I wound up at gotquestions.org when looking up the notion of god-fearing. As an unbeliever it sounds ludicrious to want to be afraid of your own god, unless the whole point of promoting fear is to promote unwavering loyalty and obedience under threat of suffering and damnation. Seems like a strange thing to be proud of. More often than not, believers seem to justify this fear by retconning it into something positive and rewarding. It’s not fear. It’s the beginning of wisdom. It’s not fear, it’s really respect.
While respect is definitely included in the concept of fearing God, there is more to it than that. A biblical fear of God, for the believer, includes understanding how much God hates sin and fearing His judgment on sin—even in the life of a believer. Hebrews 12:5-11 describes God’s discipline of the believer. While it is done in love (Hebrews 12:6), it is still a fearful thing.
This kind of rationalizing is why atheists have been known to think of God in terms of an abusive parent or partner. The constant judgement and constant fear of reprisals should a “sin” occur (however it’s being defined at the moment; maybe changing by the moment) does not really sound like healthy love or respect or wisdom.
I’ve never heard of Elizabeth Esther but she wrote an interesting piece about leaving her fundamentalist faith. She’d been abused and her family – at least her father, it seems, – easily convinced her that it was what God wanted for her.
As a female being raised in a highly-patriarchal culture, I never developed my own understanding of God because God’s will would be made known to me through my father and husband. My father was God for me and later, my husband was God for me.
This is probably one of the most dangerous lies of patriarchy: a human being (aka, father, husband, pastor) is God for you. It is the most dangerous lie because if someone controls your concept of God, they control everything.
She didn’t turn into an atheist, however; she just figured out a way to redefine her sense of god in a way that would make her feelings acceptable and improve her sense of self-worth.
I don’t have to use all the same words as everyone else in order to still have a relationship with God. I can use words that are helpful and put aside the ones that are triggering.
Whenever I feel a tightening sensation in my chest or stomach, I know I’m reverting back to old, abusive concepts of God. But whenever I feel a warmth, looseness and easiness in my chest and stomach, I feel myself relaxing into God as I understand God.
Good for her, I guess, if it helps. Better to think of him in terms of being a loving and compassionate god – even if it means having to ignore all the biblical evidence to the contrary. Atheists don’t ignore that aspect of the religious history, though.
Gotquestions tackles the jealous god aspect and I don’t agree with their rationale here either.
Perhaps a practical example will help us understand the difference. If a husband sees another man flirting with his wife, he is right to be jealous, for only he has the right to flirt with his wife. This type of jealousy is not sinful. Rather, it is entirely appropriate. Being jealous for something that God declares to belong to you is good and appropriate.
Holy crap. What an alarming idea. All jealousy is unhealthy and evidence that you don’t trust your partner to be faithful to you. You can argue that jealousy is “natural” because it is, but so’s arsenic. Not everything natural is good for you.
Jealousy lies somewhere in the gray area between sanity and madness. Some jealous reactions are so natural that a person who doesn’t show them seems in some way “not normal.” Others seem so excessive that one doesn’t need to be an expert to know that they are pathological. A classic example is the man who is suspicious of his loving and faithful wife that he constantly spies on her, listens in on her phone conversations, records the mileage in her car for unexplained trips–and despite her repeatedly proven fidelity continues to suspect her and suffer from tremendous jealousy.
I can’t imagine having that kind of relationship. No, not true; I can imagine it and I’m very grateful that the Man and I aren’t faced with this scenario. We just celebrated our one year wedding anniversary on Sunday. Here we are looking sweet together on the sofa:
I’d say that our trust in each other is absolute. We shared our relationship histories ages ago and we always talk things through when things are bothering us. I wouldn’t want to live in fear of losing him to someone else and be at risk of taking my defensiveness to extremes.
And I know he knows he doesn’t have to worry on this end. I was into him when he was barely 19 and he’s a couple weeks away from being 30 now. He’s still adorable and means the world to me.
We don’t need to create an atmosphere of fear bolstered with threats of penalties. I fail to see how either method could lead to real loyalty and devotion in a marriage or any other kind of relationship.