Joseph had a dream, and when he told it to his brothers, they hated him all the more. He said to them, “Listen to this dream I had: We were binding sheaves of grain out in the field when suddenly my sheaf rose and stood upright, while your sheaves gathered around mine and bowed down to it.” – Genesis 37:5-7, NIV
Back when I was living out in New England, I attended a church where the pastor there would refer to this story about a young Joseph and his brothers in a humorous way. Pastor Todd Skeirik would say that Joseph was inspired to tell his brothers about this dream.
Under whose inspiration did young Joseph speak?
The Spirit of Stupid.
This is a spirit even more active in our days than Joseph’s.
I am convinced.
It inspires Christian leaders to take the Book of Hosea as marriage advice for faithful spouses dealing with adultery. It inspires other leaders to blame faithful spouses for the sins of their partners. And more…
I remember one episode in my personal experience where this spirit was especially active. It took place during my roughly three hour “fact-finding” interview–or ecclesiastical deposition–with several other brother evangelical ministers as part of my ecclesiastical trial to retain my ministerial credentials:
These brother ministers had a document before them created by my (now) ex-wife where she drew out a “mind-map” to help her decide what to do regarding a relationship with a different Other Man–i.e. someone who predated the one with whom she later admitted she had an adulterous, sexual relationship.
This document listed options from ending our marriage to be with the OM to ending the relationship with the OM. Between these two poles were several options involving having various sorts of affairs with the OM including a long-term one as well as a short-term one.
Instead of treating this as evidence of another inappropriate relationship, one minister decided to focus on a statement my (now) ex scrawled on the corner of the same document. He asked me what my ex meant by writing, “This feels 100% different than not being allowed to be part of the decision.”
What an inspired question, right?!
So much stupidity and foolishness seems to accompany Christians responding to infidelity. A seasoned pastor just looked at a journal where a wife is so serious about cheating on her husband with another man that she is writing it out as a viable option for consideration. He responds to that scenario by focusing on her statement suggesting she had no choice in how to handle (a clearly inappropriate) relationship in the past.
Any other scenario, the stupidity would be painfully obvious:
I do not write out “mind maps” about whether or not to murder, beat up, or otherwise violently exact revenge on someone I hate. I recognize breaking the Ten Commandments in committing murder is not an option for a godly man. So, I do not need to lay that on the table in written form as a viable option.
Furthermore, I recognize harboring hate in my heart is not godly either. I may hate what they did to me. That is a righteous response to sin. In addition, though, I realize the godly response is to either confront them lovingly over the sin (Luke 17:3) or decide to take steps to hand the situation over to God.
Finally, I do not blame–or insinuate blame to–external source(s) for thwarting my ability to decide not to commit murder. It is the Holy Spirit living in me that warns me that breaking the Ten Commandments in this way is never an option for me. I am always 100% responsible for my actions, choices, and decisions as God will hold me to account for them one day (see 2 Corinthians 5:10).
I am sure many here can tell their own horror stories of pastors or other church leaders acting under the Spirit of Stupid’s inspiration. My hope is by exposing the stupidity here that fewer people are subjected to it in Christian community…or at least, we can commiserate over surviving the experience 😉