What is it like to follow a god simply because he [most people I’m thinking of do refer to God as a “He”] might strike you dead if you don’t? How is that different than following God out of a sense of love and compassion for others? I cannot say that I don’t understand this sort of worship (if it can be called that). I do understand it. For many years, I was a “Christian” because I didn’t want to go to hell. I was afraid that if I didn’t follow the rules, if I hadn’t followed a precise prayer outlined by 20th century Christians, I would die and go to hell. Honestly. But I don’t like using the term “worship” for it. To me, worship is an act of devotion, an act of love, not doing something because it’s better than burning forever in a fiery pit. To me, that’s just good cost-benefit analysis, of course you would decide to not go to hell, and in the long run it doesn’t cost you a thing. Worship, however, does cost. You don’t do it because you don’t want to burn. You do it because you can’t not do it. (wow, look at all the negatives in those last two sentences.)
Many of you have heard tales of my scary conservative boss this summer, and the few (two?) of you who read the other blog have heard my dispatches from crazyland. So, this isn’t new. But, this morning, we were talking about how people can die at any second, just randomly. And s/he said, “yep, I tell my wife/husband every morning, you better make sure you’re not doing anything God doesn’t want you to.” Why? Because if you’re sinning, God will kill you. I can’t imagine worshipping, I mean truly worshipping, a god who made that kind of sense in my mind. There’s no sacrifice involved, there’s no love, no devotion: only fear. I must do what’s right because God will punish me if not. What does that make morality? Truth? Values? It reduces them to bargaining chips with an angry deity. They mean nothing without the constant divine threat of punishment.
According to my boss, this is the same god for whose sake s/he feels “sick” at the thought of Ellen deGeneres and refuses to watch Friends because of “all the homosexuality.” When s/he said this, I wanted to say (in a sarcastic voice), “that’s really Christian of you.” But, s/he doesn’t really get sarcasm and just would have responded, “I know, it really is.”