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May 8, 2011


An Emotional Ploy

by juju2112

For those of you who don’t go to church and can’t be bothered to sit through their boring sermons, I thought I’d bring to light some of the things that are being said to the people in our community in churches. What is the genesis of the ideas Christians have, and what sort of messages are being spread?

According to a sermon given by Dr. Russell Moore at Cross Church recently, the emotional experience of being saved is exactly like an orphan being adopted.

Dr. Moore tells a story of how he and his wife went to Russia to adopt two children. When he and his wife got to the orphanage, they were surprised to discover that even though the place was filled with babies, it was completely quiet. Children don’t cry when no one is there to help them, you see. After spending a week with the two kids they were going to adopt, with them being quiet the entire time, they prepared to leave. The kids would have to stay at the orphanage and would be sent for later after the paperwork had gone through. As Dr. Moore and his wife went to leave, the children started crying. Dr. Moore said this is because they knew they had parents to hear them, and that this is exactly like us crying out to God for help. God is our adopted father (as evidenced in Romans 8:15).

The metaphor goes on, though. He also spoke about people who didn’t think they were real Christians because they didn’t “hear” god speaking to them in their head. He said this was normal, and it’s kinda like orphans not feeling like they have parents or a home even when they really do.

The kids he adopted at first wanted to go back to their orphanage. They didn’t realize what a terrible place it was and how great their new home would be. This is exactly like people who aren’t saved, he said. They love their time on earth, and they don’t realize how great they’re going to have it in heaven.

At the end, he says, “Some of you in this room are orphaned now. Some of you in this room do not know what it means to find a father in the God of Jesus Christ.” He then implores you to be adopted by God.

This is really despicable stuff. Dr. Moore takes all the emotions people have about their parents and co-opts it towards religion. This guy really poured it on thick, too. There is a lot of emotion in stories of adopted children. The preacher pulled as much emotion and attachment to parents as he could out of his story and channelled it straight into our “relationship” with God. Whenever I see people after they’ve lost their faith and become atheists, it’s obvious that they have deep emotional trauma inflicted by religion. This sort of sermon is the start of the emotional hooks religion tries to get into you. I see this guy trying to get people to love something that doesn’t exist, and I know the road they’re going down. It’s one of total emotional dependence. Know how you often hear Christians say, “I’m nothing without God”? This sermon is the start of that sort of thing. That lost feeling you feel? That’s the absence of God in your life.


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6 Comments Post a comment
  1. May 7 2011

    You know that the kids in the “Save The Children” ads are coached too, right?

    News vans often carry boxes of stuff like family photos in cracked frames, dingy teddy bears, dirty shoes, etc., onto the scene of disasters to ramp up the heartstrings to sell the story on a more emotional level, planting the debris just right for the shot.

    What this guy is doing is no different – you are absolutely correct. As a techie, I have compared bandwidth to highways more times than I could count… memory to scratch paper during your SAT’s…and so on. I don’t mind drawing parallels to illustrate a concept in layman’s terms for the end-users, but I certainly detest people milking examples like the one you sited to win more ‘Jesus Points’ before close of business. If people WANT to know God, they will – they should not be emotionally blackmailed into doing so…that isn’t true ‘love’.

    • juju2112
      May 8 2011

      The problem I have with it is that it’s encouraging people to have a strong emotional attachment to a being that I don’t think exists.

      I see the results of this all the time. I have friends who base major life decisions (should I move? should I change jobs?) on the “results” of their prayers. Major life decisions should be made by carefully weighing the pros and cons in a rational manner, not just by going off of a feeling in your gut.

      Of course, this sermon isn’t targeted at people who don’t believe in God. It’s targeted at people who DO believe in God, but just don’t have enough emotional investment in the idea yet. These are the people who often say to me, “What’s the harm in believing in God? It’s just an abstract idea. It doesn’t harm you. It’s just a belief.” Then people like this get ahold of them, and before you know it, they’re basing all their decisions on a spectre in the sky.

      They don’t think believing in God is that big of a deal, but after sermons like this, the tendrils of the religion will run deep into them. Especially if they are having some sort of trouble in their life.

      I’m not against emotion, mind you. I love my family. I love my job. I do think it’s misapplied here, though.

  2. Kassi
    May 8 2011

    It’s really sad that the leaders of the churches feel the need to psychologically manipulate a congregation into “believing” in God. It’s hard for me to see ministers as anything other than dictators who are trying to get as big of an army up as possible since they rely on their tithing as their finances. It seems the more they can guilt the congregation, the more likely it’ll be for them to provide some sort of monetary offering. I have a rule that if a minister mis-uses Biblical references of “giving back to God” in order to gain money for their church, I will no longer attend that church. Needless to say, me and my husband are not members of any church.

    I only mention the tithing aspect because it’s the same methods: psychological manipulation using triggers such as pathology present in an unhealthy parental relationship, or perpetuating a sense of co-dependence or whatever psych 101 thing they’re using that week. And the tithing methods bug me the most lately. Maybe because of the economy and also being a mother of a mere two in comparison to the people who are super-religious and don’t use contraceptives, have like 10 kids and still give 10% of their single-parent income.

    But yes, this that you’re referring to is pretty infuriating. I’ve been attending a non denominational church online where the minister uses a LOT of history to describe what the Bible references, which I like a lot. I’ll have to be extra alert next time I tune in for a sermon to see if I can pick out any psychological ploys. I think I’ll make a list over the course of, say, 6 sermons. Me and my husband *would* attend this church in person, but he was raised Catholic and finds all that singing positively depressing in a church atmosphere. : P

    • juju2112
      May 8 2011

      The tithing thing blows my mind, too.

      I don’t think they have any malicious intent here, though. I think they’re trying to save people from being tortured forever. I would probably do close to anything to keep someone from being tortured.

  3. TheRealThunderMonkey
    May 8 2011

    Just about all (it’s probably all, but I’m trying to give a benefit of a doubt) religious experiences are based upon an emotion. After all you’re trying to get someone to believe in something in which there is no empirical proof, other than what you may have felt.

    The biggest religious experience that I ever had was visiting Notre Dame in Paris. After being in the church for a few minutes, I wept. I don’t know why, but the only thing I could connect it to at that time was that I had a religious experience.

    Years later after I grew out of my “religious phase” I had the same experience when I witnessed the Milky Way for the first time.

  4. May 8 2011

    Welcome to the blogging world, sir! :)



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