The god of Open Options

Are you worshipping the god of Open Options?

The print version of this article first appeared in the January/February 2013 edition of Christianity Today, under the title “Imprisoned By Choice”. But you can read it now at

I wasn’t planning to publish, as it’s a very personal piece. The germ of the idea was in an essay I wrote for Mark Dever while interning in October 2011. He encouraged me to preach on the subject at Capitol Hill Baptist Church. “What’s my text?” I asked. “You’ll think of one”, said Mark, which is probably the least Deveresque thing he’s ever said. Someone in the congregation that evening contacted Christianity Today, and that’s how it came to be released into the wild.


  1. I laughed loudly on …”I end up conducting the entire conversation in an accent that can only be described as the unholy offspring of John Wayne and Judi Dench. The talking robot, who is trying extremely hard not to laugh, keeps asking me to repeat myself. For a Brit, it is absolutely humiliating. It’s as if someone has implemented the whole system as payback for nearly two centuries of colonial rule.”

    If it makes you feel any better I have had to do that with automated machines in the UK for years. Me on the phone to order train tickets when the web isn’t working is a terrible terrible laughing moment for all who hear.

    I agree wholeheartedly with your diagnosis of our state of “the god of open options” but I have also felt the other end of the frustration with it. Seeing friends drift from thing to thing because they won’t make a decision, people looking at me like I am nuts because I make decisions definitely, hard and solidly (move overseas.. for the long haul..unless God says otherwise pray, wrestle, done, I’m in…) and the feeling not so subtly given by others in church like you are missing it by not making a new decision every 2 years…. or the relationship thing.. no one asks because they are ..waiting for something better to come around..or other even worse reasons… and as a girl people then ask.. WHY are you single? That is an interesting one to answer… I’m not being indecisive, I promise! lol.

    I find this challenging with our media saturated everything to ignore the smartphone and be present with people in person, not looking over the shoulder, being there.. I wish this was something the world would hold on to and feel the constant challenge to ask myself and do checks “am I communicating I love people by .. the way I have eye contact, my being present mentally as well as physically, how much technology interrupts or doesn’t interrupt time with people or in meetings etc.. ” It is so easy for me to fall short in these seeming trivial but actually enormous areas..


  2. Barry,
    Thoroughly enjoyed this article via CT. Thank you for taking the time to write it and for really pouring yourself into it for our benefit. It forced me to go to the Lord in desperate prayer to reconsider my way of life.


  3. Profound article. Sadly, it describes my life. Trying to stay open so I can grasp it all, but in the end left with nothing, at least in the area of marriage. Not knowing the most important thing to hold on to, and allowing the lesser parts to disrupt connections and bring chaos and paralysis. Not taking prayer seriously to assist in decision-making is huge as well. Thank you for writing such a revelatory discussion so beautifully.


  4. “a decaf grande sugar-free vanilla nonfat latte with extra foam and the milk heated to 140 degrees”
    Surely not.

    These series of articles on “choices” have been helpful, thanks.


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