John 5:30: "I can do nothing on my own authority; I judge only as God tells me, so my judgment is right, because I am not trying to do what I want, but only what he who sent me wants”.
In this article, Daniela Kramer and Michael Moore highlight areas where religion and secular psychology are in conflict. One of the main contrasts between the two is that of the concept of locus of control. According to this article, locus of control orientation . . .
“is a belief about whether the outcomes of our actions are contingent on what we do (internal control orientation) or on events outside our personal control (external control orientation)."
In other words, individuals who are said to have an internal locus of control believe that they control their own destiny and that they make things happen, while those with an external locus of control believe that their successes, failures and other events in their lives are caused by luck or fate, and that circumstances are beyond their control.
There are advantages and disadvantages with both, but secular psychology generally considers an internal locus of control the healthier position of the two. Those with an internal locus of control tend to take more responsibility for their behaviour, while those with an external locus of control tend to be more anxious about the world around them.
Kramer and Moore argue that Christianity promotes an external locus of control by discouraging the individual from exercising her/his own will. Thinking back to when I was a Christian, I can easily remember how I was encouraged to adopt an external locus of control by (1) submitting to the belief that God knows better: no matter what happens, I should trust him; (2) thinking that events in my life happened according to God’s will; (3) adopting the beliefs of the church without thinking them through (on topics such as homosexuality, evolution, abortion, etc); and (4) viewing Christ as the final authority of my life. In other words, I believed that the course of my life was directed by an outside source. The question is: was this a healthy belief?
One can argue that it is easy to submit your life to someone else entirely, for them to make the decisions and to tell you what to do, whom to marry, where to go, what to say, and how to live. It releases you of responsibility. It allows you to blame something else (e.g., the devil or sin) for your mistakes. But doesn’t such extreme submission - which fundamentalist Christianity preaches - destroy one’s individuality, pride and self-esteem? As an individual, is it not healthier to make your own decisions and your own mistakes? Is it not better to take charge of your own life and to carve out your own destiny?