ll be left alone, but if not then you feel the full force of the law. Plus, it’s important that these things are publicly ridiculed, not that this is likely to happen any time soon, given the tendency of even presidential candidates so indulge the foolishness.

    Reply
  2. Connie

    Thank you for this opportunity to share my story Bruce. I will do my best to be interesting.

    I started the journey at a liberal church – United Church of Christ. During confirmation (rite of passage for teens prior to becoming members) I noticed the s in Thou shalt have no Gods before me. The Pastor teaching the class was NOT ready for me. I was born open, seeing both spirit and physical. I had no teachers to explain what I was feeling and seeing so I did my own research.

    At this time I still believed in a God, well, Goddess. I studied every faith under the sun. I found a few common themes. Share, love yourself and others, we are all connected, and don’t be a jerk seems to sum everything up nicely. Of course the Dogma attached was all over the place. That was the hardest part to sift through. Took years. Decades even. Which brings me to the here/now.

    I began to see the a pattern – every time humanity reaches a tough spot where what they know doesn’t cover whatever phenominum they are witnessing, Deity is the explanation. After a time science comes in, does some defining and suddenly the earth is part of the solar system and not the center of the Universe.

    I delved into quantum physics, discovered String Theory, and the concept that at this level intent affects reality. Suddenly the pieces I couldn’t find were laid out in front of me like stepping stones. At the very essence of creation it is all about energy, intent, and focus.

    Funny really, the Bible starts with In the beginning was the Word. String theory proves a persons intent affects reality. Wiccan has their versin too. Once you see the pattern you can’t unsee it.

    So, do I follow the energy? Yep. I do. I don’t practice magic, I Am magyk. And magic/deity is just science we don’t understand yet. I’ve ignored the energy/intuition/gut feelings and I’ve regretted it. Always. So I learned to listen. Yeah, it’s me, but a higher level of me who has my best interests at heart. Hopefully that is.

    And no worries about the mental health. I am seeing a therapist. My views are unconventional but not what makes me crazy.

    This is why I asked if you felt the energy you formerly believed was God. I’ve not met another person like me. Actually, not sure two of me in one place is a good idea. Grins.

    Thanks again for this opportunity.

    Reply
  3. Chuck

    As a young child I always listened to “Dr” Bob Gray and his disciples talk about the things god told them to do and listen for him to direct us in our lives. For a few years I obeyed and never heard a peep. But, as I fell victim to the Abilene paradox, I pretended to be like them. That is, until I could not take it any anymore. During the summer between seventh and eighth grades I packed a bag and walked away while my mother was at work, never looking back. It was the best decision of my life. I now have a Doctorate degree (from an accredited university) and do quite well, while all of my family members who remain steadfast in their loyalty to Robert G Gray Sr and his ilk continue to live in poverty while proudly participating in “give it all Sunday”.

    The only portion of this post with which I disagree is based upon a valuable lesson I learned from the original Longview Baptist Temple prophet himself. According to “Dr” Gray Sr, when god says jump, you don’t ask how high; you just start jumping. Amen (screams the crowd).

    Reply
  4. david

    Bruce, I know you have expressed disinterest in prayer, but I hope you will permit me that below!

    Many of your readers, and hopefully you, will no doubt enjoy it. Perhaps it will do you good like a medicine, or otherwise minister to your soul.

    🙂

    “Please God!

    “Within this calendar year (2016)…
    or perhaps somewhat later if it takes longer to set it up…
    when he may least expect it…
    To the furtherance of your glory!

    “Grant Bruce an experience of great benefit, perhaps similar to that of:
    Abraham (angels)
    or Moses (burning bush, direct communication)
    or Balaam (an animal speaking with the voice of a man [voice of a woman would be ok too])
    or Paul (bright light and voice, or other visitation of angels)
    or him known as Ravi (audible voice)
    or someone else I may not have remembered or considered, or even be aware of,
    such that he cannot deny
    !

    “And further, grant that Polly and others he currently trusts, and at least some that You can, witness it, with all witnessing benefitting!

    “Please grant also that I may learn of it, and be encouraged.”

    “And grant him no rest in this life until he accurately and predominantly reports about it in his blog, and other places as he may have to bear witness!”

    “Thanks God.”

    Not that many of your readers will believe you, will they Bruce?

    😉

    Reply
    1. Geoff

      Never mind not believe it if Bruce reports on it, I wouldn’t believe it if I experienced it; I’d assume I was hallucinating.

      Get this god bloke to eliminate starvation in Africa and I might start to take note.

      Reply
      1. david

        What do you expect ‘this god bloke’ to contribute, if as I have read,
        a)already the world currently actually produces enough food per individual to feed the entire world population (even more, up to 10 billion people)
        b)an estimate, that were Africa alone cultivated with modern farming methods, its land could produce sufficient food for the entire world’s current population
        ?

        Reply
        1. Geoff

          I’m sure you are right. In the UK we waste tons of perfectly good food every single day, and I have no doubt that other western countries are as bad.

          Unfortunately that doesn’t help the starving in Africa. And, of course, the starving in Africa is just one example of things that are wrong in the world, but which a god could put right at a wave of his hand.

          Reply
    2. Bruce Gerencser (Post author)

      Most of my regular readers are “show me” kind of people. Jesus knows where I am. If he shows up at my door I will be sure to blog about it.

      Reply
  5. Connie

    David – grant him no rest??? What a horrible prayer!

    Where is the love?

    Where is the for the good of all and may it harm none?

    All I saw was a person spreading their dogma around instead of cleaning up after themselves.

    My beliefs are unorthodox because I don’t expect anyone else to see the world is I see it. How can they if they’ve not been me?

    I get the feeling from your prayer David that you see the world in a specific way and expect the rest of us to see it that way too. Reality rarely works as anyone expects.

    Can I get an amen? Preaching to the choir here.

    Reply
  6. Brian

    Dear david, may jebus give you boils and reinforced cement constipation until you realize what a jerk you are, how you pray for others to suffer until you get your idea of what your ugly gawd wants for everybody and his uncle. May your gawd help you realize that the very best course in some matters is to fuck right off.

    Reply

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