Thursday, November 21, 2013

Ten More Cliches Christians Shouldn't Use

When I recall my time as a believer, I’m not proud of some moments. I made some good friends, some of whom I still remain in contact with. But there were times I was an arrogant shit solely because I thought I was saved from damnation. There’s an arrogance to the solipsism of Christianity that serves as an affront to my sensibilities now, something I hadn't seen when I in the religion. The cliches on this list and the previous one don’t apply to all Christians (no sense painting everyone with the same brush). Mostly I've found these used by fundamentalist varieties of Christianity but that doesn’t mean more liberal-minded Christians haven’t used them as well. Here they are:
1.     Love the sinner, hate the sin. If ever there was a back-handed (in the style of a pimp) way to tell someone you love them, this statement fits the bill. This phrase sounds to me like the same rhetoric abusive spouses' use on their victims. If you love the person, there should not be anything involving the antonym in the same sentence. Unconditional love usually means just that, without condition.
2.     The Bible clearly says… The Bible you have in your home is largely based on copies of copies of translations that don’t match from one to the other. Even those who study the cultural and historical context of the Bible don’t have clear understandings of the text. The inerrancy of the Bible as a historical document doesn’t hold up well. Examples such as the stories in Genesis not being substantiated through archeological evidence show this. Usually the person using this statement is cherry-picking the passages they agree with and ignoring passages they don’t like. I imagine that’s why there’s so many denominations all claiming the same book is inerrant.
3.     God needed another angel in heaven, so He called him/her home. Disingenuous claptrap like this may sound comforting but all it does is reminds the grieving parties that their loved one is dead. It’s even less comforting to those who lose their children. Death, especially sudden death, has a devastating effect on those left behind. Better to focus on the living and their grief.
4.     Are you saved? This cliché puts the speaker in the position of saying they own a place of privilege over whomever they’re speaking to. It also implies that you are in need of some cure. You are declared sick and demanded to be well by the figurehead calling you sick.  
5.     The Lord never gives someone more than they can handle. For this cliché all one has to do is point to any number of different instances of intense suffering and plight in the world. The implication here is that God’s ultimately responsibility for anything you’re enduring, which can make this character sound capricious and cruel. Think about Elizabeth Fritzl and her 24 years of hell and then use this phrase with a straight face.
6.     America was founded as a Christian nation. The person using this cliché is either a myopic student of American History or has never spent any time actually studying the subject. The Declaration of Independence (a declaration of war, by the way) mentions a Creator. The Constitution on the other hand (the supreme laws of the land) explicitly gave this country a foundation in religious liberty. If someone wants America to be a Christian nation, ask them which version of Christianity should be dominant. Or ask them if they want to be like theocracies like Saudi Arabia and Iran.
7.     The Bible says it; I believe it; that settles it. Once this cliché is uttered, the conversation’s over and it’s best to walk away. No one, not one single Christian I’ve ever encountered, follows every word in the Bible. This is a book that advocates selling daughters who are raped to their rapists (unless the rape occurs in town, in which case the rapist and the victim are both stoned to death). It also identifies the speaker as a Bible fetishist, where a poorly compiled and translated book is more important than common human decency.
8.     It was Adam and Eve, not Adam and Steve. Adam and Eve are fictional characters. They did not exist. But from the fact that same-sex sexual behavior has been observed in a wide variety of animals (including our closest genetic relatives the Bonobo), it’s reasonable to think homosexual behavior has been around as long as there have been Homo sapiens. Since this statement has no factual basis, it should be ignored completely.
9.     Jesus was a Democrat/Republican. Ascribing a set of modern political views to a largely mythical character seems counter-intuitive to making a factual statement. This cliché requires a great deal of cherry-picking verses that match the speaker’s political ideology. The problem is there’s plenty in the Bible for both sides of the aisle to pick from.

10.                         (Insert sin here) is an abomination in the eyes of God. This cliché relies on the false equivalency fallacy with regards to the meaning of the word abomination. This one’s used mostly today regarding homosexuality or other forms of deviant behavior. It also puts the speaking in the awkward position of speaking for a being that doesn’t actually speak for itself. I’ve also found that this phrase is used most often to hide the speaker’s bigotry under the cloak of religious authority. 

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