Christian Piatt read and wrote my mind in: 10 Cliches Christians Should Avoid
For the most part, the phrases Piatt lists amuse me more than irritate. I figure if someone’s presumptuous enough to ask the question, I’m allowed to have fun with them. It’s fascinating, the moxie it must take for a person to presume authority over my destiny based on her chosen faith.
I understand Christians are charged with spreading the Good News, but stating God’s will on my behalf assumes I’ve given over my proxy on the issue. Most of us believe in a higher power, but not everyone wants to be drawn towards God with end-of-world guilt messaging. Some of us want to be gently led to God by how we innately feel when we hear the words — heretical as that sounds.
I’m not proud to admit that if someone proselytizes it fuels my twisted sense of humor. About ten years or ago my brother, a devout, humble, sweet, never-preachy guy asked me if I believed Jesus was the son of God. “Sure,” I answered, “I have no reason to believe otherwise, but even if he isn’t, because we don’t know– that’s fine too.”
Yes, I was being flip and contrary, but indeed, I am fine with either possibility. Jesus’s spiritual bloodline doesn’t matter to me if the message resonates. I have no proof he’s the son of God but I can’t fathom why it matters. Either I like what Jesus has to say – or I don’t.
Granted my vision of him is by convenience rather than religious convention. I attended sixteen Bible studies at my Methodist church years back and from my general sense, Jesus sounded like a loving, inclusive, gracious guy, someone who endorsed that God doesn’t make mistakes. Like, if he created a child who was attracted to his same sex the child wouldn’t have to change who he was anymore than a kid with with one blue eye and one brown eye or who has Downs Syndrome would have to change.
Until the Christians get that one, I’m just not feeling it.
While I mostly ignore the cliches, the phrase “Jesus died for your sins” gets under my skin. Martyrdom messaging doesn’t feel like a welcome wagon. It feels like we’re born having to catch up to Christ, that we’re on a lifetime treadmill of payback to a parent who is never totally happy with us. All I can think is: “Okay Jesus it’s horrific that you got crucified but I didn’t ask you to die for me. I wasn’t even around to weigh the options.”
I denounce that Eve gets the lion’s share of blame for ticking off God in Eden. That misogynistic view despite thousands of years of Goddess power at the reign isn’t exactly a ringing endorsement for my gender to embrace Christianity; it’s a bad start if you’re trying to recruit half the populous.
But here’s the thing, if atonement language or any other Christian phrasing Piatt mentions in his article helps someone genuinely feel connected to God, if it helps turn a life for the better, there’s nothing wrong with it — it’s just the wrong approach for me.
Christian cliches could stand a bit of a make-over if the devout want to attract new generations of followers and keep loyalists from leaving the church because it’s making them feel bad. All the great organizations update their brand to keep pace with the evolving consumer.
The core Christian product of love, compassion, grace, inclusion, fellowship, caring for people in need (churches IMO, still take the gold on that one) is beautiful and solid — it’s the packaging and pitch that need updating.