Stupid Faith

forrest gumpStupid is as stupid does.

Thank you, Mrs. Gump for cutting through the crap with your profound wisdom.

Let’s exegete the text.

The emphasis is on the verb, “does.” Forrest’s Mom was reminding her mentally challenged son that his behavior was more important than his IQ. Therefore, below average intelligence is not an excuse for inappropriate behavior and Forrest modeled that fact so beautifully throughout his epic life.

Now for the application.

The converse is also true. Being well-educated does not necessary translate to a life well lived. Being knowledgeable about something is different that living in accordance with that knowledge.

And, at last, my point.

Being knowledgeable and in firm agreement with certain tenants of the Christian faith does not necessarily translate to behaving much like Christ, or even being a decent human being.

Yesterday, I was surprisingly confronted with three instances of this very thing. I call it stupid faith.

Here are my somewhat veiled examples from yesterday.

  • Someone said something stupid to a friend upon her son’s death. It reminded me of those trite and uncaring things Christians say that make a bereaved person’s pain even deeper. Like, “God called him home.” At a time like that, it’s best to just show up, shut up, listen, and look for a practical need you can meet.
  • Someone reminded me that “the Christian perspective” that you shouldn’t take a prescription for an emotional or mental disorder still lingers. When there is a problem that has some chemical or physiological component, why not take a pill, if makes your life better?
  • Someone asked a person I am very close to about his relationship with God. The person who the asking is overbearing, misogynistic, and generally annoying.  The individual he asked had a much more profound faith, but it did not follow the zealot’s paradigm, which, of course, made him suspect, and the aggressively annoying and self-righteous individual continued to feel superior.

It is one thing to do something stupid. I do stupid things all the time. It is quite another to do it in the name of Christ, while feeling extremely pious about it. It drives me to profanity. 

It hurts people. It misrepresents Christ. It gives Christians a bad name. I am not sure if it drives some people further from God, but I know it drives them further from the institution that is church and Christianity.

The cure for misguided expressions of faith that hurt people is the model of Jesus’ life and his paramount exhortation to love our neighbor. Just think about the most loving thing you can do for a person and do that.

Love is as love does.

Love > Stupid.

About Glenn

Glenn Hager is a blogger, former newspaper columnist, and author of two books, An Irreligious Faith and Free Range Faith.
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