Dad on “Not perfect, just forgiven.”

Dad on “Not perfect, just forgiven.” March 10, 2014

Father had someone drop the “We’re not perfect, just forgiven” trope on him the other day.  Father was apparently not in the mood.

“We’re not perfect, just forgiven.”

How often we hear this. We usually hear it from Christians who have been caught doing something despicable. Usually said with smug superiority, it is a cheap way for them to get in a little one-upsmanship instead of owning how evil they have been and making some sort of effort to actually do something to rectify it. This is their “avoid making amends or stopping the evil” card.

We understand they aren’t perfect. Since so many Christians claim the moral high ground and advance the idea that atheists CANNOT be moral, a lot of us DO expect them to call out those of them who don’t live up to a higher standard, instead of defending them. Like, for instance, so many Catholics fail to call out the church but in fact defend how the church has tried to protect its reputation at the cost of abuse of children–children!– by not doing the right thing in regard to centuries of pedophile priests.

No, we don’t expect them to be perfect, but since they admittedly aren’t—any more than we are—we do in fact get tired of hearing how much better than atheists they are when actions by Christians put the lie to those words.

We observe how Christians attempt to institutionalize discrimination against atheists, homosexuals, and members of other religions. No,we don’t expect Christians to be perfect, but we do wish that as a whole they would be a little less evil while smugly telling us how much better they are than us. I have heard the trite little, “We’re not perfect, just forgiven” used as a license to excuse every evil they can dream up, and the smug superiority with which it is always delivered is enough to gag a maggot.

Instead of “Non-Christians expect us to, I don’t know, be perfect”, here is a good place to start the dialogue they ask for: Resolved, Christians as a whole are no more perfect nor any less perfect–no better and no worse– than any other group, including atheists, and being later “forgiven” doesn’t mean a damned thing when it comes to this world. Hopefully, they can see the difficulty with having dialogue until they are willing to put us on that kind of equal footing.

Frankly, I couldn’t care less how forgiven they are, but I have a great interest in what they are going to do to inflict less evil in THIS world. I have a great interest in how they are going to show compassion, empathy, and humanity in this world without trying to excuse their mean-spiritedness and bigotry in this world by blowing about their forgiveness for the next.

Please don’t try to kid me….I wasn’t born yesterday. “We’re not perfect, just forgiven” goes beyond being a defensive excuse and actually is meant as an offensive jab. It is a put-down…… a dismissal of me for my lack of belief in their fantasy tinged with a suggestion of smug superiority. It is a quick and convenient way to avoid a discussion to which they are becoming too increasingly challenged—or even uncomfortable—to defend their position. It is an avoidance of admitting moral turpitude and making amends by instead choosing to sneer.

I know they me tell me this so I will feel some sort of guilt over not believing in their preferred fantasy. If they can show some evidence, facts, logic, or reason with which to support their side of the issue, perhaps they would want to make mention of those, instead of telling me they’re forgiven. To an atheist, their “forgiveness” means less than diddly squat, but they insist on trotting it out anyway because it’s all they’ve got.

They are no better, and quite often a whole lot worse, than us. Being “forgiven” is an incredibly lame excuse used to justify being hateful and mean-spirited.

So very true.  Good people must earn forgiveness by making amends for their transgressions.  Forgiveness doled out by a being who is not the aggrieved party/parties should concern a good person much less than forgiveness from the people they’ve wronged.  What’s more, forgiveness that is freely given for believing the proper absurd story about a man rising from the dead rather than for putting in the actual work to make right on the believer’s negative actions (or feeling actual remorse for them), is meaningless.  And yet, somehow, so many believers think evading proper guilt by citing forgiveness makes them moral rather than ethically lazy.

It is, in fact, quite cowardly to go to a silent being you never have to look in the face to acquire guaranteed forgiveness instead of going to the people you’ve wronged, accepting fault, looking them in the face, and doing something to unmake what you’ve done.  The former is what a person would do if all they wanted to do was not feel guilt.  The latter is what a person would do if they are actually invested in being a good person.


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