The gay-conversion strategy of some evangelicals has been described as, “Pray the gay away.” Now a pastor has claimed that a cake he had anointed had cured a young gay male of his homosexual impulses. (See link at end of post.) Well, I am sure impressed and intend to contact that pastor to see if he would send me “one of them there” anointed cake that would cure me of bald-headedness and neurosis! This pastor’s claim falls into the bumper-sticker category I use often, “Don’t believe everything you think,” and this is especially so when it comes to religion. Declaring that God is leading, or that one has received a word from the Lord is easy. But that does not make it so! For example, the Crusades of the Middle Ages were supposedly a Divinely inspired effort to convert the heathen even at the point of sword. They were totally wrong about any Divine leadership in spite of the fervor of their belief at the time.
The Shakespearean “pauser reason” is relevant here. Reason is much more subtle and complicated than merely letting our internal cognitive chatter run amok and find expression. This “pauser reason” dimension of our rational faculty permits us to assess from time to time some of the things we say, or want to say, and realize suddenly, “Oh, that’s not such a good idea” or even, “That’s non-sense.” If reason is used with maturity, there will be a filter in play which will take consideration of the context and the implications of what is being said. An example of someone without this filter is demonstrated by those suffering from “Tourette’s Syndrome” who blurt out totally inappropriate things. Yes, not unlike our President who is severely impaired with respect to any filter!.
I do believe that the notion of “God leading” or “God speaking” to us is a valid formulation in spiritual life. But I’ve seen so many instances when one was only announcing what he or his group wanted for self-serving purposes and tacked on “God is leading” to justify it. A great present day example is evangelical Christians who announced piously that “God hath raised up Trump” to lead our nation. I think some of them are beginning to have second thoughts about that, presenting them with a more fundamental problem, “Can I, being a noted evangelical leader, admit that I was wrong about God leading me?” I predict that in most instances their answer will be an emphatic “no” as they, like Trump, often have this characterological inability to say the words, “I made a mistake.”
Relevant to admitting being wrong, it is even harder to recognize that one has just been foolish! But foolishness is part of being human and even more so in the area of religion. It takes a lot of courage to learn to admit foolishness on occasion, perhaps using the famous word of former Texas Governor Rick Perry, “Oops”! (That was Perry’ sheepish response when he could not remember the third of three points he was attempting to make in a presidential debate.)