Friday, July 8, 2016

Stage 3 of faith development - What it looks like in a coffee shop

I was sitting in a coffee shop chatting with a group of guys and one of them said quite seriously, "My problem is that my wife does not walk in the way of the Lord and recognize me as the ultimate authority and decision-maker in our marriage."    

I was tempted to ask him where he got this idea that he should be the ultimate authority over his wife but I restrained myself because I didn't want to hear his repetition of bible verses or have him tell me that this is the teaching of the church he attends.

This man made a statement indicative of stage 3 using Fowler's model of faith development. Stage 3 is defined as "Synthetic-Conventional" faith (arising in adolescence; aged 12 to adulthood) characterized by conformity to authority and the religious development of a personal identity. Any conflicts with one's beliefs are ignored at this stage due to the fear of threat from inconsistencies.

This man seems stuck and I wondered if his marriage was in trouble? I wondered further how rigidly he held to this belief and whether he might be amenable to more flexibility.

I said to this fellow, "Jesus was about love and true love is not concerned with authority because the opposite of love is fear and authoritative people tend to be insecure and their beliefs and emotions are fear based. I am not sure that God intends you to be the boss of your wife and family, but intends for you to love them unconditionally."

He asked me if I was born again.

I said, "Yes, but probably not in the way you are meaning."

He said, "Come to church with me, hear the word, and you'll come to understand."

I said I would make a deal with him and come with him to his church if he would come with me to mine. He said he couldn't make any promises. He would have to consult first with his pastor.

I said, "I have found it interesting that people want to share their religious views with other people, but rarely want other people to share their religious views with them."

"Why would they," he said, "if they already have the truth."

I bid him a good day, asked him to let me know what his pastor advised, and continued with my day intending to love and serve the Lord of my understanding.

1 comment:

  1. People need the structure of definite beliefs to calm their anxiety about the chaos in their lives. This seems to be a relatively temporary stage of 3 - 5 years. Born agains usually mature and move on after this period of time to a more complex and fluid spiritual life.

    Thanks for this. I really like this blog.