I don’t want to preach. I REALLY, REALLY don’t want to preach. I never want to be that . . . arrogant? superior? lusting for influence, power, control? I want to be the skeptic, the one who questions, not the authority.
So when I started a list of irritating xtian sayings on my own, I worried. A list of pet peeves – well, that’s awfully preachy of me, isn’t it? Yikes. Feel free to send me a note and tell me why I’m a jerk. But one or two of these have been annoying me for decades, so what the hell. When I started writing them down they just started pouring out on the page – many more than I thought I would have. And the one that just sets my teeth on edge (where did that saying come from? – see end) is one that rarely makes any of the hundreds of annoying xtian sayings pages on the internet:
It’s SUPPOSED to mean “made holy”. Whatever the hell that is. Priest says magic words and waves hands, Preacher dunks you in water – meh. That’s not the way people use it though.
We hear it all the time. Everywhere. Just last week, I think I heard “have a blessed day” from at least 3 cashiers. And, being under lockdown, I only left the house four times. What are you really saying, beside piously informing a stranger that you’re a xtian and that you hope they’re a xtian too so your sky-daddy will make their lives better by doing . . . what? Giving them stuff? Protecting them from injury and disease and misfortune?
When Christians get STUFF, they call themselves blessed. When Christians are spared from disaster (weather, misfortune, illness) they call themselves blessed. This is absolutely, blatantly saying that their God favors them, that they are special.
What is blessed? Go back and re-read the Beatitudes. It’s in Matthew 5. Do not assume that YOU are the “poor in spirit”, YOU are “those who mourn”, YOU are “meek”, YOU “hunger and thirst for righteousness”, YOU are “merciful”, YOU are “pure in heart”, YOU are the “peacemaker”, and YOU are “persecuted for righteousness”.
Blessed, according to Jesus, means comfort in hard times. Where does that comfort come from? Do you assume that these statements mean that God will just shower comfort on the suffering and you won’t have to do anything? Or does it come from community and caring for others – and not just the ones in your church? Blessed is persevering. Being merciful to others. Being honest in your outlook, working for peace, not dominance. And it most obviously is not about superiority or wealth or physical health or getting gifts from your Santa Claus in the sky. And it’s pretty hard to brag about how your god supposedly helped you be patient and generous and forgiving and loving – because the second you brag, you’re being superior, and that means you just threw it ALL down the toilet. Remember Matthew 6:1-2? The Pharisee in Luke 18:11? Yeah.
And yep that’s a freakin’ sermon. Dammit.
Related common phrases that have the same problem:
“But for the grace of God, there go I.”
“I must be living right.”
“My Guardian Angel really worked yesterday.”
RESPONSES TO DEATH
“God needed another angel.”
“Everything happens for a reason.”
“They are in a better place.”
These are phrases learned in the church context that – attempt – to comfort the bereaved and grieving with thoughts of their loved one safe in paradise. Even in the church, this is completely dismissive of the emotions of grief and loss. Xtians respond with their favorite fantasy and turn away from the suffering, instead of actually ministering to the pain of others. When these phrases are tossed at non-believers, all the sufferer sees is an uncaring snob.
RESPONSES TO PERSONAL PROBLEMS/STRESS/DISASTER
“Don’t worry, God has a plan.”
“God will never give you more than you can handle.”
“God helps those who help themselves.”
“Let go and let God.”
“That’s really just a first world problem.”
“God told me___”
Do any of those actually help the person suffering? Is the xtian responder actually offering aid?
“Prayer works.” Does it really? You’re so special that your entreaties changed an All-Knowing, All-Powerful, Creator of the Universe’s plan for humanity? You control God? If the answer you think you received was “yes”, God is good, and if it was “no”, then God works in mysterious ways. What, he wanted his favorite human to beg? If there is a Deity, it would be quite amazing if It didn’t get disgusted by all of the humans wanting It to heal them, to fix their behavior, to fix other’s wrong behavior, to defeat enemies, and to help them get STUFF.
“I‘ll be praying for you.” General statement, I care, now go away. Some folks will even pry for details “what do you want me to pray for?” in their effort to display piety. Usually, though, this is most often used after a disagreement, and the prayer will go “Please God, help that stupid idiot realize that I’m RIGHT and he’s WRONG”.
“Love the sinner, hate the sin.” It’s half right. Put a period where the comma is and you’re golden.
“It’s okay to judge.” This is a trend on xtian websites now. Xtians apparently think that they are the arbiters of American morality. Apparently these xtians never read Matthew 7 or Luke 6. Jesus flat-out calls them all hypocrites. ‘Scuse me, I have to go get this beam out of my eye.
“Can I share a little bit about my faith with you?”
The presumption is that they have something ALL HUMANITY needs. They know nothing at all about the person they’re speaking to, but they are certain that this stranger is in dire need of their help. (Unless, joy of joys! – This person shares that “faith” so they can leave and continue the search for heathens to assault.) They start by insulting a person’s intelligence and then they get worse from there. See my other blog about witnessing.
“You should come to church with me on Sunday.” Oh yes, your church is better than their church. Or, they don’t go to church, which means they are WRONG and they need to go to your church. Or you want to show your club what a good recruiter you are.
“If you died today, do you know where you’d spend the rest of eternity?” They don’t know and neither do you.
“Do you accept Jesus as your personal lord and savior?” This is not in the Bible. Anywhere. And it’s none of your business.
“Have you asked Jesus into your heart?” See previous response
“Jesus died for your sins.” If you’ve heard this since you were in diapers, it makes perfect sense. But substitutionary blood sacrifice for transgressions is, happily, repulsive ancient history never to be repeated for the majority of the human population. Washed in the blood, ewwww.
“Are you saved?” From what? From rude annoying people asking intrusive nonsensical questions? Apparently not.
“I believe it because the Bible tells me so” or “it’s in the Bible”. Right. You haven’t read it, have you? The Bible tells me that there are unicorns – 9 times. It tells me that the earth is flat, snakes talk, virgins give birth to gods, the sun can stand still, bats are birds, dragons exist, donkeys talk, left-handed people are evil, and if animals mate while looking at stripes, their offspring will be striped. Just for starters.
“There are no atheists in a foxhole.” Sure there are. And Jews, and Muslims, and Hindus, and Buddhists, and people of every belief system as well as no belief system. And if they are in a foxhole, they’re rather busy.
“This could be the end of days.” /”You’ll believe at the final judgment.”/ “You’ll understand when you’re dead.”
A lot of xtians are just jonesing for the End of Days. The Final Judgement – They can’t wait to stand up in front of all of the people that are going to be slaughtered and sent to hell and so they can shout “See, I was right, you were wrong!” Neener neener neener. This, of course, comes from the deep awareness that they can’t prove a word that they are saying.
(“Sets my teeth on edge” – 1300’s English: The earlier form of the phrase was ‘to edge the teeth’ and described the feeling of sensitivity caused by acidic tastes, like raw rhubarb.)