Don’t Be a Stupid Sheep

"Sheep Porn" cartoon by nakedpastor David Hayward
“Sheep Porn” cartoon by nakedpastor David Hayward



I think the use of sheep as a metaphor for people is unfortunate today.

It is used in the Bible to describe God’s people in two ways. One is good and one is bad.

When it is used in a good way to describe us, it illustrates how we are in a place of weakness and vulnerability, victims of neglect and even abuse. This is not a criticism of the sheep, but of the indifference or even cruelty of the shepherds who would lead us, or of the dangers this world presents.

This is sometimes true.

When it is used in a bad way to describe us, it is meant to illustrate how we are stupid, helpless, and lost.

This is sometimes true.

Unfortunately, the default use of the metaphor is to describe us in the bad way because it is the shepherds who are doing the preaching.

When you’re called a sheep in this derogatory way every Sunday of every week for your entire life, it’s hard not to believe it and surrender your intelligence.

Yes, we are sometimes stupid, helpless, and lost. But not always.

We have brains. We can use them.
We can take charge of our own lives.
We can be the captains of our own ships.
We can be the masters of our own destinies.
We can think for ourselves.

We can be spiritually independent.

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3 Replies to “Don’t Be a Stupid Sheep”

  1. I appreciate this David – very though provoking.

    I hear what you say about the “good” way of describing us. Of course equally in principle what we have experienced is also what others have experienced at our hands. So all of us are both victim and oppressor to a greater or lesser degree. But at the same time I get what you say about if this is the kind of message we always get the “bad”.

    In that light, I would offer a “doctrine of goodness” to balance the “doctrine of original sin”.

    Also weren’t the “sheep” the ones that had done good – visited people in hospital and prison, cared for the least in society etc?

    Also is it not the free thinkers that any tyranny seeks to disenfranchise? So, if/when we become “spiritually independent” we would have to choose carefully who we have as leaders so that we can belong and don’t end up alone in the wilderness?

    If is it good to be described as a sheep and vulnerable with being part of a flock, it’s probably not a good thing to be a sheep and vulnerable alone in the wilderness where there are prowling wolves?

  2. Certainly, the wolves that are in positions to do the most harm are the most dangerous and that often being the case when leaders are like that.

    But people without a leader are like sheep without a shepard.

    If we become “spiritually independent”, what do we do with it and how do we ensure a leader in any flock is a good shepherd and not a hired hand that doesn’t care for the sheep?

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