Humans Are But a Speck of Worthless Dirt in the Eyes of God

without god

Many of the beliefs Evangelicals hold dear are of little or no consequence. Believing them or not has little effect on Evangelicals. Two beliefs, however, fundamentally affect how believers view themselves. The doctrines of original sin and human depravity are key tenets that provide the foundation for other doctrines such as atonement and redemption (salvation). If humans, thanks to the sin of Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden, are not, by nature, sinners, then there is no need for Jesus to die on the cross, nor is there a need for humans to be saved. Is it any wonder, then, that Evangelical preachers emphasize the doctrines of original sin and human depravity? For those of us raised in the Independent Fundamentalist Baptist church movement, hearing preaching on sin was quite common. Sunday after Sunday, preachers spit, scream, and pound the pulpit as they decry humanity’s sinfulness. Often, these sermons focus on specific sins, particularly sexual sins. The goal of such preaching is to make congregants feel guilty over their sins. Once congregants are thoroughly stripped naked before God, then they are ready to seek forgiveness of sin from and through the Lord Jesus Christ.

Preaching against sin, calling out sins by name, becomes a weapon in the hands of preachers, used to attack human self-worth and self-esteem. The goal is to reduce congregants to worms and specks of dust — insignificant in God’s sight. Imagine hearing such preaching week after week, year after year. Is it any wonder that many Evangelicals think that they are little more than pieces of shit in the eyes of their God? Any good they do is not because of them, but because of Jesus. Congregants are reminded that the Bible says that it is impossible to do ANYTHING without God. He gives people the very breath in their lungs. He gives their legs the power to move. Everything humans do is because of and through the power of the Christian God.

 

Imagine every good thing ever done by you being credited to another person. I suspect most of us would not be happy about other people getting credit for our good works. We did the work, so we should receive the credit. But for Evangelicals, they do all the work and God gets all the credit. Why? Because they are worthless, hopeless, helpless sinners whom Jesus, through his blood and mighty power, saved from their sins. After being graciously saved by God, Evangelicals are expected, out of a heart of gratitude, to spend the rest of their lives giving God credit for everything they do. And I mean EVERYTHING!

It is hard not to see the Christian God as the religious equivalent of Donald Trump.  Trump craves the praises of others. Recently, several UCLA basketball players were arrested in China for shoplifting in China. President Trump was supposedly instrumental in securing their release. After the players arrived home, Trump tweeted out:

donald trump ucla players 2

It is the duty of the U.S. government and its president to assist citizens in trouble in other countries — no praise or thanks needed. Trump, however, has a pathological need for people to grovel before his greatness, thanking him for what he did on their behalf. At least with Trump, we can see that perhaps the president played a part in the release of the UCLA prayers. With the Christian God, however, there is no evidence that he has done anything for anyone, yet his earthly spokesmen, using verses from an ancient book purportedly written by God, demand that all of humanity bow before God’s greatness and give him praise, honor, and glory. This is especially true for Christians, those who have been delivered from their depravity by the finished work of Jesus on the cross. God relenting to their pleas for forgiveness and salvation comes with one non-negotiable demand — you will humble yourself before me all the days of your life, praising me for every good thing you do and every good thing that comes your way. Not only do Evangelicals get to grovel at the feet of Jesus and praise him in THIS life, they will continue their masturbatory praising in the life to come. Does this sound like something you would like to do for life without end? Of course not. But when you have been repeatedly told you are a worm, a speck of dust in the eyes of God, deserving of eternal punishment in the Lake of Fire, an eternity of massaging the Big Kahuna’s ego sounds like a great idea.

without god you are nothing

Of course, there is God, no heaven, and no hell. Knowing this is makes Evangelical preaching against sinners and their sins so cruel. Many of the behaviors deemed sins because an ancient religious text says so, are normal, healthy human practices. And those that aren’t can be addressed in ways that don’t require assaulting the psychological well-being of offenders.

People who spent much of their lives in Evangelicalism before deconverting know all about the psychological damage caused by repeatedly being told you are worthless without Jesus, and the only reason you do good in your life is because of what God does in and through you. Over time, believers develop long lists of prohibited behaviors (sins). Sinning — even the slightest of sins — requires believers to prostrate themselves before God, telling him they are sorry, and begging for forgiveness. Since, according to Evangelical preachers, Christians sin daily in thought, word, and deed, believers are expected to spend significant time daily getting “right” with God (at least Catholics let their sins accumulate before going to confession and getting absolution). Imagine the emotional toll a lifetime of this extracts from sincere, devoted people who just want to make a demanding God happy.

Many ex-Christians require professional counseling to undo the damage done by such thinking. Some of us, myself included, were so deeply scarred by constantly feeling guilty over behaviors deemed sinful and never seeming to be able to find victory over sin, that it is likely we will live out the rest of our lives trying to find peace, happiness, and contentment. Life after Jesus requires through deconstruction. Only then can a new life rise from the ashes of our Evangelical pasts. I’ve had to learn anew what good and bad behaviors are. I also have had to learn to stop judging people over perceived violations of my personal code of conduct. Over the past decade, what I call my “sin list” continues to shrink. What once required sixty-six books and 783,137 words to divine, now fits on a 3×5 card. As my dear friend Ami is fond of saying, the one rule we all should live by is this: don’t be an asshole.

About Bruce Gerencser

Bruce Gerencser, 60, lives in rural Northwest Ohio with his wife of 39 years. He and his wife have six grown children and eleven grandchildren. Bruce pastored Evangelical churches for twenty-five years in Ohio, Texas, and Michigan. Bruce left the ministry in 2005, and in 2008 he left Christianity. Bruce is now a humanist and an atheist. For more information about Bruce, please read the About page.

Bruce is a local photography business owner, operating Defiance County Photo out of his home. If you live in Northwest Ohio and would like to hire Bruce, please email him.

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6 Comments

  1. Trenton

    I agree with Ami; however, I am pretty bad about it and sometimes slip up and start looking like the mascot of the democratic party(there is no need to discuss the elephant in the in the room I formerly was a republican😖)

    Reply
  2. Karen the rock whisperer

    But from what I read, “don’t be an asshole” is not necessarily a Fundagelical Christian mandate. I do know Evangelical Christians who do indeed try to follow that dictum, and others who most certainly do not. Those people who are gentle souls intent on loving their neighbors will do so. Those who want to be righteous jerks have lots of Biblical backing to do so.

    Reply
  3. ObstacleChick

    Yeah, Ami is right.

    One of the things I couldn’t get through in fundamentalist evangelical Christianity was the concept of thought crimes. I am capable of controlling my actions and my speech, but I really can’t control the thoughts that rise to consciousness. And according to fundamentalist evangelical Christianity, sins of thoughts are just as much sins as sins of action or speech. So I gave up. Moving to progressive Christianity and later to agnostic atheism made me much calmer on the whole.

    Reply
  4. Becky Wiren

    Wil Wheaton says much the same: don’t be a dick. When I was an Adventist, I had to worry about what I ate, how much I ate. I had to worry about my modesty, etc etc etc. And thought crimes! (Funny how basic kindness wasn’t a huge emphasis, not as much as avoiding evil.)

    Now, I believe that it is what we do that makes us the person we are. I remember a definition of our values I learned in psychology/education classes was: what affects your behavior is a true value. It is not a true value if you merely think about it, or wish to do it.

    Reply
  5. Rebecca

    Bruce, encouraging thoughts for your continued healing.

    I think people that have never experienced this kind of intense, continuing self condemnation, and scrutiny can’t know what it must feel like.

    Reply
  6. cheezit99

    My self esteem became toast as a fundamentalist. Add in some abuse, being disabled with visible conditions that bring tons of ableism my way and it was a recipe for disaster. I have a loving husband who kept me sane. Thankfully he never converted in and remained an agnostic during our marriage. I had a conversation with him talking about this idea of God wanting all that praise and worship and said wouldn’t a truly Enlightened Being want friends and not just people sucking up and bowing before him like a shallow human narcissist? I got tired of being told I was a “worm” and no good and in Christianity the classism and ableism [funny how my IFB church preached against anyone having rights, [disabled, women, gay], can’t have that when it comes to the Celestial Big-Shot in the sky. I spent 16 years in being told how I needed FIXED every second. God had no interest in actually fixing any of my life. I was trying to be “responsible” and “do what I was supposed to”, and so many I met because I was disabled just focused on FIXING ME. I feel like I am finally finding myself and don’t have to be beaten down anymore.

    Reply

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