Wednesday, April 8, 2015

God Loves You, But...

Image source.

God loves you.

Let me rephrase that:

God loves you, but...

That's what I was taught, and that's what I believed. God loves you, but...

God's love and God's obsessive legalism are at odds with each other. God loves us, but God is required to send us to hell. But, you know, since God loves us, God created a way out. Through Jesus.

If we believe in Jesus, we can be with God forever. Otherwise, God can't accept us.

God loves you, but God doesn't accept you.

God loves you, but God is going to send you to hell.

God loves you, but in your current state, you are too dirty to even be near God.

God loves you, but.

In this ideology, "love" means "The way you are is not okay. But I care about you so much that I want to help you change and become the kind of person I can accept."

God loves everyone, but God accepts no one. It is only through Jesus that our sins can be covered, that we can hide enough of our intrinsically dirty and unacceptable selves, and sneak in to being accepted by God.

Evangelical Christianity has always taught me very clearly: it's not about what you do. Salvation is not works-based (in fact, we are so on guard against the idea that salvation might be works-based that we distrust Christians who place any importance on doing good deeds).

It's not what you do, because we can never be good enough to earn God's love. All God sees is our disgusting sin.

It's not who you are, because there is no such thing as a "good person." (The bible is clear on that. Also the bible is clear that people are made in the image of God, but that never seems to be mentioned when discussing whether people are basically good or basically bad.)

No, the one thing God can accept is an attitude of repentance. The only way God can accept you is if you say, "yes, I am unacceptable, and I will do ANYTHING to change." (Though of course, the DOING part isn't important, it's the attitude. But of course, if your attitude is truly right, then you WILL go do the right stuff. Nope, nothing works-based here.)

The way God loves us is "hate the sin, love the sinner." God thinks "everything about you is wrong- but come to me and I will help you change."

Did I go too far? "Everything about you is wrong"- really, everything? Yes- if you believe in the "all non-Christians automatically go to hell" view of hell, then you believe it is right to throw away the whole person because of finite sins. If God thinks I deserve to go to hell, it means God sees nothing beautiful, nothing salvageable about who I am now.

God loves you, but.

God loves you, but God can't accept you. God loves you, but God believes everyone is supposed to go to hell.

Image source.

It was never a problem for me though- I never worried about God rejecting me or sending me to hell. Because I was saved. I had accepted Jesus into my heart or whatever. I was repentant.

And now I'm not repentant anymore, and that's the worst offense in the eyes of this God.

No, I will not change. No, I will not go back to believing your bullshit- about how "this is the correct Christian view on this topic, this is what God wants you to do, etc." I will not surrender myself to be made into a "good Christian" again.

If I had killed someone and then repented, I would be okay- I would go to heaven. God would accept me. But this, the way I am now, doing my best to care about people and search for truth, and ending up with a very different worldview than "the Christian worldview"... and, dear me, she doesn't even think she's done anything wrong- this is the greatest sin. This is what people go to hell for. This- being unrepentant- is the one thing that decides if God accepts you or not.

Image source.
My therapist said if I can truly accept myself and believe that God accepts me, then I won't be so worried and angry about whether or not other Christians accept me. And that's when I realized, I've never believed that God loves and accepts people.

God loves us, but God cannot accept us as we are. God's love means that God would like to lead us toward change. God's love means that even though God correctly views us as awful and worthless, God would like to help us change that.

Now I'm not willing to change anymore, so, you can see where that leaves me.

(And you wonder why I'm in therapy.)

God loves you unconditionally, but unless you meet these conditions, God can't actually do anything for you.

God loves you, but God hates what you're doing with your life. Hates your sinful lifestyle. Hate the sin, love the sinner.

God loves you, but because you believe the "wrong" religion, God can't accept you. Oh, you never had an opportunity to believe the "right" religion? Oh, you searched for the truth and studied hard and are honestly doing your best to follow God, but it's the wrong God? TOO BAD. Hell.

God loves you, but.


  1. Super glad your therapist is all for loving yourself more. That is awesome. I grew up in less conservative churches and this was toned down quite a bit. We were told that God doesn't want us to do things that harm other people or ourselves, like idk...kill someone or steal their things. And that God would help us figure out what right and wrong was via the holy spirit. So that helped quite a bit in "I sense that this is right or wrong based on my own gut feeling" because we were taught that the holy spirit is with us ever since Jesus died for us. That it's God with us all the time, so we could depend on it. (It was Lutheran so there was a lot of the Holy Trinity stuff going on.) I mean, we were taught also that human beings sorta have a predisposition to do selfish things because we like looking out for #1 first, but there wasn't a crushing sense of "we are unworthy" like the church seems to have done in your case. So when a girl at college who had grown up conservative Christian tried to explain that she was completely worthless and evil without Jesus I didn't know why she hated herself so much. It sounded terrible. :-/ I hope that you and others are able to recover from this sense of worthlessness. I hope that God would love his creations as he created them, even if we sometimes mess up.

  2. Even according to this evangelical mindset, doing your best to care for people and seeking truth are not actually sins. So if these things lead you away from established evangelical doctrine, then the contradiction is within the evangelical doctrine-- because if by seeking truth and loving people, you succeed in finding truth and loving people, and it goes against doctrine, then the doctrine itself is against truth and love! The party line, then, is that you have not actually found truth (you are deceived) and you are not actually loving people (you are enabling their sin). BUT, and this is a big But-- if we human beings are incapable of understanding love and truth, so that we don't know it when we see it, then in what sense can we know anything at all? And if we can't know anything at all, then how do we know our evangelical doctrines are true in the first place?

  3. Yes, exactly. The reason I've ended up here is I wanted to love people, like God said- so one could even say God led me out of those beliefs.

    However, the idea of "doing what's right, even when you don't understand it/ it doesn't make sense" is an important virtue within that type of evangelical Christianity. So we "know" something is "the right answer" and faith means trusting that, rather than trusting our own brains when we see that it really doesn't make any sense. So. That's a problem.