how to beat people up without even touching them

feel like crap cartoon by nakedpastor david hayward

Clickety click on this image real quick and you’ll to my store just lickety split!

I have been on a huge learning curve this last week. I’ve come to realize on a deeper level how significant a role shame plays in our culture, and especially our religious, spiritual and church culture.

I was ordained in the Presbyterian Church in Canada in 1986 and began the ministry by pastoring three small rural churches. The sermons the people liked the best were the ones where I poured out my wrath upon them for not measuring up to my idea of what a Christian should be. They loved those ones. Then, after I went through a major spiritual transition and realized how arrogant and manipulative I was and decided to change the way I spoke to the people, there were complaints. I recall one woman in particular begging me with tears to spiritually beat her up every Sunday and make her feel guilty. She actually said, “I love to be brow-beaten!”, which essentially means “to intimidate or subjugate by an overbearing manner or domineering speech”.

It saddened me then that this was what people wanted. And it saddened me to realize that because we were in the church and I held the position of authority, that this was what I could easily give with their permission.

Why? Do people feel like crap and like to be reminded? Are their identities so wrapped up in shame that they only feel addressed when their shamed selves are addressed? Is our theology so anti-human that the language of shame is the only accent we can understand? Is church culture so dysfunctional that we only know how to function when it is sick as usual?

Shame is the air we breathe. It’s a major part of our culture. It’s everywhere, pervasive and toxic, to the point that many people can’t even feel unless they’re humiliated. And the church is one of the most perfect sub-cultures to fine-tune shame into an art form to dominate people.

There are too many people administering shame. There are too many people taking it.

We are addicted to shame, and we have our dealers and users.

To provide an encouraging and non-shaming space is one of the reasons I started The Lasting Supper. I personally extend an invitation to you.

About David Hayward

David Hayward runs the blog nakedpastor as a graffiti artist on the walls of religion where he critiques religion… specifically Christianity and the church. He also runs the online community The Lasting Supper where people can help themselves discover, explore and live in spiritual freedom.

  • http://twitter.com/twbtwb Tim Wilson-Brown

    Wow, I wondered why I felt so bad sitting in some churches…

  • Claire Emilia

    This is deep.. Who would have ever thought? It’s really a sub-conscious thing that you just brought to the surface… out in the open… to the light. WOW David, that is an amazing revelation! I hope many people will see this and be free. God bless you! I’m not one for using the “Amen ” regularly.. But to this, “AMEN”…..

  • Shary Hauber

    This is also part of our culture. Most ads are based on shaming us into buying some product because what we have is not good. In addition to using shame to control it is used to make people feel good. in church we are shamed as not being Christian enough. Often the answer to being better is to hate those who are currently on the bad list. As a child it was those who smoke, drink, dance, and swear. Now it is gays and abortionist. By just arousing the emotion of hate for others we have solved the problem of our shame. So yes people like to be shamed because the cure often given a feeling of good. There is something about godly sorrow bringing repentance but that is not what is often happening in church.

  • http://nakedpastor.com/ nakedpastor

    Thanks Claire. I’ll take that AMEN! :)

  • http://nakedpastor.com/ nakedpastor

    Yes Shary… ads are full of shaming… body shaming especially.

  • klhayes

    That is so true…and not just ads but we are told we are supporting employees or some charity that the money will go to. I am not against helping but yes shame is apart of it.

    I read a book on menstruation culture (sorry guys) and how the feminine hygeine industry used shame and embarrassment to sell products is astounding. They had pictures of ads in their with women so fretful about being feminine, smelling feminine, etc. It was really an eye opener to the advertising world.

  • Al Cruise

    ” I love to be brow beaten” I think in a strange way Church people use this as a way out for themselves because they are lazy and a coward. They don’t live as Christ taught and never will, so getting brow beat by the pastor and feeling guilty gives them the justification to deal with their laziness and cowardice.

  • http://theoldadam.wordpress.com/ Steve Martin

    There ought be shame…and guilt. That we have taken our lives into our own hands and stolen our existence from God. That we desire to run things our way and be little gods unto ourselves. Or…is that ok?

    So the preacher uses God’s Word, His law, to expose us (including the preacher).

    But he or she does not stop there. Then the Word of forgiveness is announced. The promises of God are proclaimed to those REAL sinners in the pews. And we are made new again. And we rejoice in what God has done for us. And we receive His Supper.

    That’s the law/gospel paradigm.

  • Gary

    A loving parent, when their child makes a mistake, does not berate them and tell them they are worthless and can never do anything right. This is a clear form of emotional abuse and is very destructive to the child’s psychological development and well being. For the life of me I can’t understand why we think a behavior that is a clear form of abuse when a parent uses it with their children, is somehow a good thing when pastors use it on their congregations. Or worse yet…when they teach them that God Himself is ashamed of them and that they have no value or good in them. This is NOT the way Jesus dealt with those who needed Him…EVER. In fact His harsh criticisms were for those who used these kinds of abusive tactics on those who should have been receiving love and encouragement.

    There most certainly ought NOT to be “shame…and guilt” used as weapons in sharing the gospel of LOVE. It is a gross perversion of Christ’s teaching.

  • Brigitte

    What’s the line? Where is the line between abusive shaming, or being as some like to think themselves “didactical”, or confronting sin, or confronting bad policies, or bad preaching or bad living, etc. or even making cartoon’s like Naked Pastor’s. Where are the limits?

    I think in some fundamentalist churches (as opposed to straight bible-believing churches) there is a theology of “if you really were a Christian then you’d do this and this and this and not this and this and this…” which give whole lists which are not even biblical but somehow must be followed to make you a “real” Christian. If you “really” believe the “gospel” then you must now fall under this particular joke. This is giving the gospel with one hand and taking it away with the other.

    On the other hand, you cannot just dismiss moral laws and conventions which human society has held for time immemorial. You cannot call saying: “do not steal, do not commit adultery, do not murder…” shaming. Yes, those who do this should feel guilty and usually already do, even without being told or admitting it. This also explains some of the outcry against guilt and shame. It becomes a contradictory thing in the soul. We feel guilty already but don’t want to be told. It is quite complex, it seems.

  • Gary

    Don’t you see Brigitte, in your own reply you voiced the difference. When we act immorally towards others we feel shame as a natural consequence. This is entirely different than USING shame as a motivator. For instance…to tell people that they all “deserve to roast in hell” as if convincing them they are totally worthless and/or depraved will somehow inspire them.

  • Brigitte

    But, Gary, I must confess that my will and thinking is depraved. The stuff my mind keeps wanting to yield to is vile. It is there. This is why Christ’s love is even more total and enlivening.

  • Claire Emilia

    amen, Amen, AMEN… I posted on my timeline and a couple of folks liked it.. So glad even if just two read it and get this revelation.. One person here and there can make much of a difference in a cesspool of shame based lashings and behavior. You having been a Pastor have so much credibility and courage to lay it out (truth) for what most or at least some would continue to go on doing to the sheep because they can and then for those who would just continue to go along with it buying into the idea that it is what they deserve, what is their duty in following and pleasing God, and blah blah blah..

  • Gary

    Interesting because I don’t seem to have that same desire to “yield” to that which is “vile”. Perhaps you have a psychological disorder of some kind if you truly desire to yield to that which is vile. Some of course do, which I believe explains mass murderers and such. But most have no “desire” to become vile creatures. In fact most non-believers I know choose to avoid yielding to such base and vile desires because they know it would be harmful to them and others. They did not need a personal relationship with Christ to try to live good lives.

    In fact as a believer, I believe this desire for good and love is planted within us from the very start by a loving God. (Whether we recognize it is from Him or not) If you truly have a depraved mind then I would strongly encourage you to seek help…before you snap and cause great harm to those around you.

  • Claire Emilia

    BTW… I used sheep because in that scenario that is what they are labeled. No sheep here. :) A mix btw a lioness and a deer.. ;)

  • Brigitte

    I thank you for your loving concern, Gary.

  • Jeannie Boen

    The other day I attended a community park event. There was a local church there that offered a kid’s club. My children seemed to enjoy their activities. So I inquired about participating. I was told that of course, my children would be welcome, but that I would be expected to become a more active part of the church eventually. Because that’s what God wanted for me after all. Of course, that cause momentary shame, and then anger, and now resolve to not have anything to do with those people no matter how cool their kid’s club is.

  • http://nakedpastor.com/ nakedpastor

    Brigitte: I hear your concerns and questions. And I think this is the dilemma for many people within any religion, but I will speak specifically about those within many churches. I think it is not the best thing to try to think theologically, or to always filter our thoughts, feelings and actions through theological constructs. It’s like our lives are on constant “edit” with the threat of punishment or promise of reward. I don’t think this is best. I think it is better to get in touch with the good that is within. I know I know I know Luther would faint, but let him. He’s dead anyway! I think it is healthy to avoid shaming people, such as our children, just as much as I think it is healthy to avoid being shamed, such as many people receive from their churches and leaders. It’s one thing to have laws. I understand that. But it’s another thing to threaten people with being murders or sick or whatever. As we know, the law “thou shalt not murder” is for the 1% who might, not the rest of us. It’s a provision to protect society. But if I came up to you and said, “Brigitte, just because you are a human being, and a woman at that, I don’t trust you one bit. I suspect that deep down you’re a murderer at heart. You suck! Therefore you must abide by this law!” That is shaming and unnecessary. I hope that helps illustrate my point.

  • http://nakedpastor.com/ nakedpastor

    That’s what I’m talking about right there!

  • Gary

    LOL – Yes my tongue in cheek encouragement to seek professional help is paired quite well with your sarcastic response. However, my point concerning that I disagree with the notion that we would choose to be vile on our own is very sincere. This belief simply does not ring true in the world.

  • Pat68

    And some people like those messages because they always have someone in mind who “just needs to hear this sermon”. Some people really believe the church’s role is that of traffic cop and if that kind of teaching is not being held forth, then somehow the Church isn’t being faithful to its calling. I witnessed that within a church that changed its mission statement to “loving God and people unconditionally” and there was quite an uproar among some of the lay leaders about just what this meant. Their fear was that they would have to accept people as they are.

  • Al Cruise

    Gary your right on here. Working in street ministry I’ve seen what guilt and shame does. Destroys lives. I’ve seen young people commit suicide because the Church shamed them and their family after they came out as being gay. The people who preach shame and guilt do not know Jesus.

  • Brigitte

    David, you are the one who is bringing Luther and theological constructs into this discussion. There are biblical commands of morality and there are non-biblical commands of surrounding culture or expectations. This needs distinguishing because everyone likes to be holier than thou and keep and instruct in commands that they themselves think they can keep. Thus, for example, Gary can keep easily the command to beat those who think differently over the head and call them them Pharisees. Works for him. And while he is at it, he is getting to the loving and good part of himself. Or you can shame someone about “shaming” and define that to your pleasure, avoiding all “theological constructs”. Well done, easily. No? (Though you get a backlash, as you often say, and that’s not easy. But to say it in the first place, is easy.) (And I don’t necessarily disagree with you. I might burst at a few of these sermons you expose.)

    You have read the Sermon on the Mount and you know very well that Jesus said that those who hate are just like murderers. And there are many ways of being murderers. What about the boyfriend who won’t stay by the girl he got pregnant, etc. There are many issues of conscience to consider. And a man who won’t support his woman and children is: what? Should he be “shamed”? Should he feel guilty? — I support emotionally a young woman who just gave birth to her third child by a third father. She keeps thinking that one of them will marry her. She is pretty and smart, but she won’t be getting anywhere this way. Is “adultery/ fornication” working for her and her children? When you tell her that she is not making the best choices she lays it all on God. He led her here and there and now she has these beautiful children which are a gift from God. It’s all good. She says.

    We are all stuck on our own goodness.

    In terms of trust. Trust is always earned. Show me your trustworthiness and I can trust you. I can trust Jesus. He has said and done all things well.

  • Gary

    And you Brigitte are the one bearing a very distorted and false witness concerning my posts and views while portraying yourself as some pillar of truth.

    Or…you can actually engage me in discussion as I attempted to do with you. I have posted very thoughtful and well articulated comments on this thread and even my tongue in cheek advice to seek professional help was a humorous method of making a very valid point. My belief is that we are NOT all vile and depraved creatures at heart. I fail to see how expressing this is calling you a Pharisee.

    As for trust…I believe in trusting first and recognizing that it can be lost. No one has to “earn” my trust until they reveal themselves as not deserving it. See this is a clear distinction I see between our world views. I try to think the best of people…you seem to think the worst (all are depraved) and it comes out in your treatment of others. I do not believe it is possible to carry out Christ’s instructions on love while believing all are depraved.

  • tanyam

    Somebody once told me, “What you have always to preach is Good News.”
    So if you can’t find a way to tell the truth in such a way that it is received as good news, then don’t tell it, I think.

  • http://religiouscomics.net/ Jeff P

    I think it is the Stockholm Syndrome – of loving your oppressor. There is definitely a prevailing theology of utilizing shaming – including that we are all fallen sinful creatures that must admit our intrinsic failings to be forgiven and saved. Whether this theology comes from a misinterpretation of the original scripture authors or whether the original scripture authors themselves wanted to establish this theology doesn’t really matter to me. I think the theology is harmful and ripe for abuse. I just call it like I see it. Just because shaming may be operationally successful in getting some people to do certain things does not make it right. The cost is too high.

  • kazzos

    Whether it’s from a religious leader or an ad for PETA, many of us love to hear someone tell us what we’re doing wrong, whether it’s because we crave the abuse or because we disagree with the message, and therefore can laugh off any kind of criticism. Shame is a powerful sensation; it can be a step towards enlightenment and transformation, or it can be like an addictive drug with side effects of both self-righteousness and self-condemnation.

    A couple years ago, I responded to a video of megachurch pastor Mark Driscoll in which he launches into a shaming tirade. The video and comment are here: http://www.thestranger.com/slog/archives/2010/07/12/ladies-and-gentlemen-the-amazing-mark-driscoll&view=comments

    Here’s an excerpt of my response. It was written for a very secular audience who have never experienced pulpit shaming:

    “…….as a former hyper-evangelical myself, I remember how we loved pastors or
    speakers who made us laugh, cry, feel both good and shame. Just the
    fact that they made us FEEL ANYTHING was enough for us to want to throw more
    money in the collection baskets. Like WWF Bigtime Wrestling, it’s lowbrow theatre, and we
    just couldn’t get enough of it. But unlike WWF, we hung on every word
    from these individuals, and took it VERY seriously. They were our new
    parents, so we could continue to be mindless children and never have to
    think for ourselves. This puts a lot of power in the hands of an
    individual like Driscoll. Personally, I’m not afraid he’ll be the next
    Joseph Smith or Jim Jones, but I do admit I’m a bit sad for all the
    thousands of kids in his church and hundreds of offshoot churches, who,
    like myself, will waste years of their lives, addicted to the guilt and
    shame that holds us back from discovering who we really are. Not to
    mention the awful taste in entertainment they’ll pick up by watching
    preacher-porn sermons like this one.”

  • Martha

    I have to wonder if we love shame so much because if we’re being beat up and shamed, then we’re certainly not prideful (at least not at that moment). Like it’s a safeguard kind of thing. Because we ALL know that pride is the ultimate sin… (yeah, a little sarcasm…).

    Just a thought…

  • wanderer

    I gotta say, I’m surprised they even admitted to you up front that’s what they expected. In my experience it’s always “no strings attached…you’re totally welcome!” and then the hidden hook is set.

  • wanderer

    Maybe I’m misreading your comments, but my takeaway from the things you say is that you’re super wrapped up in what you and others do, say, think that is evil. You seem to go looking for it in yourself and others.
    Hopefully I’m mistaken because that’s a really rough way to live.

  • Brigitte

    Gary, the thing about professional help is quite old with you. It’s one of your favorites. Quite obviously, as you repeat yourself pat yourself on the back for it several times. And seems you have got an echo with wanderer here.

  • JosephBrown660

    It is tragic that guilt and shame caused someone to commit suicide. However, people do need to know what sin is so they can repent and turn to Christ. The Bible does not condone homosexuality and those so engaged must turn from it. I realize it is a delicate matter but sin is sin.

  • Steve

    No, the best way to beat someone up without touching them is by throwing a rock at their head. Seriously man, have you ever even committed assault with a deadly weapon before? Try getting some experience in it before you start claiming what you think the best method is, people might take you more seriously then.

  • Al Cruise

    JosephBrown666 , I disagree with your attempt to justify the Church’s actions, Jesus asked the question which is right, “to do good or to do evil, to save life or to destroy it,” This Church destroyed life. If their actions caused someone to take their life then those actions were done in evil. The true love of Christ will never destroy life.

  • Lothat

    Well, I’m under the impression that sometimes people really need to be beaten up.

    But not about imaginary sins (like homosexuality) but about real ones, like not aiding one’s neighbor in need.

    Lothar’s son – Lothars Sohn
    http://lotharlorraine.wordpress.com/

  • Carol

    Since the projection of our “faults and failings” onto others is a common psychological defense, I wonder how many experience these condemnation sermons as a criticism of self and how many interpret them as a condemnation of other “less committed” Christians and get their self-righteous egos fed rather than feel shamed.

  • Gary

    You are incorrect about the bible’s stance on homosexuality. The clobber passages are so polluted with human bias and deliberate faulty translation as to be a completely useless on the subject. Couple that with the fact that the bronze and iron age societies it is a product of were simply not equipped to be the moral compass for all time.

  • wanderer

    So… I wasn’t mistaken. :(

  • Ragfish

    A sermon which fails to both edify and convict is merely tickling the ears. Pastors more interested in entertaining the goats than feeding the sheep, are often hirelings leading sheep into the den of wolves, before fleeing at the first signs of danger. Would you consider one of the greatest American sermons to be an example of beating up on the flock?
    http://voicesofdemocracy.umd.edu/edwards-sinners-in-the-hands-speech-text/

  • Gary

    What you call “one of the greatest American sermons”, I call one of the most horrible examples of abusive teaching I have ever seen and an outright perversion of the very nature of God. I am vehemently disgusted whenever I hear someone embrace this profane nonsense and declare it to be good and true!!!

  • Gary

    Really? This is a complete fabrication Brigitte. No…that is weak…this is a contemptible lie. A deliberate slander. If I have ever made this type of comment in jest in the past (possible) I don’t remember it. But I absolutely have not “repeated it several times” and then patted myself on the back. Your behavior is disgusting…parading as a beacon of truth while attacking those who disagree with you with deliberate lies and contempt. Even your most recent attack of me concerning a discussion with Steve was nothing more than dishonest slander against me (in the context of openly calling my comments false).

    It amazes me why you wonder why I and others grow weary of your bullshit.

  • Ragfish

    Perhaps you are unfamiliar with the Great Awakening or consider true revival something to be despised. Not your fault, but belief and faith are different (I am assuming that you believe in the propitiatory atonement, but maybe I am granting you more than is true.) Many consider Edward’s sermon to be a significant catalyst to the revival in his day. How do you view Jesus’ death on the cross and the resurrection?

  • Gary

    I am quite familiar with what is referred to as “The Great Awakening”. A historical event does not in some fashion provide evidence of correct doctrine. The following quote is one of the reasons why I find this so called sermon so contemptible…

    “[33] The God that holds you over the pit of hell, much as one holds a spider, or some loathsome insect, over the fire, abhors you, and is dreadfully provoked; his wrath towards you burns like fire; he looks upon you as worthy of nothing else, but to be cast into the fire; he is of purer eyes than to bear to have you in his sight; you are ten thousand times so abominable in his eyes as the most hateful venomous serpent is in ours.”

    I believe completely that this is 100% rubbish. False teaching which also is a gross slander to the God who is first and foremost LOVE. There is so much scripture (if that is your ultimate authority) to refute this nonsense with that it is absurd. God is not a monster bent on destruction. Hell (eternal conscious torment) is a product of the imagination of men…nothing more.

    You will find (if you stay here long enough) that there are very few who subscribe to the 5 point Calvinistic view, especially to the doctrine of “total depravity”.

    You may notice that I have VERY strong views on this subject. I was raised in and taught and preached under the banner of calvinistic thought. It is not rebellion that leads me away from this teaching, but rather, I believe, the very Spirit of Truth Jesus promised to send us which would lead us.

  • Ragfish

    Of course, God is love;however, He cannot look upon sin, despite loving the sinner. It is only in God that His attributes of Truth and Justice are perfectly reconciled with His attributes of Love, Mercy and Grace. While most would define holiness as set apart or sanctification, I would define it as the perfect harmony of that which our earthly imagination cannot accomplish.
    Gary, still wondering how you might reconcile the horrific crucifixion with a monchromatic God of love? Do you doubt the references to hell in both the New and Old Testament, the doctrine of original sin and the propitiatory atonement? What is referred to as Calvinism, was merely the orthodox response to Armenianism. Calvin did not invent these doctrines.
    Anyway, I have no problem with heterodoxy. Fortunately, we are not saved by doctrine, but by the sovereign grace of a loving God. On the otherhand, false teaching may create false converts, unregenerate goats, who in turn mislead the sheep.

  • Gary

    Yes I have come to question many of the the doctrines taught by the church as we know it. But even back when I accepted them at least in general, I still knew that I was not born an enemy of God primarily because I was born post crucifixion. I am not declaring that I have never or don’t still sin. I am declaring that sin is now taken care of, that it is dead.

    And I absolutely challenge the notion of eternal conscious torment being at all biblical. The doctrine of eternal conscious torment was first taught in the 2nd century by Tertullian (very much the minority view of the time) and later by Jerome and Augustine in the 4th and 5th centuries. It was in fact Pope Damascus who commissioned Jerome to create a revised translation of the bible in Latin, which became known as the Latin Vulgate. This is where the corruption of the earliest manuscripts is first seen I believe.

    Your concern of false teaching creating false converts and unregenerate goats is one which I do not share. If Jesus was/is God (which I still believe) then He did in fact save “the world”, not just a select few. The doctrine of eternal torment literally denies everything about God’s power and the victory of the cross. I believe it turns the “Good News” of the gospel “for all people” into a barbaric and malevolent perversion of the true nature of our loving God.

  • JosephBrown660

    Can you please point out somewhere in Scripture that justifies the homosexual lifestyle? In the OT is called an abomination. In the NT, Paul points out those that continue in sin will not inherit the kingdom of God.

  • JosephBrown660

    Al Cruise, Jesus never told people to continue in sin. I would posit that the church is not responsible for the unfortunate act of those committing suicide, but rather that the suicide is the result of sin. Perhaps guilt from the inherent knowledge that they are living in an immoral lifestyle is at the root cause?

  • Jeannie Boen

    Well, a hidden trap and an obvious trap are still kind of the same thing though. I do attend a local church that seems to really have no strings attached. I looked for them for a long time.

  • Gary

    If you take the stance that scripture is your absolute authority (I am assuming you do) then you must accept that it does not address everything we may encounter in life. It is a false premise to promote the view that something must be specifically supported for it to not be a sin…otherwise we would all be sinning every time we step on an airplane because the bible does not support flying. So to ask if the bible supports something not specifically condemned is disingenuous.

    As to whether the bible speaks out against homosexuality, that is an entirely different conversation. You comment about the OT referring it as an abomination is clearly not an issue for Christians today. The context in which the reference you speak of is found is in the Levitical law, not relevant to Christians at all, and a horrible moral guide to begin with. Equally abominable are blending fabrics, planting two types of crops in one field, eating pork or shellfish, and touching a woman who is menstruating. (I am pretty sure you consider those abominations to be different, though spiritually they were not) Of course OT law also was completely favorable towards owning slaves, forcing a rape victim to marry her papist, killing children who were disobedient, and wholesale genocide of cultures who disagreed with you. Let’s leave the OT version of morality out of this discussion shall we?

    As for the extremely rare NT references, none address what we understand to be genuine homoseuality today. Most were referring to pederasty and male prostitution, and had absolutely nothing to do with homosexual orientation. The term homosexual was not even in our translations until the last hundred years and is a direct result of homosexual bigotry. And while morality in the iron age a modest step up from that of the bronze age, the NT is still full of endorsement for slavery, racial bigotry, and blatant sexism. And of course Jesus Himself (who the entire faith is SUPPOSED to be founded upon) never once mentioned it in any fashion.

    There has been some great exegesis concerning this subject that goes a long way to correcting the eisegesis that so forms the false opinion on this in much of the church. This was very important to me at the time in my life when I felt like my changing beliefs still had to be filtered through the authority of scripture. Perhaps these links will be helpful to you as well. (There are a host of others and probably better ones, but these at least introduce you to the issues)

    http://christiangays.com/articles/louise.shtml

    http://matthewvines.tumblr.com/
    (scroll down for the txt version on this one)

  • JenellYB

    I think a lot more needs to be said about this as not only why younger people are turning away from the church, and as why many always have turned away, but perhaps as important, what part it has played in shaping those that stay within it into the abusive, cruel personalities that so many involved in and exposed to it become. They are being abused by the preachers/teachers, they in turn abuse their children, other family members, and just about everybody they encounter.
    I grew up in a home in which a parent became more and more deeply involved in worse and worse abusive religion, following a hell fire and brimstone radio evangelist, that often made boast of having Calvinistic and ‘old-time hard shell Baptist’ roots, as if those respresented the gold standard of Christian religion, into zealotry, fanaticism, and ultimately, sadly, madness. Not content to get beat up just a day or two a week, there was for years a steady in-out of boxes of taped ‘messages’ that my mother played seemingly endlessly, except when my father was home, and forbade them, as well as boxes of religious tracts she went about placing everywhere and handing everyone.
    This was a “preacher” named L.R. Shelton, that made much of his and his church’s “ministries to the worse or the worst sinners,’ people in prisons, jails, homeless shelters, ghetto gutters, and the like, or at least so was claimed in his ‘messages’ and literature, for who know what they really in their far-from-our-home ‘home base’ in New Algiers, Louisiana. I remember us visiting there a couple times, there wasn’t much there to see, actually. But considering that ‘targeted audience,’ can any even imagine the kind of stuff falling upon the tender ears of a young child, myself, and my even younger sister’s ears and hearts? She and I had been to regularly and completely beaten up for our sinfulness, wickedness, for such sins we didn’t even know what meant, from idolatry to harlotry and adultery and fornication and drunkenness, by the time we staggered out into the ‘real world’, we were some pretty smashed up road-kill vulnerable and attractive to vultures of sorts few of other upbringings could imagine are out there in the world.
    I cannot even now bear at all the rantings of such preachers, that angry, judging, condemning, shaming ‘tone’ so popular among some church communities, that I have quickly left churches before the sermon was hardly begin, for I reached a point at which I will simply no longer subject myself to it, even to be ‘polite’ to hear our a sermon.
    When I encounter the common rudeness, really snarky and disrespectful nature of so much of even common talk within so many churched Christian environments, encounter those that seem unable to engage in the most casual of conversations about even the most un-religious topics, without throwing in some snarky dose of shaming and accusing, no mater how inappropriate and irrelevant to the topic at hand, I ‘hear’ those old tapes playing, that thundering, accusing, shaming preacher’s voice (and how an irony, I just recalled the name of his radio show and ministry, “The Voice of Truth”) and I cannot even describe what I feel well up from within, but oddly, NOT at the present person engaging in it, but whomever, all the whomevers, and most of all the very form, or ‘brand’ of religion, that DID THAT TO THEM, made them that way! It is as close to ‘hate’ of/for something or someone I have ever experienced in my life.

  • JenellYB

    Yes, there are always those! I’ve heard that actually said be people after hearing such a sermon, pointing out someone they think ‘needed to hear that,’ and honest, yeah, I have to admit I’d had the same thought at times. We probably all have.
    It is also quite common for a preacher to work into a sermon in some way, or a SS teacher in their class lesson, and right on down to those that think this way in their daily lives, into some otherwise ordinary private conversation with another person. This can be quite uncomfortable and even embarrassing when the intended person and/or others listening figure out ‘who’ it is meant for. You can often notice when that happens, the preacher makes some such ‘point’ about a sin, and at least a few heads turn to look right at someone in the group.
    I have actually heard this taught as a ‘tactic’ in a couple ‘discipleship’ classes, and given as private advice between religious people, to work something about some ‘sin’ they may ‘know’ someone is ‘dealing with’, as a way to address it without openly confronting them about it! That can be even more awkward when what they think they ‘know’ isn’t even so to begin with!

  • JenellYB

    I’m not sure which is really worse, the ones open and up front from the start, or the hidden ones kept under cover, waiting until you’ve taken and begun to savor the bait, actually getting involved, starting to feel welcomed and accepted, before the jolt as the hook is set in and you realize you’ve been had. While I hope for your sake, Jeannie, there is no hidden hook coming where you are, but some have made it an art form to nurture you along until you have come to feel emotionally invested in being there.

  • JenellYB

    Is it lost upon many of us that in truth, it is only the Holy Spirit that can convict any of their own sin, and the condition of their soul? People cannot do it to/for anyone else! We can’t even do it to/for ourselves!
    I cannot say what it may fee like to any other, when the Holy Spirit, from within, has shown me something within my own self, ‘convicted’ me of a ‘sin’, an error of my ways or thoughts, for it may be different for others. For me, yes, there is a shame experienced, but it is closer to a sorrow, a deep inwardly experienced sorrow, than anything I’d call shame or guilt incited by any source outside of myself. And the things that has happened to me in are not likely things anyone that has ever known me might guess they would be, for they went into the deeper core of my actual true motivations, not anything others might have observed as evident.

  • Ragfish

    Help me understand your doctrine of salvation. Are you saying that after the cross, every human being is saved? OR only those dying after Jesus’ resurrection?
    What is your understanding of hell, sheol, paradise before and after the cross?
    Finally, is there a particular teacher/pastor that represents the doctrine of hell in which you believe? (Rob Bell, perhaps?)
    btw, I find in Rev 20 that hell is NOT a place of everlasting torment, but along with death will be cast into the Lake of Fire.

  • Ragfish

    I just noticed the Star of David/Shield of Soloman on the lapel of the pastor in the cartoon. Was that intentional, and if so, were you depicting a particular ‘fire and brimstone’ pastor, such as John Hagee???

  • Gary

    So you don’t believe in an eternal hell either? Interesting.

    There are a some assumptions on your part that don’t exactly fit me. First of all I do not feel the need to find a pastor or teacher to base my search for truth upon. I do not have anything at all resembling a doctrine. Doctrines are merely the beliefs of people in a group, often wrestled with great difficulty from a text they consider “holy”.

    For instance, you stated; “Of course, God is love;however, He cannot look upon sin, despite loving the sinner.” This strikes me as a rather convenient way to take a verse and manipulate it into service for a contrived doctrine that allows the religious to look upon others in judgment and to condemn either openly or at least in their hearts. Since it is quite clear that the bible (the source of this notion in the first place) has many references of God looking upon sinful people, it would seem obvious that the verse this belief is based upon is being stretched beyond intent. (Or that the author was merely using a metaphor, or that the author was simply wrong about the nature of God)

    Yes I absolutely believe that if there is a God, then God’s purpose is to save all for all time. This belief in universalism was the primary belief of the early church for nearly 400 years btw. It strikes me as odd that so many consider the belief apostate today.

    But I don’t look for a pastor or church or group that I can then pattern my beliefs around. I have had too much of that already. I find my way by reading, looking at what others believe and determining if it makes sense to me, and mostly by seeking what I think makes the most sense. As I do believe in The Spirit of Truth, this is the most sensible way for me to proceed and is most in line with Jesus teaching. To submit to another person, group, or prescribed belief system is to interfere with that leading. I believe we are each to seek for truth, not find a group and blindly accept their version.

    Many have said that we can’t trust our heart, that it will deceive us and we end up just believing what we want and that is why our beliefs must be aligned with the bible. I say bullshit…with thousands of various Christian groups, all proclaiming to be following “the scripture” and that their particular belief must be right because it is scriptural, yet in total disagreement over virtually EVERY doctrine, the “holy scripture” method has clearly been an abject failure. I can see why Jesus did not promise to send a book. It is sad that we were so determined to create our golden calf anyway and worship it.

  • Ragfish

    I suppose, I take Jeremiah 9:17 too literally concerning the human heart. I believe that Jesus’ death and atonement dealt universally with the original sin of the first Adam. God did indeed provide the Lamb, the once and for all sacrifice that made obsolete the sacrifices of the Levitical priesthood. However, we still sin, perhaps owing to the fallen human world system partially reset in Genesis 6, but ongoing via Genesis 10 (Nimrod) to our day.

    During the passion on the cross, when Jesus took upon himself the sin of man from Adam to the end of time, there was a point of separation from the Father. This was the spiritual death experienced by Jesus, an infinite being which balanced the scales of God’s justice once an for all. It would require an infinite sacrifice to atone for even a single transgression against an infinite God and/or the magnitude of the sacrifice is sufficient for all of humanity.
    The question that would remain is how is it that we appropriate God’s sovereign gift of pardon. If it is universal, is their any need for faith, confession or sanctification?

    If there is no sin, there is no need for atonement. If such were the case, then the cruelty of Jesus’ death would not have been a just means by a loving God to provide you and me with eternal life.

    You are familiar with the idea of the Great Exchange:

    1)We are imputed with the sin of Adam.

    2) Christ takes on the sin of Adam (that is universal, IMO)

    We appropriate Christ’s atonement (are justified) by faith

    3) We are imputed the righteousness of Christ.

    2 out of 3 isn’t bad, and in fact is Good News!

    I suppose that for the good news to be good, there must be some bad news. If I were to discover the cure for cancer, that would be generally considered good news; however, for the person with stage 4 cancer, that is good news INDEED. In a similar way, the good news of the true Gospel is both general and personal. It is personal only through relationship with the Son. oops, there’s that non-inclusivity or exclusiveness creeping in again!

    Perhaps you would clarify your understanding of the cruel death of Jesus on the cross. Was this, in your view, a necessary part of God’s plan of reconcilliation or purely the work of wicked people, which served no necessary part of God’s purposes.

    I would agree that human condemnation is not the same as Holy Spirit conviction. People, pastors and denominations can and do manipulate and control,
    (ab)using religion as a tool for evil.

    I am curious as to how your view point would in any way differ from that of Fundamental Secular Humanism. I know you don’t believe in doctrine (which is itself a doctrine); however, the Bible exhorts us not to forsake the gathering of the saints. If the good news were universally complete for every person, what do you see as the purpose of the true Church in our day?

  • Gary

    The notion of God separating Himself from Christ on the cross is interesting to me. I have many times taught and even preached this very same thing. Yet I discovered some time back, that if I am truthful to the actual text Jesus was quoting then God did no such thing. Obviously Jesus is referring to David’s lament in Psalm 22. In fact the chapter is a wonderful statement of triumph in that even when it felt like he was abandoned by God, in fact he absolutely was not. Notice verse 24…

    24 For he has not despised or scorned
    the suffering of the afflicted one;
    he has not hidden his face from him
    but has listened to his cry for help.

    Once I evaluated this chapter which Jesus was quoting, it became clear to me he was calling out to the truth that though He was experiencing the very human feeling of abandonment, He was also acknowledging the victorious affirmation in David’s words that God indeed was NOT separating Himself from Him.

    Another very clear truth in this chapter has to do with what Jesus actually accomplished upon the cross. Consider the final verses of the chapter, the conclusion if you will…

    27 All the ends of the earth
    will remember and turn to the Lord,
    and all the families of the nations
    will bow down before him,
    28 for dominion belongs to the Lord
    and he rules over the nations.
    29 All the rich of the earth will feast and worship;
    all who go down to the dust will kneel before him—
    those who cannot keep themselves alive.
    30 Posterity will serve him;
    future generations will be told about the Lord.
    31 They will proclaim his righteousness,
    declaring to a people yet unborn:
    He has done it!

    This is pretty inclusive language if you ask me. Some believe that there will be many (most even) who will “declare that Jesus Christ is Lord” just before they are sentenced to hell. I believe that totally misses the point of believing in Jesus in the first place. BTW – this is a chapter that I fully accept as prophetic. I believe when Jesus called out to this passage He was inviting us to search it for truth.

    I am at a point of searching out what I believe concerning original sin. No longer do I fear asking the tough questions. The notion that a god exists who would create mysteries and even obscure the truth (as many believe) and then condemn billions to hell for sincere beliefs in error is one I have come to totally reject. I do not believe in an unjust (yes I said unjust) monster god such as Jonathan Edwards did. I believe in a God whose attributes ALWAYS reflect those found in 1 Corinthians 13. A God who not only “keeps no record of wrongs”, but who also “always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. A God who “never fails”.

    I know this may sound like doctrine. And perhaps it is in a way. But really it represents what I have sought for and found to be true. It is mine. It is that which most clearly resonates with the Spirit within me.

    I do not know where my search will take me and what I will embrace or reject in the future. But I do not fear the questions as I said. Because any god who would punish me for searching in earnest and choosing wrong (as if in our human intellect we could ever know for sure) is not a God at all.

  • Ragfish

    Thank you for your thoughtful exigesis of Psalm 22. I also see Psalm 22 as prophetic. Having doctrine grounded in Scripture, tradition, reason and Spirit’s leading is what we do in creating the channels through which living waters might flow to those whom we disciple/teach. While God is unchanging in his attributes, his dealing with man changes in the same way that a loving parent deals differently with children of differing maturity and temperment.

    That every knee will bow, refers in the end that all shall acknowledge Christ’s preeminence. However, not all will have the same position. Revelation 20 depicts a judgment based upon 1) works and 2) written or not in the book of life. It would appear that those not written in the book of life (v15) wind up cast into the Lake of Fire. Maybe none fall into that unfortunate category. However, many (classical dispensationalists) view Revelation 20 as the judgment of the wicked dead. The dead in Christ (saved)are judged at the Bema seat of Christ 1Corinthians5:10 before the Millennial reign of Christ and are rewarded based upon their works. If all are saved, then who remains to stand before God at the great white throne judgment?

    Regarding universal salvation, we both cannot be right; nevertheless, this is why I am thankful that we are saved by grace and not by our understanding/doctrine. As long as we are in this body, in this world our soulish inclinations like the dust in our eyes will cause us to use our reason and justify what we see as right in our own eyes. In doing so, we create in part a God of our own imaginings, despite our sincere intention to know the Lord as he is. I required a constant replaying of Edwards’ awful sermon when I was first ‘saved/born again’, in order to keep me along a transformational path of sanctification. Now, not so much. During the Millennium, Christ’s ruling ‘with an iron rod’ does not seem to be entirely pleasant to the flesh and blood people living in a just world governed by Christ and with Satan bound. It seems that restraining experience gives Satan traction for gathering people for his final revolt, before the New Heaven/New Earth. That God can be good and yet horrific/awful is incompatible with our acculturated understanding of right and wrong (let alone good and evil).
    Isaiah 55:6-9
    6 Seek ye the Lord while he may be found, call ye upon him while he is near
    7 Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts: and let him return unto the Lord, and he will have mercy upon him; and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon.
    8 For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the Lord.
    9 For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts.
    Thomas Jefferson encourage us to question boldly,even God’s existence; however, no matter how strong our querry, we remain under His authority and sovereignty.
    We question boldly,but never doubting his sovereignty, justice, mercy and loving kindness. God rewards those who seek Him diligently!

    So long as the understanding that we proclaim is sufficient to point people toward Jesus as Lord and Savior, we trust the Holy Spirit to turn a first glimpse of our Savior into a new birth into eternal (quality, not duration) life.

    I pray Numbers 6:22-27 for you & may the Lord grant both of us continuing wisdom for His glory in proclaiming the Word of God (the Gospel of Salvation) in reaching the souls of people. These are the two everlastings that persevere from this age into the world to come.
    Maranatha!

  • Gary

    Since it is ONLY church (and only a portion at that) that is declaring it the be sinful (wrongfully so) in the first place…how do you figure their hands are clean. These people are wrongly convinced that they themselves are an abomination to god and man. This is not like telling a drunk that his abuse of alcohol is sinful, it is about telling them that WHO THEY ARE, by no choice of their own, is an abomination.

    No…the church alone (and the culture of bigotry it has created) bears the responsibility for these suicides.

  • Gary

    “I required a constant replaying of Edwards’ awful sermon when I was first ‘saved/born again’, in order to keep me along a transformational path of sanctification.”

    The statement above speaks to the great chasm between not just our views, but our very understanding of the nature of God and our relationship with him, perhaps more clearly than anything else either of us could state.

    As for the passage in Revelations you quote, I see it as directly contradictory to much of what Jesus Himself stated and, much like a good portion of the bible, must not be taken as “The Word of God” (which the bible is not anyway) but rather as an opinion of men. (Frankly I have come to wonder if John got ahold of some bad mushrooms) ;-)

    I appreciate your kindness and I wish you well.

  • JosephBrown660

    I would appreciate the authority for your position. I find it totally out of line with Scripture. The wages of sin is death. Homosexuality is sin.

  • JosephBrown660

    Driscoll is a Bible based teacher. I attend Mars Hill frequently and he does at times create guilt that leads or conviction which leads to repentance. He pulls few punches and I admire him for that.

  • mrichardson84

    Your interpretation of Scripture is skewed and biased. You base it on a deliberate mistranslation of the original Greek because you want it to be sin. You can’t prove it’s sinful any other way. Give it up.

  • mrichardson84

    Driscoll uses the Bible for his own hateful agenda. He is nothing but a woman-hating bully who loves to brow-beat anyone who isn’t him. I find anyone who “admires” him to be disgusting. Shame on you.

  • mrichardson84

    Oh, but of course you attend Mars Hill frequently. Masochism to say the least.

  • Gary

    You really haven’t even been paying attention have you? LOL

    I would like “the authority for YOUR position”. I have stated the reasons for my position and provided a couple of excellent links examining the flaws with your very biased and incorrect declaration that homosexuality is a sin.

  • JosephBrown660

    Please give me an example of him hating women. I have never seen it. He teaches straight from the Word of God. He is harder on men than women. I admire his ability to preach in a God hating city such as Seattle. Perhaps you should examine the Word of God.

  • JosephBrown660

    Oh really? Please educate me on the deliberate mistranslations. So, if you are correct, then the entire Bible must be untrustworthy. Then from whence do you suggest that we derive our guidance for life and the life hereafter?

  • JosephBrown660

    There are several examples in Scripture that point to God’s disdain to the homosexual lifestyle. He destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah due to the immoral lifestyle, He calls it an abomination in Leviticus. There are at least four references in the NT as well. Romans, Corinthians, Timothy and Jude all contain passages decrying the lifestyle. I await your passages that approve of the lifestyle.

  • mrichardson84

    A “lifestyle,” huh? Shame on you. Only a homophobe would call someone’s sexual attraction a “lifestyle.” Is your heterosexuality a “lifestyle”? Didn’t think so.
    And quoting the same tired old clobber passages that were deliberately mistranslated by homophobic English speakers. I will not engage you any further, as you have already made up your mind to cling to an outdated, mistranslated source written to please your itching ears. Goodbye.

  • JosephBrown660

    I disagree with you solely based upon the Holy Word of God. Please illustrate for me a place in scripture that condones the immoral act of homosexuality?
    Yes it is a lifestyle. It is a chosen lifestyle. Not unlike other sins that become a lifestyle. Gambling, pornography, abuse, alcoholism, drug addiction….all chosen lifestyles. It takes healing to remove one from these horrible sinful conditions. Only the grace of Jesus Christ can heal those afflicted.
    Shame on you for perpetuating those condemned to a lifestyle riddled with immorality without lovingly attempting them to realize it is wrong.

  • Gary

    Wow you really are ignorant of the scripture. There are several references to WHY God supposedly destroyed these cities in the bible. NOT ONE OF THEM declares homosexuality to be among the litany of sins God accused them of.

    Your understanding of the passages in the NT are equally flawed for the reasons I already stated and provided you a couple of great links explaining why.

    Your bigotry is ugly and based on ignorance of the truth. (Which bigotry always is)

  • Gary

    No it is not a “lifestyle” it is an orientation most are born with. SHAME ON YOU for declaring as condemned those who God has not.

  • Lisa Zinzow

    Right on!! When I realized that’s what was coming from the pulpit I stopped going. Actually, after an abusive relationship I had an extremely low tolerance for control and manipulation. One might say I’m allergic to it. And overall, I think that’s a good thing.

  • Lisa Zinzow

    Didn’t he mention liars and a whole bunch of other things in that passage as well? So basically, if you really believe that, you should be going around telling every single person including yourself that they are in sin, and with equal fervor. Any straight person who even thinks of someone of the opposite sex in sexual terms is committing adultery. So everyone is just as sinful as a homosexual (assuming one believes homosexuality to be a sin). Therefore, I don’t really think anyone has any right to point out other’s sins and that includes treating them as an especially sinful group. Besides, when did Jesus ever command anyone to point out people’s sins to them? He himself didn’t even do that. In fact, the only people he ever criticized were the ones pointing out people’s sins to them. And then there’s the whole remove the plank in your own eye thing.

  • Lisa Zinzow

    He also never went around pointing their sins out to them or instructed his followers to tell people how sinful they are.

  • Lisa Zinzow

    If the wages of sin is death and that is just reason for a homosexual to commit suicide then we’d all better commit suicide right now because we are all sinners. Wow, Jim Jones had it right after all! ;-)

  • Lisa Zinzow

    Gee, maybe it was because they wanted to commit gang rape and had nothing to do with homosexuality.


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