The Sweet Taste of Bitterness

In retrospect, I should have known that trying to force a Christian to say “Hail Satan” was a bad idea.  In my defense, I was a wee bit tipsy.

Let me back up.  We went on vacation with some friends two weeks ago.  We stayed up too late, drinking and playing cards.  One game we played was a drinking game called Asshole.  For the uninitiated, the winner of each round Asshole gets to institute a new rule that takes effect during the next round – the sillier the better.  Other winners had already mandated the use of T-rex arms and German accents.

I won the next round, and I thought it might be funny if everyone followed every statement with “Hail Satan”, forgetting that only two short years ago I would have found this HORRIBLY offensive.

This prompted Sarah, my wife’s best friend, to turn to me and say “You know, I don’t think you’re handling your crisis of faith very well.”

It’s not the first time I’ve heard something like this.  When you’re a Christian and you’re going through a crisis of faith, you will start to hear things like this.  People will tell you you’re angry, or, my personal favorite, that you’re bitter.

First off, I’m not having a crisis of faith.  A crisis implies danger.  I’m restructuring my beliefs, and in the process, some of those beliefs will have to be downsized.  It’s nothing personal – they’re just not a good fit any more.   

Second of all, I was never really angry at anyone from my former church for any of the stuff that happened there.  The people who allowed these things are imprisoned by their beliefs as much as I once was.  I'm still angry at my in-laws for all of their craziness, but that's not what prompted the ill advised "Hail Satan" rule.

Ah, but am I angry at God, I hear the Christians ask, with perhaps just the teeniest bit of smugness in their voices.

This question implies that I’m a petulant child, angry at my celestial dad, much like a rich teenager who throws a fit because they got the RED convertible for their birthday when they SPECIFICALLY ASKED FOR THE SILVER CONVERTIBLE GODDAMNIT.  And yes, I was angry at God for a while. 
What changed?  Well, I don’t believe in that God any more.  I don’t believe in the God of Mark Driscoll, John Piper, Jonathan Edwards, or, for that matter, the God of the leaders of my former church.  I don’t believe in the God of the Old Testament, that orders scores of people to be murdered and implicitly condones slavery and the mistreatment of women.  I also don’t believe in the God of the New Testament, who randomly picks people to bestow eternal life upon, and condemns the rest to an eternity of conscious torment in a lake of fire.

Wow, did I say I was downsizing my faith?  I guess it’s more like a going out of business sale.  Everything must go!  Everything is priced to move!  WHAT DO I HAVE TO DO TO GET YOU INTO THIS NEW DOGMA ***TODAY***?!??!?!?!

Now, some of you might say, what about MY God?  MY God isn’t like the false Gods that you describe, Heretic Husband.  He’s awesome!  He’s the God of LOVE!  

Now, here’s where I’m still angry.  And bitter.  I just can’t look at the state the world is in and believe in a God of love.  You can talk about free will all you want, it won’t convince me.  If my kid runs out into traffic, I will stop her if I am able.  Period.  And the world has been playing in traffic since humans invented the fist.

Perhaps I’m still angry at the God of love.  Maybe some part of me still believes he exists in some form.  Maybe that’s why I’m still bitter.  And I’m angry at his followers too, if I’m honest.  Why aren’t they as angry at their God as I am?

Bitterness is like junk food for the soul, especially when it’s justified.  Mixing anger and bitterness together is like mixing chocolate and peanut butter.  But if you subsist on it for too long, your soul will get out of shape, and pretty soon, it can’t go on any kind of spiritual journey without getting winded and stopping for another Reeses Bitterness Cup.

And I need to go on a spiritual journey, faithful readers - wherever it might lead.

1 comment:

  1. I recently read two science fiction novels, "The Sparrow" and "Children of God". They were difficult, and challenging, even though they were a fantastic couple of stories because they are about the journey of a priest who has lost his faith through a series of terrible tragedies (in space! With aliens!) and the author never makes the journey easy. In fact he ends up so far from his spiritual origins that it is almost painful.
    Myself, I struggle with faith daily, and I find myself annoyed at people who can just take it for granted without thought. God gave us minds! I want to shout at them. He must want us to use them, not just follow blindly without reason...this is not a popular stance among many of my fellow Catholics. Although most of the priests I've talked to seem to think that questioning everything is a good start to a spiritual journey, as long as I don't hold on too tightly to the anger that first fueled me.