Monday, April 13, 2020

The Babylon Bee Completely Misunderstands Boundaries. I Am Shocked. (note: not actually shocked)

A big trash bag and a dumpster. Image source.
The Babylon Bee is trash. I'm very happy to take every opportunity to remind people of this. I blogged about this in 2016, and the Babylon Bee is so extremely trash that I have refused to waste any of my time saying anything else about it. It's trash.

It's a Christian "humor" site where the "humor" is all based on "isn't it terrible that other people don't believe in Christianity the correct way like we do", gross misrepresentation of political stances they disagree with, and a bizarrely obsessive hatred for trans people.


Anyway, even though I have a policy of not engaging with Babylon Bee articles, I came across this one that so spectacularly misunderstands the concept of boundaries that I simply must blog about it. I'll copy the whole thing here so you don't have to give them clicks if you don't want. Link is here though: God Decides To Cut All Toxic People Out Of His Life; 7.5 Billion Dead (posted 2018)

And here's the text:
WORLD—In a fresh start for the year, the Almighty recently decided to cut all the negative, toxic people out of his life, several seraphim confirmed Wednesday, resulting in every single person on the planet perishing at once.

As part of His resolution, the Lord decided to take action to separate Himself from all 7.5 billion humans who, being sinful by nature, regularly choose to rebel against Him—and would no doubt continue to do so for the rest of their lives. He also ceased upholding the universe by the power of His will, and every molecule in the time-space continuum immediately ceased to exist, casting everything into a terrifying void of nothingness.

“After browsing a Huffington Post blog on relationship advice, God decided it was finally time to take a stand for His personal boundaries and no longer allow negative influences into his thought life,” one angel said in a press conference, to nobody in particular. “It’s not you, it’s Him. He just really needed to spend a little more time on self-care, not giving any toxic people the time of day anymore.”
Here are the 3 points I would like to make about how completely wrong this whole thing is:

1. Cutting people out of your life doesn't hurt them.

So the premise of this article is that if God "cut all toxic people out of his life" then we would all die. In other words, cutting people out of your life directly harms them. This is wrong.

"Cutting people out of your life" can be as simple as unfriending someone on social media if seeing their posts is bad for your mental health. A few years ago I unfriended a bunch of people because they were loosely connected to a situation that had caused a lot of trauma for me, and whenever I saw their names on my feed, it reminded me of that.

At first I felt like it would be wrong for me to unfriend them, because they had never done anything bad or "toxic" to me, so they didn't "deserve" to be "punished" by being unfriended. But no, that's not the right way to look at this. We weren't close; we were just sort of acquaintances, and so I don't "owe" them anything. Me unfriending them isn't a "punishment" or judgment on them. It's just my own personal choice to do what's best for my mental health, and has absolutely nothing to do with whether I think they are bad people who deserve to be punished.

Probably they never even noticed. Even if they did notice, it probably didn't matter that much to them. We weren't ever actually friends. But it mattered A LOT to me that I didn't have to deal with the stress of unexpectedly reading things that reminded me of a really bad situation I had been in.

But if it's someone you actually have a close relationship with, that's a different situation. A much trickier situation, so I'm not going to try to give some grand generalizations about what you "should" do. But here's an example: Maybe you have a toxic relationship with your parents because they always criticize you, always want you to be the "ideal child" they wanted, and can't accept you for who you actually are. They're not respecting you, not treating you right, and it causes you to have anxiety and depression. So you decide you need to set boundaries and limit how much time you spend with them.

They're going to be upset by that. But their hurt comes from their own unfair expectations and pressure they put on you. It's not correct to say *you* are hurting them. Yes, their emotions of hurt are real, but it's not your problem. And maybe they do need time to grieve for their expectations, before they're able to accept you- but again, not your problem. They can do that on their own time.

The idea that God "cutting toxic people out of his [sic] life" would cause the "toxic people" to die is just ABSURD. They wouldn't die; they would just no longer have the opportunity to harass, abuse, and control God. Which they never should have been doing in the first place.

2. People making their own choices in their own personal lives doesn't hurt God.

That Babylon Bee article describes people thusly: "all 7.5 billion humans who, being sinful by nature, regularly choose to rebel against Him—and would no doubt continue to do so for the rest of their lives." Apparently our "sin" makes us "toxic" and we are all constantly hurting God.

I really literally used to believe this. I considered it to be one of the core pieces of "the gospel"- whenever I drew my little bridge diagrams and did evangelism, that's how I defined sin- "God is supposed to be in charge of our lives, but we are selfish and want to be in charge of our own lives."

I really used to believe I was hurting God whenever I happened to have a stray selfish thought or "lusted after" a boy. (Plot twist: I'm asexual, turns out that wasn't actually lust.) Really. I thought I was hurting God whenever I wasn't a perfect mindless robot completely submitted to the Holy Spirit.

(If you want to read more of my thoughts on this, I recommend these posts: Used By God and Is There Choice in the Kingdom of God?)

No. You are in charge of your own life. Here are some examples of so-called "sins" that are your own personal choice and don't hurt anyone (including God): Not believing in God. Following other religions besides Christianity. Being queer. Having consensual sex. Putting your own needs first.

And here are some things that actually do hurt God, because Jesus said "whatever you did for the least of these, you did for me": Separating refugee children from their parents. Not welcoming immigrants into your country. Teaching women they have to "submit" to abusive husbands. Forcing queer kids into conversion therapy. Writing "humor" articles that cruelly mock trans people.

The important thing is, though, these aren't sins that "7.5 billion humans" are participating in. These are the sins of those in power, exploiting "the least of these." But this Babylon Bee article talks as if all people are equally "toxic" towards God- and yes, that's exactly what I used to believe. But it's just not true.

3. "Toxic" does NOT mean "people going about their business and living their lives in a way you don't like."

"Toxic" means people who are trying to control and manipulate you, who don't respect your right to make your own decisions, who think you owe them your time and money and emotions. And because they treat you so badly, it affects your mental health; you're unhappy, stressed, depressed, etc. So you decide to protect yourself by setting boundaries and limiting the amount they can influence you.

"Toxic" does NOT mean "people don't let me control their lives. So I'll 'set boundaries' by killing them." Like, what on earth? Apparently we're supposed to believe it's "toxic" that people sometimes do things that God disagrees with. This is so completely backwards.


The whole idea of that Babylon Bee article is "isn't it silly how people talk about 'cutting toxic people out of their life'? What a bunch of nonsense. Lol I'm glad God doesn't do that to us!"

In reality, mental health is important. Boundaries are important. It's good to recognize when people aren't treating you right, so you can set boundaries and stop them from controlling your life. You belong to yourself.

In particular, it's important to recognize if your God or your religious leaders think you can't make your own decisions and you need them to tell you what to do so you don't "sin." Yeah, go ahead and cut them out of your life.


I speak evangelical. The Babylon Bee is NOT all fun and games. 
Used By God
Christianity and "Selfishness": Here are the Receipts 


Thank you to everyone who participated in the 2019 Reader Survey last May! One of the highest-voted topics was "responses to abusive theology" so I wrote this post for y'all~

1 comment:

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