Good God

Two Kinds of Religion, Love or Domination. Is Yours Good for People?

We all, religious or not, to some extent mix together these ways of thinking and acting – love, as against domination. They express whatever faith – or nonfaith – we have.
But they are probably opposites.

Of these two basic ways  many churches, groups, and individuals specialize in one or the other, love or domination.  They clearly have their “flavor.”

These types seem to appear in every religious (or non-religious) group or practice I know anything about.  It’s a human thing – Native American, Judaic, Muslim, Hindu, mainline Christian, Evangelical or fundamentalist Christian, pagan, secularist, atheist, humanist, activist, conspiracist – whatever. 

It’s a human thing. But, religious people being human, it’s also very much a religious thing.

1. Domination

This urge to control, to make demands, this spirit

    1. spends a lot time arguing and “proving” that it is right, and/or that you or others are wrong;
    2. often wants to insist that, being right-thinking, it has authority to demand that you agree with it, and to force that agreement (or at least pretended agreement);
    3. sometimes just simply wants to dominate others, for no clear reason, others whether within or outside of its group;
    4. often exudes an aura of self-satisfaction and complacency, clearly feeling a self-conscious sense of superiority;
    5. is constantly critiquing others, their thoughts or behavior, especially of others who express any interest in or opinions about faith or moral issues.  If you come onto their radar you are volunteering to be judged. 
    6. often shows much “love” for those who submit to the domination – so it can feel like a very loving environment until you start to do your own thinking.

Now we see why so many people, though interested in church or god or spirituality, are afraid to – or determined not to – visit a church, because “I feel judged.” Well, it’s not just a feeling. We are, in fact, often being judged.

Sadly, this happens in non-religious settings as well – political, arts, professional, activist, a- or anti-religious, etc.

This illuminates why so many people, though interested in church or god or spirituality, are afraid to go visit a church because “I feel judged.” Well, it’s not just a feeling. We are often, in fact, being judged.Click To Tweet

2. Love

Love tends to spend more energy being amazed ! and being kind or empathetic. This religious (or relational) practice of LOVE tends to expend more energy being amazed at life and the world and one’s perception of God.  That is, loving that this stuff is going on even here!!  Including the people all around!

And it tends to fulfill an injunction of St Paul, “let your gentleness be apparent to all” (Phil 4), and his observation, “love is kind” (1 Cor 13).

This amazement is the opposite of complacency and self-satisfaction. And this kindness is very different from constant critique and judging. In a local church or other group where this approach is predominant, <u>guests feel welcome, even loved, even if they remain uncommitted</u> or very uncertain about their religious, political, strategic, or moral convictions.

This distinction seems to me to be a very big deal indeed.

Which kind of religion – or politics, or activism –  is going on in your life?  More domination, or more love?

… and in your religious or other associations, and in the media you participate in?  I hope it’s type two, which I believe is

  • much more Christlike.
  • much more healthy, for you and others, and
  • much more attractive.


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