The God Card

Kyle Reed // @kylereed

Have you ever heard of the God card? Most likely if you are a Christian and have dated anyone in high school or college you have heard of and in fact played the God card. The God card is brought up in dating relationships and is used for a word that people have a hard time saying, NO.
Usually it plays out like this….

Guy: I like you and you are hott (well maybe not like that, at least that is what they are saying in their head)
Girl: Ok (is this how he is going to ask me out?)
Guy: Will you go out with me?
Girl: Well, I need to pray about it.

or if that is to religious for you….

Guy: You know I just do not think God wants me to date you anymore
Girl: Are you serious, but I love you so much and these last 3 weeks have been awesome
Guy: Ya, God told me that I need to get right with him

That my friends is how to use the God card. The chance to use God in case of emergency dates back to the beginning of time. Adam taught us the game and we have been following every since. Genesis 3:12 is the first recorded example of the God Card…”The women you put me with, she gave me the fruit.” Since those words were uttered we have been using God as an excuse for anything. Yesterday, I heard the God card played, but this time it was in a different way.

I thought taking the God card to the next level was impossible,
needless to say it has happened and I have done it myself. Another version of the God card goes something like this…
Oh I heard that your wife left you, I will pray for you…
Yes, I can pray for you…

Just wanted to let you know, I have been praying for you….

At the surface these all seem very harmless (even to the point of you wondering if I am a heretic and criticizing someone for prayer) and really beneficial. But, the element of the God card is not far away. I have experienced each of these phrases said to me before. They happened at a time where we were having a lot of family struggles. At this time it only seemed appropriate for people to play the God card on us instead of caring. The God card can be tricky to see, but you do not have to look far.

The best way to see if something has God card written all over it is to think about the times you have played the game. I have said all of these phrases before, plenty of times. In fact, I have had great intentions in saying these words. The problem came when I never followed up on these sentiments and they just turned into a statement instead of action. That is the best way to finding the God card, usually it is words that involve God but have no weight to them. Any time a guy or girl says “God wants me to be single right now” usually reeks of God card language.  These words are code for “I do not want to date you but am afraid to tell you that so I will use God.”
Or you find yourself promising prayer to others needs is usually holy code for I care but I do not care. All of these words are filled with such holy language, and yet take a Holy God and turn Him into an excuse.

I realized that I play the God card a lot. I think I do this because I underestimate the power of prayer and the power of God. It is natural to promise someone prayer, but it is very unnatural to follow up on that for the next week. It is natural to want to talk to God about your dating relationships, it is another thing to actually follow His words.

At some point I am going to run out of cards to play and start following through. But if you are like me, you know the feeling of having the God card played on you, I cannot imagine what God feels like having us use Him to play a game.

Have you played the God card before?

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Kyle Reed

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I create websites, conversations, and ideas. Advocate for the 20 somethings. Looking to connect everyone to a mentor. Married to my best friend, Ginny. I like my coffee black and my dog Jack. I currently live in Nashville and work at Sony Music/Provident in Nashville
  • Stephanie

    Part of playing the God card is about the veneer we think is necessary; a veneer that is expected of us by our church family, our Christian friends, and even sometimes (weirdly enough) our non-Christian friends. It's almost as if NOT playing the card is worse than playing it, because you are failing to keep up appearances that so many have come to expect of us.

    You said "Or you find yourself promising prayer to others needs is usually holy code for I care but I do not care. " I'm curious about what exactly you mean here, because if I'm not careful, I could see a touch a legalism is this statement. As if the action of care of a person (making them a meal, offering to take the kids of a afternoon, running some errands for them, etc) is more valued than a prayer for that person.

    Maybe that isn't what you mean, which is why I want to be careful in my interpretation. If that is what you are trying to say, then that makes me nervous.

    • Kyle Reed

      What I meant by that statement is usually I promise something (like prayer) about a need and at the moment I care about that, but when it comes down to me actually following through and praying I do not do it. Which in turn makes it like I am saying I care but I do not care.
      But I was not intending to make it sound like things are more valuable then others. Some of that comes from personal experience of hearing people tell me they are praying about my family or the constant questions of "how are you doing" that I would get every sunday. These were tough because it seemed like they were just doing their holy requirements and then moving on. It reminds me of Job and his friends in the Bible. Sometimes we just need to sit with our friends and just be silent.

      You are exactly right about the veneer we play. I see it as a parrot mimicking others. You know, we have heard others say this and it sounds good so we are going to say that as well. It can be a dangerous thing when we start to play games.

  • Stephanie

    Sometimes just "sitting with our friend and being silent" is the greatest gift we can offer them in the moment. Well said, Kyle.

    It's hard for us to offer the gift of our time when empty promises roll off the tongue so much easier…

  • austinklee

    I hated when a girl would play the God card on me. Usually she was just to chicken to say, "I am not really interested in you." And she would "date Jesus" for a week or so and then start dating someone else.

    So, I started calling them out when they would do it. I would look them in the eye and ask them, "What do you really mean?" They would say that they just needed time with Jesus. I would ask, "So, when you are done with your time away you and I can start again?" This invariably led to a red faced embarrassment as they explained that they weren't sure they liked me like that. And I would say, "Well, you should probably talk to God about your inability to be honest with men."

    Maybe not the most Christ like thing I have ever done…but it made them think twice the next time they wanted to use God as an excuse to avoid an uncomfortable truth-telling experience.

    • Kyle Reed

      Love it, absolutely love this.

      I had a friend in college get the God card played on him and after I some of us explained what just happened he got so mad that he went back to the girl and gave her a piece of his mind and then chewed her out for using God as an excuse, they are now married.

      I got the God card played on me at a young age so I did not see it happening, at least not until my youth minister explained.

      • austinklee

        Once there was a girl that just would not admit it. So she said, "Austin, I don't know how long it will take for God to get done refining my heart." My response, "Well, I want you to know that any girl that is willing to take that kind of time to get herself right with God is definitely the kind of girl that is worth waiting for. So, I will be content to wait for you."

        That of course broke the camel's back and through many tears she admitted that she wasn't being honest and asked me to forgive her.

        The best part is…I was completely honest. If she really was going to seek God no matter how long it took and would come back…then she really was the kind of girl I was after. Oh well…she learned.

        • Kyle Reed

          Ya no kidding, that is a girl worth waiting for.
          I need to find me one of them.

  • Jon Smith

    I came from a fundamentalist church background, and the God card was a plague! I used it all the time… and had it used on me… and had pastors tell me it was the right thing. I like Josh Harris, but 'I Kissed Dating Goodbye' was the catalyst for the God card all through my youth.

    The God card is amazing IF it's really God and not just an excuse. We also use the Satan card a lot too. 'The devil did this or that…' when maybe it was God trying to work in our life.

    Good stuff, Kyle.

    • Kyle Reed

      Good point, I did not think about the Satan card

  • Rachel H. Evans

    Hey, Kyle. Great minds think alike, I suppose. Wrote an article for Burnside about playing the God card:

    • Kyle Reed

      Well, I guess you have a greater mind because you wrote it first, but I will check that out. thanks for the link

  • Tyler

    The problem with using God as an excuse to do or not do anything is that the person making the claim seems to be the only one getting such clear messages from "God." They act like God is telling them everything and everyone else is just in the dark.

    I always wanted to give this a shot: "God is telling me to get out of this relationship. Oh really?! Because He told me that you where a whale and that I should slay you and use your blubber for lamp oil!"

    In college we called it the holy heave.

    • Kyle Reed

      The Holy Heave, forgot about that one as well.
      And I you should try that sometime Tyler, it could work out well for you.

  • Jeff

    Yeah, I've played the God card before. Used it as an excuse to not commit to a girl during college and kinda treated her crummy, stringing her along for awhile.

    Thanks for writing this. Great point that needs to be heard.

  • Jamie, the VWM

    I'm so glad you wrote this. This kind of stuff drives me CRAZY – and I find myself surrounded by these characters. Today, someone told me they needed to "pray" about feeding my dogs while I'm out of town for a few days next week. Um, really?! I was like, "Ok, cool. Let me know what God says." and then it was just awkward….

    By the way, I really like your blog. I def click through your archive when I've got some time to enjoy your thoughts. Well done.

  • Jamie, the VWM

    I'm so glad you wrote this. This kind of stuff drives me CRAZY – and I find myself surrounded by these characters. Today, someone told me they needed to "pray" about feeding my dogs while I'm out of town for a few days next week. Um, really?! I was like, "Ok, cool. Let me know what God says." and then it was just awkward….

    By the way, I really like your blog. I def click through your archive when I've got some time to enjoy your thoughts. Well done.

    • Kyle Reed

      Thanks Jamie, appreciate it.
      And that is probably the most creative way I have seen the God card played.

  • joshuahunt

    I want to comment on this blog, but I want to pray about what I'm gonna say first.

    • Kyle Reed

      Josh you are playing the God card here, and I really think you should just be honest and not pray but do it.

      • joshuahunt

        not pray?….not pray?????? our southern baptist friends would roll over in their graves if they heard that statement.

        Now I'm going to pray about if I should or not have prayed leaving a comment.

  • Shelby

    I never knew it had a name.
    I never ever used this on a guy. (never even thought about it. hah)
    but i definitely realized I've had this used on me.
    Wish i would've called him on it at the time! hah.

    But i've def been guilty of the saying i'd pray for someone and not actually doing it.
    But i'm working on that

    • Kyle Reed

      well, next time you see this happen you now know it has a name and you can call it out in a loving Christian way of course.
      I think we are all guilty of saying we will pray for someone and then not do it. I am working on it as well.

  • Brett Barner

    Yep, guilty. Totally have played the God Card. and we wonder why people outside of Christianity call Christians hypocrites. We love to hide behind the spiritual.

    Good post, Kyle!

    • Kyle Reed

      Exactly, using God as an excuse is a classic.