I’d like to talk in a general way. Not in a specific way. This is where I am landing today, as I ask myself the question: “Is it wise to name names?” For now, I’m choosing to not for no other reason than grace. But trust me when I say I refrain with great struggle.
So what is the all this angst about?
To overgeneralize: Christians.
Not all Christians. But enough so that their voices during an election period cause me to do a facepalm. Now please hear me—I’m not doing a face palm with some type of self-righteous “I’m better than you” attitude. I’m just embarrassed.
I’m more than embarrassed. I’m mad. I’m sad. I’m frustrated. I’m fed-up. I’m not going to pull punches—okay? So if you become faint of heart with an uncensored way of speaking, I suggest you hit the eject button right now. And I’m talking right now. Stop reading.
Still reading? Then buckle up—especially if you are one who calls themselves a Christian.
I’m sick and tired of people that use the title of “Christian” with their mouth—and out of that same mouth also comes bigotry, hate, shame, slander, name calling, sexism, racism, homophobia, self-righteous rhetoric, and maybe the worst of all…pride. And maybe, just maybe, underneath all of the grossness that publicly and privately fall out of the mouths of these “Christians,” is pride.
Did you know some, but not all, Christians think cussing is a sin? What a shame. Please hear my heart I’m not trying to shame them – that’s not why I say, “What a shame.” The reason I do is simple; I’m afraid because of their theological view of “cussing” they may miss a crucial clue how God himself wishes them to speak with their mouths.
In the Bible—the Christian Scriptures, which many believe to be God breathed and inspired as the Holy Word of God; there is a book called JAMES. And in the book of James, chapter 3, verses 9 & 10 it says:
With the tongue we praise our Lord and Father, and with it we curse human beings, who have been made in God’s likeness. Out of the same mouth come praise and cursing. My brothers and sisters, this should not be.
Now let me confess. I am a Christian. And I am a Christian who doesn’t believe that “cussing” is a sin. You can see my past articles, blogs, or even read practically a whole treatise on the subject in my book Sinners, Saints, and the Furious Love of God.(Shameless plug. Forgive me.) But for now – no matter who you are – before you read any further let’s just be kind to one another. Let’s humbly accept that within the Christian community—there’s lot of different ideas, theologies, and vantage points on many different aspects of the faith. And cussing is one of them. Remember what St. Augustine said? “In essentials unity, in non-essentials liberty, in all things charity.” Let’s lean into that. At least for the time it takes you to read this article—so you hopefully don’t “throw the baby out with the bathwater”—in terms of “the baby” being the heartbeat and message behind these words of mine.
See, if for no other reason my big hang-up with Christians having this view that there are certain “words” that are off-limit for the Christian is because they can practically read the whole book of James or many other passages and miss the whole point. It’s not the words that are making the speech bad. It’s the heart. It’s not the four letters that make a word bad. It’s the intent.
During a big election season, it seems everyone who dares call themselves a follower of Jesus (myself included)—should read the book of James over and over and over again.
I have heard Christians hop on social media (their personal microphone) and say the most awful, gross, disgusting, shameful things…without saying one traditional “cuss word.”
No matter which party line they are in—they say the most inhumane things about the other. Take this election. The year of 2016. I know of Christians (at least on an acquaintance level) that have said incredibly awful and gross things about Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump. A couple of things go through my head. One, I go, “Do you folks know them personally? The media is so wonky how would you know what’s true about their character or not.” I mean … Did anyone see the 2014 movie Gone Girl? Secondly, I go …”Wait are they a brother or sister in Jesus?” And if they are—this is when I do the face palm. This is not how we should speak of anyone. Whether or not they are in the same faith group as us. Simply put: The follower of Jesus should know better.
Every human is made in the image and likeness of God. To shame them—whether the be guilty or innocent—is not only “not cool” it’s also a sin. When the Christian steps out of the boundaries of their political preferences and starts bashing on other people with their hateful hearts they not only have done wrong they have sinned against that person. Even if they are a public person. Just because they are a celebrity and in the news doesn’t let you off the hook for having a compassionate and loving stance towards people.
Election time seems to bring out the crazies. Especially the “Christian crazies,” as I like to call them. Frankly, they go ape shit. They seem to take every single thing that Jesus said about love and chuck it out of the metaphorical window of their heart. “Love your enemies.” Gone. “Turn the other cheek.” See ya’ later. “Love your neighbor as yourself.”Bye-bye.
The crazy had reached an all time high when I jumped on Facebook the other day and saw a dear friend who I happen to know really really really loves Jesus. And this person had this to say about Hillary Clinton: “What a piece of shit!” I almost threw-up in my mouth. Then another friend, also a Christian, said even worse about Donald Trump. My heart grew sad. I was sad—not for our country. I was sad—not for the state of our politics. I was sad—for Christians. I was sad that it seems so many of us have amnesia when it comes to the gospel of grace. The same good news that first opened up our hearts, in faith, to the reality of the unconditional and unmerited love of God ambushing our lives.
Recently a friend and fellow brother in Christ was speaking at an event on the east coast. This was a Christian retreat of sorts. He was picked up at the airport by a fellow Christian—although not associated with the event—which my friend was not prepared for. He was also not prepared for his politics. This guy went on and on and on about his disdain for Democrats and especially Hillary Clinton. Finally. My friend couldn’t take it anymore. He was exhausted. Not so much by politics but by this Christian’s forgetfulness of the gospel of Jesus and His grace and love. Eventually, my friend stopped this man and said:
You know what I AGREE! Hillary Clinton … is a DICK! And you know what … so is Donald Trump! And you know what … SO AM I! Man we are all bad aren’t we? We all fall short of the glory of God don’t we? We are all sinners who you desperately need the grace and forgiveness of God aren’t we? Thank God He sent his son Jesus to die on the cross for Hillary Clinton … and Donald Trump … and for me … and for you.
With our mouths, we Christians curse others made in the image and likeness of God. It’s over and abundantly clear during election season, isn’t it? But I’m afraid that’s not the only time. Matter of fact—to live in the United States during this place and time—it seems that’s not all that we have a bad rep for. The list goes on.
Christians aren’t only hateful with our speech (with our without cuss words). We are often a group that because of our actions (and words) and words (and actions) get labeled with terms like racist, homophobic, sexist, right-wing nut jobs, legalistic, judgmental, stuck-up, phony, arrogant…and the list goes on…and on…and on…and on.
If we had forever, I would tell you how from the beginning of Christianity there has always been a divide within our faith community. The divide is usually between The Faithful and The Religious. Those who are following the heart of the gospel of Jesus and those that are seeking nothing more than a moral code with the appearance of good – wherein the reality is—there is nothing good in them—not even Jesus. Because the ball has never dropped—regarding their faith. Oh yeah, sure—they believe all the right things and say all the right things, but inwardly they have never come to the cross of Jesus and cried out “Father, forgive me I know not what I do.” They have never believed the true gospel of Jesus. The one that says there is nothing—absolutely nothing—you can do to earn God and his love exemplified by Jesus on the cross. There is only acceptance. As Paul Tillich once said, “Faith is the courage to accept the fact that you’re accepted.”
You see if you would look at the four gospels found in the Christian Scriptures – Matthew, Mark, Luke, & John. You will see so much real estate of those passages taken up with a major conflict. Do you know what that conflict is? It’s one that is very popular in our modern area. It’s a very serious issue today. It’s the issue referred to as BULLYING. And for any human that has had to face the torture that is puberty AND middle school – we all know too well that Bullying is a real thing. And it seems that as the generations flee by – things are only getting worse.
This is not true. Things have always been bad when it comes to bullying. Bullies suck. And the only thing that sucks more than bullies? Christian bullies.
Jesus spent so much of the Scriptures defending the “poor in spirit” against the “rich in spirit.” Jesus was constantly beaten up by religious bullies. Matter of fact, he was eventually killed by them. But the good news is—he didn’t stay dead.
Jesus had a reputation for hanging out with all types of ragamuffins. He would party with drunks, whores, IRS agents, and Used Car Salesman. I’m paraphrasing of course. I just thought I would spell that out for the hung-up types.
Bottom line: Jesus always gave grace to the humble. And He always—always—opposed the proud.
Oh, how I wish Jesus were here in the flesh. I bet you he wouldn’t be voting Republican or Democrat. Or even a third party. He might even forget to vote because he would be so caught up with loving the outcasts, poor, and disenfranchised. Don’t get me wrong. He would be respectful of the government system in place, having once said, “Give to Cesar what is Cesar’s.” Jesus would have paid his taxes.
This isn’t so much an article to jump on my soapbox and bash on Christians. Although, the good Lord up on high sure knows I like to do that—especially when I do it for the same reasons that Jesus also bashed on the stuck-up religious leaders of his day, once calling them a “Brood of Vipers.”
No—this is something else entirely. There is a two-fold motive in writing this piece. First a passionate apology to those who don’t believe that Jesus was the Messiah—Immanuel—God with us. It’s an apology to those who know Jesus only as a historical figure or a religious relic. Not as a real God-Man they can have a relationship with today.
To all those who don’t know Jesus—and to those that think they do—but don’t really. Let me just say…I’m sorry. I’m sorry for all of it. I’m sorry for the hate, racial bias, sexism, homophobia, right-wing nuttiness, and all the cursing. Not the kind that is spelled with four letters. The worse kind. The kind of cursing that shames you without knowing you. The kind that spits on your metaphorical face with the ease it takes to put a comment on our Facebook status update. All of this shit—this isn’t a whoopsie. This is worse than that. This is sin.
Now, I could argue that a lot—if not most—of the people who are doing these awful things in Jesus’ name aren’t really Christians. At worst, they are “wolves in sheep’s clothes.” At best they grew up in a Christian home, went to Church every Sunday, said their prayers every morning, and read their Bible every night, but they never knew that—when it comes to Christianity—it’s the one religion that’s not a religion. And it was never intended to be. It was always meant to be A LOVE AFFAIR.
The gravitational pull of our religious hearts have and always will want to turn this gift of God’s grace into something that has to be worked for and earned. What a shame. This is not the good news that God gave us in sending his son Jesus to love us. Love us so much that he would be willing to take all the punishment for our sins so that we never have to die a second death. And that we could not only have life forever, but have life now.
I’m just so sorry. All the hate, sexism, homophobia, slander, gossip, racism, and anything and everything else that doesn’t resemble Jesus…is not Jesus. All of that shit—IS NOT HOW GOD FEELS ABOUT YOU! God is crazy about you. Jesus is head over heels in love with you. This is why he came. This is the explanation for the biggest event in human history: Jesus’ love letter to you. His death on the cross. His burial. And his resurrection.
Julie of Norwich – a 14th-century woman who dedicated her life to contemplation and prayer once had a vision of Jesus on the cross, and He shouted something to the effect of – “Are you well satisfied that I suffered you?” Because if not – I would gladly ask my Abba Father to allow me to suffer more so that you would believe I love you.”
To those that do know Jesus—the real believers—those who really have tasted the heavenly gift of knowing and hearing Jesus tender, still, small voice—those that know the Almighty strength of his toughness and fierce and furious love for you—I’d just say: Stop it. Repent. Change. Turn around from all this political craziness that turns you from a peacemaker of God into a division starter of Hate. Stop shaming people. Stop cursing. Not the four letter kind. The more hurtful kind. The type of words and cursing that can hide behind a political party. Or the kind that can hide behind a theological view. The kind that can hide behind a prayer request in a prayer circle – when it is just a gossip party in a shame circle.
Obey Jesus—be salt and light. Not dirt and darkness. Because all this horse shit—the racism, sexism, homophobia, shaming, hating—that’s what all of this sin is. It’s dirt and darkness, and has nothing to do with or has a place in the kingdom of God. It’s utterly and completely wrong. It’s disgusting. And it’s gross. And finally, stop. Please hear me. Stop being a religious bully. That’s what all of this is. You’ve lost your way.
Remember the ancient Christians didn’t call it “Christianity.” That word can’t be found anywhere in the Scriptures. It was simply called, “The Way.” And you my friends—if you are a real believer in and by Jesus Christ—have lost yours. You’ve forgotten your first love—which is the ignited love affair you have with Almighty God started by the kindling of God’s grace. You have put out the fire with your religious pride. With your wrong-headed notions of what it means to respond to God’s grace. Instead, you think you have to earn it. And has a result you have turned Christianity into some type of moral code, ethic, philosophy, or method for behavior modification. You have watered down the gospel of Jesus. And as a result,your heart has become bitter, cold, and filled with hate. And woe to anyone who crosses your path, you fucking religious bully. Our only hope to stop you and all your racism, sexism, shame, hate, and homophobia is to pray for Jesus to come and once again build a whip and drive out the fakers and robbers of the true spirit of “The Way” or “Christianity,” which is nothing but total and utter grace.
So, all this to say if you have to vote on whether all this Christianity stuff is true or not. Don’t look at the resumes of his followers. Look at the reputation of their leader. And if you compare and contrast the two—Jesus and his followers—it will start to dawn on you why they use words like “savior” and “salvation,” because they are wretched sinners who sure as hell need saving. They are a group of degenerates who left to their own devices are unrighteous at best and self-righteous at worst. This group of reject’s—known as Christians—only hope is Jesus himself paying for all of their sins like racism, sexism, homophobia, hate, name-calling, slander, and shame with his death on the cross. And their only hope for change and new life is to surrender to him—to die with him—and to be raised to live with him to have a new life in Him.
I should know. Because I am one of the worst ones in this fucked up group of Christians. Trust me. Trust me when I say I have the same grossness you might see in them. I have the same grossness you might see in Donald Trump. And I have the same grossness you might see in Hilary Clinton.
The qualities I have might not look the same. They may have a different label. They maybe have a different title. They might be on a different list. I’d like to think I don’t have a shred of racial bias, sexism, homophobia, hate, and the like – but I know I am filled with pride which is the root of all sin. And so what if it comes out in a different way than my neighbor. I’m still in the same boat. I, too, am in need of a savior.
And when it comes to the ONE doing the saving. I know who I’m voting for.