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Tag: Job 40:4

Why does Michelle Lesley Try so Hard to Demean Other Women?

Michelle Lesley

Some atheists and other non-Evangelicals are indifferent towards the beliefs and practices of Evangelical Christians. Who cares? such people say. However, as someone who swims in the Evangelical swamp daily, I can tell you that Evangelical beliefs and practices can and do materially harm others.

Evangelicalism is inherently Fundamentalist. (Please see Are Evangelicals Fundamentalists?) As with all forms of religious Fundamentalism, Evangelicalism, at the very least, causes psychological harm to its practitioners. And in some cases, Evangelical beliefs lead to physical harm — spousal abuse, child abuse, sexual abuse, self-abuse to name a few.

Central to the psychological harm caused by Evangelicalism is the belief that all humans are vile sinners. According to Evangelicals, every human is born into this world a sinner at variance with God. Every person is the enemy of God, a hater of all that is good. Even after salvation/conversion/new birth, Christians are still affected and marred by sin. This is why Evangelical Christians are told repeatedly that they must deny self and submit to the arcane, anti-human teachings of the Bible (as interpreted by Evangelical sects and clerics).

An apt example of this thinking can be found in the writing of Michelle Lesley, a homeschooling Evangelical mother of six children. Today, Lesley shot a double-barrel load of “God wants you to know you are shit” at her readers, reminding them of how the thrice-holy God really views them. Titled, You’re Not Awesome…and You Know It, Lesley piously stated:

You’re not awesome or great or imbued with some radical purpose or potential that will magically make your life phenomenal and give you oodles of self esteem once you discover it.

You’re a dirty, stinking, rotten, rebellious sinner. You yell at your kids. You don’t submit to your husband. You act out of selfishness. You lie. You gossip. You covet. You bow down to your idols instead of to Christ. You sin against a holy and righteous God in a thousand ways every day in thought, word, and deed. Just like I do. Let’s put on our big girl panties and just admit it. (1 John 1:8,10)


Ladies, stop listening to this hearts and flowers, cotton candy, pump up your ego so you’ll feel better about yourself dreck, and put your faith and hope in the One who will never let you down. The One who looked at all your nasty thoughts and evil deeds and said, “I’m going to the cross for her anyway.” The One who sees all your daily faults and failures and is still willing to forgive when you repent. The One who’s faithful to you even when you’re not faithful to Him.

Stop focusing on how great you are – because you’re not – and put your focus on Christ and how great, and awesome, and superfantastic, and terrific He is. Because if you’re feeling bad about yourself, it’s not because you don’t have a high enough self esteem. It’s because you don’t have a high enough Christ esteem.

Got that? Lesley wants EVANGELICAL women to know, “You’re a dirty, stinking, rotten, rebellious sinner. . . Let’s put on our big girl panties and just admit it.” If Lesley thinks this way about her fellow tribe members, imagine what she thinks about the unwashed, uncircumcised Philistines of the world. Lesley calls on her readers to abandon and deny self and put their focus on “Christ and how great, and awesome, and superfantastic, and terrific He is.” Does anyone doubt that Lesley has a life-sized photo of Jesus H. Christ above her bed and on her bedroom ceiling? Great, awesome, superfantasic, and terrific Jesus. He always hits the G spot. God spot . . . 🙂

While I am tempted to dismantle Lesley’s claims about the dead man named Jesus, I want to stay focused on the harm caused by Evangelical beliefs and practices. Imagine spending your teen years, married years, and every moment of every day hearing words similar to those written by Lesley. Remember, Lesley is not saying anything new here. Decades ago, a young Independent Fundamentalist Baptist (IFB) pastor named Bruce Gerencser regularly pummeled congregants with similar dogma. How could I have done otherwise? I heard similar things my whole life, including at Bible college. The books that I read and the conferences I attended all reinforced the awfulness of the human condition. The only difference between the saved and lost was Jesus. 1 Peter 4:18 says:

And if the righteous scarcely be saved, where shall the ungodly and the sinner appear?

Evangelicals believe that True Christians® are “scarcely” saved, with just enough salvation to make it through the pearly gates after death. In fact, point out bad behavior by Evangelicals, and you will be reminded that Christians aren’t perfect, they are works in progress. That’s why believers needed to be reminded of their wretchedness and propensity towards sinful behavior. Exactly, then, what good is Jesus? If this is the best Jesus has to offer sinners, what good is he? If the new birth leaves Evangelicals no different from their atheist neighbors save their room reservation in God’s Trump Hotel after they die, pray tell what good is Christianity? If faith is not truly transformative, why bother? If Evangelicals are as vile as Lesley says they are, why would I want to be a member of their club? 

Is it any wonder, then, that many Evangelicals — especially women — go through life psychologically marred and wounded? Spending your life being told you are a worthless piece of shit will do that to you. That’s why many ex-Evangelicals need extensive professional counseling. Personally, I had no sense of self. Bruce Gerencser had been swallowed up by God, Jesus, the church, and the ministry. I had no idea who I really was. In fact, I still battle these things to this day. And so does my wife. How could it be otherwise? A lifetime of anti-human conditioning will do that to you.

The good news is that both Polly and I are learning day by day to embrace self. We have learned that many of the behaviors that Evangelicals call sins and affronts to God, are anything but. We used to have extensive sin lists. Today, our “sin” lists fit on a post-it note. Progress, to be sure, but wounds from our Evangelical pasts run deep. Will we ever be whole again? I doubt it.

I continue to work towards the marginalization and death of Evangelicalism because I know firsthand the harm it causes. I suspect many of the readers of this blog have similar testimonies. If you do, please share them in the comment section.

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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Bruce Gerencser