Glib Answers

Fundamentalists stand more than ready to give an answer to every man.This answer, however, is less inclined to be a witness of the the “hope that lies in them” and more likely to be a series of carefully-crafted, spiritual-sounding but completely-inane phrases.

It goes something like this…

“Frank, I’m so depressed today. I just feel like life isn’t worth living…”

“Well, Jim, rejoice in the Lord, always!”

“I just don’t think I can. I’ve been through a lot recently…”

“Jim, you can do all things through Christ which strengthens you!”

“That’s true but I’m really hurting right now…”

“All things work together for good, Jim!”

“I just don’t see how that’s helping right this second…”

“You just need to let go and let God!”

“What does that even mean?”

“It means that God doesn’t call the equipped, he equips the called!”

“What on earth are you talking about, Frank?”

“Jim, God never moves without purpose or plan…”

“I’m telling you I’m in pain and you’re seriously quoting me Ron Hamilton song lyrics right now?”

“God gives wings as Eagles? Squash the wiggle worm? He’s still a workin’ on me?”

“Goodbye, Frank.”

170 thoughts on “Glib Answers”

  1. Whenever I find myself feeling a little grumpy or asking rebellious questions in my heart, I always remember “Just two choices on the shelf: pleasing God and pleasing self.” I usually feel so convicted that I just deny what I want and do what GOD wants instead!
    I also try not to have sin in my life as that tends to lead to hardship. Unless it’s God pruning you or refining you as gold. Then, I just smile through the suffering, like the Apostle Paul did.

        1. She is our darling beacon of modesty, humility, and submission 😉 Her eyes might cause the “weaker brother” to fall again.

    1. CMG, how is Titus these days? Is your courtship continuing? I’m concerned because you haven’t mentioned him for awhile. If he has chosen not to pursue this relationship any further, just remember that good things come to those who wait.

  2. Oh wow. . .this is so true. Nothing like going through a *true* hardship and having some quote Scripture to you. I’ve felt like saying before: “Hello, i have my own Bible.” Not to mention, I probably already have the verse memorized myself. 🙄

    1. My mother does this. I love her dearly and she does listen, but she can’t ever just listen. Instead she either quotes a verse at me or questions me about sin in my life. Sigh. I can’t always talk to church folks because THEY might be my problem 😐 , don’t always want to whine at my husband because I want to encourage him, and don’t have anyone else to talk to so I’ll try to talk to her, but I very rarely receive true comfort. I should know better by now.

    2. Platitudes are not just confined to the fundie world. When I tell people that I am dying of terminal cancer, they may say “but you look so good”, or “any one of us could be hit by a bus tomorrow”, or (my fav) “you have to confess your sin and have faith in God that you will be healed”. One pastor had the nerve to tell me in front of other that my cancer was beause of unconfessed sin in my life. And this weasel didn’t know me, he had just met me a few minutes before he spoke to me.

      1. Wow! Those are some pretty unsympathetic responses. It’s one thing if people say something awkward or stupid because they just don’t know what to say (although I’m sure that’s still annoying), but it’s terrible for someone to accuse or to deny the pain of what you’re going through.

      2. Lisa,

        I’m very conscious of trying not to be trite about such things. I really try not to use any platitudes or banal advice. What could I say to you as someone who does not know you that would 1) Encourage you, or if that is not possible 2) not discourage or frustrate you further. I could really use help in this area. I tend to say nothing which I think often looks callous when I really just want to help.

      3. You have cancer because people get cancer, not because of unconfessed sin. What an idiot the man who said that must have been.

        Please forgive me if this is another platitude, but I’m sorry you have cancer. I hope today is a good day for you.

        1. Big Gary – did you just say “unconfessed sin”??? My, that brough a lot of things back – I forgot that phrase! That was one of the top 3 WMD the B*stards used when I was still in fundamentalism (of a kind). And yes, I meant the “B” word.

        2. The nitwits who’ve been advising Lisa brought up unconfessed sin.
          Cancer happens when the body’s regulation of cell division misfires. It can have chemical, biological, and/or genetic causes, but unconfessed sin has nothing to do with it.

        3. I’m sure I have a million sins that I’ve never confessed. I do not have cancer. Also, even if I was, it wouldn’t be God’s punishment. He does not chastise with sickness. What kind of a Father does that to a child?

      4. Lisa,
        we seem to be a society that functions on platitudes and euphamisms, BIG petpeeves of mine. We have comingled politeness with insincerity. I hope you find people in your life who are unafraid and kind.

      5. Lisa, I wish we were all there in person to give you the support you need. I’m so sorry that you have had so many unhelpful responses, and I wish we could make all those just go away.

      6. Lisa, my heart is with you. I had cancer 11 years ago. Now I have it again on my neck. Surgery Feb 11; after that I don’t know. I don’t think that people get cancer because of unconfessed sin. Or that God sent an earthquake to Haiti because they practice voodoo. Or that God will wreak havoc on the school board in PA because they removed creationism from their science curriculum. Those prognostications are made by mean people.

  3. This is like those Bing commercials. I can see it now, but the ending should be the Fundy’s head explodes.

    You know, though, on a serious note. Truly during certain times of need or despair you need more then quick one liners. The fact of life that so many fundies deny is that sometimes God seems very distant, sometimes the fact that “all things work together for good” isn’t a comfort for the pain you feel this very moment. Sometimes you just don’t want to rejoice in the Lord. Sometimes you just need your distance. The fundy doesn’t really have an answer for that. The fundy isn’t really allowed to admit that sometimes he feels distant from God, or that sometimes God isn’t the comfort that he needs at that moment. But sometimes you just need to cry it out and have your distance.

    1. So true! The Psalms validates this: they’re part of inspired Scripture, yet they record David’s cries of pain and frustration and his feelings of despair and abandonment.

      I believe God wants us to “weep with those who weep”; it seems a lot of fundies have a version that says “preach at those who weep.”

      1. This reminds me of Oral Roberts (fundy from a different mother) He had a program on many years ago and would come on with the statement that “Something good is going to happen to you today!” Even as a kid, I thought well someone is gonna be told they have cancer today, someone is gonna get a call their child died in a car crash today. Pick your tragedy.

        I figured out early on that life happens to all of us and its not necessarily because of something that we did which caused negative things to happen to us, but the good thing is that we have a loving God to run to, who loves us immensely, and won’t turn away and won’t say something dumb to us, He just lovingly opens His arms and comforts us.

        1. Actually, true Fundies would NEVER acknowledge Oral Roberts as one of them. He was a charismatic! ‘Nuff said!

        2. Donna – He was fundy in a way, but those IFB’s just had a real hard time with that 900 ft tall Jesus that stood at the end of his hopital bed. Hey come to think of it, why was a pentecostal preacher in the hospital anyway, don’t they walk in perfect health?

  4. Ahh, THIS one strikes me in the heart. As previously mentioned in another comment, I’m a recovering charismatic and this chipper shorthand is just as prevalent in that circle too. Wife just miscarried? Twice? Losing your home/car/business? Family disintegrating? Facing bankruptcy but your lawyer took the payment & goofed the paperwork? Homeless with two kids? Oh well, “Remember: God will never leave you nor forsake you. Good luck!” (an actual quote from my Pastor’s secretary when trying to reach him).

  5. Funny how the fundy in the conversation wouldn’t let his friend get a word in edgewise. Sometimes people just really need to talk. “Oh,” the fundy would say, “but they should tell their problems to Jesus and not seek help in other men.” Well, sometimes people want to talk to someone with skin on, and conversations like that are a great chance to be “God with skin on” to a hurting person. Or you could be like Frank and choose not to listen, not to think, and just spit out robot-like answers. Grrr.

    1. In my many years in fundamentalism I’ve noticed that (generally speaking) pastors or pastoral staff are some of the poorest listeners I’ve experienced. Even if you disagree with them on something the common retort is not “that’s o.k., not everyone agrees about everything,” but rather “who have you been talking to?” or “what books have you been reading?”

      1. Stan – You made me remember my last in-office meeting with my old fundy pastor. He had said something negative about Rick Warren on a Sunday, from the pulpit, and I had made an “appointment” to talk with him about it. I had a copy of Warren’s “Purpose Driven Life” with a few notes in the book. Needless to say he didn’t like my questions real good, and had the nerve to ask me if I studied my bible as much as much as I did other books. I know everyone here thinks I blew up, but I didn’t, I was prayed up good before I went in there.

        God forbid someone read another unaproved book about spiritual matters, and not get it approved by the pastor.

        For the record I’m not a big Rick Warren fan, but I did enjoy “Purpose Driven Life” Oh yea, later on pastor got in some anti-Rick Warren tracts for the tract rack.

        1. greg – I learned early on in my sentence, I mean my time in fundyland that meetings in the pastor’s office were not a good thing. So I made it a point to never initiate one myself. No matter how much you earnestly had questions about anything, if your stance did not line up 100% with the m-o-g, it was not going to turn out well. There was never an honest discussion about matters of faith. It was the pastor giving you his interpretation of the Bible and that was it. I just kept my mouth shut no matter what was being said by anybody.

  6. Unfortunately this is all you can get because that is all they have to offer. Empathy, compassion or love are not emphasised or taught so you get these mechanical phrases that sound good but don’t reach the soul of the hurting.
    Regardless of the circumstances Christ could touch the soul of the needy and we are all needy.

    1. “Empathy, compassion, or love are not emphasized.” You’ve hit it. It baffles me that people who claim to preach the Bible so faithfully and accurately miss this so thoroughly!

    2. After all, how is it possible to be empathetic, compassionate, or loving when you really believe that someone in pain DESERVES to be there? If he sinned and is being punished for it, he just needs to “Get right with God.” The rest doesn’t matter, so you don’t really have to listen to it. In the Fundy universe, bad stuff doesn’t ever just happen to people.

  7. “Jim, you need to be content in whatever situtation you are in. Learn to suffer for Jesus quietly and don’t be like those who wear sackcloth and ashes when they fast, calling attention to themselves.”

    “Jim you need to learn to rejoice that you are counted worthy to suffer like that.” **you big wuss**

    1. They also love “Bless God, He won’t put more on us than we can bear”

      To someone who is going through a nightmare, of say having lost a spouse or child, that’s very little comfort, and maybe God won’t put us more than we can bear, but it sure doesn’t feel that way from the hurting one’s perspective.

  8. This dovetails nicely with something I find really irritating about fundies: their unwarranted assumptions. (Darrell, you could do a blog entry on this.) Such as:
    – The assumption that because you haven’t received Christ in exactly the same way I have, you’re not a Christian.
    – The assumption that because you go to one of “those” churches (read: Methodist, Presbyterian, SBC, ABC, anything not approved by the MOG or other powers-that-be) you’re not a Christian.
    – The assumption that no Roman Catholic could possibly be a Christian.
    – The assumption that people who are not Christians are not living fulfilling or satisfying lives.
    – The assumption that receiving Christ is a magic pill that will somehow solve all your problems.
    – The assumption that if you’re not living the Victorious Life, it’s because you’re not trying hard enough /submitting enough.

    I could go on and on. There are LOTS more examples.

    1. Yes! Especially this one:

      “- The assumption that people who are not Christians are not living fulfilling or satisfying lives.”

      I can’t tell you how many times that’s come up for me, but usually the people telling me so, have pretty awful Christian lives themselves. I can say that I’m just as fulfilled as they are, at least from outward appearance.

      It has led me to feel guilty a lot, since that idea was drilled into me from an early age. I feel like maybe my life really isn’t as good as it could be, but then I take stock, look at the Christians I know, and realize, nope, I’m happy and living a pretty good life so far.

      Fundy guilt…almost as good as Catholic guilt… 😆

      1. I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again. Up until last year, I didn’t want to tell anyone about Jesus, because I would have had to lie. I mean, if I’d been honest, I could only have said “Hey, become a Christian and be a miserable anxious wreck like me, constantly wondering if God hates you – it’s great!”

      1. After a sojourn in an Episcopal church, we are now Anglican. My parents, still Baptists, came to my sons’ baptism. They participated in the service, stood up as sponsors, and even said the Nicene Creed—except for one line: “I believe in one holy, catholic, and apostolic church.” Because, you know, “catholic” means “Roman Catholic”. Doesn’t matter if you use a small c.

        1. Haha. Some students of mine went to visit a Christian college where they said the Nicene Creed, and they all wanted to know if the college was R. Catholic.

          I got the opportunity to explain to them about the universal church.

        2. I am a convert to Catholicism, and after finally convincing my dad to just come to church with me so he would finally see I wasn’t participating in any crazy Satanic rituals – he refused to say that line, as well. I tried to explain it to him but he didn’t buy it.

          He was also deeply disturbed by the depiction of Jesus on the cross (which is a pretty common thing in Catholic churches, although we’re not the only ones who do it). When I asked him why, he said, “I just don’t like to think about it.”

          Well, um…

  9. This always happens at funerals. I remember standing in the family receiving line at my grandparents’ funerals and heard these lines one after another. I just wish people could humble themselves to say; “You know what? I don’t know what you’re going through and I don’t have the right words to tell you. I could never comfort you like Christ, but I’m here to show you I care and love you.”

    There. Was that so hard?!

    1. When my grandmother died, I was still teaching on Guam and couldn’t make it back to the States for the funeral. I didn’t advertise my trauma at church, mainly so I could avoid the platitudes. My grandma and I weren’t particularly close, but her death was still hard, especially because she wasn’t saved. She hated God her whole life.

      Anyway, well-meaning people from my church kept coming up to me and saying, “Oh, I’m sorry to hear about your grandmother. But at least you can take comfort in the fact that she’s saved.”

      “My grandmother wasn’t saved.”

      ” . . . ”

      No one had a good response to that. It seems no one in the church knew how to comfort a person whose unsaved relative had died.

      1. “No one had a good response to that. It seems no one in the church knew how to comfort a person whose unsaved relative had died.”

        As a Funeral professional I still have problems with that. In Christ we weep “but not as those without hope”, we will get to see them again. Without Christ at best there is the belief that the soul ceases at death so there is nothing or, at worse…

        I try to direct people to thier memories of the departed and just, as impotent as it sounds and feels, “be there” for them. Like I say I’m workin’ on it.

        1. Have you considered, “We cannot know the mind of God, and his love and mercy may work in ways we do not understand. Leave it up to God.”

        2. Verrry good Jean, thanks. I have used that one when there is doubt. When my aunt, who would not have anything to do with anything remotely spiritual, died that just didn’t help much.

      2. They could say, “Well, maybe God’s a bigger person and way smart and doesn’t actually hold grudges against people who hate him. After all, he made your grandmother and certainly understands her personality or why she felt the way she did, etc.”

        To me, God is presented as pretty thin-skinned. He’s gonna get you good if you don’t display the right attitude no matter what happens to you, or if you happen to not believe the Bible. I mean, is he truly that petty?

    2. @zippy, “humble” is the right word! The average fundy can’t show himself “weak” because he thinks that would imply that 1) God isn’t enough or 2) he isn’t a good enough Christian. Thus, he always has to have a quick answer to everything you say, instead of humbly admitting that he doesn’t know how you feel and he doesn’t have the answers, but he loves you and wants to be there for you. Both love and humility are sadly lacking in IFB churches (of course, they’re sadly lacking in the world in general, but they OUGHT most to be found where Christ’s Word is proclaimed!)

    1. I found the movie “A Serious Man” to be just hilarious. Isn’t fundies, but a Jewish guy goes to I think a couple of different Rabbi’s and gets just recited stories they attempt to make relevant to the situation, and offer absolutely *nothing* to actually help. Was totally a fundy moment, and always good to know fundies aren’t the only ones who just wanna offer a glib answer and move on to something else.

    2. In 2003 my wife of 16 years left me, taking my son and daughter with her, needless to say I was devastated. My IFB church, which I had been a member of for 20 years, was not much help. Not one person from the church called me or stopped by to check on me,including the pastor! As I write this it still makes me mad. (relatively small church, about 100 on Sunday, the pastor lived on my street)

      My story ends like Job’s though, I have been blessed with a wonderful wife, my children have been restored back to me as well as my finances. Praise God!

      1. Sad that your church wasn’t there for you. When we’re focused on a “stained-glass masquerade”, no one knows what to do when the glass breaks. But I’m thankful to hear of God’s blessings in your life: “Weeping may endure for a night, but joy cometh in the morning.” (But, boy, that night can seem to last forever sometimes!)

      2. greg – I’m curious (and you don’t have to answer if you are not comfortable sharing) it sounds like you re-married? If so, did you while you were still in your old church? How did they handle that?
        I ask becasue in my experience I have found the fundies really struggle when confronted with people who have gone through a divorce. They all foam at the mouth about hating divorce (just like God) but when they are presented with someone who went through a divorce and who really loves the Lord, they tend to jump through all sorts of hoops just to accept that person.
        Again, I’m just curious. Thanks.

        1. Scorpio – Yes I did re-marry while still at the ol fundy church (I’m sure I should have been under psychiatric care) They never accepted my new wife, they let us attend, just had to sit on the back row (kidding, sorta) I’m pretty thick-skinned, but it was obvious that we were being ostracized, and it was hurtful to my new bride, so eventually we left, would have left sooner,but my son was very involved in the youth group. My son loves his new church 10x more than the old.

          I just re-read before posting, not “all” the people were against us, some were very wonderful to us, there are truly wonderful people in some of these legalistic IFB churches. Come to think of it though, why didn’t some of those wonderful folks come by or drop me a line, when my ex took off?

      3. Greg, my wife of 25 years did the same thing. Oddly enough it was an IFB church that took me in. I’m still there helping the HAC grad pastor recover from his education. (hope you’re watching) We have many long talks and my, unwanted, divorce and, wanted remarriage has been food for much discussion.
        It is odd that a repentant child mollestor, rapist, or murderer is more readily accepted than someone who has been divorced by an unfaithful spouce. 👿

        1. It IS sad that a welcome is often extended to everyone except a divorced/remarried person. 🙁

        2. tlorz – I have said for years. Divorce is the IFB’s unpardonable sin. I’m glad you found a supportive church.

  10. I’m not sure which is worse, the glib answer or the accusations which usually accompany any confidance you give them: “Frank, I’m so depressed today. I just feel like life isn’t worth living.” “Well, Jim, a spiritual Christian wouldn’t feel like that. Have you been having your daily devotions? And you know, I haven’t seen you at prayer meeting much lately.”

    BTW, when “Frank” started quoting Hamilton in the original post I started laughing so hard!

      1. Sadly, it’s true! I guess for those of us raised in fundamentalism, we’re not surprised if other religions are unsupportive, but we think all that’s good and right and godly and Scriptural is in the independent fundamental Baptist church. We read Scripture and see its admonitions for compassion, love, bearing one another’s burdens, and regarding others more highly than oneself and assume that our leaders/pastors/deacons, etc. are living out the Bible. That’s why it’s so shocking when we realize that those we considered so Biblically accurate are actually not living Biblically at all. (Of course, none of us do, but that’s why we walk in humility and gratitude for Christ’s forgiveness.)

  11. Many IFB Christians have been led to keep up a spiritual facade. Suffering brings this down. Unfortunately this is seen as weakness.

    “I’m really depressed today.” Finally some honest confession.

    The solution? Put the mask back on!

    “Rejoice in the Lord.” Translation: Pretend you’re happy even if you’re not because we don’t know how to respond to you when you are honest and upfront about what is actually happening in your life.

    Sad.

    1. Yes, I’ve heard messages about how someone who’s born again should always be happy. Yes, always.

      Looking / acting sad or even not happy is a poor testimony. When someone asks us how we are, we should always say “great!” because “God is still on the throne! Amen??? So everything is great!!!”

      1. I once knew a woman who was studying for the United Methodist ministry. She started out at an evangelical ministry where everyone put on a happy face despite their problems. After her second year she transferred to a mainline Methodist seminary. One day she overheard one student say to another, “So, how are you?” The second one responded, “Shitty.” My friend just laughed. She said the honesty was refreshing.

      2. I think this issue is where fundamentalism does so much damage. What if you’re naturally a glass-half-empty person, but you’re told that Christians are full of joy. This causes lots of harm to people and makes lots of hypocrites.

        The one thing you can never do as a fundy is be yourself. You must keep that hidden and play the “Christian walk” game.

  12. I HATE THIS! 👿 👿 👿

    Fundamentalism does not encourage honesty, transparency, and anything else that might actually be useful to someone in pain. It only encourages a bunch of fakery from both the person in need of support and the “Job’s comforters” who do more harm than good.

  13. This is the one that has finally brought me out of lurkerdom. YES, this drove me crazy!

    My mom was heavily into fundyism for a while, and it unfortunately coincided with my own adolescence, when I had angsts and woes like all teenagers do. The church had a chorus that went “Cast all your cares, cast all your cares upon Jesus.”

    So one day I decided to confide in my mom about whatever it was I was upset about. I don’t even remember what was bothering me, but I still remember her response. She just gave me back the line from that chorus in a singsongy way.

    Sad to say, it drove a wedge into our relationship for YEARS. I knew I couldn’t count on her for any real support, so I just…didn’t talk to her about anything important for about five years. We have a good relationship now, but it still makes me sad.

    1. I can sympathize with this. What I wouldn’t give to have a decent relationship with my parents. It’s gotten to the point where I now go to a close relative who doesn’t even claim to be a christian instead of going to my parents. He’ll tell me something from his past or someone he’s known who’s dealt with a similar situation and tell me how he/they dealt with it. That has given me more encouragement, hope and something practical to work with more than any advice my parents ever gave.

      My dad is a fundy pastor, and doesn’t know when to take the pastor’s hat off and put on the dad hat. I feel he never is completely listening. Like someone posted before, fundy leaders and pastors are the worst listeners. I believe it.

  14. this is so true!!! i dropped the f-bomb like 6 times reading this cuz i could help thinking about all the conversations i’ve had like this and how pissed off i got.

  15. Wow. This pulled some serious triggers for me. Once I was almost to the point of suicide but all the fundy pastor had to offer me was “Fight off the Devil!” Well, I did, by leaving the fundy church, and I can honestly say that was the best move of my life. Thanks for the great advice, “pastor”.

    1. “Wow. This pulled some serious triggers for me.”

      That seems to be happening alot lately, especially over in the forum. Spot on as usual.
      I think someone is going to have to start a blog to help those of us recovering from fundamentalism who also need help recovering from the triggers on SFL.

  16. *headdesk*

    UGH. It’s all about the outward. They really don’t care that much about your real inward state. It crops up occasionally in a sermon, that’s all.

    But my personal phrase that takes the cake is something my preacher said on discouragement. Paraphrased, “if you’re discouraged, don’t tell other people, because you’ll get them discouraged too!”
    “Are we happy plastic people” anyone?

    So I suppose I should bottle up all my fears, doubts, and despondency and let them fester for a while. Until they all explode in a spectacular fireworks display. Then I’d get told I’m just being emotional and dramatic. Really?

    1. This is one thing that really bugs me about fundies… they tell you to not express your doubts or whatever other hardships/troubles you’re having, etc etc… they say to keep up an appearance of being happy (or any other similar feeling) so as not to bring others down. If you’re having some difficulty, oh you’d better not confess it to a bunch of people… well, that isn’t in the Bible, is it? God tells us to confess our sins to one another… to really talk with one another about what’s going on, not bottle it all up and pretend to be some happy plastic person.

  17. I was just talking to my grandmother on the phone about this and she said, “Well, one thing to remember is that if nobody is asking you a question, you don’t need to give an answer.”

    I didn’t understand what she meant so I just told her that “the Lord loveth a cheerful giver!”

  18. Last year I was telling a woman in my church about all of my dad’s health issues and the toll it was taking on my family. When I got done she said “Well you just have to praise the Lord!” Gee thanks.

    After my dad passed away I decided not to go on my bus route that following Sunday because I was just not up to it. At church my bus captian came up to me and said “Hey, why didn’t you ride the bus? We needed you. You chould have been there. Are you riding on the way home? Oh by the way, sorry about your dad. But hey, you are riding the bus on the way home, right?” That was six months ago and I have not ridden the bus since.

    1. Thankfully the love and compassion from my church when my dad passed away was overwhelming. We got so many cards, letters, flowers and food we lost track of who sent what. And even though my dad had dropped out of that church almost 20 years ago almost everyone attended the funeral. If more fundy churches were like the one I attend websites like this would not have to exsist

  19. This goes hand in hand with what I call the “apply more Jesus” method of counseling. Pound with scriptures and platitudes until the hurting person just gives up and goes away. There, all better!

  20. Also, when I was in Bible college I went to one of the staff members and told him I was having a hard time in my life and was discourged. He said “Well, discourgement does not come from God, it comes from Satan so when you are discourged you are playing right into the devil’s hands. Praise the Lord for you Jason. Glad you’re here.” And then he turned around and walked off. And I bet he patted himself on the back for the great advice he gave me.

    A few months later he stopped me in a hallway to ask why my school bill was behind. I told him that my transmission went out and it cost me almost $1000 to fix it. He asked “Well, have you been faithfull tithing for the last six months?” When I said yes he looked at me like I was lying and said “When people have car problems like that it’s because God is getting back what is His. When you don’t give God what is His you have a leakly seed bag.” A year or so later the engine in his van blew and it cost him $2500 to fix it. I wonder if he was faithfully tithing for the last six months.

    1. “When people have car problems like that it’s because God is getting back what is His….”

      So is he saying God works at the transmission shop? :mrgreen:

      SFL: Not understanding that mechanical things wear out and break down.

    2. This is probably the strangest theory of car maintenance I’ve ever heard. Even stranger than hanging religious icons in the vehicle to protect it, which I have seen people do.

      To keep your car from breaking down, tithe to the church. Don’t change the oil, check the brake fluid, keep the tire pressure up, put coolant in the radiator, replace the timing belt, or do anything else mechanical– just tithe to the church.

      If you run out of gas, is that because you didn’t tithe, too? Not because there’s no gas in the tank?

    3. So tithing is kind of like insurance against bad stuff happening?

      My fundy church placed great emphasis upon money.

      When one of the staff members lost his rental property, I wonder if it was because he failed to tithe and Gid was just taking back what was his.

  21. my pastor was often fond of saying ‘let me share in your life’, or ‘let’s just share in each other’s lives this morning’. basically, i checked out halfway through 8th grade, and am still trying to get back into the whole following christ thing.

    all words, no substance.

  22. Every day the healing progresses, and every day something hits too close to home, this being one of them. A few years ago when I was on staff at my former fundy church, I was experiencing what I know now to be clinical depression and panic attacks/anxiety. At the time I had no idea there was a medical reason for any of this. I went to my mog for a meeting to talk about this and was told after pouring out my heart and my emotions that the solution to my problem was not any form of extended counseling or medical help, but to simply “read a Psalm a day for the next 30 days”. I am not kidding, that was the extent of his counsel. After that didn’t work I (stupidly) went back again but this time the advice was different. I was counseled to “sing a song of praise any time you start feeling down” for the next 30 days. Of course I was also force-fed Romans 8:28 in heavy doses. I eventually heeded my wife’s pleading and went to see my doctor, where I began to get some REAL help. I shudder to think how many people fundy “counseling” sessions have messed up permanently. I take some satisfaction that one day they will be held accountable …

    1. Late one night, I felt terribly down, and, more or less in desperation, I opened a hymnal and started singing hymns as loud as I could (I lived alone at the time). It helped keep me from killing msyself, so I can’t say it was a bad idea. What finally lifted that depression, though, was medication.

    2. I wouldn’t mind if people would simply admit that they don’t know how to help you and you should go to a doctor. It’s okay to not know something. “Not knowing” is a mere human condition.

      But when they start trying to treat you, pretending/implying that they are qualified or able, that’s when I get upset.

      SFL: having just enough empathy and knowledge to be dangerous.

  23. Nothing makes me happier than to see the wiggle worm make an unexpected appearance at the end of a post.

    My favorite fundy “encouraging word” is “God hath not given us a spirit of fear”. Great. Not only am I afraid, but now I’m being told, in a roundabout way, that my fear is the result of demonic influence. Thanks for that.

        1. Thank you, PW.
          Was that the renowned Patch the Pirate?

          … and were they really singing, “Bite off the Wiggle Worm?” 😯

        2. Has anyone also gotten sick of the same verses being used over and over again? Like when I struggled with a close friend’s self-destructive lifestyle it was awkward when I would be upset or distressed by it and someone would quote a vere I had heard so many times like a chant that it had lost meaning. The verse would always be about how I should be rejoicing or how I could get comfort from God (who at that time had become a story to talk about) and I always felt like the person was unintentionally reminding me how I was not measuring up to a standard that (of course!) everyone else was already living.

          It wasn’t until I got some counseling and help from understanding friends, who helped me to grow spiritually and finally remember how real God is, that those verses meant anything. But so often I got the casual “let me say the right verse or happy phrase which will remind you that you need to be less miserable.” What I needed was the person to listen and invest time in helping me realize that God was real, knew the pain I was in, and wanted nothing more than to help me grow so I could handle it. That changed me more than vainly repeated phrases.

  24. A favorite in my neck of the woods is “God never closes one door without opening another.”

    “Praise the Lord, Jim! How are you?”
    “Not good, Frank. My sister died this morning.”
    “Well, God never closes one door without opening another.”
    “What kind of idiot are you? I just told you my sister died.”
    “Everything happens for a reason.”
    “The reason was that a truck driver ran a red light and mowed her down in the crosswalk.”
    “God must have needed another angel in heaven.”
    “Shut up, you mealy-mouthed, smarmy S.O.B.*”

    *Son of a Baptist

    1. “God never closes one door without opening another.”

      I’ve heard this one as ““God never closes one door without opening a window.” Never made much sense. But this reminds me of a time when we were over our (very NON-fundy) pastor’s house. Since it was a little warm in the house, someone opened a window. My pastor pointed to the window and said “Hey look, God must have closed a door somewhere.”

  25. Back when I was in fundyland, I used to make those glib comments to people. I didn’t know any better. Then later I found myself in an abusive marriage and, when I reached out for help, found myself on the receiving end of those comments. It hurt like hell. I came to regret every glib comment I had ever given to hurting people.

    I finally figured out that the reason I was receiving glib answers was because fundy theology really didn’t have an answer or a solution for my predicament. They pretend like their theology has all the answers, but it doesn’t.

  26. This entry reminded me of every counseling class I sat through in Fundy U. Basically, the entire course consisted of a holier-than-thou list of Bible verses with which to beat people over the head, and a list of reasons why we shouldn’t use established, verified counseling theories. With such a display of nonjudgmental caring, why would people be leaving fundamentalism?

  27. I have learned over the years I have been in ministry, that sometimes the best thing to do for people is to shut up and listen, and bear their burdens with them. Many times, a hug, or an invitation to dinner can go a long way, but the pharisseical quotation of Scripture, and prepackaged answers is just a slap in the face! While some of the verses used may be exactly what the problem calls for, it’s for the spirit of God to bring that comfort, not the self-righteous fundy on his high horse.

  28. I still have to tell myself to shut up sometimes. Not because I want to make some trite phrase, but because I want to help, and sometimes theres just nothing I can do, so listening, and being willing to keep listening even when I am hearing some pretty horrible crap is the best thing I can do for someone.

    I believe many times the platitudes are because they don’t really have any answers because the Bible is not real to them, and they just want to get out of an uncomfortable situation. Talking about people’s sin, or the damage they are experience because of other people’s sin, or just the struggles of life that are a result of the fall, but not a direct result of anyones sin is painful, theres really no way to make them feel better at the moment, and so weak minded and people who thrive on shallow relationships to avoid their own issues will stop at nothing to get away from someone who exhibits an inability to hide the most soul crushing anguish under a Ned Flanders howdy do and some Bible verse platitudes.

    1. Holy cow YES. Fortunately I haven’t seen this at my current fundy church, except on one or two occasions. But my old one? There was 25-30 members, tops, and the preacher would call us out all the time. Not by name, but it was very obvious.

      Now, the few times my current preacher does it, it’s immediate mental writhing 😛

  29. I didn’t think I was going to post here until I read about the person who couldn’t tell her mother about her problems her faith couldn’t make sense of them. I was 17 when I learned the same lesson, I’m 61 now, my parents are long gone, but I still regret I was never close to them because there were so many thing they just couldn’t bring themselves to talk about. They were wonderful people, their Christian faith was inspiring, but there were a whole lot of things it just didn’t equip them for.

  30. “Just pray through, brother … just PRAY THROUGH!”

    Two weeks later, he jumped off a bridge and took his own life.

    Yeah … funnymentalism is REALLY great. /sarcasm

  31. Perhaps not glib, but certainly overused IMHO, is the ‘blame Satan’ card. If God isn’t punishing you for unconfessed sin, then Satan must be oppressing you. Pastor’s mike won’t work on Sunday – Satan doesn’t want you to hear his message. Both cars need fixing and the washer broke – Satan is pushing you to renounce God ala Job. Seeing Satan behind every bad thing turns him into a darker version of God; seeing everything everywhere at all times and constantly out to get you. 😈

  32. What’s REALLY amazing is when those who are dealing with an illness/hardship use these lines themselves.

    A family member of mine has been ill. Every time I talk to them they say that Satan must really be out to get them and that is why they have illness. Every time I say, no, illness is in the world because of original sin. The just and the unjust have illnses. They say, oh yeah, I guess. But the next time it’s back to the same discussion.

  33. Wow. This post struck close to home. In 2006, I left fundy land and have not been back since. Strangely, it was my pain that brought me out of it. I couldn’t find any good answers from fundies, other than that perhaps I needed to pretend I was happy when I was really very sad. Wear my skirt. Send encouraging notes. Deny the reality of what I was facing. I was supposed to be their ‘poster child’ for overseas work. I was single. I’d served overseas for five years. I wanted a ‘real’ faith–one without so many rules but one that was governed by grace. After taking several steps to individual freedom, I came under criticism from my Dad. In the past, I’d always backed down. But it was time to confront. I cannot tell you how much I thank God for the help that one of my former high school teachers (from a school that was not fundy) gave me. She counseled me. She stood alongside me. She taught me it was okay to be sad. She let me have a voice. She taught me not to accept everything everyone says as true…and that it was okay to disagree. And for that, I am forever thankful. Pain drove me out beyond the boundaries of what was considered ‘correct and traditional’.

    “…But pain insists on being attended to. God whispers to us in our pleasures, speaks in our conscience, but shouts in our pain: it is his megaphone to rouse a deaf world. A bad man, happy, is a man without the least inkling that his actions do not ‘answer’, that they are not in accord with the laws of the universe.” C. S. Lewis

  34. to think back on my fundy past…those where the exact canned responses I received from the ladies and spiritual leaders at church counceled on 2 occasions:

    1. when my fundy ex broke my heart because he said i was not spiritual enough for him. 2 days later he was sitting next to a cookie cutter version of “camp meeting girl”.

    2. when my grandmother passed away without being saved the “fundy” way. i told them about my guilt of how i did not spend enough time with her because all my time was spent at fundy church.

  35. Darrell – Yep, you struck a nerve with this one, if its not the best post, its certainly close to it.

    There is more wisdom expressed here than in 100 fundy churches.

    Someone posted up thread that she had fed these same lines to hurting people, I have to admit, I have done the same, in fact, because of a near life time of indoctrination I must “still” rigorously guard against doing it.

    May God help us all to be very sensitive to hurting folks, and not try to put scripture band-aids on them.

  36. I don’t think the fundy’s have a monopoly on this one. Christians of all sorts say stupid things like this. The only difference is that fundy’s think they are doing the spiritual thing, and non-fundy’s are saying it because they don’t want to become involved in helping you get through the situation. What’s so hard about saying, “Man, I have no idea what you’re going through, but tell me about it.”?

  37. I tried to explain to a friend of mine why these kinds of answers were hurtful and basically useless. When our friendship finally ended and I asked her why she hadn’t said anything to me during all the months I was extremely depressed and feeling alone and explicitly telling my friends this, she told me, “You dislike spiritual responses.”

    1. Ouch. 🙄

      Maybe God had you in her life to give her an opportunity to learn empathy and compassion and move beyond the trite. You even talked to her about it, giving her an opportunity to repent. Instead she remained self-righteously superior and put you down. 🙁 She lost a change to grow, probably because she thinks she has no need to. I hope you have supportive friends now.

      1. I’ve lost all of the Christian friends that knew personal details of my life. I still have my best friend though, and he’s wonderfully supportive. And when he doesn’t know what to say to what I’m dealing with, he just tells me he loves me. I find that better than all the “spiritual responses” I’ve ever gotten.

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