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Smile God Loves You — Just Kidding!

smile god loves you

Imagine a story that goes like this . . .

One day, a young man walks up to a young woman and says:

I love you and I want to marry you. I know we have never met before, but I really, really, really love you, and if you will love me back, I have a wonderful plan for your life. I will be right by your side twenty-four hours a day. In fact, you will never be free of me because I promise to never leave or forsake you. I know you don’t know me from Adam, but if you will love me and never forsake me, I will be your BFF.

Suddenly, the young man’s face turns dark, and with a stern, threatening voice he says to the woman:

And if you don’t accept my proposal of love and lifelong commitment, I promise to make your life miserable. I will afflict you, burn your house down, and reduce your life to Job’s ash heap. I will make your life so miserable that you will wish you never had been born.

Any normal woman would recoil and run from such a man. Who would ever want to love such a person, one who offers conditional love, a love that promises violence and death if not requited? Yet, this is exactly the love that many Evangelicals try to sell to non-Christians.

Let me illustrate this fact with a tract from Osterhus Publishing House in Minneapolis, Minnesota. I picked this tract up at Dietsch Brothers Fine Chocolates and Ice Cream in Findlay, Ohio.

osterhus publishing tract 2
Osterhus Publishing Tract, Front
osterhus publishing tract
Osterhus Publishing Tract, Back

Is this not the essence of the gospel many Evangelicals preach?  God says, “Love me or you’ll wish you had.”

Bruce Gerencser, 66, lives in rural Northwest Ohio with his wife of 45 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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  1. Avatar
    MJ Lisbeth

    One of the first things I came to understand when I left Christianity is that the kind of “love” offered in a relationship with God is the same as what exists in an abusive marriage or partnership. Once I realized that, I understood why so many spouses (mostly, but not all, women) stayed with spouses who beat or otherwise abused them—or who agreed to marry people who stalked and threatened them. It wasn’t for the sake of family or kids,’and it wasn’t only because the abused spouse might have no way to support him/herself upon leaving. People enter and stay in such terrible situations because they have been inculcated with that model of “love” in their churches—and in their families, which also follow that same model.

  2. Avatar

    It’s an offer you can’t refuse…from your God Father.

    No thanks, I’ll take my chances avoiding being whacked.

  3. Avatar

    Did anyone else notice the poor quality of the printing? The font is so old-fashioned. If a tradesperson put an ad for their services through my door, I don’t think this poor presentation would make me want to do business with them. The only time I see tracts in my part of the UK, is once a year when the IFB-style american church plant in our welsh village, puts tracts through every door to advertise their Carol Service. And the print is the same as the one here – I suggest off-putting, not attracting/attractive to its recipients in any way.

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