Silly Christians, Labels are for Kids.

Shlitz malt liquor beer ad from 1950s, "Don't worry you didn't burn the Beer"
Ironically, I think Schlitz tastes like burnt beer.  

As I grow older, I realize more and more, that I don’t fit into boxes.  Partially because I’m fat, but partially because I’m a complex person.  I think we're all more  complex than we’ve been led to believe.  I watch beer commercials and think, “These men are Neanderthals, are we really this stupid?”  And then I look down at the micro-brew I’m drinking, and hope that these ads only apply to guys who drink the mass-marketed beers.   

And then I see these extremist Christians on television, on cable news, or during some political rally, saying really hurtful bigoted things, and I think, “What?  Are these the same people I grew up with in churches?  When did Christians get so mean?”

But appearances aren’t always reality.  The media: those egotistical talking heads and their political pundits, all need us to fit into their precious demographics, so that they can package us, bought and paid for, to a political party.  For Christians, since the time of Reagan, this package has been the Republican Party.  Overwhelmingly, most Christians that are Republicans, are so over one issue: abortion.  Some might say because of family values, or keeping the “sanctity” of marriage, but it usually comes back to outlawing abortion as priority number one to Republican Christians. 

And that’s sad.  Abortion is worse than sad.  And I understand the outrage.  But it has changed what being a Christian is all about.  The movement to outlaw abortion has eroded the core of what Christianity is: loving your neighbor as yourself.   Christianity has becoming a dwindling belief system in the U.S., especially with the youth, largely because they’ve seen the anger, hateful words, and spirit of judgmentalism that is so prevalent with the anti-abortion, anti-gay marriage sect of politicized Christians, and so little of the fruits of the spirit: love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control (Gal 5:22).   If the youth are good at one thing, it’s noticing hypocrisy. 

In God We Trust coin
Do you think these words have ever
inspired a conversion?  
Which is why I no longer like being called a Christian.  Not with what the word means in today’s society.  I don’t like being thought of as a Republican pawn, or ill-informed moralist trying to keep “In God We Trust” on coinage, or the “Ten Commandments” in our schools.  Really?  These are the fights we “Christians” are going to tackle?  Why do I want to force religious doctrines on anyone?  Makes it sound a whole lot less like "good news," and more like force-fed news.   And it doesn’t make us look much prettier than the kind of religious legalism that controls Muslims in the Middle-East. 

I guess what I’m trying to say, is, I believe in what Jesus taught.  I grew up in the church (my dad was a minister), but those two facts didn’t make me a believer.  It took a profound spiritual act (one that is much too complicated and personal to describe here) that made me a life-long follower of Jesus.  And this personal relationship, through prayer, worship, etc. has continued from my late high school years until today.  But I’m not a very good Christian.  I fail often.  I swear sometimes.  I lose my temper.  I act spoiled.  I have many hang ups.  –But I’m learning not to judge.  I’m learning to have compassion.  I’m learning that I don’t know it all.  I’m learning that God can’t be boxed into nice political packages.  He is too glorious and perfect to be easily labeled or completely understood by mankind.  But man keeps trying to make God like us--imperfect.  So we market God as a product.  Give him catch phrases and identities that sound really cool and attractive, while wholly turning off large segments of society from ever seeing the “Real” Jesus. 
Jesus fish decal for car chrome silver
I understand why some people want to advertise their faith. But I think
 sometimes all they are advertising is their bad driving habits.   
These labels pain me.  Recently the DNC invited a young woman, Jena Nardella, with a cool ministry to do the benediction to close the day’s events.  Her prayer was beautiful and poignant, and was probably difficult in a room where certain ideologues cared nothing for the words coming out her mouth.  Then I read what many “Christians” had to say about her prayer on message boards like the Jars of Clay fan page (who work with Jena).  Posts like: I will have to agree with Jesus Christ. You can not be a Christian and stand on a platform of sin.....abortion and homosexuality.  Which quickly earned 19 “likes” by  other “Christians.”  Nice.  I’m sure Jesus loves the filth, debauchery, greed and war-mongering that the Republican party is so imbedded with.  (FWI, I currently don’t care about either political party, as I've found so little "truth" in either).  These politico-activist message board Christians are turning people off by the millions.  You can read Jars of Clay’s beautiful rebuttal to the ungodly words on their fanpage, here. 

I know we live in strange times.  I know it looks like we are headed for another World War, this one probably pitting the West vs. the Middle-East.  Some have called it a Christians vs. Muslim conflict (which I know has been raging in Africa for decades), and the fact that so many Christians feel the need to get ultra-defensive and  militarize ourselves for a coming religious war is, well, disappointing.  

Simpsons Ned Flanders stereotypical Christian
Hi diddly ho neigh-
bor, hope you're
living a sin free life.
Disappointing, because there is so much work to be done on the home-front regardless of if Armageddon is near.  So many hungry to feed, so many naked to clothe, so many sick to comfort.  America is desperate for the compassion that Christ espoused.  It does not need a judging and morally superior fan base preaching “right living,” when the church itself is hardly “right living.” 

The Church has plenty of in-house business to attend to before it starts looking outside its buildings and offering criticism.  There's enough sin sitting around  in the pews that could, or should be dealt with for any number of years.  Christian marriages, like their secular counterpart, need intravenous fluids to stay alive.  Why not offer more marriage counseling to those desperate to stay married, rather than telling others outside the church that they can't get married.  Why not find the young or misguided ladies who think abortion is their only option, and give them reasons to see it differently.  Be ready to open the coffers and fund these women who see no way they can financially bring a baby into this world.  It's a messy, hard, expensive business, working with people who have made mistakes.  Nobody said the gospel was easy.  The solutions, rather than shouting judgements and condemnations, are difficult and hard to come by.

Pharisees painting debating
"What about people who are vegans, can they be
Christians?" "Oh no, no, no.  You must eat all of God's
creatures to appreciate his creation.  Verdict: heathens"   
Mistakenly, we've let those Pharisees get control of our faith's pulpits.  Preaching an unattractive, and in my opinion, mistaken version of our faith.  Telling us who is, and who isn’t worthy of God’s glory.  Slowly closing the door on more and more people from ever entering a church building.  And I’m tired of being lumped in with them.  There are millions of Christians who’ve rejected the idea of being political or judgmental.  Who by their works do social justice.  They hardly receive recognition, and are rarely given media coverage.  But they impact lives in the gutters, daily.  Like Jesus would’ve.  That’s the demographic I want to be associated with. One that raises people up, instead of beating people down.  

So give to Caesar, what is Caesars; but do unto others as you would have them do to you.  See if you enjoy having somebody scream political hellfire and brimstone in your face.  I seem to respond better to grace, mercy, and love…and I think a lot of faithless people would as well.     


Discussion is encouraged.  But lets please remember to keep it civil.  


  1. Almost didn't read this when the title mentioned Christianity... I'm tired of the extreme views in both directions. This is well put. Regardless of what "side" you're on, you have good points. The fact that I almost didn't read this because of the title, can't be what Christians want, if the word is to be spread, the doors need to be opened!

    1. You're right, the title is off-puting. It was my attempt to go after the "controversial topic" crowd, which isn't really my strong suit. But it is an issue that has been heavy on my heart lately. Even after posting it, there's so much more I want to say, but really in a blog, more than a thousand words kills off the readership.

      I'm glad you read and glad it didn't upend your world. So many Christians are so quick to throw up the defensive when somebody says "hey, maybe we aren't doing this right," and so many atheists are so quick to discount anything to do with religion, that to get people to see a rational side of the debate is very challenging.

      And we've become so good as a nation of not talking about difficult subject matters. Sometimes I think we just need to sit at the dinner table, bring it all up, flip over the dinner plates, point our forks at each other in angry discourse, and then calm down and realize that we are all in this together. Some of us want to make this existence on Earth a thing worth cherishing, even if the reward is in the afterlife.

  2. Well, the chips don't fall too far from the block, or is it like an apple off the old tree? Whatever, like I always say, don't pet the sweaty stuff. Good one, Chris...

  3. The difficult paradox of Christianity is that, if followed correctly, puts adherents in a humble mode of not judging the non-Chrisitan world around them while, at the same time, being open to judgement themselves. Jesus gave no permission to his followers to judge non-followers. He did, however, say that believers will be judged by non-followers to determine whether their faith is genuine -as determined by their unity, love and other traits that mostly involve a peaceful life.

    The knee-jerk reaction to perceiving judgement from others is to dish it back to them in some way. This, of course, is a difficult response to find in the New Testament.

  4. Dan--Great comment. Yes I agree, it is a difficult conundrum (another of Christianity's many difficulties). I receive a lot of criticism from Christians and non-Christians alike on a daily basis, and filtering out what is beneficial and what is vindictive is a difficult internal process. Often I find myself doing the knee-jerk, (especially in my professional career: teaching) and this hasn't helped me one bit. Humbling; the process, is very humbling. And pride, what little I have left, is constantly being crushed by God (for the good, even though it doesn't feel that way to me).

  5. Tough topic for sure. Also tough to straddle the line between the fervent and staunch aspects of Christianity at the same time as the peaceful and forgiving aspects. I think that's often at the crux of the difficulties that Christians face; to which parts of scripture do you adhere and to which do you not? It's a shared difficulty in most religions - Orthodox v Hasidic Jews, Shiite v Sunni Muslims, etc. etc.
    For me, that's why it's so difficult to see how vocal many Christians have become in the political arena (I think I'm getting that you agree from your post). The irony often missed is that while they fight so ardently for certain principles set forth by what their doctrine has taught them, they overlook that their fight is actually counter to the same doctrine (as is their selective adoption of only portions of the bible - I believe it's Deutoronomy that specifically calls eating certain animals 'sinful'). I also think you're spot on that keeping a post like this to 1000 words is a tremendous challenge. Good job.

  6. You made a lot of very good points. I tend to not get mixed up in hot topic political debates, although I do have strong feelings about some of them. I would rather reach out and help a young woman facing an unplanned pregnancy than to stand on a picket line outside a clinic. It is sometimes hard to find the line between standing for the right and doing it in love. Jesus did it. "Neither do I condemn you. Go and sin no more." But he said that in person, to one who was right there with him who could see the compassion in his eyes as well as hear the call for change. I think that sometimes, even if we try to express both sides on social media message boards, that lack of personal involvement comes across as "neither do i condemn you. GO AND SIN NO MORE!" The internet is great at communication condemnation. Not so good at communicating compassion.

  7. Thanks Julie, the internet is a difficult place to seek spirituality as well as compassion. I fear, as more and more people get isolated in their internet bubbles, that interaction like you speak of, will slowly disappear. If reality turns into message board forums, like I've seen on reddit or evangelical sites, where all decorum and basic manners are gone and vicious personal attacks are the norm, then we're all in trouble.

    People wouldn't dare say the words they type on the internet, and I'm afraid the outside world has seen enough of our (Christianity) defensively-typed words of anger, to ever want to step foot inside a church building. Hopefully, I'm wrong.

  8. I find it interesting that the only time I remember Jesus being forcefully angry was when he rebuked the men who were selling within the temple walls. His encounters with people who sinned were calm. He was gentle and he encouraged them to turn away from their errors.

    I also find, at times, that I'm embarrassed to be called a Christian. Not because of who I am or what I stand for, but because of the word Christian. A term that has been linked with extremes that I don't support, but am loosely associated with because we both call ourselves by the same label. If I must be judged, I would rather be judged on who I am and my own actions.

  9. Exactly Christi. --Judge not lest ye be judged (Mt 7:1). And sometimes when I feel the urge to judge other's actions, I get this huge pain in my eye, like a log has just been wedged there.