Portraits of Superstition: 7 Common Superstitions Christian Women Need to DitchThis seven article series paints seven portraits of superstition — common superstitions that have infiltrated our culture and even our Christianity. Some of these portraits are autobiographical. All of them are worthy of self-reflection.
To read Portrait One: The Obnoxious Knocker click here.
To read Portrait Two: The Pagan Prayer Warrior click here.
To read Portrait Three: The Deal-Maker click here.
To read Portrait Four: The Devious Twins click here.
To read Portrait Five: The Girl With The Lamp click here.
To read Portrait Six: The Princess Charming click here.
As I bring this series to a close, I want to share with you some ideas of how to use this series for personal devotion or in a women’s study group.
First, if you haven’t listened yet, you can access the Women’s Hope Podcast here. In this episode “the Kims” interview me on the topic of superstition and we discuss an overview of this article series. This podcast is a good introduction to all that is discussed in the articles. If I were to bring this to a women’s group, I might start by giving this podcast a listen.
Second, at the top of each article I linked “printer friendly versions.” You won’t find live links within these pdfs. They are solely for printing and reading. That said, don’t miss out on the live links within the articles online. For your ease, here are the printer-friendly links to each, all in one place:
Portrait One: The Obnoxious Knocker pdf
Portrait Two: The Pagan Prayer Warrior pdf
Portrait Three: The Deal-Maker pdf
Portrait Four: The Devious Twins pdf
Portrait Five: The Girl With The Lamp pdf
Portrait Six: The Princess Charming pdf
Portrait Seven: The Christian Neapolitan pdf
Finally, as I have written each article in a devotional way (with calls to remember, reflect, and reform), I encourage you to take a devotional approach to these articles. Print them out. Read the Scripture references. Pray. Reflect on how superstitions have impacted your faith and practice. Allow these articles to speak truth into your life, encourage you to turn from superstitious practices, and put your trust in the God of the Universe who is over it all.
Now, onto our seventh and final article…
PORTRAIT SEVEN: THE CHRISTIAN NEAPOLITAN
This city girl has everything at her fingertips. The world is her oyster, and she is indulging in anything that makes her feel good. She likes the idea of Jesus. After all, she remembers learning about him in her youth, and he seemed like a pretty good guy. Yet, she goes to yoga on Wednesday nights at the athletic center around the corner. On Saturdays, she studies the power of crystals with her girlfriend who calls herself a witch. And, once in a while on a Sunday, she’ll go to that megachurch down the street. But she’s a busy woman, and she can’t always find the time. This colorful Neapolitan gal, though she calls herself a Christian, takes a scoop of each from a variety of religious “choices.” On her cone drips a smorgasbord of spirituality that has melted into one sloppy amalgam. Someone please get this girl a napkin!
It’s important to note that this Christian Neapolitan lady isn’t the first person to create her own designer religion. In fact, it’s been a problem since the beginning. It seems we feeble humans have a propensity toward distrusting God and securing ourselves with “extra protection.” Known formally as syncretism, this is the practice of cherry-picking your favorite elements from a variety of religions and creating your own religion, a make-believe, superstitious, religion– a religion that grieves God.
To help us gain a better picture of this practice through biblical history, I want to take a brisk walk through the Bible and survey the landscape of some important places we see idolatry and superstition being practiced outright, or being warned against by God Himself.
Let’s start our walk in the most basic place: Exodus 20. Here we have the Ten Commandments, and the first two of the ten are against idolatry: 1. “You shall have no other Gods before me.” 2. “You shall not make for yourself a carved image…You shall not bow down to them or serve them, for I the Lord your God am a jealous God.”
Since superstition is defined, in its most basic sense, as idolatry, we can evaluate this through a biblical lens: God commands us not to engage in superstition that would have us put our faith, hope, and trust in anything (or anyone) other than Him.
This command is repeated again in Deuteronomy 4 from God through Moses to His people before they enter the promise land. And it is repeated again, with more detail, in Deuteronomy 18:9-11,
“When you come into the land that the Lord your God is giving you, you shall not learn to follow the abominable practices of those nations. There shall be not found among you anyone who burns his son or his daughter as an offering, anyone who practices divination or tells fortunes or interprets omens, or a sorcerer or a charmer or a medium or a necromancer or one who inquires of the dead, for whoever does these things is an abomination to the Lord.”
As we move through time in the Scriptures, we see how the Israelites disobeyed. We see how some kings tried to correct things. And then we see the reign of King Manasseh in 2 Kings 21. Just to remind you where this is in our time line, and the lineage of kings in the Old Testament, this would be after Saul, David and Solomon, after a lot of the bad kings, after some of the good kings, all the way past Ahaz and Hezekiah (one of the best kings), and directly after that we have his son who was one of the worst Kings – King Manasseh. And he had the longest reign of all the kings, a reign of 55 years.
This is how Scripture describes Manasseh:
“Manasseh was twelve years old when he began to reign, and he reigned fifty-five years in Jerusalem. His mother’s name was Hephzibah. And he did what was evil in the sight of the Lord,according to the despicable practices of the nations whom the Lord drove out before the people of Israel. For he rebuilt the high places that Hezekiah his father had destroyed, and he erected altars for Baal and made an Asherah, as Ahab king of Israel had done, and worshiped all the host of heaven and served them. And he built altars in the house of the Lord, of which the Lord had said, “In Jerusalem will I put my name.” And he built altars for all the host of heaven in the two courts of the house of the Lord. And he burned his son as an offering and used fortune-telling and omens and dealt with mediums and with necromancers. He did much evil in the sight of the Lord, provoking him to anger. And the carved image of Asherah that he had made he set in the house of which the Lord said to David and to Solomon his son, ‘In this house, and in Jerusalem, which I have chosen out of all the tribes of Israel, I will put my name forever. And I will not cause the feet of Israel to wander anymore out of the land that I gave to their fathers, if only they will be careful to do according to all that I have commanded them, and according to all the Law that my servant Moses commanded them.’ But they did not listen, and Manasseh led them astray to do more evil than the nations had done whom the Lord destroyed before the people of Israel” (2 Kings 21:1-9).
Here, we see all of these warnings and we know the consequences of idolatry all throughout the Old Testament.
But we are not the nation of Israel, so we must ask then, How does this apply to us?
We find our answer in the New Testament letters which consistently warn the church to be careful that they don’t fall back into idolatry. Today, this idolatry looks much different than it did in the days of the kings. But the warnings remain. Here are a few of the warnings we should heed with regard to idolatry and superstition today:
- “See to it that no one takes you captive by philosophy and empty deceit, according to human tradition, according to the elemental spirits of the world, and not according to Christ” (Colossians 2:8).
- “Now the Spirit expressly says that in later times some will depart from the faith by devoting themselves to deceitful spirits and teachings of demons, through the insincerity of liars whose consciences are seared” (1 Timothy 4:1).
- “Have nothing to do with irreverent silly myths rather train yourself for godliness.” The NASB says “worldly fables fit for old women” and the NIV says “old wives’ tales” (1 Timothy 4:7).
These are all appropriate warnings. The last warning, especially, should prick our ears because, as women, we have a natural propensity toward this stuff. We want security. We want to feel safe. And if we don’t know, understand, or trust God and His character, then we will try to fill that void any way we can, seeking security in all kinds of false places. In our emptiness and vulnerability we scramble and grab, like scared children in the dark, for anything that might bring immediate comfort.
I believe that’s the primary catalyst for how and why superstitions capitulate into full out 0ccult or New Age practices for women. Tragically, we are heaping up for ourselves all of these superstitions we have deemed true protection, on our own authority, and not on God’s authority. On top of all that, by nature, we are touchy-feely experience seekers. It should not surprise us that these practices are being brought into our Christian churches through women’s ministries, but is should appall us. We must be alert. We must continually seek wisdom. We must fight for truth.
Have you taken a scoop of each? Have you tried to indulge too far into the ways of the world? Have you succumbed to worldly fables fit for old women?
To repent is to change your mind for the purpose of changing your direction. As you have seen in all of these articles, the ways of the world are not our ways. We can try and pretend that all of these superstitious belief structures will somehow fit into our puzzle of faith, but they are pieces from different boxes altogether! We can’t force them. We can’t pretend that they fulfill us and bring glory to God. God’s Word, by His power, gives us everything we need for life and godliness (2 Peter 1:3). Christ himself said, “I am the way the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me” (John 14:6). We need to stop scooping superstitions from the world and heaping them onto our Christianity. It becomes nothing but a sloppy, drippy, and ungodly mess.
“I thank my God in all my remembrance of you, always in every prayer with joy, because of your partnership in the Gospel from the first day until now. And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work on you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ. It is right for me to feel this way about you all, because I hold you in my heart, for you are all partakers with me of grace” (Philippians 1:1-7).
Godspeed sweet sisters.