Passively watching The Voice, I heard an amazing singer named Chris Blue who did a version of Smokey Robinson’s “The Tracks Of My Tears” that raised the hairs on my arm.
He managed to turn Alicia Keys around and get on her team, and she’s lucky to have his talent on her side. After his performance, Chris offered up a personal story that went something like this:
This is my fiancée who has battled bone marrow cancer and [some time ago] during surgery she flat-lined. I asked god to heal her and he did, so I made him two promises: I would marry this woman and I would try out on this show.
My issues with this statement (and statements like it) stem from the apparent disconnect with reality and a lack of awareness as to the human element of this story. I understand that people maintain deeply held religious beliefs and that those beliefs entail crediting that person’s chosen deity with miracles, coincidences, and happy accidents. I understand that, in the absence of a simple explanation for an event, it becomes easier and more natural to fall back on the “god did it” mantra and stop thinking about it.
The problem with this lazy thinking is the prioritization of mystical belief over reality. The fact is, his fiancée was in a hospital undergoing surgery by doctors who trained in medical sciences for years and years just so they could find ways to excise cancer to prolong her life (that, arguably, god was indifferent toward shortening) and, as a routine contingency in the medical field, start her heart again when it stopped beating. It isn’t as though Chris and his perfectly healthy fiancée were out in the middle of a field admiring the clouds when she suddenly dropped dead and only miraculously came back to life after Chris had a conversation with god about how happy it would make god when they get married and Chris has a recording contract. When do doctors start getting the credit for the things they do for Christians? When do we move away from the juvenile characterization of natural phenomena as “god’s anger?”
If all it takes to heal a person’s bone marrow cancer is a one-sided conversation with an invisible friend, why do we have hospitals at all? Why do people spend years and hundreds of thousands of dollars studying medicine if Jesus is the Great Physician and all you have to do is ask him to poof away the cancer? Why do you even have to ask Jesus at all? If he truly loves us the way the Bible says then it stands to reason he wouldn’t want us to be sick at all, right?
Health issues aside, it’s particularly arrogant and patently ridiculous to think that a god would care that you (a) are marrying someone or (b) are performing on a television show in an attempt to gain notoriety. There’s no reason to believe that you marrying your fiancée would affect a deity in any way and it’s perfectly clear from Jesus’ words in the New Testament that god doesn’t approve of your worldly pursuits. If you were being an honest Christian (a thing which I find incredibly difficult to square), you’d shun the pop-culture nonsense and worldly activity and focus on your relationship with your jealous, heavenly BFF. In fact, if you want to accept the New Testament wholesale you wouldn’t even get married:
1 Corinthians 7:8-9 (NIV)
8 Now to the unmarried and the widows I say: It is good for them to stay unmarried, as I do. 9 But if they cannot control themselves, they should marry, for it is better to marry than to burn with passion.
It’s nice that Paul makes the concession that Christians should definitely get married if they really, really, really want to have sex…because that’s an awesome reason to get married.
The point I’m making is this: ascribing supernatural healing powers to an invisible person while standing next to the living, breathing human beings who resuscitated your girlfriend during a surgery is insulting to everyone involved – including you. You’re undermining your intelligence and integrity when you completely ignore the fact that you’re standing in a hospital full of doctors and choose to praise a ghost instead of just looking to your left and right and saying, “thank you” like a normal, considerate, reasonable person would do. You’re also creating an insane conflict between massive self-importance and incredibly low self-esteem when you assert that you’re such a special vessel of righteousness that your god would imbue you with unnatural abilities to glorify him while at the same time implying you’re unworthy and couldn’t possibly have a great voice because you practiced and worked and probably just have natural talent.
I’ve gotten so tired of this swampy “thank you Jesus” culture in which we live where the people who feel persecuted for their faith are, in fact, the ones disrespecting the rest of us who have a firmer grasp on reality.