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Category: Evangelicalism

Short Stories: Bruce and the Amish

calvary bible fellowship mt perry ohio
Screenshot from Google Earth, Calvary Bible Fellowship, Mt. Perry, Ohio

In July of 1983, Polly and I, along with our two boys, ages two and four, held the first service for Somerset Baptist Church, Somerset, Ohio, in a downtown storefront building. We had sixteen people in attendance at our first service. Several months later, we moved to 2,000 square-foot facility, the upstairs portion of the Landmark building. We would remain in this building for two years, with attendance between 30 and 50. We bought a dilapidated church bus from Faith Memorial Church in Lancaster, Ohio, then pastored by John Maxwell.

We then bought an abandoned United Methodist church five miles east of town on Sego Hill. The church grew from 50 to 200, from one bus to four. By the late 1980s, for a variety of reasons not pertinent to this article, attendance declined to fifty people. In 1989, we sold off the buses, moved a ratty 12’x60′ mobile home next to the church to live in, and started a private, tuition-free Christian school for church children. Our enrollment was fifteen students from kindergarten through grade twelve. During this time, I embraced Calvinism and the Quiverfull movement. We had three more children, bringing our arrow number to six. Imagine living in a 12’x60′ trailer with eight people. Fun times, to be sure.

Near the church was Calvary Bible Fellowship on Amish Ridge Road. While locals considered its members Amish, they were actually Mennonite. They had split off from an Old Order Amish group over the doctrine of salvation. While many of their practices were Amish, they did drive white and black vehicles. One member, John Miller, owned a lumberyard directly across from our church. He was later forced to sell the business due to “worldliness” — or so the rumors went, anyway.

Somerset Baptist Church and Calvary Bible Fellowship had a number of similarities. We both believed salvation was good works. We both believed women should dress modestly. We both believed in avoiding “worldliness” and the appearance of evil. We both believed it was important to educate our children in a church school. These common beliefs led to numerous interactions between me and Calvary Bible Fellowship elders/members. I had countless discussions with them. I think they didn’t quite know what to do with me. Our similar beliefs and practices led them to conclude that I was likely a Christian, but other things I believed and did that didn’t conform to their narrow view of the world confounded them.

There were times when the church I pastored didn’t have Sunday night services. On those occasions, my family and I would visit other churches. Sometimes, I would take a few church members with me. On occasion, we would visit Calvary Bible Fellowship. Calvary would also have tent meetings on occasion, and I would stop by to visit. Men sat on one side, women on the other. The music, sung acapella, was wonderful — by far the best congregational singing I’ve ever heard. I found the preaching to be quite Biblical, but not as emotional or enthusiastic as that found in Independent Baptist churches. Afterward, I would hang out with the men of the church, talking about God and the Bible. I found these conversations to be quite enjoyable.

Sadly, the folks at Calvary Bible did not reciprocate. While they would stop by the church when I was working outside, they never attended one of our services or heard me preach. I suspect they saw me as someone who could be won over to their side. I wonder what they would think of the fact that I am an atheist today?

bruce-gerencser-headshot

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.

Connect with me on social media:

You can email Bruce via the Contact Form.

Your comments are welcome and appreciated. All first-time comments are moderated. Please read the commenting rules before commenting.

Understanding 501c3 Status for Churches

somerset baptist church 1989

I listen to a lot of atheist podcasts and watch a lot of videos. I have noticed a disturbing trend among these content creators: when it comes to church taxation, tax exemption, non-profit status, and 501c3 status, many of them don’t know what the hell they are talking about. I used to politely and privately correct these content creators. Unfortunately, not one person responded to me, thanking me for correcting their mistake, so I stopped doing so. If we are going to critique Christianity, particularly Evangelicalism and the Independent Fundamentalist Baptist (IFB) church movement, then we have a duty to so honestly and factually.

ALL churches, by default, are granted 501(c)(3) status but the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). Churches don’t have to apply for this status, nor do they have to be non-profit. If a group of people gather together in a home somewhere, have a pastor/teacher/elder, and worship their God on a regular basis, the IRS, by default considers them a church. In the mind of the IRS, if it looks like a church, it is a church. The IRS goes out of its way to NOT define what a church is. Yes, the IRS publishes criteria for what constitutes a church, but they do NOT use this list in any meaningful way when determining 501(c)(3) status. Freedom of religion is all that matters to the IRS, so if a church says it’s a church, that’s good enough for them.

501(c)(3) status allows a church exemption from federal taxation. Its donations are tax-exempt, and donors can claim their donations on their tax returns. This does not mean the church’s pastor and/or staff is exempt from federal taxation. He still has to pay federal income tax, Medicare tax, and Social Security tax. Pastors are generally considered self-employed, though the law is complex on their status. Pastors should receive a 1099 from their churches, not a W-2 (generally speaking). I will show in another post how pastors can use special provisions in the law — exemptions and deductions only available to them — to drastically reduce their taxable income. (It’s a great gig if you can get it. Just start a church and all these perks can be yours!)

In many states, churches are exempt from sales tax and real estate tax. I lived in one area where the Catholic church owned thousands of acres and numerous houses — all exempt from real estate taxes. I bought several new cars through one church I pastored, saving hundreds of dollars in sales tax. When I went to file the title for one car, the person in charge refused to do it. She told me I had to pay taxes on the purchase. I told her I didn’t. The car was owned by the church and provided to me for my use. This went on for a couple of days. Finally, her boss in Columbus informed her that she had to title the car.

Churches are not necessarily non-profit. Here in Ohio, a church must apply for non-profit status. The churches I pastored were non-profit corporations (though none of them actually followed Ohio corporate law). Incorporating allows churches to shield their officers from personal liability for malfeasance. When churches are sued, it’s the corporation that is sued, and not its officers (pastors, deacons, board members). It might be surprising for readers to learn that, in incorporated churches, it’s their constitution and bylaws that determine how a church is governed and how claims are adjudicated, not the Bible. Churches learn this the hard way when they have conflict or when they are trying to fire a pastor.

Once a church has non-profit status, it can then file for OFFICAL 501(c)(3) status. This is different from the generic 501(c)(3) status granted to all churches. Official 501(c)(3) status requires churches to file documents with the IRS, proving that they are a charity worthy of tax exemption. Once a church is approved, it receives an official letter that states it has 501(c)(3) status. Denominations apply for 501(c)(3) status, and once approved, all churches under their umbrella are, by default, granted official 501(c)(3) status. Once approved, churches have greater access to grants and programs, along with special mailing privileges with the U.S. Post Office.

Hopefully, readers will find this helpful. I am not a tax lawyer nor accountant. I do, however, have extensive experience starting new churches. It was important to me at the time to know exactly what the law said about churches. While I haven’t started a new church in a few years, I am unaware of any meaningful changes in the law that would alter what I have written here. If you have any questions, I am more than happy to answer them.

bruce-gerencser-headshot

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.

Connect with me on social media:

You can email Bruce via the Contact Form.

Your comments are welcome and appreciated. All first-time comments are moderated. Please read the commenting rules before commenting.

Dr. David Tee’s Apologetic Method: Accuse, Attack, Discredit

dr david tee

Fake Dr. David Tee, whose real name is Derrick Thomas Thiessen, continues to write about me on his blog, even though he refuses to mention me by name. Today, Thiessen wrote a post titled Christian Counselors. He used my 2019 article titled Beware of Christian Counselors as the foundation for his post. Instead of mentioning me by name or properly linking to my article, he instead linked to a counseling site that I gave permission to republish my article.

As I read Thiessen’s latest screed, it dawned on me that the post provided a good example of his apologetic method. The subject doesn’t matter. Thiessen has used the same apologetic method in every post he’s written about me: accuse, attack, discredit.

What follows are quotes from his latest post:

Never feel bad about graduating from a Christian counseling program or even taking a few classes. The secular world never accepts anything that is remotely connected to Christianity, especially Evangelicalism.

….

How would pushing your faith and answers to the side help the persons needing counseling? It doesn’t. It is a technique used by unbelievers to hide from any truth and answers. They do not want God in the counseling room just like unbelieving scientists do not want God in the science lab.

….

This is the core of the problem. It is that little word ‘objectively’ that causes a lot of problems for Christian counselors. The author certainly does not know what the term actually means or how it is applied.

….

However, it must be noted that there is no such thing as true objectivity. Everyone is on a side. The unbeliever is on the side of evil and their perspectives are often skewed by their unbelief and the deception in their lives.

The Christian is on God’s side and often has the answers the people need. If the author wanted true objectivity, he would have to allow the fact that Christians have a perspective and that perspective is valid.

But he is not objective when it comes to Christian counselors. His bias against these people colors his perspective and leads him to trash people most of whom he will never meet or know. In his analysis and thesis of this topic, his bias is in plain sight.

….

He is not being objective nor is he being honest. He only takes his experience and paints with a very broad brush. There are many good Christian counselors who know how to use their faith correctly when counseling others. They do not follow the demands of the unbelieving world and provide actual help to the afflicted.

Just because he could not do it, doesn’t mean others cannot. Just because he had no answers, doesn’t mean others do not have the right answers. His attack on Christian counselors, in general, is wrong and misleading. It also hurts innocent people.

….

The Christian has the advantage as they know right from wrong and can effectively counsel the woman so that she sees that getting an abortion is not the right thing to do. The Christian, with God’s help, can easily counsel this woman and stop her from making a mistake.

The unbeliever can’t because they do not always accept the fact that the unborn child is truly human. They also do not accept what is truly right and truly wrong and replace God’s standards with their own. That is failing the client, not helping them. It is not great counseling either as it is done unobjectively.

….

There is nothing wrong with this as the unbelieving way is not the right way to do counseling. The Christian has knowledge that the unbeliever does not have and they should be allowed to be employed where they want.

Also, the Christian has compassion and caring that unbelievers do not have Barring the Christian counselor from any job is discrimination and illegal but that does not stop the author from recommending that action.

When it comes to counseling, the Christian has far more answers and insight than the unbeliever has and if the unbeliever wants to be truly objective, they have to let the Christian and their perspective practice their counseling training and knowledge.

The unbeliever does not have all or any answers for hurting people.

….

God knows the heart of men and women and who is better at arriving at an answer- the unbeliever who has their own personal preferences when it comes to counseling and doe snot know if the client is lying to them or not or where the truth lies? Or the Christian pastor who has God on his side showing him what is actually wrong with the person and providing the answer to the pastor?

….

It is not up to the unbeliever to determine who can or cannot counsel and in what way that they counsel. Pastors are to obey God, not unbelievers. Spiritual answers are better than the many non-answers that unbelieving counselors give.

Plus, counselors are to provide the truth, not some theory or some false answer that keeps them coming back to the counselor for years of therapy.

….

No, there are very few complex problems in this world. Most of them can be resolved if unbelievers accepted the fact that evil exists. But they don’t thus they are not good counselors, they are just people keeping others trapped in their problems.

….

Pastors are not dangerous, it is the unbeliever that is dangerous as they try to hide the truth and the answers from people.

….

This is not true and the bias of the author is clearly seen as he disqualifies people with the answers simply because they disagree with his religious viewpoint. He is not qualified to write this type of article because of his prejudice and bias against God, the Bible, and Christians.

There are a lot of personal statements made in that article that we will not deal with right now. Suffice it to say, that those topics came about for a specific reason or two. Maybe in the next parts, we will address those issues.

….

This is the problem with going to unbelieving counselors. Their bias against Jesus, Christianity and the church has them robbing people of their faith. They are unqualified to handle spiritual problems or those issues that require faith building.

Everything the author said against Christian counselors applies to unbelieving ones as well. They are not qualified to handle spiritual problems. The unbelieving counselors make God, Christianity, the Bible, and its content the problem when in reality it is evil creating the problem.

The unbeliever cannot help the believer because they do not share the same beliefs or perspectives. One comes from sin, while the other has been freed from sin. When you open yourself up to unbelieving ideology and teaching, then your believing side suffers and you are separated from God eventually.

What the author failed to do in this article was be honest. He knew what the Bible says and he ignored it in his attempts to bash professional people who do not believe as he does. To do counseling correctly, one needs wisdom.

Thiessen has a simplistic worldview: I am right and everyone else is wrong; Christianity is right, secularism is wrong; non-Christians, especially atheists, have nothing to offer the human race. Theissen has spent most of his life immersed in Fundamentalist thinking. As time goes on, Theissen becomes more certain that he is absolutely right. In his worldview, there is no place for nuance, shades of gray, doubt, or honest differences of opinion. In fact, in recent months, Theissen has intimated that he is just like Jesus, in thought and deed; that his words and God’s words are almost identical.

Thiessen will continue to write about me. He has a pathological need to do so. And as sure as the sun comes up in the morning, Thiessen will continue to accuse, attack, and discredit. He has been doing these for so long, that it’s just who he is.

bruce-gerencser-headshot

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.

Connect with me on social media:

You can email Bruce via the Contact Form.

Your comments are welcome and appreciated. All first-time comments are moderated. Please read the commenting rules before commenting.

The Various Ways Used by Evangelical Christians to Show the Bankruptcy of Their Faith

know by their fruit

I spent fifty years in the Evangelical church. During half of those years, I pastored Evangelical (mainly Baptist) churches in Ohio, Texas, and Michigan. I have pastored thousands of people over the years, many of whom were loving, kind, thoughtful followers of Jesus. I also pastored more than a few Christians who were nasty, vile, hateful people; men and women who viciously attacked me and lied about me after we had a falling out. I suspect my experiences with church members track with the experiences I have had with the unwashed, uncircumcised Philistines of the world. In any tribe or group, you have some good people and others who are not.

The late 80s and early 90s brought us the advent of the Internet. Over the past thirty years, the Internet has become an integral part of our lives. I’ve met scores of people from all over the world thanks to the Internet. Social media allows me to meaningfully interact with family and friends, which never would have been possible before the Internet. Yet, thanks to my blog, social media, and YouTube, I have been exposed to countless Evangelicals who feel it is their duty to attack me and my family. Just today, there’s a Jesus-loving man, who after I blocked him on Facebook has taken to sending hateful, Bible verse-filled messages to my children. Another person signed up for a fake Instagram account in my name and is now sending messages to my followers. Over the past couple of days, I’ve been receiving unwanted emails from an Evangelical man. I can’t respond to him because he uses a plethora of fake email accounts. These things, and others, happen all the time. I find myself asking, have Evangelicals always been this way, or has the Internet pathologically changed them? Trumpism and QAnon are largely Evangelical groups. A large percentage of the January 6th insurrectionists were Evangelicals. Many of the members of militia groups such as the Proud Boys and III Percenters are Evangelicals. The culture war that currently engulfs the United States is largely driven by Evangelicals (along with Conservative Catholics and Mormons). Evangelicals are behind rolling back sixty years of social progress. Their goal is to return the United States to the 1950s.

There was a day when Evangelicalism was largely a revivalistic, pietistic sect; people who believed in the strict separation of church and state; people who believed that preaching the gospel and evangelization was the God-ordained way to foment social change. Today, Evangelicals have largely abandoned these things, selling their souls instead for political power. Evangelicals will not rest until they have taken America back for God, and enthroned the Bible as the law of the land. We see this happening, in particular, as Evangelicals try to take over our public schools.

Evangelicalism is now considered one of the most hated sects in America. The news is filled with stories about pastors committing sex crimes, having affairs, and generally living non-Christlike lives. Evangelical megachurches in particular have become temples of entertainment and excess, churches pastored by men who are multimillionaires, wear $1,500 tennis shoes, and live in mansions.

What the hell has happened to Evangelical Christianity? Or has it always been this way?

The Bible says in Matthew 7:16-20:

Ye shall know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles? Even so every good tree bringeth forth good fruit; but a corrupt tree bringeth forth evil fruit. A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit, neither can a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit. Every tree that bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire. Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them.

The Bible says the fruit of the [Holy] Spirit — who allegedly lives inside of every Evangelical — is: love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, and temperance. I have had interactions with thousands of Evangelicals on my blog and social media over the past fifteen years — a large sample size. I have discovered that the fruit of the Spirit is nowhere to be found in the lives of most of these flag-waving, Jesus-loving, Bible-worshipping Evangelicals. There seem to be few Evangelicals who take seriously Jesus’ teachings in the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5-7). Why do so few Evangelicals care one whit about what Jesus taught in the Sermon on the Mount?

Evangelicalism is numerically dying, but they have become a sick, rabid dog who will rip your throat out. While Evangelicalism will eventually self-destruct, it will likely cause much damage and harm before it does. I suspect that personal attacks on this site and social media will continue, becoming shriller and more hostile. While Christ-like Evangelicals certainly exist, their words and actions are drowned out by the vile, hateful, violent words and behavior of other believers. Why would anyone want to be an Evangelical Christian?

bruce-gerencser-headshot

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.

Connect with me on social media:

You can email Bruce via the Contact Form.

Your comments are welcome and appreciated. All first-time comments are moderated. Please read the commenting rules before commenting.

A Transgender Reader Responds to Evangelical Andrew T. Walker, an “Expert” on Transgenderism

guest post

A guest post by Sage

I have been trying so hard to be more kind and not so confrontational. I try to be understanding and know Christians are told lies, led by ignorant leaders, and misguided by prejudice, fear, and hate. Don’t get me wrong, I still stand strongly against all bigotry against LGBTQIA+ people, but there are days where my righteous anger starts to rise . . .

Recently an article by Andrew  T. Walker was posted on Bruce’s blog. You can see the full article here: https://www.desiringgod.org/articles/the-transgender-fantasy. I suggest you go read this article. Unlike many Christians, I have enough confidence that I do not fear the writings of others. 

Andrew is yet another religious person spewing bigotry and transphobia in the name of their particular god. Yet another Christian who claims to love, and supposedly wants to fix, trans people (who he thinks are broken due to mental illness), by helping them “flourish” through his belief system. His form of love means telling someone that he believes them to be wrong, then changing them so they fit his standards. This enables them to become the right kind of person who will properly live in the world, within the boundaries he sets.

And he is an expert because he has “written a book on transgenderism.” What can I — a poor, non-flourishing, mentally ill, non-existent, non-binary person who is caught up in “gender identity” and is “embracing the transgender worldview”– have to say against an associate professor, Fellow, Managing Editor, godly man? Obviously, his research is far more informed and intelligent than my lived experience as a non-binary person.

How can I say anything about such a wonderful, intelligent, god-fearing, real man? Surely I am just an “angry activist” who is trying to “suppress” or “coerce” him and others into accepting a godless worldview so I can spread my abhorrent agenda.

I know this because I read his post. It is the typical anti-trans contempt (expressed in love, of course) from a supposed Christian expert who bases his analysis on his sect’s particular form of biblical interpretation. He hit all the typical anti-trans bigotry and ignorance, and used his bible belief to support his prejudice.

These include, in order of use:

  • I did the research, I am an expert, and I wrote a book, so I know better than anyone else, especially trans people
  • Trans people are “unnatural.”
  • You are not supposed to talk about trans people because someone will be offended, and you will be canceled, but I won’t bow to their agenda.
  • The Bible only defines 2 sexes, nature only defines 2 sexes, and only foolish people argue against true nature and science and the Bible.
  • Focus on male to female trans people because Christian men seem to find this most abhorrent.
  • Everything must be defined by my biblical understanding. So that the other non-Christian 68% of the world must live and believe as I say, no other option. 
  • Culture cannot define gender, only my Bible can define gender and provide the answer to life, the universe and, well, everything.
  • The transgender worldview defies nature, god, and male patriarchy, and trans people are foolish and delusional to believe otherwise.
  • Transgender people do not exist; once again, people who say they are trans are delusional.
  • Being trapped in the wrong body is fake, and my Bible says so to prove it.
  • Trans people are not really happy and cannot flourish because you can only be happy following my god and my rules.
  • Trans people think they are happy, but like drug addicts, they are caught up in their addiction and are only fooled.
  • Trans people will only be happy if they do what my Bible tells me to tell them to do.
  • The prevalence of depression, anxiety, and suicide in trans people is due to their denial of nature and god’s plan, and not because society, in particular Christianity, treats them like a scourge and tries to legislate and berate them into non-existence.
  • Some people detransition, which proves all trans people are wrong. Yes, the number is low but that’s because they are bullied and not allowed to speak without being canceled. There will literally be millions of people detransitioning — you just wait and see. Remember, I am an expert.
  • We must speak the truth in “love.” They will call us bigots, but if that’s what it takes to save them, then we will be bigots for god. We must persist to show them our hate is really love.
  • Some trans people are angry, but many are vulnerable and easy prey for Christian guilt and scare tactics. Just get them into conversion therapy and they will be broken . . . er . . . fixed.
  • If you take a stand against these evil trans people, you will be silenced, bullied, lose jobs, and suffer greatly. Christians are the true victimized group here. 
  • Thank god we have bigots in leadership who are making laws to keep us safe from these sickos.

But, while I don’t exist or have dozens of titles that I wield to show my intelligence, I will just say this hateful man is full of bullshit. He doesn’t really care about trans people, he just wants to eliminate them. Trans and nonbinary people, hell, all of LGBTQIA+ are an abomination, are delusional, sick, dangerous, and must be fixed and made nonexistent.

As he says, “ From privacy issues, safety issues, and equality and fairness issues, the world may be slowly coming to grips with the truth that its commitment to transgender ideology has outpaced its commitment to reality, sound thinking, and true human flourishing.” This is simply horrid bigotry spoken in pretty words. Privacy issues just mean he wants to be able to discriminate based on his personal belief system. Safety issues are a nice way to say keep trans people in their proper place to protect women and children from their predatory, disgusting, perversion. Equality means he wants equality based on his standards, where straight white Christian males make the rules and all weak men, women, children, and non-Christians stay in their place. Then he says anyone who supports trans people are just disconnected from reality, are delusional or dumb, and are not really happy anyway. 

That, by my understanding, is the heart of Christian hatred that is displayed against not only the trans community, but the LGBTQIA+ community as a whole. What is it about us that makes Christians react in this way?

bruce-gerencser-headshot

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.

Connect with me on social media:

You can email Bruce via the Contact Form.

Your comments are welcome and appreciated. All first-time comments are moderated. Please read the commenting rules before commenting.

Christians Say the Darnedest Things: The Evils of Masturbation

masturbation

The host of a popular Christian dating podcast recently said that masturbation is giving into a spirit of perversion and should not be done by Christians. 

Tovares Grey, an author and speaker who spearheads the Godly Dating 101 podcast, said in a July 14 episode that it is a “myth” to say that masturbation is “normal.” He clarified that the act of pleasuring oneself in a sexual nature is not a man-only issue because women also struggle with addictions.

“I know a lot of people have the impression that the Bible doesn’t explicitly say anything. So, is it a sin? Is it not a sin?” he said. “I’ve had feedback in regards to the podcast when we spoke about [masturbation] briefly in the past. … And then there was a whole lot of women that commented that they were struggling with that, [and] with pornography. So [it’s a] way bigger issue than I thought.” 

Grey, a husband and father of two, referenced 2 Timothy 2:22 to note that lust is a sin, adding it’s impossible to masturbate without lusting.

The podcaster explained the Bible is “not specifically clear on a lot of things” when it comes to what one can and cannot do, “but it does mention the principles that we should avoid.”

“Why would God tell us to abstain from fornication and then He’s like, ‘Oh, but masturbation is cool?’” Grey said. He dismissed the idea that masturbation is “normal and you should do it.” 

He quoted Genesis 3:4-6, where the serpent convinces Eve to eat the forbidden fruit by assuring her that nothing bad will happen and that her “eyes will be opened.”

“I believe that’s what the devil is doing today,” Grey said. “He wants you to think, ‘Hey, man, don’t overthink it. It’s normal. Hey, some doctors even recommend it. Don’t even overthink this. God is not going to get mad at you.”  

“Did God really say you’re allowed to have these hormones and not act on them? Did God really give you urges that you’re not able to act on?’” asked Grey, speaking from the devil’s perspective. 

“[Satan tries] to tell you there are benefits to it without considering the consequences of acting out [in] our flesh and turning away from the Holy Spirit.” 

Grey addressed listeners who struggle with addiction to masturbation due to abuse and trauma in their pasts. He recommended that they seek therapy or prayer.

“I know there’s a lot more women who struggle with that and there’s a lot of people who say ‘Oh, I do it because it’s the only time, [I] feel good because of abuse [and] all these other issues.’ And that’s why it’s so needed to go to God in prayer for healing.”

For those who engage in masturbation to release “sexual frustration,” Grey said they need to eliminate things that can lead to temptation. He noted that if “there was no desire for it, there would be no reason to cave into it.” 

“Every single person has a sex drive,” Grey explained. “That’s how God creates us. But what happened was your appetite was growing too much, growing too high.”

“You had too heavy of a desire that you did not know how to release that, because you’re more than likely not married, that you decided to take matters into your own hands.” 

Every sexual temptation is “the enemy” planting seeds in someone, according to Grey. He cited examples of sex scenes on television or music that include sexually graphic lyrics. 

“He’ll plant those seeds, and now when you’re home alone and in the middle of the night, your hormones are raging because you keep listening to this music that you don’t need to be listening to, and now the Enemy is just like, ‘Oh, it’s just this one time,’” Grey said. 

“We don’t realize that that music that we thought was no big deal, it was doing something to our spirit. Because what you constantly feed yourself, your body’s going to desire it.” 

….

“The Bible mentions God only has one standard for His children: holiness. So while people are recommending it, you have to understand that they are not trying to honor God,” said Grey. 

In 2019, then-Southern Baptist Convention President J.D. Greear warned in a podcast episode that masturbation “dangerous because it can be addictive.”

“It’s something that can start to almost re-wire your brain,” Greear said. “It can actually sabotage healthy sexual relationships because it takes sexual desire away from the way that God intended it, which is between two people, and turned it into sort of an auto-eroticism type of thing.”

— The Christian Post, Should Christians Masturbate? July 19, 2022

bruce-gerencser-headshot

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.

Connect with me on social media:

You can email Bruce via the Contact Form.

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Christians Say the Darnedest Things: When Atheists Say You are a Hater and Bigot, Ignore Them, Even if You are a Hateful Bigot

dr david tee

The first step in doing God’s work to fulfill his dream is to not fall victim to the labels and lies of the unbelieving world. When you tell people they are going to hell if they are unrepentant sinners be prepared to be called a hater and a bigot.

But names like that should roll off our backs. Telling the truth in love is not hatred nor is it bigotry. The truth exposes the hatred and bigotry on the unbelieving side as they do not want to hear it.

The people who do not want to repent of their sins will feel both emotions and more when they are excluded from paradise. They do not want to follow the standards of right and wrong, etc., yet they accuse the believer of being hate-filled and bigots.

We are just the messenger letting them know what is right and what is wrong. If they do not like it, it is not our responsibility. They have had their equal opportunity to be saved and they have rejected it. Their decisions are all on their shoulders.

— Fake Dr. David Tee, whose real name is Derrick Thomas Thiessen, TheologyArcheology: A Site for the Glory of God, There is Still Work to Be Done, July 31, 2022

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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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Christians Say the Darnedest Things: Transgender People Do Not Exist Cuz the Bible Says They Don’t

andrew t walker

This is where the true debate resides. Christianity views reality through the lens of Scripture, which speaks of male and female as beings defined by their anatomical and reproductive organization (Genesis 1:26–28). Hormones or surgery cannot override the underlying realities of our genetic structure. If culture tries to define male and female apart from anatomy and reproductive organization, male and female become fluid, absurd categories. Hence where we are as a culture.

The transgender worldview is an active thwarting of one’s nature. It is akin to defying limits or swimming upstream against a current: you might try, but eventually limitations and the strength of the current are going to sweep you up against your will.

This reality of nature leads to one of the most important truths: actual transgenderism does not exist. Sure, there are people who may have genuine confusion over their “gender identity” (a concept itself riddled with problems), but the idea that there are persons truly “trapped” in the wrong body is false. Scripture does not allow for such a dualism between the body and the “self.

— Andrew T. Walker is Associate Professor of Christian Ethics at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, Desiring God, The Transgender Fantasy, July 23, 2022

bruce-gerencser-headshot

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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Two Questions from an Evangelical Man

i have a question

I recently received an email from an Evangelical man named Jason. His email was quite verbose, so I’ve edited it for clarity. Jason only read a handful of posts before contacting me.

Mr. Gerencser, I have spent time reading through some of your posts. I won’t claim to have read enough of these to have a great understanding of your views or of this blog/site. What I will claim, is that I am a born-again Evangelical Christian who feels that perhaps you might be interested in something different than what you’ve labeled as your usual detractors’ intentions or comments, etc. I get it. You’ve got a lot of history both in the faith, and since leaving it. I won’t question the path you took as you’ve made it clear how you react to folks like me doing so.

….

In one of your posts, it stood out to me that you seem to believe that you should be respectful of others’ journeys in struggling with their faith — or questioning of it, regardless of their journey’s outcome — and that you and others whom frequent this site can offer assistance through your/their writings to perhaps ease some of the burdens in their minds.

….

So, my question — or suggestion, depending on how you look at it — is this: would you consider going the other way….deliberately? What I mean to suggest is, given your experiences with your own path, and your intimate knowledge of the faith and of Churches in general, as well as the fact that every person within that faith is still a flawed human being, would you consider offering help to people who want to remain as Christians (or even other faiths) or to “convert” as it were FROM atheism or agnosticism, etc., with the goal of helping people who are within that faith (or potentially-future believers) to be fully open and frank about the questions they have, including the contradictions they observe within the people of the Church (or other faith group). In other words, would you be open to facilitating a way to help people find what I would call the true Jesus, that is, the Jesus who does not discriminate nor hates nor holds people accountable for things beyond their control? Would you — as an outsider, as it were — help the Church to become what it really ought to be, as a place where God demonstates genuine love and compassion through it’s members while also being openly self-aware and willing to face up to the problems that both individual members as well as whole congregations ought to deal with?

Jason asks:

Would you consider offering help to people who want to remain as Christians (or even other faiths) or to “convert” as it were FROM atheism or agnosticism, etc., with the goal of helping people who are within that faith (or potentially-future believers) to be fully open and frank about the questions they have, including the contradictions they observe within the people of the Church (or other faith group). In other words, would you be open to facilitating a way to help people find what I would call the true Jesus, that is, the Jesus who does not discriminate nor hates nor holds people accountable for things beyond their control?

My express purpose over the past fifteen years has been to help people who have doubts and questions about Christianity or who have left the faith altogether. Most of the people I interact with are present or former Evangelicals. This is not surprising since I was part of the Evangelical church for fifty years and a pastor for twenty-five years. Evangelicalism is what I know, so it’s the focus of my writing. That doesn’t mean, of course, that every reader of this blog is an ex-Evangelical. A sizeable percentage of readers are practicing Evangelicals, progressive/liberal Christians, or former practitioners of a variety of religious/spiritual faiths. And yes, a minority of readers are atheists/agnostics who have never been religious.

Jason wants to know if I would be willing to help people with questions or doubts move TOWARD Christianity. If someone wants to remain a Christian, yet wants to get away from Evangelicalism, then, yes, I am more than happy to help them find a kinder, gentler form of faith. While I am an agnostic atheist, I am not an evangelizer for atheism. I am not an anti-theist, though I am certainly anti-Evangelical, anti-IFB, and anti-Mormon. I don’t hate religious people, nor do I hate all religions. I can hear atheist zealots screaming now! “I knew it! Bruce is not a true atheist.” Believe what you will, but we live in a world where most people have some sort of religious faith. They are family, friends, and neighbors. I am not willing (nor interested) in waging war with the human race. I know that atheists will always be a minority. We mistake the rise of NONES with the rise of atheism. Sure, the number of atheists is increasing, but most NONES are just indifferent toward religions. They might one day become atheists, but most NONES just want to live and let live.

I oppose any religion that teaches humans are broken (sinful) and in need of fixing (salvation). I oppose any religion that teaches children are sinners. I oppose any religion that teaches some people go to Heaven and other people go to Hell after they die. I oppose any religion that teaches anyone who doesn’t believe in their deity will be tortured in Hell for eternity. I oppose any religion that teaches patriarchalism. I oppose any religion that “others” people. I oppose any religion that teaches Bible literalism.

As you can see, I oppose most organized religions. Organized religions promote division, exclusivism, and sectarianism. Not all religions, but most. When it comes to Evangelicalism (in all its forms), I can’t think of any flavor of Evangelicalism that is not inherently harmful. I am of the opinion that Evangelicalism is, at best, cult-like. In its most virulent forms, Evangelicalism is a full-blown cult. The IFB church movement, in particular, is a cult (with few exceptions). Thus, I can’t in good conscience promote Evangelicalism. When dealing with Evangelicals, I give them this piece of advice: RUN! Evangelical beliefs and practices cause psychological harm and can cause, at times, physical harm. I can’t in good conscience encourage people to stay in Evangelical churches. At best, I encourage Evangelicals to seek out kinder, gentler expressions of faith. I am friends with Jim Brehler, the pastor of St John United Church of Christ in Defiance, Ohio. I have no problem encouraging locals to attend his church. That said, I don’t know of another local church that I can recommend to people looking to break free from Evangelicalism. I am sure they exist, I just don’t know about them. (And part of the problem is that a lot of the local mainline churches are aging, have terrible — and I mean terrible — music, and far too often are pastored by men trained in conservative theological colleges.)

As far as the “true Jesus” is concerned, how could we possibly know who that person is? Jesus left no writings behind. All we have are the words of unknown authors written years after their death. Besides, Jesus allegedly said some things that are problematic, especially his views on marriage, divorce, and human sexuality.

Every generation of Christians remakes Jesus (and God) in their own image. The Jesus of first century Palestine is very different from the plethora of American Jesuses today. Which Jesus, then, should we follow? Sure, the Bible contains some wonderful teachings attributed to Jesus. The world would be better served if Christians lived according to Jesus’s teachings in Matthew 5-7, the Sermon on the Mount. However, most of the New Testament contains the writings of the founder of Christianity, the Apostle Paul — a misogynistic man, if there ever was one. Paul’s writings, along with much of the Old Testament, are a millstone hung around the neck of modern Christians; filled with bigotry, misogyny, and violence. Richard Dawkins was right when he said:

The God of the Old Testament is arguably the most unpleasant character in all fiction: jealous and proud of it; a petty, unjust, unforgiving control-freak; a vindictive, bloodthirsty ethnic cleanser; a misogynistic, homophobic, racist, infanticidal, genocidal, filicidal, pestilential, megalomaniacal, sadomasochistic, capriciously malevolent bully.

Now, to Jason’s second question:

Would you — as an outsider, as it were — help the Church to become what it really ought to be, as a place where God demonstates genuine love and compassion through it’s members while also being openly self-aware and willing to face up to the problems that both individual members as well as whole congregations ought to deal with? Would you — as an outsider, as it were — help the Church to become what it really ought to be, as a place where God demonstates genuine love and compassion through it’s members while also being openly self-aware and willing to face up to the problems that both individual members as well as whole congregations ought to deal with?

What should the Christian church be? How do we know what the Christian church should be? I assume Jason thinks the Bible should be the standard by which we answer these questions. Of course, this leads to another question: whose interpretation of the Bible should we follow? There are countless Christianities, and as many interpretations as there are Christians. Referencing what I wrote several paragraphs before, what expression of Christian faith is kind, loving, and supportive of all people, regardless of who and what they are? Years ago, my wife and I attended 125+ churches. (Please see But Our Church is DIFFERENT!) While most of these churches were Evangelical-leaning, some were quite liberal. We didn’t find one church that was truly inclusive; a church that welcomed and accepted all comers. I am sure such churches exist, I just don’t know of any.

In the short term, I am more than happy to help churches become more friendly, loving, and inclusive. I am more than happy to challenge their Fundamentalist tendencies (Are Evangelicals Fundamentalists?). I want to do everything I can to lessen the psychological trauma that takes place in most Christian churches. Any pastor who tells congregants that they are broken and in need of fixing; that there is a Heaven to gain and a Hell to shun; that the Bible is an authoritative standard, by which to govern one’s life is materially harming people. And since these churches and pastors are causing harm, my goal is to further their demise. For example, the Independent Fundamentalist Baptist (IFB) church movement has caused horrible harm. It is a movement that is in numerical decline. It is my hope that the IFB church movement dies a quick death. In fact, I wish I would still be alive when it draws its last breath. I want to be the person holding a pillow over the face of its wheezing, dying body. And when it draws its last breath, I will say with countless others, AMEN!

Over the years, I have written articles for Christian blogs and publications. (Please see Advice for Young Pastors From an Ex-Evangelical Preacher.) I am more than happy to continue to do so. In the long term, long after I am dead, I envision a post-religion world; one where the principles of humanism rule supreme. Of course, it is likely climate change, nuclear war, or the Republican Party will destroy the world before that happens, but one can hope, right? I can envision a time when humans no longer need religion to explain their lives and the world around them; that religion will be viewed as a relic from our infant, ignorant past.

I hope I have adequately answered Jason’s questions. If not, I am sure he will let me know. 🙂

Saved by Reason,

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Bruce Gerencser