Is God prideful? Is He arrogant and vain for wanting us to worship Him? Does His anger and jealousy make Him petty?
I have heard this argument different times from people in an attempt to show that the God of Christianity cannot be good. I also realize that this is something that Christians wonder at times too, and can cause them to restrain themselves in worship. How can God be good, and yet be jealous and angry when humans don’t worship Him? Isn’t God awesome enough that He doesn’t need our worship?
The Jealousy of God
He thought that God wanting us to only worship Him showed that God had some sort of inferiority complex, and required our worship to make Himself feel better.Years ago, while I was in college learning film and video production, I was walking home with a group of friends, and the topic of religion came up. One of the more outspoken atheists in our group told me that the Christian God was petty. He explained to me that the Bible is always talking about how jealous God is, and that “jealous” was just another word for “petty.” He thought that God wanting us to only worship Him showed that God had some sort of inferiority complex, and required our worship to make Himself feel better. I asked him, “If your girlfriend cheats on you, are you then petty, or jealous?” He responded with, “fair enough!”
In 2 Corinthians 11:2-3 we can see where we get the idea of God being a jealous God, and it actually explains it in terms of a romantic relationship!
“For I feel a divine jealousy for you, since I betrothed you to one husband, to present you as a pure virgin to Christ. But I am afraid that as the serpent deceived Eve by his cunning, your thoughts will be led astray from a sincere and pure devotion to Christ.”
God is jealous over the Church (meaning, all Christians), because He loves us, and doesn’t want us fall away from Him. I’m married, and I want my wife to be all mine, and no one else’s, and she wants me to be all hers, and no one else’s. That’s part of the point of marriage. It’s a lifelong commitment to each other that celebrates a very intimate and devoted type of love. This is what God wants with us. When we flirt with things that lead us away from God, He gets jealous.
Is it vain to demand worship?
But isn’t it vain of God to want us to worship Him? Admittedly, God might be justified in being jealous when we don’t love Him back, but does He really have the right to demand that we serve Him as our God?
Pride can be a good thing, or a bad thing. One type of pride celebrates something good. For example, if you built your own house, and you realize that you did a really good job, you can be “proud” of yourself. You can also be “proud” of your son or daughter, because they have done a good job at some task, or have proven themselves to have integrity. This type of pride is good. However, another type of pride is a bad thing. Vanity in a person is quite unattractive, and for good reason. This type of pride is when someone lifts themselves up more than they deserve. If people try to make themselves look better than they are, then we call them prideful.
God actually deserves to have us worship Him. To apply this to God, God is the one that created not only us, but the entire universe. He is perfect in power, knowledge, and goodness. God actually deserves to have us worship Him. For us NOT to worship God is prideful, because we are exalting ourselves higher than we deserve. If we really think that worshipping God is beneath us, then either we’ve unfairly devalued God, or we have far too high an opinion of ourselves.
God’s jealousy doesn’t make God petty. It proves that He loves us.
God wanting us to worship Him doesn’t make Him vain. Our lack of worship towards God makes us vain.
God deserves our worship, and when we don’t worship Him, He is perfectly within His right to become jealous and angry, in the same way that a wife has every right to be angry and jealous when her husband cheats on her.
Humanity is made for worshipAnother thing I should mention is that humanity is made for worship. Each of us has a part of us that wants to express worship towards something. We were built with that within us. Worship isn’t a chore. I know from personal experience that incredible joy can be found in worshipping God. The reason it seems like an unpleasant idea to many people is because it involves submission to God. If you’re trying hard to fight against worshipping and submitting to God, then you are actually disrespecting God, and you’re in rebellion against Him. God deserves better than that, and yet, He still loves you, and is waiting to welcome you back to Himself.