How to be a Christian without being a jerk about it

Dan Piraro so often gets it right.

Dan Piraro so often gets it right.

A few weeks ago, the marvelous Lindy West over at Jezebel wrote an excellent post called, “How to be an Atheist without being a dick about it.” As someone who has been the target of my fair share of dickish Atheists in my life, I really appreciated it. However, the behavior of dickish Atheists pales in comparison with some of the behavior of my Christian brothers and sisters. So, dear people, I give you some recommendations on how to be a Christian without being a jerk and turning everyone off to not only Christians, but to Jesus. (I’m going to try to cut back on the language in the event that some Christians who need to hear this are turned off by the swears. Let’s see how I do.)

1) Stop threatening people with hellfire and damnation. Nobody likes it. It achieves approximately nothing so far as spreading the gospel is concerned.

I don’t even know where to begin with this one, and I’m not going to get into my thoughts on hell and the existence thereof. I have no idea what threats of hellfire are supposed to accomplish. It’s like screaming at someone, “I think you’re ugly and awful! Date me and I’ll fix all of your flaws!” Sign me up? Not to mention the fact that most people who don’t believe in the Christian concept of God DON’T BELIEVE IN HELL. Therefore, your threats are meaningless. How does threatening someone with something they don’t believe in do anything other than make you (and by extension all Christians) look silly? That’s like telling me that if I don’t behave, Santa, the Easter Bunny and the Tooth Fairy will boycott stopping by my home with their treasures.

“Oh, you think I’m going to hell? Well, then I’d like to be a part of your community and worship your God!” said no one, ever.

2) Stop “speaking truth in love” or whatever you call it. This includes love the sinner, hate the sin (which sounds more like hate than love every time).

Let’s be honest, the most often I see this line used is in the attempt to “correct” the gays, so that’s my primary focus here. Look, I get that for many Christians, correcting someone on their behavior can be a soul saving act. But, let me be clear: speaking the truth in love just about never feels like love. It feels like judgment, anger, hate, prejudice, bigotry, evil, immaturity and a bunch of other negative adjectives (and often times, that’s because that is what it is). Now, there may be times someone needs to be called out on their behavior, like when they are being a total jerk (see this post) or when they are harming themselves or others. Usually, it is best when someone has given permission to have truth spoken into their lives. That means they are ready for it, and what you have to say is valued. Proceed with caution and love. It is important that, in the event you feel the need to correct someone on their behavior, you ask yourself some things:

A) How well do I know this person? If the person you are about to “speak truth in love” to isn’t a close friend, stop yourself right there. Just stop. The phrase “speak truth in love” comes from the letter to the Ephesians, a worshipping community of the early church. These were people who lived in community together, not random people shouting at each other what they were doing wrong.

B) Is anyone getting hurt by this person’s behavior? And by hurt, I am not talking about the state of their everlasting souls regarding eternity in heaven or hell (which is up to God, BTW, not you or me). Drugs destroy bodies and relationships; abuse of a partner or child is life damaging and soul killing. Have the talk. The sex lives of consenting adults (unless they are cheating, knowingly spreading a disease, or engaging in super risky compulsive behavior) are not hurting anyone.

C) Have I thoroughly examined my heart to make sure I am acting out of love, not fear, prejudice, or wrong teaching? If I am not engaged in a regular prayer practice that involves looking into my own heart and confronting my own sin, I am are in no place to correct someone else. And I don’t know about you, but I still have a lot of confronting to do. A lot. Try thinking of what love is according to 1 Cor 13: 4-7:

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud.It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.

Which brings me to #3:

3) STOP WITH THE JUDGING ALREADY

In the gospel of John, Jesus comes across a crowd of people about to stone a woman who was caught in adultery. He says to them, “If you are without sin, go ahead and cast a stone. If you have sin (which face it, is all of you) go ahead and stone her but make sure you throw some stones at yourself for good measure after you stone her.”

Wait, that’s not the story.

All too often I hear people talk about other’s sins, convict others of sins, then add at the end, “But, I mean, I’m a sinner too, I know that.” Dude, that’s not what Jesus said to do. Jesus said to stone her only if you were without sin. How about instead of stoning/judging each other, we love each other? Real, deep, compassionate love that sees the brokenness and aches to see it healed with love.

4) Stop saying that God is acting in destructive ways because of the gays, feminists, Muslims, Atheists, abortionists, communists, socialists, Obamacare, liberals, pornographers or whatever. I’ve already written about it here. These storms are happening at an increased rate not because of our personal “immorality” but our corporate sin of degrading the environment and acting like we’re just gonna get another one.

5) Get right with science. I don’t even know how to explain this one. Climate change is a thing. Evolution is also a thing. The ancient people who wrote the Bible would have looked at us like we were nuts if we told them we were taking their stories as actual fact. The United States is falling behind in global education ranking because of our math and science scores. Kids from very religious households are going to college unprepared for intro science classes because they haven’t learned about evolution and they think the Earth is 6,000 years old. There are plenty of scientists who are people of faith and believe that there is an unmoved mover behind all of this. In fact, many people believe that knowing more about science actually makes God all the more wondrous.

If you can’t get right with science, try to understand that there are very valid reasons to believe in science (I really can’t handle that I just typed believe in science, like it is a choice). We would do a better job of spreading God’s love and salvation if we listened and loved instead of shouted and judged.

6) Understand that there are people who are never going to believe, for whom the idea of God makes no sense whatsoever. Faith, according to the Bible, is a gift of the Spirit. Some people don’t have it. Be cool about it. Be friends. Love, laugh, chill and talk. Have conversations about ultimate things, come to understand why a person wouldn’t believe in God. Even for those who have been given faith, it is a hard thing to sustain in this world. Know someone who doesn’t believe in God? Love her. Be salve to his wounds. And let up on the witnessing.

7) Empower women. Paul had women working with him. The woman at the well brought her village to belief, women were the first to witness the empty tomb and tell others. Women are smart, strong and equipped for leadership at home, in the workplace and in the congregation. Our bodies are not made to be ogled at, commodified or make medical decisions about. How someone else feels about my body is not my fault. I will show others respect and Christian love. I don’t owe anyone fielty or subservience disguised as complementarianism, and I don’t have to wear long skirts or cover my head, TYVM.

8) If you know/hear/suspect someone has been molested, sexually assaulted or sexually harassed by a church member/leader, listen, trust and report it. That’s just a big old duh.

9) Stop trying to legislate using the Bible as your main argument. The Bible can’t be used to make public policy. It can certainly influence reasoning for supporting or opposing a policy, but it must not be the sole reason. Evidence, studies, economic impact, human rights and constitutionality — these are reasons to make or take down laws. Not because the Bible said so. Even in situations when our religious beliefs call us to end injustice, we must (as people living in a democracy, not a theocracy) find reasons to supplement/complement our Biblical reasons for legislation.

10) Focus more on corporate sin than personal sin. Care more about racism than what a woman is wearing or who someone is sleeping with. Get more outraged by war and poverty than something scandalous and/or titilating on tv. Worry more about the melting glaciers than who is marrying whom.

11) Understand you lose any and all moral high ground when you decide to support a racist, xenophobic, sexist, petulant, lying, cheating, oppression supporting demagogue WHO DOES NOT BELIEVE HE NEEDS TO CONFESS SIN TO GOD OR ATONE FOR ANYTHING for president. You cannot talk about the sanctity of marriage and at the same time support someone who has been married three times, cheated on his wives, and likely continues to sexually harass/intimidate women (and who will be on trial in December for raping a child). You cannot talk about how you value life and support someone who a) refuses to allow people seeking life into this country b) seems to be fine with people threatening the life of his opponent and c) still thinks innocent men should get the death penalty. And you can never, ever ask others to repent when you claim into the Christian family someone who believes he is above that.

When I was going to church camp, we used to sing a song with the refrain, “They will know we are Christians by our love.” I want that to be the truth. I want to know that when I tell people I’m a Christian, they will think of all the work my people do on behalf of the poor and outcast. I want to be proud not only of my God, but of my people. But that’s really hard. Because, right now, our public image is more like, “They will know we are Christians because our leaders say weird things about AIDS and storms, support sexist, xenophobic racists, would rather refugees die, and we yell a lot about who can marry whom.” So, let’s cut that shit out, shall we?

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About Elizabeth Rawlings

Lutheran. Feminist. Child of God. Thinking about how to be a leader in a church that is trying to rediscover itself and what it means to live simply so that others may simply live in tandem with what exactly is the fast God asks of us. Chronic alliterator. Generally silly person. View all posts by Elizabeth Rawlings

290 responses to “How to be a Christian without being a jerk about it

  • Steve Flower

    Clearly you’ve been reading (a) my email, (b) my blog posts over the last 10 years, and (c) my mind. I keep wanting to grab Bibles away from “professed” Christians and yell at them, “Put that damn thing down – you’re going to hurt someone with it!” And all that, in a church who claims that God loves everyone, and calls us to love everyone. No wonder everyone believes George Carlin. An absolute home run, Elizabeth.

    • notjustablonde

      10 years blogging about this? Link me please! 😉 Agree, home run!

    • eleanor paul

      I wholeheartedly agree with the article and Steve Flowers’ response. I’ve been saying this myself but the people that need to listen will not – amongst the negative adjectives for these narrow-minded attitudes is arrogance – white people are arrogant, Americans are arrogant, & white American Christians are triple arrogant so they – will – not – listen…. Just keep trying to encourage the hated & the young & the undecided.

  • memphismid

    Overall, I think this is a beautiful piece. I have frequently commented that the church has become the arm of political and social factions and that is not what it is meant to be. Most of your points are “home runs” and need to be said more publicly. However, there are four points that you make that I feel are worth mentioning an alternate view.

    First, point 2 (a) & (c) are awesome but 2(b) seems to be problematic. I do not think that external damage or hurt that is perceptible to human senses should be the judgement for whether something should be addressed. Quite in fact, most sins do not result in a damage we can see or perceive. I will never tell my toddler that a little white lie is fine (or exists for that matter) because lying is wrong regardless of the outcome. This sounds of the ethical discussion of integrity and whether you would do something if no one is looking or if you wouldn’t get caught. Qualifying a sin this way marginalizes God’s life instructions to us. I think what we perceive as small almost always leads to larger issues with sin. I will tell you that fornication, which did not technically hurt anyone, has caused many problems in my life and around me that I struggle with daily. I would have avoided most of these intangible consequences if I had refrained from sin. That is why
    I think the qualification of what “hurts someone” is a human boundary on a very clearly divine standard.

    For number 3, I wholeheartedly agree that Christians forget that Jesus was speaking to church officials when telling them to be more loving and less judgmental. However, the end of that story demonstrates that standard that Jesus had and underscores a responsibility the Christians must uphold. John 8:11 says, “And Jesus said unto her, Neither do I condemn thee: go, and sin no more.” He showed loved but never compromised his standard. In speaking to a sinner, the concept of repentance cannot be ignored. This does not fit in #3 and more under #2 but that verse sums up his example of love and accountability quite well.

    Number 4 is generally a good instruction and goes along my line of thinking for not using the church for a political campaign. But it is not just corporate sin but collective individual sin that God hates. He even destroyed the world because of it. Genesis 6:5 says, ” The Lord saw how great the wickedness of the human race had become on the earth, and that every inclination of the thoughts of the human heart was only evil all the time.” While you are right, as you state later, that corporate sin must be fought and this verse could very well be speaking to corporate sin, I cannot ignore that your laundry list of things looks like the “inclination of the thoughts of the human race”. He even let his chosen people wander for 40 years for turning against him. God has proven there is a limit to the wickedness he will accept.

    Finally, number 9 may be right generally but we have many laws that we passed for moral reason and economic, policy, or constitutional factors were secondary to morality. As a constitutional law student, the Brown v. Board decision was one of the most poorly reasoned decisions on what is or isn’t constitutional in the history of Supreme Court jurisprudence. But those justices likely knew what every supporter of segregation back to our founding fathers knew (as evidenced by their journals), racism, slavery and discrimination are wrong. And their decision was more fundamental than any theory on constitutional interpretation or public policy. Morally, it was and is wrong and the teachings of Jesus (Jews vs. Gentiles) made it clear it was wrong. So, our moral compass is sometimes the best basis for legislation. But, as you said, it requires a clean and clear heart to go down that path and that unfortunately is very rare today.

    I enjoyed this article and look forward to reading more from you.

    • Elizabeth Rawlings

      Thank you for your thoughtful commentary. I certainly wasn’t only referring to external wounds when I asked people to think about whether an action was hurting anyone. Acts that have no obvious, external, immediate consequences still hurt. I would certainly advice someone who, per your example, was commiting infidelity to examin their life and cut it out — but only if I knew that person and was in a position to speak truth to them. And I don’t think that god doesn’t hate individual sin, I just don’t think that storms or whatever are caused by porn or letting gays marry. And for number 9, yeah, you’re totally right. I think I was running out of steam by that point but needed to say it. There are definitely times when legislation should be inspired and argued from the point of our moral compass, but even then it can’t be solely based on Biblical quotes, as we are a nation of many faiths as well as those who don’t believe in a higher power (or powers).
      Thanks again!

    • Patty

      Memphis mid…agreeing with you a lot. thank you for your voice!

    • In the Garden of Eden

      John 8:11 says, “And Jesus said unto her, Neither do I condemn thee: go, and sin no more.”

      I wasn’t aware Jesus spoke 17th century English – or used relatively modern constructs such as paragraph numbers to refer to the things he definitely said in a language that was either Hebrew and Aramaic texts several centuries before such texts were being transliterated in to a language that existed only shortly after Middle English.

  • Report Card « Ignite-Faith

    […] fallacy in how we share with the non-believer. Two different pastors’ sermons and a recent posting have all pointed out the same thing. How can we expect someone to want to experience a relationship […]

  • Anna Lea West

    This is just wonderful 🙂 Sorry I don’t have paragraphs to write or debate … just wanted to say I love it.

  • Mrs. Roberson

    I agree with the overall sentiment of this piece completely. I’ve had non-Christians tell me over and over again that I’m the only Christian they’ve met that they can actually have a good conversation with because I don’t turn into a jerk while talking to them. So overall, yes, I definitely want to see less jerk-like behavior from my fellow Christians.

    I do have issue with #5, though. I’m not really sure how a belief in young-earth creationism makes me a jerk. I understand science. I’m married to a man with a PhD in neuroscience, and he faces the issue of evolution and creation over and over again in his line of work. He has read research and studied the theories, and as an intelligent man, he still chooses to believe in the literal, Biblical account of creation, as do I. And here’s why:

    I could list all the arguments and debates about evolutionary proof, etc., but when it really comes down to it, I’m not willing to start picking apart scripture. If I say I believe the Bible, I’m all in. If I place my hope of salvation in the Biblical account of Jesus’ death and resurrection (an event that is both miraculous and doesn’t make logical or scientific sense), then I also need to believe that same Bible when it says God created the world in six days (which also is miraculous and doesn’t make logical sense). The Bible itself makes no indication that those stories are fictional or symbolic instead of fact, and I’m not willing to start disbelieving parts of scripture. I’m all in.

    I understand that there are those who disagree with me, even in the Christian community. I am not commenting here to debate the belief itself. Rather, I’m simply saying that I can hold that belief and still not be an idiot or a jerk. Does that make sense?

    • La Güera Pecosa

      I don’t think the issue really lies with which belief you hold but rather in the fact that many children of today are simply not learning the science side at all…

    • My Camera, My Friend

      I totally agree with you. As far as learning science is concerned, I think schools should teach very little about evolution or intelligent design and focus on teaching things like the scientific method, the laws of physics, and how and why chemical bonds form. A lot of science can be taught without mentioning the age or origin of the earth. You can dissect a frog and learn about its anatomy without getting into a religious argument.

    • Ronnie Hamilton

      I agree with this. I believe in a young Earth, and I don’t think I’m a jerk. I also don’t know where there are kids who aren’t learning the scientific side of it. It seems if you take a science class, you learn the science side of it. I’m a science teacher, and I teach science.

      • Elizabeth Rawlings

        I don’t think you’re a jerk either. I think that the jerky side of this one goes with my thoughts about legislating via the Bible. We can’t ban evolution or climate change or other scientific theories upon which 99% of the scientific community agrees from our classrooms because it doesn’t jive with the Bible (in the minds of some). I’m glad you’re teaching it. I have friends who are college science professors who are saying they see more and more students coming in who haven’t heard much (if anything) about evolution (other than it being a devil’s trick), so there are definitely places where such things are going missing from the curriculum.

      • Dan

        Ronnie,
        You must be fortunate to not teach in Tennessee or other parts of the Bible Belt. I have to teach my kids “real science” at home after school because they are not allowed to hear about evolution.

    • Elizabeth Rawlings

      I apologise that my tone led you to feel like an idiot or jerk. While that was not my intent, I get so frustrated by people who are creationists/ Christians who want a) creationism to be taught in schools (cause it’s not remotely scientific as far as I can tell) and b)want other science like evolution and climate change and reproductive health out of schools. There is also this point of departure that I don’t know how to conversate past, and maybe you can help me. I don’t understand how there are clearly two different accounts of creation in the Bible, yet people find a way to make them into one. I find the literalist/non-literalist divide to be the most difficutl divide to overcome when discussing faith. I don’t know how to cross that chasm. Wanna help me? 🙂

      • Mrs. Roberson

        I am unclear as to what you mean by two different accounts of creation. When I speak of the Biblical account of creation, I’m speaking of Genesis 1 & 2. What other passage are you referring to, so I can better answer your question? 🙂 (I’m actually excited about this – I like being forced to dig a little deeper and explore the issues)

        Either way, I’ve never thought of the literalist/non-literalist views as something that should be chasm separating Christians from one another. The core of our faith is the need for salvation through the death and resurrection of Jesus. I welcome discussion about the surrounding details, but that’s what they are – details. I think what makes creation a difficult topic (as opposed to other debated topics like baptism or communion) is that it forces us to stop talking in strictly religious terms and start dealing with the very tangible world around us. As you point out, we have to discuss it in terms of science and evidence, not just scripture. Somehow, that makes it a more touchy subject. And people who don’t study the science of creation are bound to be thrown when they face the science of evolution. (For the record, I have nothing against climate change and reproductive health being taught in schools. I really don’t have anything against evolution being taught either, as long as students who express creationist beliefs are not ridiculed in the process, because that does happen.)

        As with any subject, just an attitude of mutual respect goes a long way. I recognize that not all people who share my beliefs also share my respect for those who believe differently about creation and evolution, but that’s the point of this whole discussion, right? Unfortunately, sometimes Christians can be jerks to each other, too. 🙂

      • Susan

        There is a book – “The Seven Pillars of Creation” by William P Brown – that argues that there are 7 different stories of the creation in the Bible! The subtitle of the book is “the Bible, Science, and the Ecology of Wonder”.

    • valentina

      Very well put, Mrs. Roberson! Couldn’t agree more with your assessment about point No. 5. 😀 Love the rest of the article, though. Christian-Living can be so incredibly challenging! Blessings!

      Excellent post! 😉

    • Emmanuel

      Totally agreed, Mrs. Roberson. Totally!

    • TheLeftBehind

      Interesting; I actually believe that the two ideas on the creation of the earth aren’t necessarily mutually exclusive. If we take, for example, “day” to mean “era” or “epoch” rather than “24-hour period”, the Bible and the theory of evolution actually do correlate to a significant degree. No book is richer in metaphors than the Bible; why do people suddenly lose that perspective when they read Genesis?

      • franhunne4u

        just my point – Evolution and creationism do not totally exclude each other – creationism is just a more childlike version of spreading the truth that the first life forms came out of the water and some beings have developed later.

      • Karen

        I have had this same discussion. How can we, who believe in a God so vast as to create the heavens and set the stars in motion, believe that “one day” to God is dictated by the rotation of a tiny planet that is no bigger than a mote of dust in the whole of his creation. Can we not imagine that a “Day” of God’s work is really an era or an epoch, and that while change was slow and the earth “evolved” it was the Hand of God stirring the land and seas?

      • Steve

        For those of us who think in logical terms consider the number googleplex to the googleplex power and then consider however big that number is it’s nothing compared to INFINITE. Now consider how short our life spans are, even if we live 100 years what is that in comparison to eternity? We as humans consist of 2 aspects, our flesh bodies and the essence of life that flows through it. Our flesh will eventually die and fade away, but the essence of our life is the offspring of God and will live for eternity. But while we’re here we can open our hearts and minds and let the loving power of God flow through us, or we can close our selves. We seem to have some free choices

    • alm1010

      Thank you, Mrs. Roberson! You’ve spoken my mind. I know many PhD’s and medical doctors who believe the Bible as written. They refer to Evolution as a theory, not a proven fact. They believe in a young earth, and have no problem discussing their beliefs with their peers, who simply “believe” in the theories of evolution and “old earth”. I applaud them for their willingness to stand in the face of popular belief.
      All this said, the fact that I do not qualify as one who has been highly schooled in these scientific disciplines, does not disqualify me to choose what the Bible says as the foundation for my faith.
      In fact, I don’t think my belief qualifies me as a “jerk”, since I find myself to be in the minority, and have always respected the right of others to believe otherwise.
      Respect for one another, regardless of beliefs, is the first step to brotherly love.
      While I believe that many of us (Christians) may seem to do more harm than good to the Gospel, I also believe that God is in control.
      As Joseph said to his brothers who sold him into slavery, “what you meant for harm, God used for good.” (paraphrase) While we may be embarassed by the seemingly thoughtless ways our brothers and sisters missuse the great commission, they also need our love and understanding. While love of our fellow humans is commanded, be they pagan, antheist, homosexual or muslim, we must remember that the world will know us by our LOVE for everyone, INCLUDING each other.

      • Hannah

        Scientific “theory” is not a “guess” or even a “proposal”. It’s unfortunate the word has other meanings. I suggest you read this:
        http://www.fsteiger.com/theory.html
        From article: “As used in science, a theory is an explanation or model based on observation, experimentation, and reasoning, especially one that has been tested and confirmed as a general principle helping to explain and predict natural phenomena. Any scientific theory must be based on a careful and rational examination of the facts.”

        As for using the Bible as a science book: not recommended. Was written so people of the time could understand, maybe it was even poetry… Yes, I’m a Christian, but I’ve also studied science extensively post high school. Go ahead and believe in the wondrous creation of God (I do), but the earth and the universe is OLD, not young. With stars light years away lighting up our night skies, it’s impossible.

    • Jim

      Would God, who set the motions of the Moon, Sun, and stars (and therefore set in place all laws of physics and science) violate those same laws to accomplish something faster (was HE in a hurry?)…geological processes are ‘set in stone’ (pun intended) and take time..a long time…much more than a day (or even a thousand years)…and the Hebrew word used in the first part of Genesis is not indicating creation from nothing but a forming/shaping of something already there (like a potter making a vase, etc.).

    • Ed Jones

      @Mrs Roberson – The Bible also says that God is a being that which a day is like unto a thousand years. So IMO, there is no reason NOT to believe that evolution and the earth being ancient could be the truth. God MADE the laws of physics, surely He would USE them to do stuff He wanted!

    • Anne Lee

      Believing in a young earth does not necessarily make you a jerk; however demanding that other people, especially other christians should share your belief does. I regard the early chapters of
      Genesis as being the “Great Myths”. That is stories told to de-deify nature. God created the sun the stars, the earth and all other things. They are created things, not the sun God, The star Gods etc. This is in direct contradiction of the beliefs that had been held up to this time, and a quite amazing step.
      Genesis should not be regarded as a divine cook book or how-to manual on the creation of worlds. What is important is that GOD CREATED the world, not how he created it.

    • Debbie Dove

      So do you believe in Genesis 1 or Genesis 2? In Genesis 1 God creates Adam first, then the creatures of the world, then Eve. Genesis 2 has the more familiar story of the animals coming first, then humans (both Adam and Eve). Since these accounts contradict each other, I would find it interesting to know your stand.

  • gigiistheone

    Love, love, love!!! Awesomeness! Thank you; I SO needed this! ❤🙏🎵🎶

  • gigiistheone

    Reblogged this on Random Thinking and commented:
    Big applause!!

  • rami ungar the writer

    I really liked your post, especially since it could also be applied to the ultra-Orthodox extremists in my religion. Some of these people claim that they are real Jews, and that anyone who is not is sinning, is a slut, or something else that nobody wants to be called. I doubt anything can knock some sense into them, especially the most committed members, but I hope your post helps people who are not too caught up in the hate and obstinacy that they can see what they’re doing and change their ways.

    • Elizabeth Rawlings

      Yeah, every religion (and the non/a theists as well) has their hard-core adherents with little room for grace. How did we get so far away from God’s love. I guess it is a sign of our brokenness. Sigh…

      • rami ungar the writer

        I think it’s got something to do with verses that proclaim that the religion in question is special to God and that the religion’s enemies are everywhere. Causes pride and paranoia that manifests itself as hatred towards others.

    • steve7277

      I think the image of the beast can be found in the mirror no matter how religious a person happens to be. With our image we deceive ourselves into thinking we’re good little Christians or Jews or muslims. The truth is God created us all good and bad for his pleasure. The beast part of us likes to take the glory and credit away from God to convince ourselves and others we are very special. But in truth when we are filled with love we don’t have that desire any more. Yes love tames our beast and love fulfills God’s will. When enough love comes into us we can begin to have honest meaningful and educational conversations but without love we have nothing

  • greenfrieze

    I don’t think anyone can or should be openly proud (redundant?) of their religion including the apparent soft-sell here. You can only be proud of getting an A on your math test. The answers are either right or wrong. Religion is as insubstantial as a pretty tale unless tied in with laws of the land. Some Muslim countries have that reference point but our Christian-based ones don’t. Moreover, how can you possibly have religious leaders in the West? You cannot have a leader of notions… Our presidents have to deal with facts and they have a hard enough time with their respective jobs as leader.

    • Elizabeth Rawlings

      Interesting thought — being proud of a belief. I’ll have to think on that. I don’t know if I have but those concepts together before intentionally. I kind of just am Christian. Not sure how proud of it I am. I like being Christian. But I feel like being proud of it has an I’m this and you’re not attitude that I just don’t share.
      However, I disagree that religion is not substantial. Faith and religion (not always the same, but I’m intertwining them here) have huge effects on the individuals who embrace said faith, and when our elected officials embrace faith, that has ripple effects as well. One can most certainly be a leader of notions. There are many who push forth new notions, move notions into new areas. That is what faith leaders are. People who lead members of their faith into the future, following where God is leading us.

  • wearashirt

    Well said. I wish WordPress could get publishing traffic on Facebook, Flipboard.

  • threepointeightbillionyears.com

    At the end of #5, you comment in disbelief that you just used the phrase “believe in science.” But I think that believing in science is in fact complex. It’s not quite the same as “believing science,” accepting as factual its conclusions about the natural world, although there is obviously a lot of debate there too. Instead, “believing in science” means looking to science for some help with the big issues that are important to us humans—not just awe at the stars but also some guidance about the nature of death, about why and how we are kind or mean to others, even about our purpose as living things. We’ve just started to consider science in fully humanistic terms like these. And by the way, science enthusiasts can be complete jerks also.

    • Elizabeth Rawlings

      I like that. Thanks! And, yeah, anyone can be a jerk when they are trying to push their convictions down someone else’s throat without listening or relationship (which is kinda what blogging is, possibly making me a jerk).

  • Luke Marr

    “Some people say homosexuality is a sin. It’s not. God is perfectly cool with it, and he feels the same way about homosexuality as he does about heterosexuality. Now my might say woah, woah, slow down you move too fast. How could you have the audacity, the temerity, to speak on the behalf of God. Exactly, that’s an excellent point, and I pray that you remember it.” – Ted Alexandro

    • Lorraine

      I agree! I’m a straight old lady! LOL AS long as two people LOVE each other it doesn’t matter what sex they are. Why is the God in the Old Testament so angry and judgmental and seeking revenge? Why is the New testament all about turning the other cheek and accepting
      others they way they were created?

      • Elizabeth Rawlings

        The OT isn’t so much angry as it is a reflection of what the people at that time were experiencing and their way of interpreting the world and how God walked them through their difficult times. At least, that’s how I (and many theologians and scholars) look at it. It is a meaning making tapestry for the hebrew people, I once read.

    • bluepersuasion

      I don’t say I speak for God on this matter. I say God speaks for Himself:

      Leviticus 20:13

      If there is a man who lies with a male as those who lie with a woman, both of them have committed a detestable act; they shall surely be put to death. Their bloodguiltiness is upon them.

      • NC

        He calls eating seafood, wearing mixed fibers, and eating milk and meat together “detestable acts” as well. Leviticus is full of them. Why. OT go after those abominable eaters of cheeseburgers?

  • Luke Marr

    Or to correct the typo – “Now you might say…”
    I just thought it was a relevant point Ted Alexandro makex at the end.

  • Miriam Joy

    This was awesome. And encouraging, too, to know that there are Christians out there I would like to associate myself with. Too much I feel like I’m distancing myself from the church because of how people behave.

  • Amy

    Love it. It took me 37 years to become a Christian because of the reasons you list.

  • peaxo

    This has made my day. Excellent last line.

  • 365frederick

    Spot on Elizabeth. I’ve thought for quite some time that if most Christians who were guilty of the relational faux pas that you mention here were to actually make real, loving relationships with non-believers, they would indeed understand how offensive they really are.

  • My Camera, My Friend

    Christianity has been using the same approach for over 50 years. In that time, society has changed. People don’t view Christianity as well as they used to, nor do they respect the Bible. Unfortunately, many Christians go on as if nothing has changed, then they wonder why people don’t join them and why their own children leave the church. As you pointed out, if people don’t believe in hell or the Bible, telling them the Bible says they have to change or they’ll go to hell doesn’t mean anything to them. It’s like a Hindu telling a conservative Christian “My holy book forbids you to eat beef. Stop now or you’ll be reborn as a low and miserable creature!” You have to be relevant to your audience.

    • gliderpilotlee

      Thank you, thank you, some form of science will eventually be considered by more , then more. what can be proven? I even heard once that you should not eat shellfish — well if they had not pooped in the bay the shellfish would have been fine to eat. as I mentioned “Science”

  • grantsnyder

    Very moving and important. Great post!

  • Ronnie Hamilton

    Although I don’t agree with #5, I do agree with the sentiment behind this blog. Excellent job and great points.

  • annashortcakes

    Exactly!!! I wish Christians understood that I admire those whose actions reflect their faith, not those who won’t stop talking! Beautifully written!

  • Lorraine

    I am a 54 year old spiritual person, who believes in God, but doesn’t take the Bible literally. I was raised as a Methodist who never joined the church, I quit going at age 13. (One day I was brushing my teeth as I stood before the bathroom mirror, and I was imagining the earth and universe that God created, then I thought “Who created God? Where did he come from? Does he have parents we were never told about? If he had parents who created THEM??? What if there were no God, no earth, no universe? What would nothing, “NO THING” look like? I really enjoyed your post and I wholeheartedly agree with everything you say. Anyway I consider most Christians as judgmental even my own parents and my own husband and son when it comes to gays. My married daughter and her husband are teachers and they have many gay friends, at least SHE understands accepting others who are different. She married an atheist by the way who’s father is of Jewish decent.
    I believe in God or a creator, call him what you will. I believe there is evil in the world.. I’ve seen enough true ghost story shows on BIO channel to know people are haunted by earthbound spirits and/or true evil entities.I don’t believe people who can channel spirits from the other side are going to hell.
    I believe in Angels and that it’s perfectly alright to ask God and Archangel Michael for protection for yourself and others. It’s perfectly alright to ask God and Archangel Raphael to heal yourself and others if that is in his plans.I believe we all have guardian angels who are with us our whole life through.
    I believe, the Native American’s are connected to God.
    I believe that Ancient Aliens have visited the earth.. it’s only logical after all.
    I believe in reincarnation.. because why would God expect us to learn to be “good” souls/spirits in just one life? We need to return to earth to experience what it’s like to suffer at times, to experience being the opposite sex, a black person, a handicapped person, etc. He can’t expect us to learn it all in one lifetime. It’s not possible, we make too many mistakes! We are too self serving!
    I don’t believe in HELL as described in the Bible. Our souls can’t burn in hell, they are not physical beings, merely ENERGY that was our body at one time. Our emotional bodies can experience pain though, mental pain perhaps? Why would God go to all the trouble to REPENT on earth when we can just as easily repent as Spirits in “Hell” and THEN go to Heaven after we learned what we did wrong and accept responsibility for it?

    Oh I could go on and on I suppose. Have a great day!

    • Sarah Monroe

      Lorraine,

      Oh, you use your thoughts to think? Well done!

      🙂

    • bloggirl52

      Thank you, Lorraine, yes!!!!! I don’t consider myself Christian, but I am a person of faith. This post and comments have renewed my faith that there are still good Christians in the world who remember that first and foremost: “judge not, lest ye be judged” and “do unto others as you would have done unto you”. Thank you all.

  • vampire00repellent

    “If everyone is thinking alike, then somebody isn’t thinking.” – George S. Patton

  • ghostbusterbev

    Well done…well said. People tend to forget that Jesus was not a Christian, nor did he have a church. His simple message of forgiveness and unconditional love has been compromised by misinterpretation and ritual. Let’s get back to basics and own our true nature – that of a loving spirit.

  • Run A Muck Ranch

    Well said!

  • Greg Ward

    Well written, but ultimately misguided post I believe. I would argue that this exact argument was put forth in the mid 19th century to get the religious abolitionists to stop “being jerks”, and again in the mid 20th century to have the religious civil rights leaders to stop “being jerks”. While there are many valid points here about effective and civil discourse and evangelizing, eventually a Christian is confronted by the fact that a faith that doesn’t make everywhere uncomfortable isn’t much of a faith.

    • mithriluna

      There is definitely a balance but I am more inclined to agree with you. Yes, Christians should be witnesses of Christ’s love all the time, but they also need to be witnesses of Christ’s truth and in today’s world, that should make people uncomfortable.

      • Elizabeth Rawlings

        I agree that witness should at times make people uncomfortable, but I believe that we need to be making the rich and powerful uncomfortable and focus more on corporate sin than we do yelling about who is marrying who.

    • Jeff Gollaher

      I am pretty sure Jesus made people uncomfortable through his faith and teaching, but what made others uncomfortable was done through his love. He made the religious leaders who were misguided uncomfortable. He made the rich uncomfortable. He made the lazy masses uncomfortable because they went along with the program they were being hand-fed. He did this by reaching out to the poor, the lowly, the stinky fishermen and the prostitutes. The tax collectors and lepers. His acts of kindness and love were what made so many people uncomfortable because what he did was against the rules of “polite society.” He didn’t curse or strike out at the woman at the well or follow the crowd when they were about to stone the woman for adultery. He reached out to them with kindness and love and forgiveness. THAT makes people uncomfortable because they were not doing it. Our faith ought to make people uncomfortable for the same reasons — because they are being shown a love they haven’t been shown or shown to others. Not out of some self-righteous sense of judgement because you know the laws better than someone else. That kind of ego is what Jesus preached against. So if a person wants to be a follower of Christ and call themselves a Christian, shouldn’t they walk the same walk?

  • Janelle Weibelzahl

    When people talk about “apologetics,” I don’t think apologizing for all the Christians that are jerks is what crosses their minds. But honestly I think that kind of “apologetics” is almost more important at this point. I have had so, SO many friends that have been hurt/disillusioned/turned off from Jesus by jerk Christians as you describe.

    Way to nail it to the church door! 😉

  • Janelle Weibelzahl

    p.s. do you know Micah J. Murray? I think you’d appreciate his stuff, particularly this post that aligns pretty well with your #2: http://redemptionpictures.com/2013/06/20/i-cant-say-love-the-sinner-hate-the-sin-anymore/
    Cheers!

  • shawnasob

    Reblogged this on Lace by lace.

  • girlinalabyrinth

    Thank you so much for this! As an atheist with Christian friends, I’ve come to realize that there really are wonderful, smart, non-judgemental Christians out there and the rest are just giving them a bad name.

  • decadeofcompassion

    Reblogged this on A decade of compassion and commented:
    This is a beautiful post. The Bible is a complicated text and I find it difficult to extract a single coherent message from it (I don’t mean this in an offensive or critical way – it is simply my own experience), but I’ve always thought it a great tragedy that Jesus’s message of compassion is often given nothing more than lip service by many (but by no means all!) practicing Christians.

  • katyhancock

    I absolutely love this and that comic strip is adorable haha

  • RStorey

    It is not God I have lost faith in, it is man.

  • farfetchedfriends

    Great post! My entire blog is dedicated to my Atheist friend & me, and how we work to dispel some of the myths about each other. We have an understanding that we will never try to “fix” each other and especially on my part for the very things you mentioned.
    Totally agreed.

  • ElitistGeek

    You are the BEST. CHRISTIAN. EVER.

  • Laura N.

    Great post. It’s great to see a less polarized Christian voice get noticed. It seems that hyperbole is big these days and unfortunately it’s often the obnoxious Christians (and atheists) who are the loudest and get all of the attention. I recently read “God Believes in Love,” which addresses several of the issues you mention in your post, particularly the idea that homosexuality and Christianity can’t go together. It’s a great read, I highly recommend it.

  • gdgdurden

    I am on board with most of your post, and will not address where we differ. I am most interested in the idea of Hell. If Hell is indeed a lake of fire then Jesus is a sheep with a two edged sword sticking out of his mouth, as both images come from the highly symbolic book of The Revelation. To the trafficked out 12 year old Cambodia girl working in a brothel in Thailand, hell is right here and now. Part of the job of the Christian is to bring heaven down into this world and begin to reclaim it, and we cannot do that by using all or any of the dorky methods that you mentioned in your post. Very nicely done!

  • wanderingmom

    Funny how I wanted to write something about christianity in general and then here you are summarizing my thoughts.. I could not get my brain to think of a better word to write for fear of being castrated by others especially by someone pretending to be christian.

  • medasane

    Things change. Laws on slavery were written when slavery was the norm. Now it isn’t. I don’t think God would say we should keeps slaves anymore. They say he doesn’t change, but situations do. He used to punish a guy by making it hard on his kids too. But later God says each person’s sins will be their own thing to deal with. Being gay in the past was very dangerous, health-wise, medically, it still is, but so are other sexual indiscretions. jesus didn’t erase the law, but fulfilled it by showing us we have to live it with great mercy. I like how you write. 🙂

  • Wanderlushh

    I absolutely love this. I grew up in a Christian church and went to a private Christian school until I was 15. Since then, I went to public high school, state college, and then moved to Singapore to teach. After moving abroad and becoming close to so many different types of people and interacting with children who have been raised in Muslim, Hindu, and Buddhist homes, I’ve realized how strong the witness of love is. My best friend here is a very strong atheist. She has told me several times how jealous she is of my relationship with God, and how she thinks my faith is amazing. I’m very open with her about my beliefs, but I’m never pushy or judge-y. I listen to the reasons why she doesn’t believe, and she listens to the reasons why I do. She knows I pray for her when she’s having a hard time. I try my best to just show her love. If at any point she wants to have a personal relationship with God, she knows I would be there to help her foster that. As for now, she’s not open to it, and I would never push her. All I can do now is do my best to extend the love of Jesus to her, pray for her, and be her best friend.

    I can guarantee that if I went after her for her lack of faith, said I was concerned for her soul and that all her gay friends are going to hell, we wouldn’t even be friends, much less be able to have intelligent conversations about what we believe.

    Christians need to remember that at the heart of it all, no matter which God you believe in, we all come from the same one. Love is the basis of every teaching in the Bible, and I think the church would see an amazing response if Christians focused all their energy on this concept.

  • suzie81

    I thought this was fabulous. I’m an athiest, but i have no problem with anyone’s religious beliefs. What does annoy me is when religion (not just Christianity) is used to judge others and promote hatred. Congratulations on being Freshly Pressed – thoroughly deserved.

  • findingdoubt

    I liked your post, because I appreciate a world where the crusades will not be repeated. I don’t really know that the proposals in the article can really be achieved while someone takes the beliefs of the Bible seriously though:
    http://findingdoubt.com/2013/08/29/how-theology-destroys-dialogue/

  • Ms. Aey

    Absolutely right! Keep humble.. share the Faith with out hurting someone…

  • Azhar Ali

    Excellent. Loved every bit of it. This even holds true for every religion’s jerks.

  • broadsideblog

    I rarely even mention the fact I go to church (not that often, sadly) or that I believe strongly in the Christian faith. I rarely blog about it — because, in the United States, religion is used as a blunt instrument to demonstrate one’s moral superiority and to legislate appalling 17th century laws that harm women’s agency and independence. It’s s sad day when the word ‘Christian’ makes many people cringe.

    • mithriluna

      It’s a sad world we live in that causes us to back away from even being able to say we are Christian. Everyone talks about being “tolerant” but what about being tolerant of Christians? Christians as a whole are not bigoted, judgmental people. There is so much Christian bashing going on these days that just because there is a Christian speaking about their faith, they are criticized for it. I feel a good majority of Christians are really just that – Christ-followers and loving people.
      And I feel that I have been able to blog as a Christian without being forceful or over the top. No one has commented about it being offensive. If you want to share about your faith, don’t worry about what other people think, it’s your blog. Talk about Christ’s teaching on women. It’s beautiful and freeing.
      I hope one day you will be comfortable in your Christian skin. It is a beautiful and freeing thing… to belong to Christ. You can be an ambassador of love.

      • Elizabeth Rawlings

        When one’s faith and worldview appear to dominate the conversation, culture and politics, I think the onus for tolerance is on those in power. I also think that intolerance to Christian ideas/ commentary is a backlash to the rise and continued prominence (and yelling) of the religious right. Until Pat Robertson and his brethren stop saying bat shit crazy and wholly offensive things, it will be on reasonable Christians to apologize and elevate the discussion.
        I find the hope that I will be comfortable in my Christian skin and the idea that I am not filled with Christ’s love to be condescending, as you seem to be implying that I am not comfortable and I am somehow not a spreader of God’s love. I am both, at least as best I can be in this broken human form.

      • mithriluna

        Elizabeth,
        I was replying to Broadsideblog’s response to your post. In no way was I trying to be condescending. Since she has a very established blog, I was trying to encourage her in the hope that she can be a Christian voice of love to her followers and beyond.

      • Elizabeth Rawlings

        Ahhh. Ok. Thanks. I’m using my iPad and it’s harder to tell who is talking to whom on here. Sorry for the misunderstanding and thanks for clearing it up!

      • mithriluna

        No problem! I am sure it’s both a blessing and a challenge being freshly pressed and trying to keep up with all the comments!
        Thanks for being a witness to Christ’s love…which you are. 🙂

  • sallyp22

    Brilliant!

    I just want to comment on 2B. It’s oh-so-easy to hurt someone with a relatively minor misdemeanour – a cross word, lack of patience, etc – we do it all the time. However when someone is harmed by abusive behaviour, substances, violence or whatever, this needs to be addressed appropriately. Not all hurt is harmful, and perversely not all harm is recognised by the victim as hurtful.

    Keep writing – you have a fabulous style – tell it like it is! 🙂

  • samsooum

    Brother, in the Bible it says: (a women should either cover her head or shave her hair) and here u say there is no need to cover ur head..
    U can not consider urself a good christian when u do not follow the core values of the religion which is the Bible, and u can not consider the Bible as just a book out of nowhere that u pick only the things u like or goes well with the way u r living or think..
    I do agree with u in other points u mentioned that r true (y)
    Hope God lead us to the right path always.
    Thank u

    • Elizabeth Rawlings

      One: you don’t get to decide if I am a good Christian or not. God knows my heart.
      Two: because Paul admonished a few communities women to humility in appearance (which was necessary in that community) doesn’t mean he was telling all women for all time forever.
      Three: I’m a sister
      Four: it is super condescending to hope someone finds their faith (really meaning you hope their faith starts to look like yours).

      • samsooum

        Sister,
        Nobody gets to decide upon ur faith, but im talking bout a contradiction here.
        Said whom that the Bible is approaching a certain community only..come on !
        Its interesting how u interpreted (hope good lead US to the right path always) as being condescending… How much more humility to a persons status can it be as expressing his intention…

  • Amber

    I’m glad somebody said it. Thank you! I also think we need to stop assuming Christians have all the answers. Studying Eastern religions and their practices (specifically yoga and meditation) has not threatened my faith…it has helped me better understand, and deepen, my relationship with Christ.

    • Elizabeth Rawlings

      Totally. I get so confused when Christians start talking about things like Buddhist meditation and yoga being a way for Satan to enter in. That’s one thing I forgot. Stop saying eastern religions (or other religions) are from the great Satan. Living Buddha, Living Christ expanded my faith more than most other books. Thanks!

      • thelyniezian

        If these religions/faiths contradict what we know as Christians to be the truth, then I believe they could well be of the devil. I do not suggest there is no wisdom to be found in non-Christian traditions, and I’m not sure about meditiation specifically (I suppose it could be classed as just a discipline to rid one’s mind of whatever thoughts are crowding one’s mind), but if they contradict what is said in God’s word, then they are false.

  • Tee

    Christians are people. They believe in a deity. They follow the customs of their beliefs. Why is it Christians get all the flack? Don’t people of other religions have their own customs to follow? I’m not ashamed to admit I’m Christian, but I have to brace myself for the disdain people show me simply because of my beliefs. I have one goal–to show love. That’s it. Period. I can’t save anybody. I can’t condemn anybody. But I believe there is more to this life than what we can see. Fact is, I’m not God, so I step back and don’t try to play His role. If He chooses to use me to make a positive difference in somebody else’s life, that’s cool. But what some people don’t realize is that these people that people dislike so much may call themselves Christian, but they aren’t worshipping the God in the Bible. They are worshipping a God they created themselves. The title Christian is thrown around a lot.

  • Tee

    Oh! I forgot to add–CONGRATS on being Freshly Pressed. That’s fantastic! 🙂

  • Go Send or Disobey

    I absolutely love this post. The only thing I would add is to refer to Matthew 7:1-5 regarding judging. Basically, judge not or you will be judged with the same measure. Very similar to the passage you quoted but sometimes just a little more direct and something many of us Christians forget, especially the sawdust and plank part. I attempt, and often fail, at living a life full of love, gratitude and forgiveness. I find if I make those things a priority in my life I live much more in the manner I believe Jesus is asking of me. My humanness makes it difficult but I also believe that my struggle in overcoming my human nature is what following Christ is all about.

  • candidkay

    About time someone finally put it down on paper (metaphorically speaking:) ). Thank you!

  • Glenda Lagerstedt

    Hellfire and damnation issues took to me to the altar many times to accept Jesus as my Saviour when I was growing up. I went only to escape the hellfire and damnation. Love and trust for God couldn’t grow in that environment. It has taken me many decades to learn and fully trust that there are no holes in the Everlasting Arms.

  • Supera Matris

    Reblogged on my blog. Thanks so much for your POV. You are very stright-forward in a society of Christians who arent always honest with themselves. Thanks again!

  • Michelle

    Reblogged this on The Fat Cat Lady and commented:
    It’s as if you crawled into my heart and wrote what I could not speak. I was raised a Christian and have been a Christian since I was old enough to understand what it meant. It isn’t tatooted on my forehead but I do have a small white gold cross that I wear on my medical alert bracelet so in the event that I need prayer they will know who to contact 😉 I personally am a big fan of Matthew 6:6 “But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you” To me it has many meanings and one of those is don’t be a loud obnoxious bible thumping Christian. I am not completely against public prayer I personally pray in public all the time (quietly in my head) but sometimes when I am in a large group of people and I know some of them are not Christians I feel like (or know that) it makes them uncomfortable. Being a Christian isn’t about making someone else feel uncomfortable to make yourself feel more like a Christian. Lastly I am so glad to know that I am not the only one who thinks that the world is not a billion years old. My husband loves to watch science based shows on TV and he hates it when I correct the TV and tell who ever is speaking there is no such thing as 6 billion years ago.

  • Christina Bogar

    So Elizabeth, I just need to tell you that your column was shared on Facebook by the interim pastor at my church, Tamara Roberts, at St. Paul’s United Church of Christ. It is awesome, to see one person whose writing and thinking I admire so much, share the work of another, whose writing and thinking I also admire so much – and I KNOW THEM BOTH!

  • William Grit

    Reblogged this on Dinner Talk.

  • John Nyfeler

    Everybody who has never, ever in their life been a jerk, raise your hand. …thought so. (At age 77) It’s not my invention but it applies to me: “My faith has survived the death of many of my beliefs.”

    John Nyfeler

  • Taswegian1957

    Reblogged this on My Other Blog and commented:
    A very well written piece. I’m fortunate to know some Christians who already live this way.

  • notjustablonde

    Reblogged this on Not Just A Blonde and commented:
    Freshly pressed article (in case you were about to miss it) on “How to be a Christian without being s jerk about it”! Do YOU make the cut? 😉

  • mommyinbonlee

    Isn’t it so frustrating that we Christians take something so simple, (the fact that Jesus Christ, the Son of God, came to this Earth to live a sinless life and die on the cross as a substitute for us) and make it so difficult?

  • missiontomission

    Reblogged this on missiontomission and commented:
    Pretty good. I don’t agree 100% but its on target.

  • Daneen Akers

    Wow–I think you’ve been reading my mind. Thank you so very much for this! As someone who particularly cares about LGBT inclusion and affirmation in faith communities, I’m very glad you pointed out that the classic “Love the sinner, but hate the sin” mantra only comes across like hate. (And, as a former English teacher, I like to point out that “but” is a conjunction whose grammatical purpose is to negate the clause that came before it, so it’s no wonder this idea/mantra never worked.) Preach!

    • Elizabeth Rawlings

      Thank you! I recently had a discussion with a colleague of mine who is against gay marriage/ consumated gay relationships about how love the sinner hate the sin never feels like love, and it was an amazing conversation. She hadn’t been able to see it from the other side. Keep talking to people about the harmful effects of that way of thinking, someone will listen 🙂

  • Nathan

    Hey I am LDS (mormon) I really liked this. I find some of these things in my religion (not all) but they are good principles that should be practiced across the board of religions.

  • mumblesmcjenkins

    Thanks for this post.

    I’ve known since I was a child that Christianity wasn’t for me. I looked around at the other people in church, saw that they were filled with “the spirit” and that they were happier because of it. I never had that feeling. Sometimes I wish I had (I’ve seen people make it through some of the worst trials through their faith alone) but even as a child I realized that disingenuous faith was not only a contradiction in terms, but about the worst thing you could aspire to.

    My father is a preacher now, my stepmother very devout, but I could never relate. I have no qualms with people wanting to worship any religion. Just because it isn’t for me, doesn’t mean that it’s wrong. We are meant to be free in our decision to worship or not.

    When I got older I was constantly badgered into labeling myself. Ok, fine, you’re not a Christian…so what are you? You must be an Atheist, right? You don’t believe in God.

    Well, I told them, I never said that. I’ve never been arrogant enough to believe that I know all of the SECRETS OF THE UNIVERSE.

    Ok, fine, then you’re an agnostic, they would tell me. And believe me, on either side of the debate (Christian or Atheist) agnostics don’t get a lot of respect. They get called cowards a lot. Fence-sitters. The weak of mind.

    I’ve never really known what I am, but sure, why not…lets say I’m an agnostic. I spent the last ten years hearing hate from both sides. Atheists talked about Christians as if they were all racist, bigoted, ignorant, homophobic, backwoods hillbillies that were lucky if they were able to spell their own names. And the Christians said that Atheists were all Satan-worshiping, immoral, godless trash that would lead to the downfall of society. But there was one thing they could agree on – Agnostics were the worst. Pick a side already, they seemed to say.

    I never responded well to the hate speak of either side. What I found funny, really, is how much they actually have in common. A lot of them are very fond of hating anyone that doesn’t believe in whatever it is that they believe.

    This is not to say that all Atheists are terrible people that hate Christians, or that all Christians are close-minded assholes that want to keep women back in the 1800s and chained to the stove, barefoot and pregnant. On both sides there are incredibly intolerant people. I have met some good people on both sides, however, people that were willing to let others believe in whatever they wanted to.

    Tonight I found a Christian that talked a lot of common sense, and I’m incredibly thankful for that.

    • Elizabeth Rawlings

      Thanks! Here’s a video out there from Neil DeGrasse Tyson in which he discussed his agnosticism, and its awesome. Agnosticism seems to be the most sensible and scientific way to approach faith. But, it’s not what I am called to. I can’t not believe in Christ — as nonsensical and weird as it is, it’s like it is in my DNA or something (I’ve tried so many other things).

  • allthefucksidontgive

    I absolutely LOVE this article! I am agnostic and I get so frustrated with christianity sometimes because they use their religion to hate. From women to gays, they’ve hated it all from the very start and even as a very small child I had a hard time understanding why people would worship something so cruel. Until religion has advanced on a mental scale, I’ll have no part of it.

  • junsanjuanaljlean

    One word Elizabeth and and I have just read one blog from you today…”MOVING”! Simply just moving! I have searched far and wide, have been to many congregations and failed miserably to find a christian way of life. I failed so many times and just found out that my failings were based from looking at life and things from a veryunpleasnt judgemental point of view and teachings. You have openned my eyes to a christian way of life/ views full of love and understanding. Thank you and God bless.

  • Roel

    I appreciate how I hear a different sound from a leading christian. Very good.

  • Levas

    Theologian Carl Rahner (1904-1984) : “The future Christian will be a mystic or he will not be at all.” Read here:www.smarturl.it/i-found

  • The Geek Anthropologist

    Particularly appreciate points 4,5 and 7. I might say I am more of an agnostic than anything else, but I’m certainly in favor of keeping spirituality and faith as a personal safe-place and source of well-being rather than something upon which to dictate other’s conduct and legislation. Congrats on Being FP. And Oh my! Are some of these comments hilarious.

  • jesuswithoutbaggage

    Thanks! I have not seen your blog before, but loved this post.

    I think my favorite statement was: “Most people who don’t believe in the Christian concept of God DON’T BELIEVE IN HELL. Therefore, your threats are meaningless. How does threatening someone with something they don’t believe in do anything other than make you (and by extension all Christians) look silly?”

  • darylgstewart

    You did a good job pointing out our hypocrisy. We Christians should be more like Christ and less like the Pharisees!

  • Rain

    These six things does the LORD hate: yes, seven are an abomination to him: A proud look, a lying tongue, and hands that shed innocent blood,
    A heart that devises wicked imaginations, feet that be swift in running to mischief, A false witness that speaks lies, and he that sows discord among brothers. Prov. 6: 16-19. A filter that every Christian should use before speaking out against something/someone-It would save a lot of time and hurt feelings….just saying….And yes, I’m a Bible believing Christian 😉

  • gliderpilotlee

    I’m late in reading this, I had a couple moments to skim over and it’s not a totally ignorant write.
    bible : does anyone have any idea how many re-writes this has to serve a 4 to 600 year rule of the governing power at the time?
    Not included in your write: Dogs in heaven. I only had a couple dogs but my opinion is – a well trained loyal dog is kinda heaven on earth- Maybe dogs are not excluded?
    Age of Earth: anyone – everyone – research it. There are actually more recent writes with somewhat accurate information.
    Tried twice in the bible, Noa’s Arc was the second– does anyone have a concept of what happens to kittens inbred 3 times? So the young lads had babies with their Mother? God would puke if he knew we still don’t think this through.

  • BenSB

    Good food for thought – at some point, though, some of the behaviors you discuss need to be disassociated from the word “Christian.” Instead of constantly talking about how ‘those’ christians need to act differently, we need to begin creating a paradigm where people see that behavior as outside the bounds of Christianity.

  • lessofbex

    Great post. I’m an ex-Christian and can relate to both sides of the fence. You have a very refreshing take on things.

  • Lisa Yow-Williams

    This is one of the best posts I have read, well, maybe ever! I have to deal with this kind of “jerkery” all too often. I almost always keep my opinions about religion to myself, to be respectful of others beliefs, but it becomes increasingly difficult when it is pushed on me relentlessly. Thank you for sharing your insightful and open-minded perspective on this subject. I would like to reblog this, but sadly, some of my followers would not be so appreciative. 🙂

  • Bethanie Sessoms

    All I’m going to say as to your blog and the others comments on here, just as there is a difference between reality and unreality, fiction and non-fiction, truth and lies, so there is a difference between real born-again Christians and Christian religiousity. The latter which seems to be the main perspective of this article and those alike. You’re free to think and believe what you do, but it doesn’t make it true and/or right. Just as I will have to face God for what I’ve believed and done so will you. Some will be more confident and sure of this time than others. I can’t blame you all for thinking the way you do cause I can understand where most of you are coming from yet even so, I hope you all will get over what you want or how others treat you and more focused on God, Jesus. Because unlike man, he is the ultimate decider, judge. HE is perfect and HIS word is true and just.

    • Elizabeth Rawlings

      This kind of expression of Christianity is exactly what I am talking about. We should not be in the business of deciding who is and is not a “real” Christian. We are saved by God’s loving grace, so I actually don’t even need to be a “good” Christian (which is awesome, because in spite of my efforts I fail every day). Also, the veiled threats of judgement and damnation do nothing make make those who offer them appear to be mean and hateful. I know that I am a beloved child of God as are you. Let’s act like it and not judge each other’s faith or eternal destiny.

  • Jennifer Emter- Salmon

    i both agree and disagree with this. i agree with the parts about loving someone no matter who they are are a be a witness to them through your love, this will eventually open up a time to talk to them about God. i also agree with her thoughts on science, but i do not agree when she said that the bible has no place in legislature. This country was founded on principles of the bible and i believe it should continue to be that way, and don’t think she has a full understanding of marriage, no we as women are not to be servants to our husbands, but we should support them as the leader of our household. when i comes time our the leaders of the household are the ones that have to stand in front of God and explain why their children were not raised in a Godly manner. i think that people do take the verse too far which gives a bad taste in others mouths about being married my grandmother and her husband are one of these people. and everyone will not agree with me when i say that men are leaders of the church, i do not agree with a woman pastor, that is not the position God put her in. she needs to look at all sin as sin. there is not one sin that is better then the other, they are simply sins. i do completely agree with number 8 that is a no brainer. She really threw me off when she called the Bible simply a book of old stories and not to take it literally. Yes they are old stories but they were put there for a reason and we can find guidance through just about any trial we are going through. Ok i am done now and off the soap box it is just my opinion.

    • Elizabeth Rawlings

      Had the founding fathers intended the government to rule through the laws of the Bible, they would shave written that into the founding documents. They were pretty clear on how they wanted us to make decisions. Not to mention the fact that many of the founding fathers didn’t believe the Bible was literal, some had their own copies with things they didn’t like just cut out. The fact remains that we are a nation of many religions and when we legislate we need to remember that.
      I believe we miss out on some amazing people when we restrict ordained ministry to those with penises. Paul had women who preached as a part of his ministry; his words for women were meant for those specific communities as a way to create greater harmony in communities, as certain women were speaking to tear the church apart.
      If in Christ we are no longer male more female, why are we separating roles and duties? Paul had women preaching for/with him to spread the gospel (Phoebe, Priscia, Aquila), and praised the work of Junia and Julia. I do not have any illusions I will convince youth at women can and should lead in the church, but those are but a few of the reasons I see for supporting female leadership in the church and in the household.

  • jenflem1974

    Reblogged this on Cabinet of Curiosities and commented:
    I agree with most of this!

  • ashleybowen52

    I have been thinking this for YEARS. You just made my day!

  • ashleybowen52

    Reblogged this on ashleybowen52 and commented:
    A must read!!! This is nothing but the TRUTH.

  • Seeker

    Elizabeth Rawlings, thanks for your advices (I agree with most of it), I would like to do the same about swearing (that you’re trying to cut back). Just by quoting the Bible.

    Colossians 3:7-8
    In these you too once walked, when you were living in them. But now you must put them all away: anger, wrath, malice, slander, and “obscene talk from your mouth”.

    Matthew 15:18-19
    But what comes out of the mouth proceeds from the heart, and this defiles a person.

    Swearing will reduce the effectiveness of your advices and partially (or totally) ruin your effort.

    God Bless.

  • clevercowboy

    I have problems with almost the entire content, and I will share why without being a jerk. lol

    I would like to hear testimonies from anybody who “loved somebody to Christ”.

    This article is a call to silence the Christian message. Even though God is love and we must exhibit love, the main reason that Jesus came is to deal with our sin problem. The entire Bible from cover to cover is God’s plan for redemption. The Good News is not that God loves you, it is that Jesus died for your sins. The hearer of the Good News must believe they are a sinner, be convicted of them by the power of the Holy Spirit, and call out to Jesus to be saved.

    The apostles and countless disciples died for their faith NOT because of them preaching a love gospel, but because the Word of God is a two-edged sword. Nobody wants to hear they are a sinner that needs a Savior. Paul and Peter made tons of enemies, eventually costing them their lives. Jesus warned we will be persecuted. If we are living in harmony with the world, what does that say about our state of Christianity?

    Now I am aware that many Christians are self-righteous and obnoxious instead of humble, but we don’t have to be perfect to witness to others their need to be saved. Nobody doubts Paul’s devotion to Jesus and his letters were full of “judgement” and “finger pointing”. Read Romans to see how even he struggled with his own sins.

    Christianity would have never spread if the Christians kept their mouths shut.

  • Zyriacus

    Thank you for this post. What I believe in is that if you point a finger at someone for any reason, three fingers are pointing back at yourself.
    And I am not convinced, that whoever thought up this our universe would be so small and stupid not to have created big bang or evolution.

  • rapture

    Thank you so much for this post. I am a Christian-turned-Buddhist, and I am gay/genderless. Every behavior you described here is exactly why I turned from Christ. I did not want to be a part of a group (I cannot say “community” because that is not what Christianity feels like) that sought to condemn me for things I tried and failed to change about myself. You have restored some of my faith in Christians, that not all of them are the hateful, evil people I have encountered in my life.

    I have since shared your blog entry with every Christian I know, including a 40-year-old on my server in World of Warcraft who is hell-bent on “saving” everyone (in a video game based on genocide, racism, and hatred, no less). Whether he or anyone else gleans any wisdom from your blog remains to be seen, but all the same, thank you. You have no idea how much your words mean to me. God bless you, and may He work many wonders into your life.

    • Elizabeth Rawlings

      Thank you so much! Your comments really mean a lot! Have you heard Same Love by Macklemore and Ryan Lewis? The refrain is sung by a woman who used to go to a hella conservative church out in my area and she hated herself for a long time, until she discovered a different kind of God and Christianity. It kills me that Jesus leaves people crying on Sundays for who they were born to love and who they were born to be. Also, I lol at the WoW guy needing to save people.

      • rapture

        I have not, but I will definitely look it up! Thank you for the recommendation!

        One of my friends read your blog post and we had a serious conversation about my faith and why I turned from Christ. He asked if there was any way I would return, and I said, “No.” I have experienced too much hatred and have been witness to too much hatred. I want my path to be my own, and God surely understands that. He made me who I am for a reason, and I am bound and determined to discover that reason and learn to love myself along the way.

        The guy on WoW needs a life. Last night he claimed the final judgment had already come. He also sounds like the Westboro trash that gives good Christians like you such a bad name. I worry that he’s going to drive the LGBTQ* youth on the server to suicide with his hatred. 😦

  • pinwika

    Wow. So happy I came across this post. Very well written. It also pains me how “Christian” people come across these days as the biggots, the ignorant, and the flat-out rude…When we should be known by our love for our neighbors, not by dissing them.

  • Y Prior

    This article really touched upon a lot of issues! So many Christians are missing the mark -and so many are more than just a jerk about things – they are angry, mean, and hateful at times. And as your many readers have shown with their replies, there are many things to consider here – and I would like to just add a few more:

    First, the American church really does have big problems these days – many church groups are just big country clubs with luke-warm Christians who are angry and mean – and who do not even really know what they claim to believe.

    Second, people outside the church should not be judged (or held accountable for certain behaviors) the same as those inside the church claiming to be a Christ follower (see 1 Corinthians 5:12-13). And 1 Corinthians Chapter 6 notes that due to God’s grace, we have the right (and option) to do anything, but NOT everything is beneficial – and many things we choose can have progressive consequences -and certain behaviors will defile the body (that is a temple of the Holy Spirit if you are a Christ Follower).

    Third, I do not like the word “Christian”- Andy Stanley has an amazing message about this that I urge you to listen to, http://northpoint.org/messages/christian/brand-recognition/
    he says,
    “Christian” is a brand that can be good, bad, attractive, or repelling. It’s a loaded label no matter whom you ask. But where did the word come from? And did it come with instructions? In this message, Andy reexamines the word “Christian” and revisits the one thing Jesus wanted his followers to be known for-it may surprise you if you’ve been hurt by the church or by a Christian”

    Lastly, evolution is just a theory and has many gaps –

  • Why My Opinion Makes Sense And Yours Seems Totally Irrational | Breaking Moulds

    […] I let my guard down. I shared Elizabeth Rawling’s Freshly Pressed blog post “How to be a Christian without being a jerk about it,” and a Facebook friend of mine responded by, well, being a jerk about it (and inadvertently proving […]

  • smclean90

    Great post, I totally agree with it. Unfortunately, I know too many Christians who could be described by each of your points, that’s not to say all Christians behave like this. I have been brought up Christian and have recently been considering moving away from it and religion all together. I understand that faith means everything to some people and I find religion very interesting, but it’s just not for me. I just try accepting people as they come, respecting them and their beliefs.

  • nthaslop

    I must step in to defend the Christian who wants to help others without being asked – unless he/she is a loud-mouthed jerk who will not listen as well as speak. My reason: Before I was a believer, there were a number of Christians at my work place who did speak of Christ to me; but in my natural state, I misinterpreted what they said and read into it some of the foolish things you speak against here. I was defensive about myself and thought of myself as a pretty decent guy, and here were these people telling me that all of us are in need of Christ’s salvation.

    Only one thing more. When we regard “Science” as an infallible source of information, we begin to deify it (or the scientist himself). Science is merely a study (like theology). An honest scientist or theologian looks for clues to the question he has, but does not try to skew the evidence to support what he wants it to even in the face of lack of proof. Much of what passes for science is not from scientists at all, but from those who want so much for science to be their answer about the meaning of life rather than to see that it can never be ultimately satisfying and all-encompassing. They are willing to take a first glance anything that will free them from feeling bad about themselves: as in “I saw it on Facebook (or YouTube).”

  • khvanzant

    Reblogged this on My Journey and commented:
    thank you

  • A Response to Ms. Rawlings: A Few Minor Issues | Amateur Apologist Gamer

    […] Rawlings recently wrote an article, titled “How to be a Christian without being a jerk about it,” in which she points out some traits in the Christian Church that she believes we would all […]

  • clevercowboy

    This blog assumes that we have any kind of bearing in a person trusting Christ as their Savior. We do not. God calls us and puts the desire in our hearts to know Him. The Holy Spirit convicts us of our sin. If God chooses any one of us to participate, it should be considered a great privilege.

    I have heard hundreds of testimonies from believers, and what stood out is the large number that were approached by virtual strangers. Thank God for those who are bold enough to open their mouths! The author suggests building a relationship with a person first, and granted, that might be the best route for some. But we do not know if that stranger will see one more day of life. And candy-coating the full truth about God is never a good idea. Hell is real place and Jesus spoke much about it, and we should not pretend it does not exist.

    Being that Christians are scrutinized (i.e. judged) by non-believers more than any other group of people, “loving somebody to Christ” is almost certain to fail. There will never be that right time to share. By the time they get to know us well, they will have certainly seen our flaws and labeled us as hypocrites. Even the author admits having a profanity problem, if she even considers it a problem. By the time she might get around to sharing Christ with somebody, that person has a good chance of being totally turned off.

    The regenerated person has understanding that comes through the Holy Spirit. They understand that we still struggle with our old selves. When I was a new believer, I had a lot of work to do. I was more gracious to other believers who struggled with their own sin. I am eternally grateful that the person who led me to Christ did not choose to be buddy-buddy with me first. I was ready to hear it and receive it right there and then.

  • keipper89

    I realize you’ve already had like, a billion and one comments, but just wanted to say how much I appreciated your thoughts on this topic/s. So encouraging to know that there are like-minded people out there. I live in an ultra-conservative area (Familiar with the Amish and Conservative Mennonites? Yeah. I live there.) and it can be very discouraging to feel like maybe I’ve been misreading the Bible this whole time, and hate and judgement is the name of the game and not love. Thank you for taking the time and energy to write this.

  • adaym

    What a well-written example of what an intelligent, thoughtful Christian should truly be. Being open and understanding of others while still loving God’s word and what He has done for us is truly the mission Christ gave us. Thanks for your bravery in SAYING what so many of us think but can’t articulate. This is a powerful form of witness…look at all you have touched just in reading these comments! God bless!!

  • lucklacker

    That part about science making God more wonderous. Exactly that.

    I did this course for a year where I was in church six days a week. I didn’t touch a girl, didn’t drink, smoke, do drugs (which made it like rehab that year) or go out to clubs.
    I was a creationist, believing myself intelligent and informed.

    In time I learned that deconversion (in my case, from atheism) is not a choice, it’s a journey. My best friend is an atheist and we had very honest and earnest talks about it. Then one day he stopped talking facts (about evolution). He came at me from a perspective that I could really relate to. He said something along these lines.
    “Give me the suspension of disbelief here and imagine the universe being billions of years old. From the big bang there formed the stars, massive amounts of energy and colossal amounts of pressure and gravity, imploding into black holes, which could slingshot steller bodies into the distance. Broken planetary satelites became turbulent meteorites. Galaxies swallowed up whole constelations and in time, the exact set of impossibly minute circumstances brought the Earth into being. A planet just the right distance from the sun, with an ozone layer, with water, with everything needed to allow the life of carbon based life forms. Over millions of years those came to be us. Humans, with the ability to reason, with the ability to know a God. Now you want to take all of that beauty, the tapestry of the stars and the symphony of creation and say ‘no fuck that the world is six thousand years old and that is that’. Isn’t that offensive to God? You believe it’s insulting that you were created in the image of God but that’d make God a monkey. But you were made from the stars, you’re not stupid enough to reason otherwise.”

    That stopped everything I thought about, flat. It brought me to realize that I’d never been a creationist because of facts. I’d been one because of what the alternative would mean to my beliefs. From there on out I began questioning everything I believed to the point where I wasn’t sure about anything anymore. That’s my own fault. But more than anything:
    I didn’t want to be a jerk about it.

  • jessicaflachner

    I totally agree with this post and love it! Check out mine on ethnocentrism and Christianity!

    http://jessicaflachner.wordpress.com/2013/09/03/the-affects-of-ethnocentrism-on-christianity-in-america/

  • Amy

    Just wrote a post motivated by similar thought with a particular eye on homosexuals (and the path I walked away from bigotry). Thanks for speaking out on this – you are right, and I appreciate your swear words… in moments where I learn a Christian has high opinions of another’s salvation by the words they use, I so desperately want to drop the f-bomb in every sentence. Keep writing :-)!

  • brianaroseart

    Believing in god and yet not being religious I can completely respect and applaud this post! Many of the reasons you mentioned are exactly what have turned me against religion as a structured way of following. I find love in everyday, at every sunrise. I was raised Catholic (being a child of unwed parents I was a living and breathing sin OMG) and had a Christian friend who’s father’s every word spoke fire and brimstone…I became exhausted from constantly being condemned! Love the post! 🙂

  • Jay Castle

    Sign on your front door: “Truth Spoken Here”. Thanks for the wisdom.

  • Response to “How to be a Christian without being a jerk about it” | ottojm

    […] a week ago I read your blog post, “How to be a Christian without being a jerk about it.” When I read the title of your post I was very excited to read you views on how Christians can […]

  • ottojm

    Here is a link to my reply. It is to long to post on your reply section. Thanks for taking the time to read this. http://wp.me/p1GNxG-H

  • o6iez

    Reblogged this on Thoughts εїз and commented:
    not a christian but points two and three can be applied to all and sundry.

  • Dorothy Kuhn

    Well done. It did take this Christian a while to learn to love like the Lord loved us while on this earth. And life is much, much better. Thanks for articulating well some on-the-journey guidelines.

  • blackgirlsurvival

    LOVE THIS!

  • aJesusperson

    Seems like you wouldn’t have totally liked how Jesus preached or his apostles? (they preached about hell, living pure and they weren’t evolutionists-Jesus as Co-creator would have known). Their message was “repent” “save yourself from this corrupt generation”.They also fed the poor, had miracles and healings to show God’s love and as proof that Jesus was the prophesied Christ. We need more who would imitate them.

    • gliderpilotlee

      I noticed a perfect descriptive word “imitate” There might be hope yet.
      note : in the same area( Christians witch hunts) Please look it up – the torture of women. It just makes us all feel like puking

  • Jay Lyons

    Excellent, Elizabeth. If more Christians acted like this, there would be more Christians. And I would probably still be one.

  • Jeannine S.

    This post is brilliant. I was born in a Christian family and there are some things that I don’t like about some Christians (like what you stated here). We were supposed to spread good news and stuff but from what I see, some devoted Christians are sorta weird and creepy, and sometimes, yeah, jerks. I wish they also read this post.

  • Jeannine S.

    Reblogged this on The Madcap Outlet and commented:
    I am one myself (still a bit confused if you ask me), but in some stuff written here, I agree.
    1.) “Faith, according to the Bible, is a gift of the Spirit. Some people don’t have it. Be cool about it. Be friends. Love, laugh, chill and talk. Have conversations about ultimate things, come to understand why a person wouldn’t believe in God. Even for those who have been given faith, it is a hard thing to sustain in this world.”
    2.) ” Jesus said to stone her only if you were without sin. How about instead of stoning/judging each other, we love each other? Real, deep, compassionate love that sees the brokenness and aches to see it healed with love.”

  • oliviatwxxted

    I really identified with this. Attending Church every Sunday is my way of not only “catching up” with God but connecting with myself as well. I do pray at random times and that is something I want to be better at incorprating on a daily basis. Thanks for reminding us what we ALL need to be reminded of, regardless of our faith or lack there of.

  • oliviatwxxted

    Reblogged this on The Kinky Courtesan and commented:
    In honor of my friends that celebrate Yom Kippur, I thought I would celebrate this wonderful piece that reminds us all, regardless of our faith, that love and judgement can unify or erode us.

  • MzDezy

    Veeery nice! This needs to be sent to the masses!

  • indianchristianvoice

    Nice….either way, you have something to say. First, we must understand that Jesus Christ was never a Christian, but a Jew. The word “Christian” was used to indicate being a follower of Christ. Today, the word “Christian” has lost its meaning. So, why is the word still used ? Your guess is as good as mine….it was created by man to mock Jesus Christ. Now if man created Christianity far from the ideal which Jesus Christ really intended faith to be, to what kind of audience are you writing this script ? It says in scripture Romans 1:16 – “For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek”.

    Let’s move on. In the scriptures, the word ‘Christian’ appears three times. (Acts 11:26; 26:28); (1 Peter 4:16) and (Acts 11:26). Here the word is used in reference to the people of that time who believed in Christ being the Son of God, and followed his example. What is the message of Gospel ? The Kingdom of God. Who heralded in the Kingdom of God ? Jesus Christ. Do we find the Kingdom of God prevalent in major so called Christian denominations ? Christianity has become a ritual, a ceremonial function to be practised by the faithful according to the laws laid out by the clergy, and in accordance to the rules designated prior to be approved before anyone can seek church membership.

  • treatmentofvisions

    Interesting analysis. It always intrigues me to hear an intelligent, otherwise reasonable Christian talk about their faith. I often wonder how people of faith reconcile their beliefs with the advancing world and it seems to be all about adaptability. I think if Christians would remember that Jesus said the commandment he was bringing above all others was “Love your neighbor as you love yourself” we might all learn to get along. You don’t have to love, but respect and tolerance would be a good start.

  • Why I prefer the term “Christ follower” over “Christian” | Philippians 3:13

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  • ybicjag

    I think you’re bang on with your suggestions. It makes me sad, however, that you had to include “Empower women” in this day and age.
    It’s hard to believe how little progress has been made in that direction. When I was growing up, it was my mother that was the main and constant bread-winner. My dad had very bad luck with work, so he was employed most of the time, but sidelined enough times that made Mom the real financial anchor. Unfortunately, her example was the exception rather than the rule, and few others learned the true power of a woman the way I did.
    I’m also reminded constantly of one of my first “Ah-ha!” moments way back when I first started ministry. As I looked over the congregation just before worship I realized that around 70% of the folks in the pews were women. That quickly generated the thought: if most of the people in church are women, why isn’t most of the church leadership comprised of women. Twenty years later, I’m still scratching my head as to why women don’t have greater power both within the church and society.

    Thanks for the reminder that there is a long way yet to go in terms of equality, empowerment and justice towards women.

    That being said, I’d like to introduce you to a friend, colleauge and generally amazing person: Grace Ji-Sun Kim; (she’s on WordPress as well…) having read some of your material, I think she is someone that you might find very interesting.
    Bless you, Elizabeth

  • Being Christian…Is there a Wrong Way? | Days in the Life of a Christian Veterinarian

    […] Mistreat Homeless Man in Church Unaware It is Their Pastor in Disguise (ireporterstv.co) and How to be a Christian without being a jerk about it (Feet In, Arms Out by Elizabeth Rawlings). They both effected me in different, but very similar […]

  • melaniegobledvm

    Excellent blog. I reposted on my blog “Days in the Life of A Christian Veterinarian” Thank you!

  • Jenell Brinson

    Something I have to say about #2, that I’ve tried so many times I can’t count, to get across to ‘judgmental’ Christians, but seem to never be able to get it to sink into their heads….and that is, without any reservation, the BIGGEST reason I left church, after repeated tries, and now just cannot imagine ever going back to church, and the same reason most others I know that have come to feel the same do.
    What is called “judging” at least 95% of the time, it seems, doesn’t involve and “judging” what so ever… by that, I mean, “judging” involves gathering and examining evidence to arrive at a reasoned conclusion. What most, even maybe almost ALL so-called “judging” is actually just jumping from a suspicion, or a rumor, or some casually observed small something out of any context, through a few hoops of assumption, often out of mere false stereotypes, to accusation, and from there, straight to declaring a guilty verdict. From whence it proceeds directly into a sentence passed, and the whole community notified of it.

    I’ve been horribly hurt, I’ve seen so many others horribly hurt, time and again, by this very thing, and yet, it seems something those in churches that do it just don’t get it. Making ‘judgments’ of people you don’t even know, in situations and matter you know nothing about, and neither have, nor have access to, nor have any right to access to, any actual facts or valid information about them, isn’t judging. It is simply being “accusers.”
    No matter what you (anyone) may see or hear from a casual place outside the life of someone else, it isn’t usually enough to make ANY judgment. We ALL KNOW things are almost never as they may casually appear at a glance from outside a situation, so why do some persist in acting as if they think they can know what they simply cannot know.

  • Roberr Jackson

    I believe I’m guilty in the extreme of all you have(painfully for me) mentioned so forcefully, eloquently & tactfully. My wife of 12 yrs. left me for a lesbian relationship, I am most certainly far more at fault than she. I mishandled this for sometime. We stay in touch, we even have a standing lunch date every month;I fail miserably to show Christs’ love. This open epistle of yours is an answer to a heart felt prayer. I only hope and pray I will take this to heart. It’s har. to admit I am one of those big mouthed turn off Christians I’m wont to deride, to cover up my own seething hypocracy. Thank You Very Much; from aman who has had his eyes opened a little. Yours Robert Jackson

    • Elizabeth Rawlings

      Wow. Thank you. Being left is so hard (I am going through this right now), and I can imagine more so when your partner leaves you for a person of a different gender/sex than yourself. Blessings, prayers and love to you on your journey of healing.

  • Yesterday’s Goodness | furiousBlog - in my diatribe

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  • Randy Jones

    Thank God you found it in your heart to put that one “shit” in there. 🙂 It was needed, and quite appropriate.

  • Hope Samworth

    Thank you for a very thoughtful & informative article. I am a non-church going Christian who aspires to be the type you described. Not always successful, but I try.

  • Karen

    Wow. This is the first I have read of your comments. Very nice. I am glad to see this viewpoint. I will keep reading you.

  • Jim MacQ

    Footnote: “love the sinner, hate the sin” is not biblical at all. It was, in fact, said by Gandhi. The biblical injunction is “love the sinner.” Dealing with the sin is God’s department.

    • Jay

      The bible calls us to hate evil (sin) PS 97:10; Amos 5:15; and Rom 12:9. Unfortunately, many people like to hate the sins of others rather than looking within themselves. That is the crux of the article and the author has a valid point.

  • Karen

    I always think of the song “They’ll Know We are Christians by Our Love” when I think about living my faith as example. I refuse to focus on everyone elses’ “Thou Shalt Not” and focus on my own “Thou Shalts.” If I am busy making judgements about other people’s lifestyles, laws and reproductive business, then it takes away from my ability to carry out the greatest commandments. Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind”, and “Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself”. This way, I hope that people will not leave their encounters with me thinking I am disagreeable, but might wonder what is it that compels me.

  • paxgirl

    Well done. Thanks for hopefully opening a few minds/hearts with this.

  • How to be a Christian without being a jerk about it | cmredford

    […] How to be a Christian without being a jerk about it. […]

  • Neil Clark

    Why do modern christians require `leaders’? Leaders lead gullible followers to do really stupid, evil things…

  • JMahoney/BikinBuddha

    Nicely done… Really enjoyable…. Can’t wait to read more of your work… and usurp it… Thank you, Love you…. BB

  • NaalArtio

    I have a wonderful Christian boyfriend that will truly enjoy this. Your article made me recall just how blessed I am with many wonderful Christian friends, that have never judged me for my beliefs. If I had to label myself, guess “neo-pagan” is the closest I can get. Jesus has a soft spot in my heart because of people like you. lol, I do wish an article like this would be written by some other faiths (In my case the hurt I felt from the Church was at a young age because I could not understand the creator seeming to hate and harm so much. Scorned Wiccas sadly have been the rest of my damage… Just a cycle of judging and hate that needs to stop.) Again thank you so much for putting this out there.

  • Henry

    How about: when presented with an opportunity to do a good deed (fill a need or right a wrong), a lot of Christians say “God hasn’t given me a sign for that to be my calling”.

  • Heinrichs Lifestyle Photography's Blog

    What an awesome post! So much of that hits home for me. I had never been to church until I was 43 and I met a wonderful Christian man who did not pressure me to go. I went of my own free will after a few months to see what all the church fuss was about. Your post hit the nail on the head – the people trying to save me followed by the judgment when we moved in together and were now “living in sin” was the final straw. We were quietly pushed out of Church for our choice. Coming up on two years since we stopped going. Life is good … life is GREAT! Still being told by his that we are loved, but they don’t approve. They really need to get over it and look at the bigger picture. I am hoping they read this when I share it, but I don’t expect a change lol Looking forward to more posts from you! ~ Shelly ~

  • Jennifer Yabut

    Thank you so much for this article. Much more mutual respect is needed, and less judging and finger-pointing.

  • thomsense

    This is an excellent article!

    One very important piece of scripture that I never see when it comes to the “don’t judge” discussion is 1 Corintians 5. We all know that J.C. exhorted his followers not to judge many, MANY times. We also know that his apostles in their letters did end up softening that “no judging” stance, lest people become entirely uncritical of each other and slide into sin. This part of Corinthians is most important in the discussion, because it tells one WHAT to judge, and WHO.

    1 Corinthians 5:9-13: “I wrote to you in my letter not to associate with sexually immoral people— 10 not at all meaning the people of this world who are immoral, or the greedy and swindlers, or idolaters. In that case you would have to leave this world. 11 But now I am writing to you that you must not associate with anyone who claims to be a brother or sister[c] but is sexually immoral or greedy, an idolater or slanderer, a drunkard or swindler. Do not even eat with such people.

    12 What business is it of mine to judge those outside the church? Are you not to judge those inside? 13 God will judge those outside. “Expel the wicked person from among you.””

    By this passage, we are told that it is wrong to judge the unbeliever by these biblical principles, and that it is also okay for a Christian to be around them. One doesn’t have to shut oneself away from the world just because the world doesn’t value all biblical principles as you do.

  • Mr. Brown

    Good article to spark conversation (as is obvious by all of the comments). There has already been so many comments, so I just want to leave a few words. You have shared some good stuff. The Christian church is changing ALOT – the number of Christians in America is decreasing and the way in which many Christians relate to the rest of American society is greatly changing.

    I say this to pose the question: would it be fair to say many of these points address a minority population in the current Christian church? As an African American, “Black leaders” (i.e. Sharpton, Jesse Jackson) do a poor job of representing the voice of most African Americans. I’m not quite sure, but really wonder how well “Christian leaders” represent the voice of most Christians.

  • Jacob

    I gotta say, your second point for me was the best. I’ve learned in the last few months about that as a Christian. It was explained to me that we are called to “speak truth lovingly”, which involves understanding that speaking something that may be true at the wrong time is not spoken out of love. It takes discerning wisdom and knowing the person you’re talking to, just as you talked about not even thinking of speaking to someone who isn’t a friend of yours, someone you understand fully. Very good point.

    And one thing to remember when it comes to the Holy Spirit being the only one who could change someone to believe in our Savior, it also takes us praying constantly for those people to know God and enter a relationship with Him, to have their hearts changed and for the Holy Spirit to reach into them and bring them to Jesus. Prayer is the artillery fire that breaks down the primary defenses of the world, leaving the window open to send us, the infantry, into the battle of patience and love armed with the Holy Spirit.

    Wonderful writing. These words don’t fall on deaf ears. 🙂

  • Samuel J

    Jesus was killed for being a jerk

  • Ray J.

    Great post. Thank you!!!

  • Elise

    1. I wonder if you realize that “speaking the truth in love” is actually a quote from the Bible? (Ephesians 4:15)

    2. “Empower women. Paul had women working with him…
    Our bodies are not made to be ogled at, commodified or make medical decisions about.”

    By “medical decisions” I guess we’re talking about the big “a-word.” Am I right?
    Because that goes back to your point 2, clause B: “Is anyone getting hurt by this person’s behavior?”
    I am pretty sure that dismemberment counts as “getting hurt.”
    I am not “empowered” by my “right” to butcher my offspring. And that has nothing to do with my being a Christian. That has nothing to do with “judgment.” That is a human rights issue. Areas where we can all shake hands and agree to disagree are areas in which one person is not making another one the victim of a violent death.

    I agree that my body was not made to be ogled at or commoditized. Dressing or behaving in such a way as to encourage ogling and commodity, then, would be hypocritical. Whether the way someone views my body is my fault or not depends on whether I have encouraged that view. (Advertising. It’s a thing.) Nothing excuses inappropriate BEHAVIOR toward someone; rape, for example, is never justified. But if, as a woman, I were to wear short skirts and bare my cleavage, and expect the men around me to pay no attention to my exposure, I would be an idiot. That would be precisely the reaction I was going for, and to pretend otherwise defies all reason.

    And since you used Paul as an example: He indeed did work with women. As I’m sure you’re aware, he also had much to say about women believers- their conduct, appearance, etc- and I would pay good money to listen in on a conversation between you and him. 🙂

    • Seb

      Hi Elise,

      I haven’t followed the discussion with respect to what particular comments you are responding to but if you are referring to the Israelites butchering the Malachite’s, including pregnant women and young children and only sparing the young females. This makes something of a mockery of the 10 commandments as this massacre happened within days of Moses receiving the supposed 10 point plan. Thank for your contribution, Seb

  • Seb

    Hi, I’m really pleased that I came across your piece, I think it is superbly written but unfortunately it strikes me that prior to posting the diplomatic corp got a hold of it a stopped you short of stating the blatant fact that perhaps given the current understanding of astronomy, weather, mirco organisms and disease, there is no need for supernatural explanations, particularly those that are 2,3,4,5 thousand years out of date. C’mon everyone you can escape your enforced beliefs, just choose truth. Thanks again, Seb

  • Bill

    Jesus, the jerk… “Ye serpents, ye generation of vipers, how can ye escape the damnation of hell?” [Matthew 23:33]

    What is missing in your application of the amazing account of Jesus and the woman at the well is that while Jesus didn’t “slut shame her” He most definitely did address her sinful condition with bracing honesty. It is possible to point out God’s standard of righteousness (and the penalties) without being a jerk about it. It just requires divine love and the humility that comes from a thorough understanding and daily acknowledgment of God’s grace and forgiveness in our own walk.

    “I have no husband,” she replied. Jesus said to her, “You are right when you say you have no husband. The fact is, you have had five husbands, and the man you now have is not your husband. What you have just said is quite true.” “Sir,” the woman said, “I can see that you are a prophet. [John 4:17ff]

    Did the woman respond in anger when Jesus exposed her sinful lifestyle? No. He had already engaged the woman in a conversation, drank water from her hands, and undoubtedly looked into her eyes with compassion and care. What does she tell her friends as a result?

    “Come, see a man who told me everything I ever did. Could this be the Messiah?” [John 4:29]

  • richard celley

    Some of what I’ve learned in 20+ years of pastoring churches: Faith is not something you “have” rather something you practice. Keep practicing it until people start asking things like, “why are you so relaxed all the time?”, or “Why do you always seem so happy no matter what’s going on”, or, “how did you get to be so patient with people?”, etc. At that point you can talk about what you practice. Another thing: Don’t inflict your beliefs on others. If you try to force Grace on someone it is by definition not Grace anyway so you have failed before you have started. I enjoyed your essay quite a bit so thank you for the effort to express your ideas. Don’t stop practicing.

  • Fresh (Word)pressing | Who Loves Kitty

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  • Paul

    Funny, that in many regards I agree with you that Christians needs to be known more for their love than what they are against, but still find myself feeling like you are calling jerks any Christian who is not a Christian just like you (or at least who is not a liberal Democrat, since I don’t know you). Some of the most judgemental Christians I know are the jerks on the right- who you correctly call out- and the “I tolerate everyone EXCEPT the Christians on the right” liberal jerks. One of the latter is the one who pointed out your blog, so I probably am reading through that lense. There is a lot of judgementalism in this blog supposedly decrying judgementalism.

    I guess in the end, we’re all jerks to someone (I’m sure I can be), unless we agree to focus on what unites us instead of what divides us. That’s why we need grace, and the cross. Lord, help us all.

  • Jerky |

    […] prejudice seemed counter-productive, not to mention un-Christian. So when I read this post, How to be a Christian without being a jerk about it, the subject was familiar and the tone was impolite to the point of irony, which none of the […]

  • Steve

    I think we can all be jerks at times, I may be the worse of the worse, but when we open our hearts and minds and let the love of God flow through the spirit makes us so happy, so filled with joy and love that we’re not all that worried about our pride ego and vanity. On the rare occasions that I get to feel this overwhelming amount of love from the spirit it makes me care about others even more and wish that they could feel as good. Being a jerk might be an indication that we’re we’re blocking out the spirit that flows within us. I know I can still be a jerk myself.

  • Steve

    Last word, why would someone say they take the bible literally when God Himself, Jesus, the prophets and apostles openly states He uses analogies, metaphors, figures of speech, parables and symbols to convey deep spiritual messages of truth that stand the test of time? It’s written all throughout the old and new testaments, such as the part where Jesus said “Unless you eat my flesh and drink my blood you have no life in you” Jesus later said “That was a figure of speech” I can’t help but wonder why so many “so called” bible scholars mislead people into theories that are contrary to what God Himself openly states. Oh yeah, I remember they’re trying to sell books and be popular.

  • Steve

    OK, I lied I have to post again because of what read in the comments. Isn’t all about faith? People trust in science by faith just as much as some people trust in the scriptures. Some scientists believe that there was absolute nothing-zero-zilch, and then all of the sudden 13.6 billion years ago BANG! the universe appears out of thin air. According to math 0 X 0 = 0, so how did something come from nothing? Even though that’s a mathematical impossibility and defies all logic millions of people believe in that theory because it’s called science. I’m not saying I know what happened, nor do I pretend to know the mysteries of God, but lets face it folks we all operate on a certain level of faith.

  • ErikSlader

    I really enjoyed this post, it’s a great message that more people need to hear, thank you! 😀

    If you get a chance check out my take on the history of christianity over at EpikFails.com

    http://epikfails.com/2013/01/02/the-council-of-nycaea/

  • Jerom

    Reblogged this on Against Anti-Abortion Bullies (Surry Hills) and commented:
    Its all about being civil, participating in a dialogue with out damnation and abuse or trying to force your beliefs onto another!

  • Steve

    Being a jerk is probably in the eyes of the beholder, but I think the point of this message topic is that all too many so called Christians act like they’re holier than though and don’t really seem to care about anyone else but themselves. As if they’re gonna please God, win extra points and earn a special seat in heaven if they convert people into their little cult. I’m not saying they all do this, but no doubt many people do and it’s a bad representation of the true message. The true message is simple “Love one another” Without love we have nothing, but if we do have love flowing through us then we’re not worried about getting extra bonus points for our own selves, loving others means caring about them. I don’t pretend to be anywhere near perfect, I can be just as scummy as the next guy, but I do understand the difference between caring about others and only caring about ourselves.
    By the way, my spelling is really bad, sorry everybody

  • Jim Voigt

    Came across this as a reblog and really love it. I once wrote an email to one of our pastors saying, “I love that you get into the less glamorous parts of life, bring the Bible with you, and don’t treat it like the heaviest object in the room to beat people with.” Read the book of Acts and see how the church grew. Through the telling of personal witnesses that were amazing. That’s our job. Like others commenting, I also study both evolution and science theories of creation. I am not so bent on proving that creation is science, but I do insist that there is a lot of religion-type belief in evolution that people don’t really admit. Great blog.

  • Chaos and Cookies

    Wow, amazing post! I really needed this! We have lived in the Bible Belt for three years now and what an eye opening experience it has been. I am a Christian but feel more ashamed than ever to call myself one because of what I see and hear from close minded biggots on a daily basis. These people calling themselves Christians tell me that I’m not a true Christian because I drink beer or because I don’t believe in shoving the word of God down people’s throats at football and hockey games. My daughter was recently told by one of her good friends that she will not know her I Heaven because she won’t be in heaven because she isn’t saved. These “Christians” leave church on Sunday and Wednesday night and go home and act live demeaning judgemental jerks. I see many of the men treat their wives with utter disrespect and demand she bow down to him. I’ve always thought of myself as fairly conservative, when we lived in the northeast I thought we were very conservative, but I’m finding, since living in the Bible Belt that I’m really not as conservative as I once thought!

    I believe in treating everyone with respect. I’m very opinionated but I then value others opinions too and love a good discussion and would not hate someone for having different beliefs. Evangelical Christians like the ones I deal with daily are giving Christianity a very bad name and that saddens me and I believe it very much saddens God. My husband and I tire of sitting in church and hearing how wrong Jews are, how awful gays are etc etc. Isn’t the bottom line that god made us all perfectly imperfect? Individual? Exactly as he planned? I could go on and on but will stop! I am just happy to find this blog and post!

    • Elizabeth Rawlings

      Thank you for your comments! Living in the Bible Belt is definitely… an experience. I went to college in Asheville, NC and while Asheville itself is a lovely little hippie town, once you leave, it’s back to the Bible Belt and church signs that say things like, “There is no thermostat in hell.” Yay! Welcoming! I want to go to your church :-/
      But there are places where a more welcoming theology exists. I kept getting told about this great Lutheran church but was really afraid to go there. It was in a double wide in a rural part of Western NC. Once I finally went inside, I discovered a church led my a partnered gay man who played acoustic guitar and was so full of love and enthusiasm I was overwhelmed. I hope you are able to find a community that speaks to you and gives you a spiritual home where you can follow the love of Christ 🙂

  • gliderpilotlee

    Great to read “the gay man, completely satisfied, not after little ones and sexual abuse” You have the right to call me a jerk 🙂 :0 just be informed of the facts #1 issue with any form of Bible You’ve got to be kidding — you all believe this? Adam and Eve count them – just two Then apparently daughters were born but not recorded and daddy had sex with ,and children with them. The other option: the lads had sex with Mom! / sisters!
    A cat was given to me – a result of 3 inbreeding. Left front foot was mostly missing but had a prominent claw. kinda like capt. Hook

  • A disciple of Christ

    Elizabeth, I’ve read through your post a couple of times, and, I’m not trying to be a jerk, but I really cannot discern any meaningful sense in which you describe anything about Christianity.

    Equating Hell with the Easter Bunny? I grant you, the Easter Bunny does not exist. Hell does. It feels as though you haven’t even read your Bible. Yes, Jesus Christ, who is infinitely compassionate and loving, talked many times about it. I’m not going to cite chapter and verse, though I could, because I know that you know this. Please read the Gospels again. You can’t miss it.

    There can be no real way to say you are a Christian and love others without pointing to the ultimate reality of Hell for those who are unrepentant in their sins. I am a sinner. I’ve confessed this to God. I have believed in faith on His promise to redeem me through the shed blood of Christ. I am not better than anyone else; I am cloaked in the righteousness of Christ. I pray for many people I love all the time for them to repent. How loving is it to make someone feel comfortable in the hopes not to offend them and to ignore the punishment that awaits those who die in their sins? Again, please read the Gospels again. Jesus is extremely clear about this. If you think people are uncomfortable TALKING about Hell, wait until they’re actually there and can’t get out. Ever.

    You wrote, ” ‘Oh, you think I’m going to hell? Well, then I’d like to be a part of your community and worship your God!’ said no one, ever.” Actually, that’s exactly what happens for everyone who comes to understand their sin and truly accept the regenerating power of Christ. And they are glad that someone confronted them with it. John the Baptist did this to prepare the way for Christ. And Christ did it Himself. And the disciples did it afterward. It is our responsibility to do this, too. We are commanded by Christ Himself to share the Gospel, and the Holy Spirit will do the rest. If people won’t believe, they won’t believe. But as the Apostle Paul wrote, how can they believe if no one will tell them?

    The LORD is going to hold accountable believers who know these things and don’t tell others. Read the parable of the wise and foolish steward. The foolish steward took the money that was entrusted him and buried it in the ground, and this steward was cast into “outer darkness, where these is weeping and gnashing of teeth.” Jesus Himself told this very story. It’s in Matthew 25. Please read it again. Your post does this same thing. It takes the beautiful Gospel of Christ, in which Jesus in his infinite love and mercy endures horrific human suffering on the cross for OUR sins, and buries it, telling others that they need have no fear of punishment for their sins. In doing this, you have shortchanged the very height of love that you say you are professing.

    It’s interesting that these sorts of posts almost always come down to defending homosexuality. Now, there are many, many sins, and I’ve committed a lot of them, and I am thankful that Christ has forgiven me. But falling back on discussions of wearing mixed fibers and keeping feast days and not eating shellfish is a straw-man argument. As Christians, we are supposed to know the Bible. The book of Hebrews discusses at length how the old Mosaic covenants that gave the Jews the ceremonial laws were done away with by the better covenant of Christ. We are explicitly told that those laws are no more. We are also explicitly told throughout the New Testament that there are still many sins that remain and that those who commit them need to repent and rely on the blood of Christ to cover them. Again, if you would please read the whole Bible again you would see what these sins are. None is listed as more infernal than the others, but they are all serious, and spiritually deadly.

    Your focus on corporate sin is fine, but we are held accountable for our individual sins that we do in our own bodies. It’s almost as though you’re being judgmental about some sins and not others. Actually, I’m being charitable: That’s really what you’re doing.

    Other posts above have at length disputed your assertion that we’re all jerks for believing the Biblical account of creation, so I won’t say much about that. However, Paul wrote in the great book of Romans, which is probably the single best delineation of how to be saved in Christ Jesus, that just as through ONE MAN — Adam — sin entered into the world, through one man — Jesus Christ — sin was atoned for. If I believe in evolution, I have to throw that verse out, as Adam never existed. But I am not willing to throw out God’s plan of salvation. This doesn’t make me a jerk. It makes me an effective witness for Christ, which I am called in love to be.

    That’s all I need to say. This post fills my heart with sorrow. If you truly love the Lord Jesus Christ, I pray that you will read the Bible again with an open heart and see where your post is in error. It is not incumbent on Christians to equate kindness with misrepresenting God’s truth. We can be both kind and honest, and I pray every day for the ability to be this. An effective witness will tell others how lost we were ourselves and what Christ did for us, and then let the LORD convict others of their personal sins. But if we don’t talk about sin and what Jesus saves us from — the wrath of God — we ultimately aren’t loving anyone.

    • Elizabeth Rawlings

      First, I would like to clarify that I have read the Bible. Many times. Outside of my own personal reading of the Bible, my denomination requires all ordained ministers to have a masters degree, so I have not only read, but dug deeply into, both the Hebrew scriptures and the New Testament, along with various non-canonical gospels. I have stated this before — there is a large chasm between those who believe, as you appear to, that the Bible is completely factually true and inerrant and those who believe, as I do, that scripture is the inspired word of God that, none the less, has human fingerprints on it and must be read in light of things like history, context and audience (among other things). I honestly don’t know how to have conversations across this divide.
      I don’t think people are jerks for believing in creationism (though I dont’ understand how you reconcile the two distinctly different creation stories in Genesis). I think it is inappropriate to try to have it taught in schools. Teach it in church, fine, but not in science class. It isn’t a scientific theory, it is faith. We are rendering our students unable to compete in the global economy when we don’t teach them about the theory of evolution.
      In regards to hell and the easter bunny, what I was trying to say is that using hell as a talking point for someone who doesn’t believe in hell is pointless. People understand sin when you call it brokenness, everyone knows they go wrong in life. I have no problem talking to people about sin/brokenness/the ugly side of humanity, but I don’t believe that threatening them with hell is a way to bring people to God. I find it to be more effective to talk about God’s love and a relationship with God as an way to heal our brokenness and a salve for our sinful souls. And, in actuality, John never mentions hell when he preaches. He calls to people to turn towards God (which is what repent means) and talks about fire, but not hell. Yes, he could be referring to a physical place like hell, but he could also be using a metaphor. At no point does he say repent or go to hell. I have the gospels sitting right next to me. Just looked it up. The disciples did not respond to Jesus yelling about hell. He didn’t even start off by talking about repentance. He just asked them to follow him. That’s all. Later he does speak about hell, but I maintain that it is possible that this is a state we are in while we are alive or dead that is separation from God, and the fire is a metaphor. In fact, Matthew 25 is itself a parable, which is similar to a metaphor. So to cite that as proof that Jesus preached about an actual hell is problematic. But, that is more of the literalist vs. not thing we’ve got going on here I believe that Jesus used a lot of metaphor.
      Does God’s plan of salvation really require there to be an Adam? Is God not bigger than that, than our ideas about God’s plans? Can’t God want to save us because, however we happened, we were and are darkened by sin (as Luther would say, simultaneously saint and sinner)? Can’t Jesus’ act of salvation work regardless of Adam being real or not? It can for me. Not believing in Adam in no way diminishes the salvific nature of Christ.
      I also don’t believe in the wrath of God. I don’t believe that Jesus is saving us from God. Honestly, that makes no sense. Jesus saves us from our own sinful nature. Our relationship with Christ draws us near to God and calls us to be the beings God created us to be, which we can never reach because we will always sin. This is the wonder of God’s grace. We are loved no matter what.
      Please, don’t ever question anyone’s love for Jesus. It’s rude. You don’t know my heart. There is no were in my being lost. I am lost. I am also found. Being saved isn’t a one time action, it is something that happens in every moment, because I am always getting lost, always fucking up, and always trying to say yes to God and no to sin. I believe if we are putting stumbling blocks in anyone’s path to God then we aren’t loving anyone, and yelling in people’s faces that they are going to hell is, for many, a stumbling block. In fact, you accusing me of not reading the Bible and not truly loving Jesus is a stumbling block. I would not want to be a part of your community if my questioning and doubt got me accused of not properly loving Jesus or not reading the Bible.
      I could go on, but I have a Bible study to prepare for. Cause, you know, reading the Bible is my job.

      • Steve

        When Jesus said, “Unless you eat my flesh and drink my blood you have no life in you” the apostles basically said, that’s a hard line to follow. Jesus then told them it was basically an analogy, a metaphor, a figure of speech. There are countless metaphors and figures of speech in the old and new testament that I have found are beautiful, wonderful words of truth and wisdom, but so many people “so called ministers” twist and pervert the real meaning and tell people it’s all literal. The underlying truth is there, but for various reasons all too many people are blind to it, Christians, and atheists alike. The simplicity of the truth starts with LOVE! Love God, Love your neighbor, and yes Love your enemies. Because when we truly love our hearts and minds open up and it cleanses us, it feels so good that it washes away the hatred and anger within us. Hey, I’m only human, I mess up all the time, I’m very far from perfect and don’t know all the answers, but I do believe that all of us have a drop of life flowing through us, no matter what our philosophies are, we all have a sparkle of truth deep inside. I’ve been to the mountain, only by the grace of God, and I found the scriptures to be truth and I love the words and believe in God, but I also love other people who don’t understand the scriptures and feel that they too are saved by God’s grace and love whether they be ignorant as the heathen or not 🙂

    • Jared Otto

      @A disciple of Christ: I think the biggest divide you have with Ms. Rawlings is your view of the Bible. From what it sounds like, you come from a conservative, evangelical understanding of the Bible and the Christian life. This is not where she comes from. I am a part of the Evangelical community as well, but I wrote a response that I encourage you to check out at http://ottojm.wordpress.com/. I take on most of Ms. Rawlings points from a Biblical standpoint and I tried as hard as I could to “not be a jerk” but to stand up for what I believe in. I truly believe you could learn from my article. And she does have a strong point when she says that you are not the judge of her heart. Let Jesus be her judge because He is a fair judge and does know all.

      @Elizabeth Rawlings: You are a talented enough writer so that you don’t have to show off your degrees to anyone who questions you and you don’t need to swear for the “effect” it will have on people. Oh, and I’m still waiting for your reply to my response.

      • Elizabeth Rawlings

        I wasn’t trying to show off my degrees, but I was encouraged to actually read the Bible. I used said degrees to demonstrate that I have read the Bible so much I have a degree in it, I have been instructed by people who have read it way more than I, and I have taken time out of my life to focus solely on the Bible. I tend to get kind of pissed off when people tell me I should read the Bible when, clearly, I have, I just read it differently. And I don’t swear for effect. It is how I talk. I swear a lot. In fact, me not swearing is actually me doing something for effect or to impress others. I was raised around a lot of foul mouthed boys and it is just the way the words come out of me. I apologize for not replying to you. I have a hard time replying when a lot of comments come in at once — I get overwhelmed and have to step back. Plus, when this blog came out I was unemployed. A lot has changed since then and I have a hard time finding time to update posts much less respond to comments. However, you took time to write a thoughtful commentary, I will do the same as soon as I am done with this sermon.

      • Elizabeth Rawlings

        Oh, and thanks for the complement 🙂

  • Kel Fogle

    Thank you for putting into words what I’ve not been able to communicate. All I can say to those that debate this (amazing, made of WIN, covered in awesome sauce) Blog entry/post is that we’ve all been blessed with the gift of freewill/free agency. The one truth I am absolutely sure of is that love is of the utmost importance, is to be our priority, our greatest lesson, and, at times, our greatest challenge. You just can’t go wrong with love. When we truly come from a place of love, we’ll always be right. Easier said than done, however, as there are exceptions to everything. But, then, we’re human, imperfect, forever learning and growing. Peace, Love, & Sunshine

  • Kel Fogle

    Reblogged this on Insignificant Detours and Meandering Journeys of this Enigmatic, Puzzling, and Profound Life Labrynth (or Finding My Way Through This Complicated Mess Called 'Life".) and commented:
    This is a wonderfully fascinating post I stumbled upon one Sunday morning. This is exactly what I’ve not been able to put into words on this subject myself. I’m truly grateful for these words.

  • steve7277@gmail.com

    Evolution is just another religion that requires faith in the new scientist on the scene. The evidence is not even close to prove the big bang theory, but it’s by faith that people accept it, pure faith. The most basic, primitive mathematics tells you 0 times 0 = 0 or 0 divided by 0 still = 0, yet your idolized scientists have you convinced that a whole universe derived from 0. It defies logic to assume that something came from nothing, yet millions people still believe the evolution religion because it’s popular and accepted. No basis in truth or facts, it’s just the socially acceptable religion of it’s time.

    • Thomas Ross

      Actually Steve, they DO have an idea of where the Big Bang came from. M theory postulates that our universe is one of an infinite number, (they call them branes) and that on the occasion when a couple of universes collide, the energy of the collision forms a new universe.

      • Elizabeth Rawlings

        Thank you, o person who can speak science better than I can 🙂

      • Steve

        That’s all fine to guess about what may have happened billions of years ago, but even in your your the inescapable conclusion is that we are a product from infinite origin. I agree that there was always something forever and ever. How that something changed form can be questioned for eons of time, but the fact remains the essence of our life, the very spark of energy that runs through us is eternal 🙂

  • Sarah R. Neill

    Hallelujah, Praise the Lord! Preach it, Sister! (Don’t) Thump that Bible!

  • Curating Time: Mga Babasahing Relevant Para Sa Mga Legit and Jerk Christians Alike | Kristyano ka?

    […] 3. How to be a Christian without being a jerk about it by Elizabeth Rawlings […]

  • Dea

    I loved the book ‘Whats so amazing about grace’ by P.Yancy, it speaks to the “not being a jerk” issue well.

    I also suggest creation.com for being an informed Chirstian who embraces good, sound, balances scientific discission. If you want to prepare your kids for a science course at university, they will help you tell truth from lies and assumptions!

    Hats off to being authentic and not a pain in the tookis

    • steve

      I personally think traditional Christians and evolutionists are wrong, but are merely appeasing their political base. A legitimate scientist is quest of the truth will have an open mind and can entertain the evolution theory, but accept the fact that it has far too many flaws. To receive educational grants and teaching credentials you probably have to say you believe it, just as a Christian has to stand on their twisted malarkey if they want to get funding. Look at the Pyramid in Egypt, there’s good evidence it’s 20,000 years old. This blows the Christians out of the water as well as the die hard evolutionists. The evolution gang would have you believe some monkeys recently evolved and erected those buildings which are so precise we couldn’t even build one today. Look at the cities under the sea, some say over 20,000 years ago also. I believe in God and the truth and the scriptures do not reveal the hidden mysteries to everything, yet money hungry theologians have to convince their flocks they know what really happened and so do the phony scientists that are only seeking to be politically correct.

      • John Nyfeler

        Steve, being an informed person (Christian or not) who embraces good, sound, balanced discussion might find terms other than: “evolution gang… phony scientists…money hungry theologians…die hard evolutionists” to carry on the conversation. The original idea was to find a way to engage without being a jerk.

  • The Friendly Neighbourhood Progressive Christian’s Guide to Progressive Christians | The Friendly Neighbourhood Progressive Christian

    […] something wrong with me!) that you can see at the Wikipedia page linked above. There is also a post I came across recently that could be considered the “10 commandments for progressive […]

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