But we are all as an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags; and we all do fade as a leaf; and our iniquities, like the wind, have taken us away. (Isaiah 64:6)
Evangelicals believe that humans, Christian or not, are incapable of good works; that all goodness comes from the Christian God; that works apart from God that “seem” good are actually done for the wrong motivations and reasons. According to Isaiah 64:6, our works are as filthy rags, the rags, according to many Evangelical preachers, that lepers wrapped around their putrefying flesh. In other words, our good works, apart from Jesus working in and through us, are puss-filled, awful-smelling bandages. One reader told me that she heard one pastor say that the filthy rags in Isaiah 64:6 were the rags used by menstruating women. Gross right? That’s the whole point — to make people see and believe that “their” good works are filthy and vile before the thrice-holy God.
This kind of thinking, of course, causes great psychological harm to people who, with good intentions, try to be loving, kind, and helpful to everyone. Be overheard “bragging” about your good works and Sanctified Sally or Pastor Blowhard will most certainly rebuke you for taking credit for what Jesus did. Evangelicals are beaten coming and going when it comes to good works. They are reminded of the fact that the Bible says, faith without works is dead and work while it is yet day, for the night is coming when no man can work. Congregants are reproached over their lack of devotion and commitment to Jesus and their lack of shining-in-the-light-of-day good works. And what happens when they change their ways and start working day and night in Jesus’ vineyard? They are warned about taking credit for their works or finding satisfaction in helping others. Pastor Blowhard thunders from the pulpit, Jesus alone deserves all the praise, honor, and glory for our good works. Without him, our works are but filthy rags.
Is it any wonder so many Evangelicals are downright discouraged and depressed? Being told over and over that one is a worthless piece of shit and that one’s life is n-o-t-h-i-n-g without Jesus is sure to ruin any thoughts of self-esteem. Pastors frequently remind congregants that the Bible commands them to deny themselves, take up their crosses, and follow Jesus. It is this notion of denying self that lies at the root of so much of the damage done by Evangelical preachers. Self is viewed as something that must be crucified, put to death. The Apostle Paul repeatedly told first-century Christians of the importance of crucifying the flesh. Paul also talked about Christians presenting their bodies as living sacrifices to God. This thinking has led countless Evangelicals to deny themselves not only material gain, but normal, healthy human emotions.
Somewhere in my life as a Christian, I died. My life was swallowed up by God, Jesus, the church, and the ministry. I lost all sense of who Bruce Gerencser was. It took me years after walking away from Christianity to reconnect with a sense of self, with my emotions. I was shocked to find how buried my life had become under the weight of living for and serving the divine taskmaster, the Christian God; the deity who demanded everything from me and gave me nothing but a promise of bliss in Heaven in return. No matter how hard I worked in Jesus’ coal mine, I still felt vile and dirty. How could it be any other way, right? I was a sinner, and my only saving grace was Jesus, not any of the good that I had done. I remained, as Isaiah 64:6 says, a dirty, vile, puss-filled rag.
Did your pastor or other church leaders use Isaiah 64:6 as a weapon to destroy your self-worth and good works? If so, please share your thoughts in the comment section.
Bruce Gerencser, 65, lives in rural Northwest Ohio with his wife of 44 years. He and his wife have six grown children and thirteen 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.
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It is very important to turn us against ourselves and especially easier if done when we are very young children. I believe Jesus had some very good things to say but Christianity is a sickness. None of us are perfect but nobody deserves what evil Christianity says of them, the judgement from on high. It’s a crock of shit that came out of the caves with the bipeds and has not yet been given up. Thank-you for speaking truths in a church-world so full of lies, Bruce.
-a preacher’s son
How could we know that a lot of evangelicals are discouraged and depressed?
Uh, I was a Evangelical pastor for 25 years. This bought me into contact with lots of people.
Did they tell you why they were discouraged and depressed?
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I wasn’t a pastor. I was just forced into church from the age of 2 weeks until escaping at 17 or so.
I can say that I never met a single Christian who felt they were ‘right with God’. They were *always* trying to get there, berating themselves and talking shit about every other Christian they knew, though. “So and so needs to GET RIGHT with God NOW!!!”
So and so may have been wearing skirts too short or been seen talking to that ‘whore’ bartender. (That whore was a battered woman who had taken her two babies and escaped from her husband in the middle of the night, he later found her and while trying to break in and kill her he fell off the ladder and died. Justice.)
She was doing the only work she could find. And keeping them fed. No one from the church ever tried to help, of course. She wasn’t our kind, as she never showed up for church services.
I doubt that anyone considered that she’d been working until 2 AM on Saturday night/Sunday morning. She was a whore because she was around alcohol and didn’t have a husband.
I’m sorry, where were we?
There were a lot of people in our little town out of work, poor and often hungry. But our good works went in another direction.
Our church raised thousands of dollars to send Bibles to Bolivia.
After they raised all that money, they got together and patted each other on the back and were exalted together, thinking about how proud their God would be.
Thanks for the post! It always seemed extreme to me that humans were considered so vile, so filthy, so disgusting, that even our works are as filthy as the most horrifyingly revolting thing that one could imagine. It always rankled me inside that all of our works (good ones, that is) should be attributed to Jesus. The only ones we could claim were the bad ones because we were sinful creatures, so we were only capable of sinful works. Of course, the fact that it rankled me was proof that I was a vile, disgusting creature full of sin, and maybe even being tempted by Satan as he may have put the thoughts in my head. Surely, pride is sinful, and feeling rankled at having to attribute all my works to Jesus is evidence of sin (or Satan, take your pick).
“Sanctified Sally” – that’s a good one – I knew a few of those back in the day and still see a few on social media….. Makes me think of Dana Carvey’s “Church Lady” character in old Saturday Night Live episodes…..
Holy Moly Bruce, that was a saddening thing to read first thing in the morning. Even as a recovering Catholic who can’t shed the good Catholic guilt it was heavy. That concept in and of itself is straight-on emotional abuse. There is a world of difference between “God is perfect and we should strive to model his perfect love and blah blah blah even though we know we will never achieve that level” and “You are shit and will always be shit”. Also take mucho offense to the menstrual rags thing – God gave me this uterus to make more people, how it works must be divine also, right? Also with the not taking credit for your own actions thing – how many pastors/ministers do we see DAILY singing their own praises, putting their own names on the signs outside their churches? Prideful much, there? Mmm mmm mmm.
P.S. LOVE that the town you live in is “Ney”. That’s awesome.
In answer to your question, Isa 64:6, along with Romans 3, didn’t give me issues compared to the berating / mental beating with a club idea that the only way to serve God and not be a failure was to go to a Bible college (sometimes referred to as a Christian university, although why some backwoods, unaccredited school where 75 – 80% of the faculty have no more than a degree from the same or similar institution can call itself a university is beyond me). No consideration is given for the reality that each of us have different interests and abilities, most of which have absolutely nothing to do with what is “offered” at a Bible college. The old cult mentality – destroy people’s sense of individuality and pressure them into conformity to the group.
My experience with fundamentalist churches has been more limited than most people here.
Most of the time when I’ve heard these verses presented it has been in a more relative way with an understanding that in terms of the perfect holiness and righteousness of God we all fall short. In comparison, even our righteousness is seen as “filthy rags” and also that a right relationship with God comes as a gift, not based in anything we can do.
I don’t feel that most of the fundamentalist preachers are out to cause deliberate harm, and may truly not understand how this preaching can impact people in different and harmful ways. I hope that I’m right about this, and it’s just not me wanting to think the best.
But, I do think this whole issue of Scriptural interpretation and application is huge. To me, the command of Jesus to love our neighbors as ourselves is central, and impacts how I would view interpret, and apply the rest of Scripture. I mean how can we love ourselves or anyone else if we think we are utterly worthless pieces of dung?
Probably some people are going to be more impacted than others by this, too, depending on their own temperament and personality, or even stuff like a genetic predisposition to depression or OCD.
I remember the year I spent at BJU one guy that I knew beat himself up over listening to rock music..like this was a great sin or something. I had a very difficult time identifying with his concern because even though I was a Christian, I had come from a very different type of church background. There was more a focus on grace rather than law.
I think how we’re reared as kids, and what’s placed in our mind then is huge. It can impact us for a lifetime.
I’m not sure that the filthy rags idea does cause great psychological harm. After all, after they tell you that, they announce the good news that Jesus saves you, you’re his child, you’re gonna be in heaven forever. They present the problem and then the answer for the problem. And if you’re a Calvinist, it’s even better-he selected you personally before he made the world.
I’ve just never heard anybody say, wow, I’m depressed because my good works are as filthy rags. I admit there are some miserable Christians, but I think that’s more likely those that having nagging doubts about the validity of it all. Maybe it’s the doubters that are the miserable ones.
No doubt there are Christians that have low self-esteem, but their personality traits tend naturally in that direction and/or their parents are not great at helping them have self-esteem. In my case, I think I was a natural worrier-type person, very serious, always thinking, plus I had a very negative father and a mother who was a very different personality from me. I think those things had more impact that anything an IFB preacher was yelling at me. (lol)
Yes, one hundred percent to all you wrote, plus add in the female factor. Women are exceptionally rotten just for being born with a vagina rather than a penis. How does it go again: a supposedly superior being created me, but I failed (even though it knew I would beforehand), so the sentence is eternal agony even though my fallen nature was decided well before I was born, but wait-Jesus!, with a disclaimer of don’t ever sin again, but you will sin again (repeatedly), but then you get the Jesus shampoo again, and then you do good stuff, but it’s all just shit because you can’t really do anything good at all. And by the way, you’re female so everything anyone ever does wrong on the planet is your damn fault. And you don’t have any power even though you’re also equal to males because Jes-alizer!, but not really. So, go fix the men some sammiches and clean up the mess while you’re at it, you filthy whore!
Yep, nothing toxic in that at all. I always felt like I was fundamentally (no pun intended there) worse than anyone else. It’s incredibly difficult to overcome that type of harm. But the part that makes me saddest is that I missed so much being wrapped up in a smothering quilt of self-loathing.
I was always taught that humans were vile sinners and only by grace and faith we were saved. Mix that with end times bs from Tim Lahaye and I suddenly had a very negative outlook on life where I sort of gave up on the world. Needless to say, I eventually found out that the worldly vile sinners were much nicer and more accepting of me as I am than most christians and eventually slid down the slippery slope of disbelief.
The bible is not the Word of any god, but was written by barbaric savages. This appalling assessment of human beings by the unknown Trito-Isaiah and followed by Paul is nonsense, but many Fundamentalists utilise it to produce guilt in congregants and to make them feel worthless. It’s an appalling abuse of clerical power, all in the name of some supposed Word of an invisible god.
Isn’t it like what any salesman does? First you must convince your target that they have a very big problem. Then you provide the solution to their problem. If they fail to convince the target that he/she has this problem, they can’t make the sale.
Of course if your product is approval by God and eternal life-that’s a pretty impressive product, hence, many takers.
What’s interesting to me is how many people are truly convinced they are filthy rags, worms, etc, etc. I think that’s not that believable for many people if they give it some thought. I think the prevalent idea is to try to be a good person and you’ll go to heaven. Most people aren’t sitting around parsing it all like theologians.
I think part of the problem is that many of these preachers seem to lack wisdom and balance in how to apply and interpret the Scripture.
I think there is a legitimate place to talk about the harmful and logical consequence of sin. For instance, Bruce addressed these sexual predators even within the church who look at the gospel as nothing more that a “get out of jail free card..” These are folks that IMO have latched on to a cheap kind of grace that does nothing to lead to a genuine amendment of life, or a need to make restitution to the victims.
But, on the other hand, there are folks in the church already struggling with self loathing, and poor self esteem, prone to fall into “work’s righteousness.” These are people that need to hear more about grace, and about their infinite value just as human beings created in the image of God, apart from anything else. We are “fearfully and wonderfully made..”
But, of course, this is what you’re going to get with a flat, one dimensional interpretation and application of the Bible.
It’s kind of overwhelming when you see all the different groups with their different takes on what the Bible says. A couple years ago, a relative that doesn’t go to church called the Bible “the good book.” At the time, I thot that was so simplistic, because I knew the Bible and that there’s a lot of awful stuff in there along with all the nice-sounding stuff.
Now, I think he has the right idea. He’s a very intelligent person, and I think he just sees the Bible as a book that reminds you to try to be a good person. Now, that just sounds lovely. I’ve lost all desire to fight about what the Bible says. I’m with the people that go to church on Sunday and try to be encouraged and try to get something from it that reminds them to be a good person-and, who knows, maybe there is some kind of God out there-it’s a mystery. Respect the mystery.
Muslims probably see the Koran as a book that tells them how to live a good life. Buddhists, Hindus, etc. are all trying to find a way to a higher level.
I totally agree that people need to hear lots about grace, loving yourself, being kind to yourself-especially us first-borns-we tend to have high standards for ourselves. Maybe it’s because it’s been so long since my years of having IFB preachers yelling at me three times a week about how sinful we are–it no longer moves me. If they did it today, I’d just sit there totally unaffected, feeling less respect for them and maybe feeling kinda sorry for them-I mean….a grown man up there yelling….lol So stupid! And unsexy!
When I was a Christian, I worried about all the “bad” things I did. Funnily enough, most of those bad things revolved around impressing God. How to eat, dress, think, donate to church (always a tithe, even when poor!), etc. Now that I no longer worship the Christian god, my rule for living is: try to help your fellow man as much as you can.
As a functionally disabled person, the help I give is different than the help a healthy, energetic person can give. But it still matters to me.
Good for you, Becky.
My FSM, I apparently lucked out being raised Catholic! Never heard the “filthy rags” verse until I was an adult atheist. I was raised with the idea that I was securely saved by God’s grace, but I’d damn well better get out there and demonstrate my salvation with good works. Otherwise, God would be really, really disappointed in me, and I didn’t want to disappoint God, did I? How was I going to stand before Him on Judgment Day and explain why I didn’t spread His Love and care for my fellow men?
There were never any threats of hell; you had to commit a mortal sin (think evil crime against a person or people) and not be absolved of it by a priest before you died for a Catholic to be sent to hell. The kinds of things they were thinking about just aren’t associated with children. But there was threat of term-limited punishment after death, called Purgatory, where a soul is purified enough to share heaven with God. Nobody ever told me what that was like, but the implication was pretty bad. Nothing like hell, though.
This was actually a pretty gentle theology for a little kid, especially with lots of emphasis on God being a loving father, when I hear stories of what Fundagelical children suffered.
I think it made it easier for me than most Fundagelicals to leave religion behind. Of course, rejecting God was one of those mortal sins, and I struggled with the specter of hell for awhile. I also attended an Evangelical church for a few years after I abandoned Catholicism, and acquired a little bit of the head-bending garbage from that church. But ultimately, I can’t believe in something for which I see no scientific evidence.
Huhuhuhuhuhuh, “puss”, huhuhuhuh – Beavis & Butthead
Hmm…In the last 30-40 years we did, indeed, hear a lot of similar sort of language from Christian leaders, how all humans are “worthless” as you wrote: “Being told over and over that one is a worthless…is sure to ruin any thoughts of self-esteem.”
Especially revolting was being told by the Christian book (The Explicit Gospel by Matt Chandler, Southern Baptist megachurch leader) at one of the last churches that I went to that all infants at conception/birth
“are in essence, evil” and that every toddler is toddling to “Hell”!
HOWEVER, when I was growing up Baptist in Nebraska in the 1950’s, we kids received a mostly different message. I still remember with a deep warm glow in my heart, about we were taught that all kids were of infinite value, that we were deeply loved, that everyone of us was unique, etc.!
Yes, we knew back then that the Roman Catholics and others believed that babies were born in sin and had to be baptized, BUT we didn’t believe such horrific doctrine. We believed that every infant is precious and innocent.
Do you think that our particular branch of moderate Baptist fundamentalism was an exception, or that with the rise of modern Calvinism, many Christian churches began to emphasize the extreme negative in the 60’s-to-2018?
Comment deleted. Violated comment rules.
Wow. Yeah I identify. It’s rough being forced to go to church to hear how rotten you are. I hated it age 5 and still get a bad feeling even hearing hymns. The white steeples look like Klan hats. I’m done.
Bruce, The Truth is, in The Old Testament, GOD would kill those who disobeyed, without Faith or Love, that included many of His people, and The Nations surrounding? The people of Cannan, and many of the surrounding nations at one time or another, believed in One GOD, which Melchezedek, King of Salem, was in Cannan, a type of Christ, and many knew GOD. Those in the flesh who commited sin, GOD destroyed, so in the spiritual, they didn’t sin anymore? If we judge GOD, we are doing as the evil one does? Can we make ourselves higher than GOD? No! As I read into The whole Biblical Scriptures and New Testament, Christ saved many of those who sinned in the flesh? Christ had GOD working through Him, as Christ was before Abraham, He was together with The Father, in The Creation of The World? To deny The Father, you are denying The Son? Even Today, in the Spirit, many, including myself, fall short, but have Christ as our Mediator, our King Priest to arbitrate for us, Amen
I was brought up evangelical Baptist and let it go long ago I’m 60 now. I was just talking with my wife about things that influenced us as young people and had to google to remember what this exact verse was and your site came up. Isaiah 64:6 f’d me up for a long time. Well the rest of the bs did too but that one still stands out. Good for you for getting out, too bad it took you so long but good luck.
“Evangelicals believe that humans, Christian or not, are incapable of good works; that all goodness comes from the Christian God; that works apart from God that “seem” good are actually done for the wrong motivations and reasons.”
I don’t know what “Evangelicals” believe, but this is wrong according to the Word of God. Consider:
Ephesians 2 (KJV)
10 For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.
Luke 14 (KJV)
13 But when thou makest a feast, call the poor, the maimed, the lame, the blind:
Romans 13 (KJV)
10 Love worketh no ill to his neighbour: therefore love is the fulfilling of the law.
Galatians 5 (KJV)
14 For all the law is fulfilled in one word, even in this; Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.
Matthew 7 (KJV)
21 Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven.
22 Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works?
23 And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.
24 Therefore whosoever heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them, I will liken him unto a wise man, which built his house upon a rock:
25 And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell not: for it was founded upon a rock.
26 And every one that heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them not, shall be likened unto a foolish man, which built his house upon the sand:
27 And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell: and great was the fall of it.
The point that much of Christianity get wrong is that they view “salvation” as a one off thing that happens at the declaration of faith, and run from works, calling it “works based salvation” or “legalism”. No, we are supposed to have works – we are supposed to do good. But we should do those works out of love, not because we believe the works themselves make us righteous. We are told to walk as Jesus walked – and Jesus did many works. Paul is also an example to us, and who worked harder than he?
The Bible talks against self righteousness – thinking that you’re a good person because you’ve done some good things. Your good works don’t cross out your evil – you don’t get to murder people because you’ve made charitable donations and fed homeless people. Salvation by grace, through faith, takes away our need to work for salvation – as if there’s a minimum number of good things you have to do to get to heaven, or as if you have a balance sheet that needs to be in the positive at the point of death.
And the resurrection gives hope – knowing that we have something better waiting for us after we die. So we can focus on doing good works without stress, out of love – not because we have to, but because we want to.
“Is it any wonder so many Evangelicals are downright discouraged and depressed? Being told over and over that one is a worthless piece of shit and that one’s life is n-o-t-h-i-n-g without Jesus is sure to ruin any thoughts of self-esteem. Pastors frequently remind congregants that the Bible commands them to deny self, to take up their crosses and follow Jesus.”
Sounds like you went to a terrible church, and that the pastors were shitty people who wanted a passive flock to rule over. God loves you and gives you peace.
Romans 14 (KJV)
17 For the kingdom of God is not meat and drink; but righteousness, and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost.
Don’t throw away God because the “Christian” religion is awful. You can have a personal relationship with God by His Word. I don’t go to church, and I don’t like “Christianity” – but Jesus is the way, the truth and the life.
Self-righteousness is righteousness from your identity instead of actions. The Sadducees were self-righteous because they could do evil things and still be good people, just like Evangelicalism promotes.
Real righteousness comes from doing righteous things, something that Evangelicals shun as legalism, and Paul denounces as worthless in God’s eyes, because as you said, as no amount of loving your neighbor can atone for the crime of looking at that hot chick’s butt when you were 18. God needs to murder someone to appease himself.
You must know that what you have written is a gross distortion of Scripture. That text is intended to help us understand that we are sinners condemned to damnation and draw us to Christ. What is most damaging of all is to live in denial of the truth about yourself and be eternally damned. I will pray for you, that the light of Christ and the truth of his gospel will break into your life.
“ For “everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.” Romans 10:13
No, it isn’t. This post represents what many Evangelicals believe.
I already did the “saved” thing. I’m good to go. Once saved, always saved, right?
Scores of people just like you have prayed for me, yet here I am, an unrepentant apostate. Either God isn’t listening to your prayers or he doesn’t exist. My money 💴 is on the latter.
Thanks 🙏 for commenting.
Sarah, one man’s gross distortion is another’s reality. The bible is made up of different books with different audiences by different authors and editors with their own agendas. Ripping verses and chapters out of context and stringing them together when they aren’t really connected in real life to make a point about how anyone should live is harmless at best and extremely misleading at worst. The Bible could be made to say anything that way and often is, just note several comments by one dr david tee on this blog for a truly biblical worldview that is utterly abhorrent. Continue to pray for us if you want as will do us no harm even if most of us here think that prayer is a completely useless waste of time, at least it is you wasting your own time and not ours.
I knew a lot of people in “the beforetimes” when I was in an evangelical church and school. Some of them got really caught up in being a filthy sinner and brat themselves up a lot, suffering from low self-esteem and depression. Others took on the role of accuser, or pointing out people’s transgressions “in Christian love” which came across as more condemning than loving. Yet others just seemed to let it all roll off their backs and didn’t take any of it too seriously. In no way am I trying to blame is for how we responded to toxic teachings – it’s just interesting. My grandma was in the “take it seriously and beat oneself up” and sometimes crossed over into the judgmental role, though mostly she removed herself from situations she found troubling. My grandfather, on the other hand, seemed to be untroubled by any of it – he was an outgoing, caring guy, and church was a community of friends fir him, and a network for him to connect people in the broader community with those who could help them. As a female, I felt extra judged because of purity culture and the notion that “women are easily deceived – look at Eve”. Ugh
A great post to resurface here and it affects me every bit as deeply as the first time I read it. I deplore the pleadings of Sarah (above) because she reminds me just how lost I was in my knowledge of terrible failure I was as a human beiong, how unworthy etc. Poor Sarah believes that God is doing her a favor by allowing her the self-knowledge that she is filthy, worthless scum underfoot without sweet baby Jesus. She wants Bruce to understand the true depths of scripture when properly interpreted! Talk about gross distortion! Christianity of this sort truly and surely rapes the human heart… What a shame.
“…According to Isaiah 64:6, our works are as filthy rags…”.
Romans 11:36: “…and everything is for his glory.”
“Everything”… so even our filthy rags works.
Conclusion: God glories in filthy rags.
Filthy rags. Menstrual rags. Rags filled with pus from open wounds of lepers.
People in my household get rags filthy when we clean the house, work on vehicles, paint, etc. We don’t have to haul laundry down to the Jordan River or attempt to clean stuff with water hand-pumped from a well (YAY!) Still, rags come out of the washer stained, and get reused.
As regards menstrual rags being unclean, they aren’t. They are stained with blood and menstrual material, the material washes out, the rest stays stained because iron in blood is a powerful stain, but so what. This is simply a byproduct of our amazing reproductive process. Humans have been “staining” stuff since prehistoric times, except when men do it deliberately, it’s called “cave painting”. Well, or once lead-based inks were invented, it was called “writing”. Iron-based menstrual stains are not all that chemically different from iron-based pigments on prehistoric cave wall paintings. There is nothing sinful or unclean, for any sensible modern person, about the results of menstruation (or ancient people painting cave walls!). Menstruation is a natural human function, which some men have declared unclean for reasons that, if you think about it, paint them in an extremely bad light. The fact that many women have bought into those beliefs is very sad. Mind you, I went through menopause long ago, but before that I did find menstruation messy and awkward. Also sometimes painful. That didn’t mean that there was anything wrong with me, or that women haven’t been managing it gracefully for far longer than even the Old Testament god was worshipped. Aside from one woman I knew of who had mental heath issues, the rest of us did/do not go around dripping on clothes, furniture, or floor coverings. Before access to disposable sanitary materials, we washed our menstrual rags and reused them. Guys who wrote garbage because they objected to the sight of drying laundry deserve far less attention than they’ve traditionally gotten.
(As an aside, don’t go marking cave walls. Our ancient ancestors couldn’t understand an environment where humans absolutely rule, where caves are not home or safe spaces but outposts of micro-environments, and as modern humans we perpetuate healthy environments best by respecting the existing ones without damage or further damage. The damage you do will affect the world of my grand-niblings, as well as possibly affecting the sacred sites of indigenous people. DON’T MESS WITH SITES THAT ARE SACRED TO INDIGENOUS PEOPLE, and if you aren’t sure, just DON’T.)
Rags filled with pus from lepers’ wounds…it would’ve been great if the all-knowing Christian deity had bothered to explain Hansen’s disease, or given humans a way to cure it before the advent of modern multi-drug therapy. That it existed/exists, along with plenty of other things on our planet that don’t support human health, tell a long tale of extreme biological diversity, establishing and reestablishing itself over billions of years, inevitably piggybacking on the survival of other species. If some deity was involved in creating this mess, they need to have their pass to the creation lab revoked. Too much side-effect suffering.
Obstacle and Brian–In reading your comments, it occurs to me that anyone who buys into the “filthy rags” doctrine can only become either a bully or the bullied: You torment other people for their “filthy rags” or you torment yourself for your own.