Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Posts Tagged ‘Is faith a psychological crutch?’

Crutch  [noun]: 1.  a long staff of wood or metal having a rest for the armpit, for supporting the weight of the body  2.  something that supports or sustains: ‘a crutch to the economy’

It’s a common charge laid against God and those who follow Jesus of Nazareth (who many people believe is God’s Son): “They’re just a psychological crutch for weak, needy types.”

There are two implications here. The obvious one is strong, independent people don’t need a “crutch”. They can – and supposedly do – make it on their own.

However, it seems to me we all have psychological crutches – the need to be loved, for example, and the need for companionship. Neither of these do a thing to provide our daily physical needs – food, water and shelter. In most cases, neither of them even supply an income. Yet very few people have ever declared love and companionship to be useless wastes of time. Why not?

Frank Harber, writing in a popular spiritual magazine, goes a step further: “Atheism – the belief that there is no God – can become a crutch for those addicted to a lifestyle contrary to God’s standards of morality.”

Author and former pastor Bob Prall has connected with this thought, noting, “If Christianity is a psychological crutch, then Jesus Christ came because there was an epidemic of broken legs.”

Harber goes on to declare, “Everyone needs assistance. The question is, what will you lean on? [Jesus of Nazareth] provides what atheism or other religions never can: spiritual fulfillment, peace, and forgiveness.”

The second, subtle implication is there is no God to rely on, so believers are just tricking themselves through their weakness of believing. The most famous proponent of this view is still Sigmund Freud.

“For Freud, God is made in humanity’s own image, the ‘ultimate wish-fulfillment,’ the end product of human desire for a loving father,” wrote Amy Orr-Ewing in Pulse magazine.

Orr-Ewing then makes this point: “The argument about projection cuts both ways.  After all, isn’t it equally possible to say that Freud and other atheists deny the existence of God out of a need to escape from a father figure, or to argue that the non-existence of God springs from a deep-seated desire for no father figure to exist?”

Leaving this important argument aside for a moment, I consider this “psychological crutch” question from a personal perspective. Before I became a Jesus follower, I:

  • lived on my own, quite happily, for almost 20 years;
  • had friendships and hobbies;
  • enjoyed spending time with my parents and brothers;
  • had romantic relationships; and
  • developed a satisfying, award-winning journalism career.

Do I sound like a weak person in need of a psychological crutch? If the answer is no, then how do people making this charge explain folks like me? Weigh in with your answer below and let’s have a conversation.

Read Full Post »