As a young Christian, I remember hearing Proverbs 3:5-6 a lot in church. It’s a popular “life verse” for many. If you’re not familiar with the term ‘life verse’, it’s a Bible verse or passage that a Christian chooses to base their life around. It’s a verse that they feel is one of the most profound in the whole Bible — a verse that truly “speaks to them”.
Here’s Proverbs 3:5-6 in all its glory:
Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding;
In all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.
While I was under the spell of the Christian faith, I admit thinking Proverbs 3:5-6 was a good passage of scripture. But lets break down why these verses are horrible, and why it so aptly defines religious fundamentalism by giving it a proper rephrasing:
“Trust in an imaginary being who is unseen and unheard. Place your total and complete trust in this make-believe character. Don’t think about it. Even though it’s contrary to logic and good sense, just do it. How far should you abandon yourself? In all ways. Submit yourself totally to this mythical figure, and even though he never communicates in any real tangible way, he will guide your future paths.”
These verses do a good job of defining fundamentalism because they tell you “not to think”. Just believe. Even when things are contrary to logical human understanding, disregard it. Don’t trust your own brain.
If you’re a Christian and you believe Proverbs 3:5-6 is the literal word of God, why do you believe this? Why would a God who supposedly created your brain and gave you your ability to think; why would he turn around and tell you to “not think”? And how is this not cult-like? Cult leaders make it a point to tell their followers “don’t think about it!” just “trust me”. Why would God use the tactic of a cult leader to inspire his followers into total abandonment?
Proverbs 3:5-6 is often targeted to children, and Christians will beat kids over the head with those verses. Children are encouraged to memorize those verses. Psychologist Valerie Tarico puts it well when she says: “One of the problems with faith-based teaching is it teaches children not to trust their own reason and intuition, undermining their ability to have confidence in their own knowledge and ability to process information. There is a lot of psychological damage that follows when people are trained not to trust themselves.”
Sadly, this is all part of being under a spell. As a former Christian, I remember being very offended when I heard about Daniel Dennett’s book, ‘Breaking the Spell’. I was also offended by Dawkin’s book, ‘The God Delusion’. How dare they say I’m under a spell or that I’m deluded!! They are just too blind to see the truth! But it was my honest and diligent search for truth that ultimately led me to see that I was under a spell.
I wish I had the words to convey how much better life is now. It is truly more fulfilling. Freedom of the mind is a wonderful thing.