Monday, December 07, 2009

Secondary Gain

Therapists sometimes reference secondary gains when dealing with patients. A secondary gain is an unconscious or hidden motivation for a person to be ill. For example, a boy might become sick but he might get to stay home from school, watch his favorite movie and get loving attention from his mom. (all examples of secondary gains)

A person of doubt might have secondary gains as well. Maybe the secondary gain is being so sure of the absence of God that you write a book that makes a lot of money. Maybe the secondary gain is that you get to make fun of Christians. Maybe it get's you attention.

Or... maybe the secondary gain is that now that you don't believe in Him, God wont interfere with your life. Now you can live however you want, think whatever you want, do everything you want to do without conviction.

is permissible if there is no God. - Dostoevsky

Of course, to be fair, faith has secondary gains as well. What might they be?

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Kerry Whalen said...

Secondary gains... unhealthy motivations that keep you dependent on toxic thinking/practices. Yes - I think "faith" can have these - & religious practice as we know it in the West is riddled with them!!

The simplest (arguably the most pervasive?) secondary gain that I can think of, is the gain of "belonging" to a group. "Christian" culture can be very insular and exclusive - very "us" vs "them". The feeling that "I belong", and am by implication more "acceptable" than others, exerts a strong pull on all of us, particularly if we are at all insecure.

What about "ministry" that feeds the need of the person doing it, to feel needed, superior, or important?? Or gaining "esoteric knowledge" which also feeds a sense of superiority?

The irony of this, is that it is completely opposed to what Jesus actually taught! To be great, is to be the servant of all; the greatest shall be the least; sincere love should replace judgment - & perfect love is laying down your own life.

Thank God we have a living Lord we can follow, who can help us to get free of our own tangled motivations!! No system of "religion" can do this - not even "Christianity" - without a genuine walk with Christ. Anything else is just playing religious games!