Spiritual Blindness & its Root of Fear

by Jayne Ozanne, Editor of ViaMedia.News

Jayne Ozanne (3)

Do you believe in Spiritual Blindness?  I must admit, I do.

I define it as something spiritual that happens to people, often because of something that has happened to them in their past, which then stops them seeing what everyone else can see plainly.

Sadly, you can’t rationalise with people when they are like this.

We’ve seen a perfect example of this just this week with the Republican supporters of Judge Moore, who are blaming their fellow Republicans – rather than the conduct of their candidate – for the loss of one of the safest Republican seats in the Senate.

More broadly speaking, we see it at work in the US with the right-wing evangelical supporters of Trump – who believe that despite all the evidence to the contrary, their President is beyond reproach.  They will therefore continue to support him at all cost, believing him to be God’s anointed man for the White House.

And we see it here in the UK when dealing with the issue of sexual abuse and power within the Church.

Perhaps most clearly, though, we see it in the harsh unloving treatment of the LGBTI community by so many self-styled conservative believers.  Despite all the scientific and medical evidence, despite all the heart-wrenching testimonies (and sadly even suicides), despite all the biblical exegesis about our God being a God of Love, who welcomes and embraces all they stand resolute, defiant to the last.

I would like to believe you can talk and discuss things with everyone in the Church – but my personal experience has shown me that not all are seeking a dialogue, but rather an opportunity to “explain” to you why you are wrong and how “clear” the Bible is.  Any alternative view is seen as mistaken at best, and sinful at worst.

I have been reflecting what the root cause is of this irrational blindness.

I believe it stems from a root of fear.  A fear of a God of wrath, a God of anger and a God of judgement.  A God who seems to have mislaid the Gospel of Love.  It is Zeus with his thunderbolt, not Jesus with his open arms on the Cross.

This terror of God – a seed of an image of God planted often in youth, and watered through the years with the tears of unanswered prayers – is not a Godly fear.  It is one that sadly reflects a lack of assurance of the unconditional love of Christ, who gave Himself willingly so that all may have life.

Lest we need reminding, this self-sacrifice was an act of love – indeed, it was the ultimate act of love.  Conceived in love, born of love and lived out in love.  To the very end.

If there is one thing I could shout from the rooftops, it is this – the cross is not a place of fear!

It is a place of awe and wonder of the Amazing Love that is lavished on us all, wretched sinners that we are.

I state this purposefully, words so familiar to so many of us, because I believe it is this foundational belief which seems to be where we actually really disagree.

It has been at the core of my own struggles, replacing a warped image of a God of wrath and anger with a true image of a God of LOVE.  More than that, a God who loves us unconditionally.

As we are so often told, there is nothing that we can ever do that will ever make Him love us more (not even choosing to be celibate!).  Similarly, there is absolutely nothing we can to make Him love us any less (even if we have committed the most heinous of crimes).  That’s what unconditional means.  It’s what Christ showed to us whilst hanging on the cross, and even then showing unconditional love to the man hanging next to him.

If I may, can I suggest you read that last paragraph again, and again, and again – until the enormity of it seeks in?  It has taken me over 40 years to begin to grasp, and I’m still grappling with it on a daily basis.

How can I be so sure of this, of the love of God for me?

Because I know there is NO fear in love – as the Apostle John tells us (1 John 4:18).  We so often quote the second half of this verse, that “perfect love casts out fear”, without understanding the first half.

But where there is fear, then sadly the devil can have a field day!

It is this fear that, when fully grown, can eventually stop us seeing things which are in plain sight.

For instance, it is fear that stops parents admitting that they know their children are gay, even though the evidence is right in front of their eyes from a very early age.  It is this fear that stops us seeing the domestic abuse that is going on amongst our friends, even when we can plainly see the bruises – both physical and emotional.

It is this fear that stops us making certain decisions we know to be right as a Church for fear of the financial implications that they might reap, or the impact on our reputation – not that the latter can get much worse.

The only antidote to fear is of course LOVE.

Does this mean that we have to love those who are spiritually blind?  Well, if we believe we are Christ’s agents of love on this earth, the answer has to be a resounding “Yes!”.

And we then have to trust that the Holy Spirit will do the rest.


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14 Responses to Spiritual Blindness & its Root of Fear

  1. Mr Harris says:

    The conversation can happen if you are open to the possibility that it is you who is spiritually blind?
    You speak as if you know what is true and therefore not open to the possibility of being wrong. Might you be wrong? Or are you totally right?

    • Jayne I love how you’ve opened this up to anatomical-physical metaphors as well as to intellectual-cognitive ones! They are wonderfully appropriate to seasonal Isaiah readings where God’s light spills over the planes of terrestrial surfaces!HXX

    • I am who I am says:

      Errr…well the post merely reiterates standard Christian orthodoxy with regard to the cross. If you want to argue against that then this isn’t the place. But if you infer that the use of words like ‘upon refection’, ‘I believe’, ‘can I suggest’, and ‘I’m still grappling with’ indicate arrogance and a need for introspection then I suggest you need to learn to read.

      I’d put you in the troll category but thought maybe, maybe not. Maybe you’re just thick.

      • Mr Harris says:

        The article speaks a bit about the cross. I’m not arguing the cross. But is titled “spiritual blindness and it’s root of fear” and goes on to talk about the “proof” scientifically and medically of homosexuality. There isn’t anything out there that swings it one way or another.
        This article sounds almost humorous, calling people who hold to traditional views that have been held for so long, spiritually blind!
        Isn’t that an arrogant statement that could be from someone who is “spiritually blind”

        I’m not a troll, after many years watching this sort of conversation, this is the first thing I’ve ever posted on!
        Thick maybe!! But that doesn’t mean What’s im suggesting is false.

    • Phil Gardner says:

      Mr Harris, Jayne has written nothing here that isn’t clearly based in the teaching of Jesus and the apostles.Can you not see that?

    • Mo Steel says:

      Poor Mr Harris, I don’t think you have quite grasped the point of the article, in fact you seem to be wilfully ignoring it. I’m sorry about that.

  2. Mr Harris says:

    Mo steel thanks for your concern. , can you summaries the article for me? I must be missing the point!
    we talk so much about the love of God that his righteousness gets left aside.
    It’s been said that Jayne is writing based on what Jesus and the apostles taught and spoke, but in the book of Acts (how the disciples spoke to unbelievers) we don’t hear of Gods love, we hear the apostles preaching repentance and for people to turn back to God. And this church grew!!! I agree about there being people with a spiritual blindness but the blindness we see in scripture was from those who didn’t turn from their ways and repent and believe.
    Maybe I am totally missing the point of this article.
    But there are things in it that I find it in scripture.

    • Jayne Ozanne says:

      I think Mr Harris proves the point in my article perfectly, and I therefore think it’s best to leave his comments so folk can read and reflect on them themselves.

      Jesus has plenty to say about the spiritual blindness of the Pharisees (Matt 15:14, 23:16) who did not understand that the purpose of scripture was to reveal Him, and the love of God. Yes of course, if we love God, we will naturally want to choose him and want to be more like Him (ie we will “repent”) – but this is an act that is done because of the love that we are responding to, not because of fear.

    • kevinwscott says:

      Well Mr Harris, there is a well-respected and ancient view that God can only love.

      Yes, that flies in the face of a lot of Scripture, but it makes perfect sense and it is consistent. It is just possible that all the Divine vengefulness and righteousness we read about in Scripture has been projected onto God by writers who would rather like God to be that way (for other people).

      Our Parish Church is dedicated to John the Baptist – the man who got it spectacularly wrong. He came preaching about God’s judgement and retribution which was about to be visited on earth by the Anointed One; he used words like fire and axe to describe the action of the One who was to come.

      And then, almost with irony, the Scripture says: ‘And then came Jesus …’

      With God, love is the first word and the last word.

      • Mr Harris says:

        You write this
        “there is a well-respected and ancient view that God can only love“

        You’re very right about that going against a lot of scripture. That is what I find difficult. You talk about the writers putting their idea of God unto the scriptures. What’s there to say that you the reader are not doing that exact thing.
        I know God does love. I know because I’m a sinner and when I come to him and confess sin, he forgives me. So i am very aware of Gods love. But If I went out an beat an old person up (no intention of doing so) and didn’t repent and seek forgiveness, your quote above seems to implies that it doesn’t matter if I seek his forgiveness or not because God can only love. What do you think God would think about that?

  3. ckatsarelis says:

    Brava, Jayne. You are spot on. The example of US evangelical support for a pedophile is a revelation to the world. Spiritual blindness is a huge part of it. It could also be that the spiritual blindness isn’t exclusive to those right-wing evangelicals. The racism issue in the US is greatly complicated by people of perfectly good will who are living in denial. It may not be an active racism, but sadly, the default in the face of passivity is active racism. So the spiritual blindness is broad. I think you are spot on about the root of it being fear and lack of faith. God doesn’t need gatekeepers, God asked us to love our neighbor, not judge them, and the OT is overwhelmingly about justice while the NT is overwhelmingly about love. Jesus’ answer to the lawyer who wanted a narrow definition of “who is my neighbor,” received the difficult parable of the Good Samaritan (Samaritans’ being hated by the Judeans). Righteousness is acting out of love, not following rules.

    The only cure for that spiritual blindness is Grace. That is in God’s hands, but we are called to be God’s loving hands in the world. Loving the people who hate us is the hardest thing… You do it pretty well. I struggle mightily with it. So, we are called to love Mr. Harris…

    Mr. Harris, I love you. You are God’s child, just as we all are. It is a great mystery that God loves us all despite our passions against one another. But I would rather live in that mystery than the alternative. Can you join us in that mystery?

  4. Bill Ghrist says:

    Richard Rohr’s book (with Mike Morrell) _The Divine Dance–The Trinity and Your Transformation_ is an extended exploration of the implications of the Trinitarian nature of God. If you want to understand how the Triune God is a God of love and not of fear, I would urge you to read this book.

  5. David says:

    Thank you for the article Jayne but I could wish, with others, that you had not used ‘blindness’ to make your point. (of course I recognise Jesus did this but i thin k that is another debate). And does ‘blindness’ really describe the behaviour in some of the examples you give? Is it not possible people know very clearly what they are doing in making the choices they do? Is that blindness? Words like wilful, scheming, selective, manipulative may express aspects of US politics rather better I think. I struggle with the word from a disability and inclusion point of view. I also struggle with it because it is a closed, self defining word that I can only agree or disagree with you about. ‘You’re blind’ – does not invite discussion. I hope I am making some kind of sense here and I do get what you are trying to express.

    • Jayne Ozanne says:

      I hear what you say, David, and have apologised for any offence caused. Just to clarify, I was using the term in the sense that it is something that happens to people beyond their control, that then stops them being able to see the truth. However, I appreciate that this is not how some have read it. I will reflect on the comments, as I’m sure others will too.

Any thoughts?