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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 implicitly and explicitly 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’ nineteenth-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 the 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 blindly 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 millions and millions of Americans believe that God lives inside of them and directly talks to them. This should scare us, especially considering that many elected government officials think God talks to them. 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 this be anywhere near the nuclear football?

Several years ago, 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 Park, Murphree 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 murder your only son, 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 backyard 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 holds the keys to life and death in his hands.

obey god

Evangelicals are frequently reminded that God only wants what is good/best for them. So whatever God commands, he means it for their good. God is good all the time, all the time God is good say Evangelicals. Since God is the pillar of moral purity and virtue, Evangelicals can trust him when he tells 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 hearing voices in one’s head would be viewed as a sign of mental illness. But because it involves religion, we are supposed to uncritically accept that Evangelicals do what they do because God told them to. Having spent most of my adult life in Evangelicalism, I intimately understand the notion 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 the 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 exactly 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 not only me, but my family. 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 to do it. Several years ago, a Muslim woman cut the head off a child because Allah told her to do so. I am sure Evangelicals saw this as an example of what happens when someone listens to the 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, an Independent Fundamentalist Baptist (IFB) megachurch pastor who is now serving a twelve-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 first 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 and other preachers featured in the Black Collar Crime Series prey on young women because God told them to do so?

The belief that God talks to you is a great way to get whatever 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/immoral 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? What about the Evangelicals who stormed the Capitol on January 6, 2021, and tried to overthrow the government? 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. 🙂

Bruce Gerencser, 66, lives in rural Northwest Ohio with his wife of 45 years. He and his wife have six grown children and thirteen grandchildren. Bruce pastored Evangelical churches for twenty-five years in Ohio, Texas, and Michigan. Bruce left the ministry in 2005, and in 2008 he left Christianity. Bruce is now a humanist and an atheist.

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    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.

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    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.

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    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).

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    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?


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      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.

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        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

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          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.

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            kevin howard

            That’s right God should serve the created { us } make us all rich and put himself in servitude of our every whim and need regardless of the sick choices we’ve made in life and choices they are. Anyone with an ounce of intelligence can see that this world, mankind , animals and the universe are all of intelligent design. People need to UNDERSTAND THE BIBLE and realize there is darkness in the world and the word of God is light. Don’t seek out a religion seek out God. Gods written word is his way to reach man and religion is mans way to reach God and the two often conflict . You bet God talks to people and it’s a shame the author of this site has lost his way. Do you notice he reaches atheists but not Godly people ?

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    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.

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    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.

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    Kevin, it’s interesting how so many people understand the bible but understand it differently. Every christian sect believes differently and are absolutely sure they are right and everyone else is wrong.the. When you step back and look without blinded you see all of the contradictions in the book, and see the complete lack of logical flow. You are better off to use the Harry Potter books as you religious text. At least it has logical progression, and as a bonus is a story of good vs evil, complete the death and resurrection of an anointed one, and plenty of suffering to help you learn to follow the proper path.

    Also, I don’t think asking god to end hunger and suffering is seeking to putting this god in servitude. I would assume you, like all christians, have asked god for something. Were you enslaving this god by asking? Is it really too much to be asking god to end starvation, homelessness and other suffering?

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    Trust and Obey. That was a major message of evangelicalism. I remember one of my teachers in fundamentalist Christian school telling a story of how he abruptly instructed a student to stand up from her seat in class. Trained to do so, she jumped up right away without question. As she moved from her chair, the spider winding its way down to where her head had been was evident to the class. The moral of the story was that the student obeyed the teacher without question which saved her from having a spider land on her head. Meanwhile, I was sitting there thinking that I totally would have questioned it anyway. I don’t know if this was a true story or just one of those stories among a catalogue that fundies use to get their point across when it benefits them. 🤔

    I no longer have as much respect for people who hear voices of supposed deities, who use crystals, burn sage, or do any of those things associated with “magic” thinking…..I feel like with all modern humans’ technological and scientific advances we should be beyond belief in magic and invisible spirits, but I forget that the backlash to advancement is strong so….here we are.

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    S.D. Edmister

    “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?”

    Too late for that. The western side of the state’s crawling with conspiracy theorists, Klansmen, and Neo-Nazis. The second inclusivity came around, they started lurking in remote towns in the woods.

    Fun fact: Ben Garrison’s in that neck of the woods too.

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    MJ Lisbeth

    Even when I was a fervent Evangelical, I don’t think I ever “heard” “God’s voice.” I believed that, perhaps, I hadn’t prayed enough or fully given myself over to him, or that I hadn’t “let” Jesus “heal” me from my urge to live as the woman I am rather than in the confines of the male body I was born with–or from my attractions that were not limited to one gender or another. I kept on “opening my heart” and “opening my mind” so much that the wind whistled through them and echoed everything, it seemed, but the “voice” of “God.”

    Some would say that it’s a sign I never was a Christian. But I am grateful not to have “heard” the “voice”: It might’ve exacerbated whatever other mental health issues I’ve had, which more than likely were the results of, or were compounded by, having to be in the closet about my gender identity and sexuality–and bearing the trauma of sexual abuse by a priest.

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Bruce Gerencser