I wrote an article for Burnside Writers Collective about playing the “God card” entitled “God Wants You to Read This Article.” (Clearly, you have no excuse for not visiting the site and checking it out.)
In their comments, some readers have asked about practical ways in which we can kick the habit of using God’s name carelessly in order to justify our decisions and desires. This is a good question, so feel free to take a stab at it here or on the Burnside site.
A few thoughts of my own:
I think it probably all starts with parents being more careful with how they talk about God to their children. When adults begin justifying decisions by “playing the God card,” their kids will pick up on it, especially when it is used in serious decisions that have a big impact on the child - like divorce or relocation. If parents can focus more on teaching their children to make good decisions based on the wisdom that can be found in the Bible and in the advice of trusted friends and family, the children will grow up more prepared to make good decisions without having to use God as a crutch when they feel less than confident about the next step.
A great book on the subject is Gary Friesen’s Decision Making and the Will of God. In it, Friesen deconstructs the notion that God has a specific ideal blueprint for every person’s life in favor of what he calls the “way of wisdom” as described in the Bible. I highly recommend it.
I also think we may need to redefine material things in more neutral terms. I often hear people refer to cars and houses and pay raises and job opportunities as “blessings” or “God things.” However, when you consider the fact that Jesus said it is easier for a camel to fit through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven, you have to recognize that material things can be both blessings and curses, depending on the recipient’s long-term response to them. Again, this is probably a matter of teaching our kids not to buy the lie that stuff makes us happy.
Rarely is it appropriate to stop someone mid-sentence to correct him or her on their use of God’s name. In fact, I’m pretty sure most people who play the “God card” are simply trying to express the important role that He plays in their lives. Only when a close friend is about to make a really stupid decision (like go into major credit card debt to buy that “blessing” God wants her to trust Him to pay for), would I speak up.
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