Domesticating God

I have been reading a blog from the United Kingdom, This Fragile Tent.  He is a liberal Christian who is asking some interesting questions about what it means to be a person of faith in today’s world.  In  today’s blog, entitled, How do you love an unknowable God?  He mentions the Christian concept of a personal relationship with God and then states “It is an idea that seems to domesticate God, and recast him in a role that is of our own making.”

I added a comment that I thought there was a danger to domesticate God.  Anne Lamott said, ” You can safely assume that you made God in your own image when it turns out that God hates the same people that you do.”

But this is what we do isn’t it?  Domesticate God.  I see it most evident here in the south, this desire to have God recast into our own image so we are comfortable in our conservative way of living.   Good people, good honest working people, who attend church all day on Sunday and during the week in order to learn how to love God with all their hearts, minds, and spirits, clapped when their co-workers were arrested as alleged undocumented workers at Howard Industries.  They believed that God’s will was being done in those arrests.  They rejoiced in the suffering of others.  God was domesticated into their own image. 

Many of those arrested are also good people, good hard working people who came to this country believing that God would make a way for them.  They believed it was God’s will for them to better their lives and to live without political oppression from their governments. They believed that God wanted them to be able to have work enabling them have sufficient sustenance for their family.   God was domesticated into their own image, too.   Are both right?  Are both following the will of God as best as they can discern? 

Vice Presidential candidate Sarah Palin has some strong opinions about God’s will.  She believes it is God’s will for abstinence before marriage, for comprehensive sex education not to be taught to our teenagers.   And when her teenage daughter became pregnant by a young boy who does not want children, who does not want the responsibilities of marriage, it was God’s will that she have this baby out of wedlock.  God has been domesticated.

When news analyst Bill O’reilly commented on this situation, he very compassionately stated that this was a private family matter.  The baby will be born into a loving home, mother and child will not become a taxpayer liability through welfare, and that it is the family’s and mother’s choice to have this child born.  No argument from me.  I agree even if there is a contradiction between Sarah Palin’s desired values for the citizens of Alaska and the living out of her own values within her family network. 

Bill O’Reilly had a different reaction, a few months before, when examining the story of Britney Spears teenage sister becoming pregnant and who was planning to keep the child.  His response was that the parents were irresponsible in not controlling the behaviors of their teenager.  He denounced the behavior as not being acceptable moral behavior.  For Palin’s daughter, the same standards did not apply? He has conveniently rationalized his contradictions. Palin’s daughter, a young teen of high moral standards; Spears, a young promiscuous teen needing to be reigned in and controlled; both making the choice to keep their babies and raising them.   Bill O’reilly has domesticated God. 

My examples used are just the most recent in the news coverage.  So my stating this argument using Republicans can also be made using Democrats, Independents, and even the Green Party candidates.  We do tend to domesticate God into our own image to justify the actions we choose to make given the current circumstances.    Our going to war in Iraq has been rationalized by some as a fore runner to the second coming; as a spiritual war between the forces of good and evil (good being Christian Americans, evil being Islamic Arabs whose country we invaded and occupied under false assumptions).  These rationales are the domestication of God.   

I suppose the opposite stance on the war in Iraq could also be a domestication of God.   To try to base one’s life on the prophet Micah could also be a domestication.  Micah 6:8: “He has told you, O man, what is good; and what the Lord requires of you but to do justice, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God.” 

Maybe it is part of human nature to seek to recast God in our own image and thereby justify our actions.  It adds to the mystery of who this God really is, since we all seem to see through a mirror darkly.  And any definitive answer becomes its own trap door into which we fall.  Blessings,

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Published in: on September 8, 2008 at 11:46 am  Comments Off on Domesticating God  
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