Saturday, September 18, 2010

#190 Calling anger bitterness


Christian culture doesn't have a lot of room for people's hurt, especially when the hurt was caused by the Church. As such, when someone expresses frustration with God or church dealings, Christian culture's impulse is to label it bitterness and cite a verse.

Christian culture doesn't really know what to do with unsavory emotions like anger. They think Jesus' anger and turning over tables was great and holy, but they consider anger in themselves and others sinful and shameful. For this they often suggest an attitude adjustment.


When you try to share your frustration with an evangelical, you may reasonably expect one of these responses:

"Careful, your bitterness is showing."
"You need to repent of the root of bitterness has taken hold in your heart."
"One of Satan's most effective and popular schemes is bitterness."
"A bitter, sour Christian is one of Satan's greatest trophies."
"Quit whining. Get to worshiping."
"You need to change your attitude."

Christian culture is big on Changing Your Attitude. It's a lot more convenient than digging up ugly realities and the source of hurt, which caused the anger, which if not dealt with can lead to bitterness. Easier to label it bitterness straightaway and shame them for it in hopes they'll quiet down. But Christian culture's M.O. is Doing Things and Avoiding Relationship. It's a lot easier this way, but the price you pay is that you can't be a whole person.

This post originally appeared at Beliefnet. The original post and its comment thread can be seen here.

9 comments:

Wendy said...

My favorite part is that the guy getting accused of being bitter in the cartoon has a goatee.

AnnaRebecca said...

Ohmygod, "the root of bitterness." My personal favorite from my evangelical childhood is "Faith, not feelings!" I mean, I realize it should really say, "Faith, and only happy feelings," but ya know. I guess no feelings is better than the root of bitterness.

Brandt Dotson said...

This is so true. The only acceptable emotion a Christian is allowed to have is happiness (Grief is also allowed for about 3 hours if someone you love dies.)

The Bible I have is full of people full of passion who experience all kinds of emotions... including anger. We have emotions for a reason... it's they way He designed us.

Cheryl Duwe said...

How powerful would it be if we just had the courage to say: " I feel sad, hurt, angry.... " and to recognize the wholeness (holiness) in those feelings. It's not bad or wrong to be the people we are created to be, feelings and all!

Katie said...

I had a huge falling out with my best friend from college. She's a sweet, loving Christian and used the term "bitterness" like 8 million times, which did not escape my amusement despite the painful falling out.

Analyst said...

http://www.jesusandmo.net/2006/12/06/horse/

Aaah. Those "bitter, angry" atheists.

Anonymous said...

This is why I go throu short spurt s of attendance but past hurts make it difficult to trust a new church.

Erica M

Eva Shifft said...

Anger is not affiliated solely with a person's religious orientation. Anger from bitterness is human nature. We did a study for that with counselling marylebone and it was well lauded.

IllinLaneCraig said...

"Don't worry, I'm not getting soft on gay marriage"

-Does this mean he is hard for gay marriage?