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.