The Tyranny of the Shoulds

Stacy was trying to SHOULD me.

So, she quoted 2 Corinthians 5 in this way:
14 For the love of Christ constraineth us; because we thus judge, that if one died for all, then were all dead:
15 And that he died for all, THAT they which live SHOULD NOT HENCEFORTH LIVE UNTO THEMSELVES, but unto him which died for them, and rose again.


AIN’T IT FUNNY… how you emphasize IN ALL CAPS the work that the creature must do. I prefer to emphasize IN ALL CAPS what God has done in Christ’s work on the cross. To me, it seems much more important to see what HE HAS DONE or IS DOING. Thus, I would have put some things in verse 14 in ALL CAPS… like… “for the love of Christ constrains us”… or “if one died for all”…. Those are things GOD HAS DONE or IS DOING… and that’s what I believe in. But what do I know, I’m just a dumb ole farm boy.



There is no moral obligation on the word SHOULD… as in … “if I push the glass to the edge of the table far enough, it SHOULD fall to the floor.”

If you use the word OUGHT, perhaps it has a moral connotation to it… as in … “Stacy OUGHT to behave herself.”

But with the word SHOULD… it’s more of a resultative action, caused by some other factors.

Which is why I would emphasize VERSE 14 more than 15.


In the 1930’s (I think) a phychologist named Karen Horney wrote a little book called THE TYRANNY OF THE SHOULDS. I haven’t read the essay completely, but the title seems self-evident that we can tyrannize ourselves and others with SHOULDS.
I’m telling you Stacy, there is peace in focusing on God’s work, rather than man’s work.

BTW… I found a PDF of Karen’s little book. Here is a quote and the link:

“When we realize the enormous coercive power of the shoulds we must raise one question, the answer to which we shall discuss in the fifth chapter: what does it do to a person when he recognizes that he cannot measure up to his inner dictates? To anticipate the answer briefly: then he starts to hate and despise himself. We cannot in fact understand the full impact of the shoulds unless we see the extent to which they are interwoven with self-hate. It is the threat of a punitive self-hate that lurks behind them, that truly makes them a regime of terror.”

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