I’m A Bad Christian: Please Unsubscribe From My Email List
One Sunday night back in 2008 I was in my room working on my music with a friend. We spent hours of working to refine the sound we created, then my computer crashed.
Immediately, without thinking, the word “****!” slipped out of my mouth (That’s “fuck” for anyone who can’t interpret the language of censorship). Immediately I felt my heart drop to make room in the empty space for a flood of religious guilt.
“I’m so sorry, Jesus!” I said silently in my head. “I didn’t mean to say that! But I’m so mad! I did all of that work and it’s all lost!”
After praying (read: begging God to spare my life from Hell because of a word), I went back to my music.
Moments later (within 5 minutes) my friend received a call from his dad, who started yelling at him for not being home. After my friend hung up he immediately yelled “FUCK!”
If there was any empty space left in my chest, it was instantly filled up to overflowing with religious pride and offense from hearing somebody use that word. Any part of me that was focused on my wrong was now strategically honing in on his.
The audacity of him to say that word in my room! This is a Christian home! I mean, Yes, I said it moments before, but I had an excuse, I lost HOURS of hard work!
I couldn’t see my hypocrisy in that moment for years. I genuinely believed I was being a good Christian by silently scolding and condemning a friend for the exact same thing I did 5 minutes earlier.
(Side note: Do you notice the focus here? I was more concerned with being a good Christian than with being a good friend to somebody I cared about, who was dealing with extreme frustration. I can only assume that’s because being a good Christian is more beneficial to myself. There’s always that slight feeling that if you do good in the eyes of God, he’ll be good to you. It’s selfishness disguised as spirituality.)
Unless you’re really into feeling bad about yourself, I don’t recommend being friends with me from 2007-2008. I was a misery-machine, and it was all very nicely veiled behind my Christianity.
In my last post, I walked through the thinking process I’ve observed in myself as I’m falling into a bad mood. I used the F word once, to show how selfish thinking can easily bring you from an “I love you” attitude to a “Fuck you! My happiness is all that matters” attitude. (It can happen surprisingly quick, too!)
As I predicted when I chose to use that word there, I started receiving emails from people telling me to quit saying those words or quit sending them emails, and to quit trying to give people advice at all until I’ve learned to control my tongue.
Like I said, it wasn’t too long ago that I would get angry and offended by those words, and lecture people about using them, too. Except I didn’t know why I was offended other than that somebody else told me I was supposed to be because those words are bad, and Jesus doesn’t like them. (To this day nobody has told me why, and they disappear as soon as I ask).
I built my writing career writing about Christianity, so I’m aware that most of my current audience comes from a church background. That means there are certain words that are considered several times worse than other words. (Like that word my rotten friend used in my room after he got yelled at by his dad!)
I get it. But that doesn’t mean I have to walk on eggshells around it.
In 2009 I got a hold of “the grace message.” For the first few months I was talking to everybody about the crazy things that go on in church that were just accepted as truth by the masses. One of those crazy things I talked about was tithing (i.e. giving your money to the church—err! I mean, God).
My dad was a heavy tither. In one way, I think he was using it to make up for past sins, which left him incredibly vulnerable to those empty promises of “more favor from God” that the preacher always goes on about to prime people for giving.
I’m not against tithing. But I am against going broke and not being able to pay rent or buy food because you gave all of your money away to a church that just wants a new sound system. Especially after doing that very thing myself on several occasions. This was the position my dad was in at the time.
One night I spent around 10 minutes talking to him about these things, pouring my heart out about how religion had tricked me into giving up everything I loved, over and over again.
He wanted very badly to buy an old car and to fix it up. After years of hard work, and all the stress of financial troubles springing up out of nowhere just when you think you’re gaining ground, he was finally able to save up enough to get a car. The only trouble was he constantly felt guilty and afraid to spend time with his car because he didn’t want it to become an idol. He thought it was wrong to spend time and money on his car when he should be spending those things on the church.
This was real to me because I lived it. I gave up people and things I LOVED for the church, and it only made me miserable because I didn’t have anything left to love but worship songs and dancing around in the front row of the sanctuary. On church days, for that two hour window, that was great! But outside of church I didn’t have much to look forward to. I had my guitar and my music, but even that had to have blatant Christian overtones or I felt wrong about spending time on it. I had girlfriends here and there who loved me, but as soon as I determined that they weren’t “Christian enough,” I just stopped talking to them abruptly, thinking I was doing God a favor.
When I was speaking to my dad about these things, I was speaking from a lot of passion and pain. A lot of missed opportunities. Consequently, a few F words slipped out in this outpouring of my heart because I was expressing the deep frustration and regret over the things I loved and lost. I was sharing years of pain that was in my heart, and trying to convince him not to do the same thing I did. When I was finally done pleading with him to think and ask questions about those things, and encouraging him to enjoy the things that bring him happiness, he only had one question:
“Do you really have to use that language?”
Can you guess what I did? As if by magic I said, “Wow! You’re right, Dad! I suddenly never want to use those words again!”?
No. That didn’t happen at all.
Instead I immediately felt my heart move a little further away from him. Any trust and desire for a closer relationship was demolished, because I put myself out there and it seemed like all he saw was an opportunity to lecture me about the words I used to communicate the deep pains of my heart. It didn’t make me want to be more Christian, it gave me stronger resolve to avoid getting close to Christians because this was the thing I had come to expect: authenticity is not allowed.
(Side note: my dad died in 2013. I didn’t get to say goodbye. I regret not spending more time with him. I’m sad that once again, though my message was more positive than it was when I was scolding people for not going to church, I let my love for Christianity take up all the time I could have spent with people I love.
He sometimes asked me if I wanted to come over and work on the car with him, but I was always too busy building my reputation as a successful Facebook Pastor. I didn’t understand his underlying invitation: “Do you want to have a relationship with me?” All I saw was that it would take time away from my preaching.
When he did die he left his car to my 9-year-old nephew, likely because he figured I wasn’t interested in it. I was hurt for awhile by that, but I finally understood it. When he invited my nephew over to learn car stuff, my nephew, of course, couldn’t wait!
And no, before you think it, I’m not saying this from a feeling of guilt. It’s just one of those things I wish I would have had the foresight to do differently. Now Ihave it. Now you do, too.)
I Am A Friend
If I’m dealing with sensitive and frustrating topics, I talk to you the same way I talk to my best friend and my family. I want the people I talk to to know “We’re in this thing together! I don’t have all my shit together, all I have is the stuff I learned, mostly from the stupid decisions I’ve made.”
And absolutely, yes, I use the F word when I talk to my family. I try to speak what most people think but are too afraid to say, because I want people to know that others think and feel those things, too. Feeling like you are the only one dealing with something is hell, and the reason so many people feel that way is because everyone is afraid to talk about it.
Do I sometimes feel stupid and embarrassed for some of the information I give away? Abso-fucking-lutely! I will tell a complete stranger or a new coworker the most embarrassing parts of my life within the first week of meeting them! And they walk away with a look of not knowing how to respond, or what to think of me. People don’t share that kind of stuff. I do. And I will continue to because every once and a while you say the right thing to the right person and it changes everything for them, because for the very first time in a long time they realize they’re not alone on this planet.
Some people who are stuck in a deep dark hole need to know that somebody else has been there. The reason you don’t know they’re stuck in that deep dark hole is because you won’t talk to them on the level of somebody stuck in a deep dark hole, or even on the level of somebody who genuinely understands what it’s like to be down there.
That’s why I’ve been able to help thousands of people with my words and others have failed to. I speak like the people I’m speaking to.
If I go through a week of getting battered by thoughts telling me “It would probably be better if I died,” I don’t follow those thoughts and feelings with, “Aw shucks!” or “Gee willy!” I’m more likely to audibly say, “Fuck off!” Therefore, I’m not going to try to water it down in my writing so I can make certain people feel more comfortable about reading what I say.
Why? Not because I have a corrupt heathen heart, or because I’m less spiritual than you, but because I’m using the language that communicates what I’m feeling the clearest. “Fuck!” is a lot more aggressive than “Fiddlesticks!” That’s the point. It’s called “strong language” because it’s meant to express a strong feeling about something.
That’s the entire purpose of language!
Why You Should Unsubscribe From Me
I’m not writing this to convince you to accept bad words, or to adopt them into your speech. Whether you do or don’t isn’t the point, and it doesn’t matter one way or the other, so we won’t get into all of that today.
Here are a few reasons you might want to unsubscribe:
- I’m writing to let you know that I’m not trying to preach a polished sermon full of spiritual buzzwords and cute sentiments so I can get an empty “Amen!” out of you. I want to get to know you, and I want you to get to know me. If I can’t be me with you, then you’re not getting to know a real version of me at all. Are you okay with that? I’m not. Unsubscribe.
- I’m looking for people I can build genuine, long-term friendships with. I want to grow together with you. For that, I’m saying bye to all the playing pretend and trying to put on appealing spiritual sideshows for you. The only result of that is us having a pretend and powerless relationship. Are you okay with that? I’m not. Unsubscribe.
- If using a strong word to communicate a strong feeling makes you want to leave, by all means, please do. I don’t want relationships that can end that easy. I don’t want to constantly be afraid to share my heart openly because of who might be waiting to throw veiled condemnation my way.
- If you’re only looking for the next thing to “like” and “share,” please unsubscribe. I don’t want people to love what I say because it “sounds cool,” but not actually do anything with it. “Likes” and “Shares” are the worst measurements of success. They’re not trophies, they are tombstones. I want to know how what I’m spending my time on is helping you.
- If you’re looking for somebody to talk to you like a professional TV Christian instead of a normal human being, please unsubscribe. I don’t want you to miss what I’m saying because you are too upset at the words I use to say it.
Before you go, here are a couple recommendations if you want blatant Christianity:
- Paul Ellis
- Jeff Turner
- Jonathan Welton
- Steve Bremner
- John Crowder (though I saw him say the word “shit” in a comment on Facebook once, so be careful!)
I’ve learned a lot from those guys over the years, and they consistently provide quality Christian content. Check them out, buy their books, watch their youtube videos. They are great guys.
You can also head over to my Library page and find a large assortment of books that will help you survive in the church arena.
How To Unsubscribe
If you’ve accepted that I’m not right for you, great! There’s a link at the bottom of every email I send out that says “unsubscribe from this list.” Go ahead and click it.
I’ll shortly be sending out an email with a bigger button that does the same thing so you can’t miss it!
I wrote this post so you will know what you’re getting from me. I’m not planning on slowing down or watering down. Quite the opposite.
I don’t want you to be shocked or surprised when you see a taboo word show up on occasion in one of my posts. People love to ignore the other 3000 words I write to zero in on the one word they don’t like so they can have a cause to crusade for. I’m not interested.
If you don’t want what I have, that’s perfectly fine. I’ve made the door nice and big for you.
For whatever reason you did subscribe to receive emails from me, whenever you did, I want to say thanks for seeing some kind of value in what I have to say.
If you ever happen to see that value again and want to come back, the door will be wide open for you.
This post isn’t me implying that I’m upset at you, or that you’re a terrible person for not liking my content. It’s simply an opportunity to reevaluate our relationship and decide whether or not we can work together moving forward.
If no, good luck, and much success in everything you do!
If yes, I’ll talk to you soon,