The New (Wo)Man Pt. 2: Non-Conformity
So how does ODD in some way relate to what we’ve been discussing? Find out how…
One day in undergrad I was talking to a close girlfriend who was studying psychology and was discussing with me what she was learning about behavioral and personality disorders. During the discussion she was saying that everyone has certain characteristic tendencies where if they were a little more intense they would be considered to have some type of disorder. She began to tell me what she saw in herself and could see what her diagnosis would be based on her tendencies. As I listened to her explain what she was learning I could see tendencies within myself that would give me a certain diagnosis.
Recently I was reading about different types of mental illnesses and behavioral disorders and it brought that conversation back to my mind. While reading, I came across one behavioral disorder that I have never heard of before. ODD which stands for oppositional defiant disorder, and it’s described as “a persistent behavioral pattern of angry or irritable mood; argumentative, defiant behavior towards authority figures; and vindictiveness.” In other words, an angry rebellious person. These people tend be non-conformist—typically not going along with the status quo. They are anti-authoritarians and consistently question the legitimacy of any authority before giving them any serious heed. Some of the things that are taken into consideration when someone is assessing an authoritative figure are their honesty, their regard for others that respect their authority, and whether or not they actually know what they are talking about. When an anti-authoritarian does not find someone to be legitimate they will oppose them. Their opposition can be aggressive at time and other times not so aggressive. Sometimes they are calculated and clever and other times they are not.
So how does ODD in some way relate to what we’ve been discussing? Well Paul tells us in Ephesians 4:22 and in Romans 12:2 that we need a new mind. Specifically, in Romans 12:2 he tells us not to be conformed to this world. Conforming to this world is equivalent to wearing the old self of Ephesians 4:22. He is telling us to oppose what this world is about by not conforming to its standards. So what exactly does that mean? What exactly is conformity in regard to this text? And what standards are we to shun?
The word conformed is a translation of the Greek word suschématizó which comes from sýn meaning “identified with” and sxēmatizō, meaning “having outward shape”. Therefore the word literally means to identify with an outward form. So conforming in the soul is a matter of identification.
The word for world in this verse is not world in the sense of the globe we live on. It is aión meaning age. The complete definition is “an age, a cycle (of time), especially of the present age as contrasted with the future age, and of one of a series of ages stretching to infinity.” It is also defined as “an era characterized by a specific quality (type of existence).
These definitions linked together offer a complete and concise explanation of what Paul is trying to get across in Romans 12:2. He is telling us not to allow ourselves to be shaped by what the present existence of this age offers. Instead we must allow ourselves to be shaped to the future age to come—which is the kingdom rule of heaven and the new earth after Christ returns.
Many bible scholars over the years have stated from their studies of the Hebrew text that Adam’s and Eve’s bodies exuded a bright light before they sinned. This was an element of them being made in the image of God. For as long as they identified with God in thought, purpose, and desires they were covered in light. When they ate the fruit they no longer identified with Him in their hearts and mind. Having now been infected by sin, they took on the thoughts and desires of Satan. Satan’s character is dark. When they ate the fruit they invited darkness into their souls and lost their light. Their inward transformation caused an outward conformity. This is why they immediately tried to cover up with fig leaves. They had lost their holiness. They were no longer godly. Having the mind of their Creator was the first piece of their being they forfeited leaving them broken and no longer whole.
When Eve believed Satan’s lies, she allowed him to become her authority. God had been their authority in perfect relationship with them. Their relationship with their Creator was not broken like the enemy’s until they sinned. Adam and Eve had allowed an age of conformity—man living apart from God and a mind of hostility towards Him to be invited into the world. This is conformity to the world—an age where man does not see or sense the need for a close loving relationship with their Creator—hostility towards God (Romans 8:7).
So now for us to not be conformed to the world, I look at it from the perspective of us needing a righteous form of ODD. How can ODD be righteous when it defies authority? Easy. Satan is also called the “prince of the power of the air” in Ephesians 2:2, and in John 12:31 he is the called ” the ruler of this world.” These titles and many more signify Satan’s capabilities. These terms signify that in some way he rules over the world and the people in it. To not be conformed to the world means that we need to be changed inwardly. Because we come from Adam and Eve we have been shaped by sin from the womb (Psalm 51:5), the same way our first parents have.
Many are not aware because he always comes by deception of some form. But God is merciful and loving where he has given us the gospel in His Son to make us aware and save us from his rule in our lives if we allow God to do so.
When God tells us to not conform, in a way he is telling us to live with ODD against the ruler of the world now. He wants us to be anti-authoritarian towards Satan and his kingdom. Remember that one of the characteristics of people who are diagnosed is non-conformity. We used to have dominion over this world and everything in it. God made us to rule and reign like Him; not be subservient to an adversary that means us no good. When Eve surrendered her thoughts to the enemy, Satan became the authority of this world and everything in it by legal right.
The only way to reverse what has been done is to become anti-authoritarian against Satan by questioning what we see and hear. ODD symptoms for children include “often actively defying or refusing to comply with adult requests or rules” and “often argues with adults.” The bible says resist the devil and he will flee from you (James 4:7). When he comes up against your mind you must quote the word as Jesus did in the wilderness (Matt 4:1-11 and Luke 1-13). If it does not align with the character of God in His word then it is of the enemy. Only the word of God can expose and resist the lies of the enemy. Only the word of God can reveal the lies of this age of conformity and show us how we need to be transformed. Everything that comes through our mind needs to be brought against the word of God to reveal what authority is speaking. Whether it is God or Satan? Every thought needs to be questioned. To be a child of Satan is to resist God’s authority. And to be a child of God is to resist Satan’s authority. God is trying to restore us and heal our broken relationship with Him. Conformity is living without a relationship with God and being transformed comes by living in right relationship with God. God wants to restore us back into full union with Him in mind, body, and spirit by transforming us by first giving us the mind of His Son, Jesus Christ.
Dr. Bruce Levine, who is a widely known psychologist, has said that he suspects “ODD is [a] stigmatized disorder — not because we want to help people live functional lives, but because conformity is what makes corporations rich and governments powerful.” Conformity to this world causes us to live under the governmental rule of Satan and allows him to exercise power in a person’s life.
Einstein was a very odd man. He was also diagnosed with ODD and was called a non-conformist. His oddness caused him to become a historical figure by his contributions to physics. Likewise, Jesus Christ is considered, on average, number one, on lists of historically significant people. He was an anti-authoritarian to the rule of Satan when He came to this world save us, and He was considered odd.
Part of me feels like the pun on the word odd and ODD is not too coincidental. Anyone who goes against the grain is odd and stands out because they don’t accept and live by the status quo. For us to be made like Christ we will stand out and be odd from others. We will draw attention because the light of His life will shine through us.
Ask God to give you the mind of His Son so that you will become a non-conformist to the enemy’s rule.
Peace and God’s abundant blessings,