I sat in the student commons across the white round table and tried not to grimace as the girl I was dating recited to me part of her seemingly endless list of my personal flaws. Every negative comment I made about a teacher or rule was discontentment. Every tiredness I felt showed sloth. My attitude was severely lacking. It stung but I sat and listened and took it all to heart because I loved her as only a guileless fundy freshman can. She was helping me to be a better person. She only cut me down because she cared. Finally her words slowed and I asked:

“If all those things are true then why do you still care about me at all?”

She didn’t skip a beat. “I love the potential of what you could be.”

And that, my friends, is the truest picture of love in fundamentalism.

Fundy love does not cover a multitude of sins. It flogs the sinner and then tells them that their pain is what true love feels like.

Fundy love is not unfailing. It comes with costly conditions and the ever-present threat of being ripped away.

Fundy love does not hope or believe the best. It schemes to manipulate others into being better.

It is only since leaving fundamentalism that I have been possessed by the wild and crazy notion that I can put my arms around the flawed and imperfect, the unworthy broken soul and love them without the need to change them at all and humbled in the knowledge that their arms are around an imperfect and broken soul too.

Love your neighbor.

Love them without precondition. Love them without disclaimers.

Love them without a prideful need to pardon or condemn them.

Love them without threat. Love them without mental reservations.

Love them fearlessly. Love them foolishly.

Love them.

153 thoughts on “Love”

    1. True.

      I do believe I’ve heard preaching that God loves us because of what He realizes we will become. God just LOVING seems way too wishy-washy to them, and, sadly, I must admit, often to me too.

      It’s tremendously freeing to realize one can just LOVE others without having all the inner stress of “I sure hope this person changes their bad behavior because if not my love will be wasted.” Love isn’t wasted. We can love others even if they never change.

      My branch of fundamentalism tended to be very reserved, fearful of emotion, and definitely leery of love. Also personally my family was very isolated with no family around and very few friends. I think I have a long way to go in my understanding of what love is.

      (BTW, years ago, when I first heard the song, “I Want to Know What Love Is,” the words resonated with me because I too wanted to know what love really was because I didn’t think I understood it at all.)

      1. Does God want me to be better? Yes.
        Can faith in God help me become better? I think so.

        But does God love me as I am right now, with no conditions or exceptions? Absolutely.

        1. “Does God love me as I am right now?”

          You know, Big Gary, for all my lifetime in church, I still can barely grasp that. I actually really do usually think that God loves me, as the girl in Darrell’s post said, for what I CAN be, for my potential, not just for me.

          I’m trying hard to change my belief in this area, but it’s hard.

          How can something so beautiful also seem so scary? Why is it so hard to accept?

        2. @pastor’s wife

          That’s a huge question. Just from looking at myself, I’d say it’s a our tendancy to be idoloters. We like to make God into our image. When I was reading Darrell’s post, I kept seeing myself in the fundy’s seat. How many people who I say I love can do ‘that thing’ that they always do that drives me crazy, and I start to fester again? If they would just stop doing ‘that thing,’ everything would be paradise right?

          Carry that over to how I perceive God. If I can just avoid ‘that thing’ then we are all good! Poof! Instant fundy; complete with a God made in my own image.

          I’d say that’s the biggest reason I have a hard time believing that God loves me the way the bible says He does. He’s so much unlike me. Plus, now I have to just trust in His good natured heart toward me instead of my own ability to avoid ‘that thing.’ Can I trust Him? I’m pretty bad…. and so it goes on. ๐Ÿ™‚

      2. I have heard a Calvinist spin on this idea that goes something like this: God hates sinners, but when he looks at the elect, he sees Christ, and He loves Christ, so He loves the elect. More than a little bizarre (and a bit Marcionian), and completely unrelated to reams of Scripture to the contrary.

        1. That’s what you get when you reduce the Scripture to being a legal treatise and only a legal treatise. Suddenly God is not allowed to love those He delights to love unless He can produce a legal method to do so.

        2. @DFP: Ouch, you made my head explode. You owe me a working brain. or at least a brain as good as the one I had moments ago. ๐Ÿ˜‰
          @Bassenco: Exactly the failure of many theological systems, using statements in Scripture as axioms in a logical system. It’s time to drag out RAH again: “Logic is a feeble reed.”

  1. Ouch.

    It’s so bizarre to find someone you can be honest with, let them see the broken human that you are, and find they love you anyway. I’m still a bit shocked that that can happen, actually.

    1. Your name brought me a flashback of the pastor at the Christian school where I taught as a young woman. I can see him demonstrating that to us. [Shudder]

      Oh, and I agree with you about DD’s article. ๐Ÿ™‚

      1. ha! I can remember standing in the living room before EVERY church service and my Mom and Dad checking our clothes. My dad would use this measurement on my Mom’s neckline….craziness. I can laugh about it now, but it took a while.

  2. I think this is one of the reasons I have such a hard time with seeing God as a compassionate, loving God. In my old church, I was harshly rebuked on several occasions–all in the name of “love”. Love is couched as “you tell them the truth”, as “it is not a feeling, you love someone even if you don’t feel love”, etc.

    1. I get that totally.

      I just saw this on facebook:

      “It is not enough to love the children; it is necessary that they are aware that they are loved.” – St. John Bosco

      1. That reference gives me the perfect rejoinder to the times when a fundy rips me up, while, at the same time, telling me they “love me” for my potential… I can look at them and say, “What? No Bosco?” ๐Ÿ˜€

  3. I honestly don’t think they know what to do with real love when they stumble across it. When they see it expressed in the correct manner they tend to either make fun of it or be suspicious.

    People for the most part are already aware of their faults. They don’t need us to point them out and who are we to think that by treating them in such a way can somehow ‘fix’ them.

    Let’s be radical and accept people as they are and put no conditions on their friendship. If they choose to not be friends with us for whatever reason then that is THEIR choice. Our door should always be open.

  4. “Love the sinner, hate the sin” makes me want to puke – because all that they see and focus on is the “sin” – which is part of “sinner”. They can’t focus on the person, created in the image of God.

  5. The last fundy church I attended never mentioned showing any kind of love. We were made to feel superior to everyone because we had the “truth” and our “Pastor” made fun of other churches from the pulpit. Makes me sick to think that my husband and I wasted so many years and possibly turned off so many people to having a relationship with Christ.

    The church I serve in now talks about “loving people into the kingdom” and also just planting seeds and letting others water and fertilize along life’s way. You also see people’s lives change and its amazing to watch.

    1. Your first two sentences describe EXACTLY my experience in the fundy church I had attended.

  6. I’m going to go out on a limb here, and provide a pseudo defence for the idea that love can (and sometimes must) be critical.

    Pointing out an individual’s fault is NOT, prima facie, unloving. What is unloving is motive, delivery and transparency; that is,
    1. Why is the fault being identified
    2. In what manner is the fault being identified
    3. Is the person delvierying the fault equally open and responsive to the same manner of return communication

    This is where, I believe many authoritarian regimes (into which I include many fundy churches) fall out of the loving category. They fail to deliver their criticism in a manner that is loving.

    One must not forget that the two greatest literary examples that most/all Christians attempt to imitate are Jesus and St. Paul. As presented in their sacred texts, these characters are not averse to delivering the scathing criticisms of people both at the individual and the corporate level. Fundamentalists do have some excuses in the examples offered by these role models. Jesus’ rebuke’s were not solely directed at the religious authorities of his day. He also required that other “sinners” not only enjoy his company, but that they leave behind many of the culturally accepted norms and cultural taboos that were part of their behaviors.

    Of course one must note that the Jesus portrayed in the Gospels at least appears to have been focused on the defence of the innocent/weaker party in most/ all cases. One can also then chose to conclude whether or not any of his criticisms were justified…

      1. Damn, I wish I knew what you were insinuating.. ๐Ÿ˜•

        ๐Ÿ’ก I even looked up “second child”, and “second or sixth” child, then “second child personality” on the googlenator. 10 different theories and conclusions for each search. I gave up. ๐Ÿ˜ฅ

        1. Perfectionist who doles out “constructive criticism” that drives the older sibling NUTS!

    1. I agree that when it comes to pointing out a fault, motive is the central issue (how often is telling as well). Jesus certainly pointed out faults, and while he loved sinners He didn’t indulge their sins or coddle everyone but the pharisees.

      But the sad thing about the story about the college girl is that I had a couple roommates that were the same way at fundy U. They considered themselves helpful and “spiritual” for constantly telling people what they needed to do to change, but the moment someone tried to do the same thing to them, they got angry. ๐Ÿ™„

  7. A lot of this has to do with the perception that they have of God. In a recent discussion with a fundy, I was pointing out the important of us considering God’s love. She was very quick to point out that we should consider that God is love, but it was more important to focus on his judgement, righteousness and holiness. In her perception of God, He is simply waiting for us to mess up, and she is living in a constant fear of not doing enough. Her posts of “encouragement” on facebook are full of condemnation and guilt for the Christian. Her position is that we should work for God because we fear his judgement, not we should do good deeds because God has bestowed on us his unfailing love.

    Viewing God’s love as insignificant in light of his other characteristics is missing the point of Christianity. I have heard many times condemnation for those churches that only preach about God’s love, but if you read the Bible not proof text the Bible, all you can find is God’s love.

    Thanks for this post, Darrell.

    1. So true! We must know the same people, mum2h! Once when talking about God’s love to a fundy, she told me, “But the angels around the throne say, ‘Holy! Holy! Holy!'” That to her justified her focus on THAT attribute of God’s instead of love.

      “Viewing Godโ€™s love as insignificant in light of his other characteristics is missing the point of Christianity.” — so very, very true.

      1. Both God’s holiness and his love are not merely attributes, they are items that define God’s existence and the other attributes we ascribe to God flow from them. God is just because he is Holy, God is merciful because he is Loving.

        The Real problem is when people make themselves out to be God, at that point it becomes about who thinks, believes, and acts like their ideal – a standard that is at once far too low and at the same time beyond reach. We cannot truly say that we love in a way that is godly unless we are aware of God’s love for us, and understand it accurately.

        Like several others on this thread, the actual Word of God in its description of love and its description of what a life lived in pursuit of genuine spiritual fruit were what made me realize it was time to separate from unbelief and disobedience – in the form of cultural fundamentalism.

    2. “…I was pointing out the important of us considering Godโ€™s love. She was very quick to point out that we should consider that God is love, but it was more important to focus on his judgement…”

      Were you talking to my parents, by any chance??? According to them, focusing on God’s love is “what those new-evengelicals do.” ๐Ÿ™„

    3. To add to your other points, I remember reading something on this site awhile back that as a former fundy pretty much blew me away: the fact that we cannot do anything to make God love us more than he already does. I still can’t get past how ingrained it was in my brain that we EARN more of God’s love – yes, he loves us no matter what, but he’ll love us more depending on how we act. What a messed up view of grace.

      1. Can you imagine that mind-set that chooses to disparage another group by saying “they emphasize love”? But I can because that’s what I heard all my life.

        I really struggle with the idea of God’s love. I’ve enjoyed stories and songs that use the metaphor of DIVING into the sea of His love for us, luxuriating and swooping and splashing and experiencing the freedom of His love. In contrast, I think I get the image of a cup of water handed to me, often begrudgingly. But I WANT to dive in.

        1. I’m diving in, I’m going deep, in over my head I want to be
          Caught in the rush, tossed in the flow, in over my head I want to go
          The river’s deep, the river’s wide, the river’s water is alive
          So sink or swim, I’m diving in (I’m diving in…)

          Steven Curits Chapman

        2. We were two of a kind there, MommyCat! I was thinking of that same song when I was reading PW’s comment! :mrgreen:

  8. I still have never quite understood or accepted the fact that I actually *could* be loved as I am. I’ve always felt that I am too flawed, too imperfect. Just simply not good enough to be worthy of anyone’s love. And I don’t think that’s ever going to change.

    1. Awe, Polecat. This makes me so sad. You are loved more than you can ever know or imagine.

      We can’t screw up big enough to make God love us any less than He already does. Just be you…..

      I don’t personally know you, but from reading your posts over that last year or so I can tell that you and I would be fast and furious friends.

      1. Who’s this “we” you talk about?

        Of course I am 100% joking. I love our polecat. ๐Ÿ˜€

    2. Aw, thanks, guys. It’s hard wrapping your head around being “ok” when you really don’t feel ok.

      1. I can totally identify with what you say. I grew up fundy and constantly heard how warped, twisted and awful I was. I believed it. Its ok to give yourself time to heal, breathe, and let God love you. It can get better. I can’t say I never struggle anymore…but, yes, it can get better.

  9. Is it any wonder that people are afraid to be open and vulnernable if they feel like they are open and subject to criticism – especially among Bible believers. I feel that preachers of all stripes would not get into the trouble they get into if they had a place to go where they can be open and get the help they need. If they do find someone they can open up to they run the risk of losing their power, position and maybe even their families. In the end they end up losing it anyway. It is sad all the way around.

  10. It has been my experience also that unconditional love does not exist in fundydom. In fact, everything in fundydom is conditional. Your standing in the church (and even the closeness of your walk with Christ) is conditional on your agreement with and adherance to the MOG. The minute you begin to interpret the scriptures for yourself, you have become subversive and will be ostracized at the first opportunity.

    For me, I choose to listen to the words of Christ when He said “Love the Lord thy God with all thy heart…AND THY NEIGHBOR AS THYSELF.” Fundies like to pay lip service to following the Scriptures, but I have yet to see one MOG put this commandment into practice.

    One more thing…I thank God that His love – and my salvation – is not conditioned on anything but my belief in Christ. (Pardon me for letting a little Reformed theology leak out.)

    1. Oh dear, you just unearthed a memory, but this was at an SBC, not an IFBc. The youth leadership team, of which I was a tangential member, tried valiantly to get the teens to understand unconditional love. We had a bunch of kids who had reached that awkward age when nothing goes right and everything is wrong and it’s all their fault. The leadership team, bless their hearts, preached unconditional love for weeks if not months. Then the pastor left and the choir director announced he was taking over the youth program. First thing he taught them: God will turn his back on you, because you’re just basically bad and rebellious! BOOM….we lost a bunch of teens, and the ones that stayed did so out of fear. It was pitiful….I’ve wondered how much lasting damage he did, or if maybe some of the love lessons “stuck”.

  11. โ€œI love the potential of what you could be.โ€
    In other words, “I’m going to mold you into my own image.”

    1. So true. She has an “in” with God on what’s best for him.

      Once again, “Stand back God, I got this”.

    2. the essence of what “submission” is in fundyland. Passive Agressive Manipulation robed in false modesty and a public facade of obesiance.

      So much of supposedly patriarchal thinking in fundamentalism is the result of powerfully deranged women throwing their voice with their arm stuck up a male sock puppet.

      This is in some ways worse than the legitimately horrid male dominated authoritarianism it mimics.

      1. That’s been my experience although there are plenty who experienced a situation with more dominant males and pliant females. There are rules to the game, and a good player uses them to their advantage regardless of the team they’re on.

        I have seen “courtship” and the like used to control guys by presenting them with an endless and arbitrary set of hoops to jump through. The very idea of “Biblical” manhood entails a whole litany of things a man MUST do to be worthy.

        At the same time, I don’t think it can be denied that some men have learned to use the “submission” teaching to cower their girlfriends or wives.

        1. I was in a relationship with a non-fundy and was trying to make some peace w/ the parents. My dad kept inventing things and rules to string my boyfriend along until he converted (which I did not want my boyfriend to do, neither did he, although he would have for me) and courtship was just used as a rope to string us along. I finally got my dad to admit that he would never have given his blessing if my bf hadn’t converted (so he was having him do all this crap for nothing) and so we got married anyway with no blessing and no parents (which was in fact, a blessing ๐Ÿ˜‰

        2. Absolutely, no denying that. Its just not always the reality behind the scenes if that is the public perception.

  12. I am horribly ashamed that I was that girl once. But I am also deeply, humbly, profoundly grateful that I’m not that girl anymore.

    1. Totally unrelated to this post, but I just found your blog, Vanessa, and I love it. I loved how you wrote about how many Christians think we can’t destroy the earth. I’m like you, I used to think that way, because to think any other way was rebellious and liberal.

  13. Great stereotyping article, and your bashing of fundamentalist was so well backed up by this one example! Good job on how to show love toward people’s flaws, instead of knocking them down!

    1. I still love that girl to this day. I do. The difference is that it’s not contingent on her behavior or what she believes or how she treats me.

      Love doesn’t mean never criticizing. It doesn’t mean never pointing out faults. It means instead that the person doesn’t have to fix those things to be worthy of me loving them.

      I don’t know how else I can explain it than that.

      1. I meant that you are not showing love to fundamentalists as a whole. You are bashing them, instead of lifting them up.

        My wife loved my potential and worked at bringing it out in me. Looking back I was a horrible person most of the time I dated her. Most of my poor decisions affected her negatively. She still loved me and the potential I had in me. At the same time, she wasn’t satisfied with the sin in my life, and that kept me from being satisfied with it also. It has kept me persuing a life-long goal of always becoming more like Christ (instead of becoming more comfortable with my flaws and sin). Some people lack the motivation to constantly improve, and I’m pretty happy I had her to motivate me to quit smoking, work in a foreign orphanage, etc.

        I can understand how it may have hurt your feelings, which may have caused you to lash out at fundamentalism, but I don’t see how that makes you any more loving (in your stereotyping) than she was in trying to motivate you to be more like Christ.

        1. I guess I’m missing it, but could you point out to me exactly how he’s bashing fundyism?

          “Fundy love does not cover a multitude of sins. It flogs the sinner and then tells them that their pain is what true love feels like.” Is that bashing? If I tell you that was my experience — with the added blessing of being told that it was all my fault — is that bashing?

          “Fundy love is not unfailing. It comes with costly conditions and the ever-present threat of being ripped away.” Is that bashing?

          “Fundy love does not hope or believe the best. It schemes to manipulate others into being better.” Is that bashing?

          I ask because I don’t see derision, hateful speech or mocking in any of these statements. Maybe I’m missing the point, sir? I’ll not quote the rest of the post, but I don’t see anything negative in the rest of his statements. Enlighten me, please.

        2. Semp, lumping me into a stereotype, based on his limited experience with fundamentalists, then accusing us as a whole of being less Christ-like than he is(because he focuses on the self-limited attribute of God’s love to the exclusion of everything else mentioned in the Bible), would all fall under the category of “bashing.”

        3. “I can understand how it may have hurt your feelings, which may have caused you to lash out at fundamentalism…” Saw that one coming. Because surely if anyone has something against Fundamentalism, it must be for shallow reasons. I also love that Josh says that Darrell has “limited experience” with Fundamentalists. Rich.

        4. “Limited experience with fundamentalists”? What?

          Growing up in a fundamentalist home, a missionary’s home, in church, four years in a Christian college — that ain’t limited experience.

          And we would LOVE to love our fundamentalist brothers and sisters. But they refuse to let us even close, condemning us for our clothes or our music.

        5. I didn’t say “virtues”. I said basically, he touts superiority because he focuses on the happy aspects of God, to the exclusions of the equally important aspects that he bashes fundamentalists for balancing their life with. I don’t know if quoting the Bible is acceptable on a blog like this, but I’ll do it anyway: Romans 6:1-2 would be just a small example of the things he missed out on in his focus on love and the comfort you can enjoy when there is no one lovingly holding you accountable for sin in your life after salvation.

        6. One cannot show love to a group of people AS A GROUP. One can only love the individuals. I think that equating the group with a person is a common flaw, made easier by the constant drumbeat of dehumanization and categorization that the current world system throws at us.
          I noted, Josh, an interesting difference between your GF story and Darrell’s: Darrell’s GF said ONLY that she loved the potential of what he could be. You said yours loved you AND your potential. It’s true that we assess the potential value of I’m glad you could see her love for you and responded to her pushing to become a more acceptable husband. Darrell’s experience was different, and he points out that when people love only the person we might become, our love doesn’t resemble God’s much at all. To love without real condition is the love that sent a Savior to die for us. We are commanded to love each other, so that we may be known as His disciples.
          I have a hard time with “happy aspects of God.” The only way I can parse that is as “those characteristics of God which make me have happy feelings” – i.e., His unconditional love. Darrell isn’t writing about holiness, service, or anything else in the Christian life here – just about how we should love. It is His commandment, right? Love one another as He has loved us. To suggest that Darrell is encouraging others to live in sin is to willfully miss his point. In fact, we WILL sin, just as Paul did and lamented over. We need no encouragement and I find none here. Your notion that “working on it” will remove all the sin n our lives strikes me as Pollyannish – I only wish it could work. We can modify behavior, but the heart can only be changed by God. And sanctification is a mysterious process.

        7. Sir, I still fail to see how he’s bashing. He was not mocking or derisive that I can see. AFAICS, he was pointing out the faults of Fundystan and not your specific issues.

          Holding the fundamentals of the faith is different from what we commonly call “fundy”. If people love others the way they’re supposed to, they aren’t fundies. If love doesn’t cover a multitude of sins, if it mandates behavior to be earned, and if it manipulates people in the process, then it’s fundy love, not real love.

          I’m not sure where he pointed out that he was spiritually superior to everyone else. I’m not sure how he specifically said that you fell under the fundy love category. While he is focusing on the love of his deity in this post, I would hazard a guess that perhaps that is not his sole focus.

          I guess I’m either stupid or blind. I have never once felt degraded or mocked on this blog by Mr Dow’s posts. I cannot say the same thing for my time in Fundystan. This blog in many ways has been liberating, edifying, and stimulating.

        8. This reminds me of the bullies who cry “You’re bullying me!” when their victims turn on them. The thing is, the IFB had the power and still has the power to hurt people. Darrell does not. Darrell is in no way hurting the IFB by pointing out their (very real, very dangerous) flaws. But he is providing a place for those of us who have been hurt by them to gather, to support one another and to heal. He’s giving us an outlet and a way to love one another.

          Darrell is not bullying the IFB.

        9. MKXcomm, “limited” – meaning that he hasn’t met all of us, though he refers to all of us collectively. This would be similar to someone using the phrase “all white people…”

          Pastor’s wife, That is actually still very limited, even to a couple regions, and “love to love, but…” doesn’t sound like you really do love them (Galatians 6:10 should be a motivating factor in your efforts to love them even more than the unsaved). I could care less if you have a body covered in tatoos and wear shorts with a “butch” haircut, as long as you dress modestly enough that my sons don’t see something they shouldn’t. …again with the stereotypes.

          Der_berator, I agree with a lot of what you said, but I think you misquoted me as much as you accused me of doing: I have NO hopes of having sin removed from my life, no matter how hard I try. My sins have been covered on a daily basis and removed by the only One who has the power to do that…but it’s still my duty as a Christian to keep striving for holiness because the God I’m saved by, and created in the image of, saved me for that purpose. I get your point about only loving the idea of who you can be, not wanting the person you love to become better. I may have missed the point if his gf was ONLY loving what she wanted him to be.

        10. My husband was a pastor in an IFB church for years. I’d definitely say that he didn’t fit the fundamentalist stereotype. Yet I HAVE seen many churches and pastors that DO.

          Criticizing Darrell’s post sounds to me a bit like a Southerner telling a Civil Rights protester that they had no right to complain that they weren’t allowed to sit at a lunch counter or in the front of a bus because in THEIR particular town, they COULD eat at the local diner if they wanted. First, who knows if that would even be true. Second, whether or not that one diner allowed it doesn’t change the fact that most didn’t.

          This blog is here because hundreds of us HAVE experienced what Darrell describes. Sometimes we received it, sometimes we observed it, and sometimes, God forgive us, we perpetrated it. If I said cats are furry, would you correct me by pointing out that there is a furless type? Exceptions to the rule don’t change the existence of the rule.

        11. Persnickety Polecat, no, the post and all the subsequent post are made to bash people who consider their beliefs fundamental. Basically what you’re saying is that because you had your feelings hurt, it’s then ok to try to hurt the feelings of an entire group of people that you want to stereotype, SIMILAR to how people perpetuate hate through rasism.

          Semp, why did you delete your previous comment, and why would you feel degraded, you’re beside him in your stereotyping and bullying of people that don’t believe the same as you?

          I guess my point was only that stereotyping “independent, fundamental, Bible-believing baptists” into a group that is worried about what people wear, more than where they will spend eternity (and the willingness to meet them on their level), is counter-productive in showing your own love. You may have been hurt by, or you may have seen many bad examples of these people. It doesn’t mean they didn’t love their God as much as you do. It doesn’t mean that you should try to destroy their potential through your rants and name calling (“fundythis” and “fundythat”). …Just my thoughts. Sorry if they weren’t welcome here!

        12. How could you ever expect that whole group of people to rise above their past and become the loving Christians they should be, if you keep shoving them “into a box”, instead of coming along beside them and encouraging them to be better?

        13. I wonder if Jesus should have come alongside the Pharisees and encouraged them to be better?

          He Himself said, “They that are whole need not a physician; but they that are sick.” Until someone can see that they are sick, they cannot seek healing. Two men went to the temple to pray. The repentant one was forgiven; the smug one was not.

          Jesus showed compassion on the broken, but he was harsh with the proud.

        14. “Persnickety Polecat, no, the post and all the subsequent post are made to bash people who consider their beliefs fundamental. Basically what youโ€™re saying is that because you had your feelings hurt, itโ€™s then ok to try to hurt the feelings of an entire group of people that you want to stereotype, SIMILAR to how people perpetuate hate through rasism.”

          The IFB hurt far more than my “feelings.”

          It’s rather ignorant and childish for you to stamp your foot and pretend that Darrell is “trying” to hurt the feelings of the IFB. This page is NOT for the IFB. It’s for the *victims* of the IFB. It’s for people who have been spiritually, physically, sexually or emotionally abused by those in the IFB. If that doesn’t apply to you, you are more than welcome to mouse up to the little “x” on the tab above and show yourself out.

        15. @Josh, I’m perfectly fine saying “all white people enjoy white privilege in the United States.” It is how I see things. Darrell makes claims based on his experiences and thousands of people from different states and different countries who have left fundamentalism find him spot on. The only people who disagree with his claims are those who are still under the fundy mindset; which, in my experience has a uniformity that mirrors a cult. So it is no surprise to me that you, as a fundamentalist, think you are some kind of unique snowflake when you are not. You are from the same background that we all were entrenched in. There is nothing you can say that we haven’t heard before, nothing you say is new or novel. That’s how similar fundamentalist churches are. Sorry, but you’re just another clone, spouting out what you’ve been taught to say, and it’s a very educated guess to lump all fundies into the same boat.

        16. @Josh:

          Darrell wrote: “the girl I was dating recited to me part of her seemingly endless list of my personal flaws. Every negative comment I made about a teacher or rule was discontentment. Every tiredness I felt showed sloth. My attitude was severely lacking.”

          What part of that makes you think she was encouraging him to do better? How is, “Every tiredness I felt showed sloth” and example of love?

          What grounds do you have for thinking that Darrell pushes love “to the exclusion” of all other “aspects of God” or however you framed it?

          You seem to be projecting a good bit more onto what was written than is actually there.

        17. @Josh – you mentioned focusing on love to the exclusion of everything else in the Bible.

          I believe that the very foundation of the Bible and its message is love. There is no Redemption Story without love. In fact, God IS love, so everything we do as His children should reflect that.

        18. Josh, what do you mean, why did I delete my post? I only posted two previous times on this thread. I didn’t delete anything.

        19. Sir, please cut and paste whatever I said that was stereotyping and bullying.

          So far you have not answered my questions, you have accused me of doing something that I didn’t do (deleting a post and furthermore, don’t know how to do), and questioned my experience in Fundystan.

          Please tell me exactly what Mr Dow said in his original post that was wrong. Please tell me exactly how I was stereotyping and bullying. If I was wrong, I will apologize. I just don’t know how anything I said could be construed as stereotyping and/or bullying. I’m not sure how I can talk about my experiences with harsh, legalistic, condescending, arrogant members of an independent, fundamental, baptist church without using the term “fundy”. It is a word that is used to express the darkside of a certain brand of religion. If I want to describe the so-called “love” that is handed out only to those people who go to Sunday School, Sunday morning, Sunday night, and Wednesday night services; soulwinning; revival services; work in four different ministries of the church at the expense of family, friends, jobs, and education; avoid going to conveniences stores because they sell liquor, lottery tickets and cigarettes because someone might see them go in there and think they are purchasing evil; and allow only classical music and Christian music written before 1950, then I think using the term “fundy love” is appropriate. I don’t know of any other word that really works for this kind of “love”. It certainly isn’t “agape”. If you know of a word that better describes it, let me know.

          If anyone else out there can find what I said that is bullying and stereotyping or in any other way offensive, please let me know so I can apologize.

        20. I understand a little of where you’re coming from, just not where you all seem to be going. I grew up in a school, home, and church that made me sport a “Christian-comb-over” that was properly short with the part on the correct side. As soon as I could move out and away, I was gone. The understanding of the need for the autority of God, and what his Word says, was still imprinted on my heart. I looked for churches that had music other than hymns, and that had people that met in the bar as often as in the pew. The problem I found, was that they were full of shallow people that looked for their own enjoyment in “worship” more than they looked to fall under the authority of God’s word.

          The school, parents, and church that “drove me away” with their extra-Biblical rules, have long since changed. One of the older men still won’t go near a place that serves alcohol, but I can appreciate that, because he was beat by his alcoholic father for about 12 years of his life. So was his mother. He knows that I drink, but he also knows I won’t drink around him out of respect. He loves God, and I don’t want to hurt him. He doesn’t tell me that I’m wrong for drinking, but he worries about me becoming like his dad. We both do our best to fall under the teaching of Romans 14 (especially verses 14-15) in it. I could choose to be bitter toward him and others for limiting my liberty, but God says not to be. Instead, I try to be the mature one, and for a reward, I get to see faithful men and women growing in their later years, instead of remaining stagnant and being mocked by people like yourselves. My ministry is with those people that you stereotype, write off, and make fun of in your pity parties. I see a group of Christians here, blogging about their woes, instead of excercising maturity in love and forgiveness for the people that offended them. If you have an offense, go to the person as you’re instructed to do in Matt. Don’t act Holier-than-thou, like you accuse them having done. This blog just looks like the abused following the cycle of abuse by becoming the abusers. Forgive me for not seeing how you are exhibiting Christ-like love in your rants.

        21. @Josh, Thanks for all of your tips about how mature you are and how well you have handled the abuse of extra-biblical rules like the combover. That must have destroyed your trust for years. Fortunately for everyone, you don’t get to dictate how, or in what manner people heal from their trauma, and it’s offensive that you dismiss or minimize what has happened to the people in here (which you have no idea how bad it actually is)

          You respected the man who didn’t drink alcohol because his alcoholic father beat him for 12 years. Try respecting how the people in here handle their grief.

        22. Yeah, wow, sorry for stumbling into your crazy little hate group, and trying to talk about Christianity, mkx_comm. I’ll happily go to a friendlier place and leave you guys to your…healing-through-love thing you’re doing here.

        23. Josh, I forgive you the inaccurate presumptions and assumptions you are making about me, and I wish you peace and happiness wherever your life’s journey takes you.

      2. “I can understand how it may have hurt your feelings, which may have caused you to lash out at fundamentalism”

        Ah! You have shown up out of the blue in in one fell stroke cracked the nut of why I do what I do.

        Well done.

        1. The closest example I can think of with people like Josh, is something like a kid in the military who has never been deployed, walking up to a bunch of Vietnam veterans and telling them to get over it and stop whining because he got a papercut in bootcamp once and he handled it just fine.

      3. If you really loved her foolishly you’d still be with her. Even if she’s the one who did the dumping you should have chased her! That’s what love would do.

        1. Even if sheโ€™s the one who did the dumping you should have chased her! Thatโ€™s what love would do.

          No. That’s what stalkers would do. ๐Ÿ˜ฏ

      4. Exactly, Darrell! You can be critical of people because you love them, but your love should not be conditional based on their behavior. And criticism should be reserved for truly helpful moments…not just anytime you see anything you don’t like in someone.

        It is important to speak the truth IN LOVE. And the wounds of a friend are faithful. .

        But a real friend doesn’t find pleasure in wounding you. A lot of fundys do love rebuking and humiliating. That’s not love no matter what they say.

    2. Because this entire blog, with it’s LONG list of posts are based on just one incident. And not the many, many unsavoury incidents that are happening within fundamentalism worldwide.


  14. Darrell, think I must have dated that same girl. Or maybe it was one of her many, many sisters.

  15. Darrell, you have truley showed one of if not the biggest fault of the fundamental Baptist church movement, conditional love and acceptance. We attended the same Baptist church for thee last 12 years, when we reached the absolute maximum of fear and manipulation that we could take, we left. Never a call or visit from the Pastor or staff took place. The “brothers and sisters” who “loved”, us for the most part, never called or visited us to see if we were ok or inquire as to why we left. Acceptance in the church is totally conditional on its members keeping up on the ever-changing list of requirements ๐Ÿ™

  16. Lawd that’s good Darrell. I remember my therapist saying “I think your family can’t distinguish between love and control.”

      1. Here are the wonderful lyrics to that song:

        Baby I can’t please you I can’t please you

        Every time you start to critize
        I can see the misery in your eyes
        You say I make your pain
        You’re trying to turn the blame all around you

        You take the words I say and make them mean
        Everything they don’t baby you’re obscene
        You don’t listen you don’t hear
        You’re blinded by the fear that surrounds you

        I know you say love when you mean control
        You buy the truth and your heart is cold
        So you live in shadows

        You try to tell the world how it should spin
        But you live in terror with the hollow men
        Who stun you with their lies
        With fever in their eyes as they drown you

        (Repear chorus)

  17. That love sounds just like the conditional “love” we got from our old church when we left. Not 1 phone call from the pastor, board, staff or congregation. As long as you were there, you were a “member” but if you started to question the goings on or the financial issues of where the money was spent or why it was ok for a “member” to punch out his girlfriend and nothing was done, then there was no more “love”.

  18. Sorry for the looooooooong post. Had to get it out!

    Our pastor (in our new, non-fundy church) told a story a few weeks ago in his sermon. He told of a rich, church going banker who felt that he needed to witness to the poor, unwashed, unsaved people of Atlanta. He googled hotels and ended up with a place that was called “prostitute center.” The rich banker went (by himself ๐Ÿ˜ฎ ) to a bar right next door to this hotel. The whole place was filled with hookers, bikers, and other “shady types.” He didn’t know what to do, so he bought the whole bar a round like he’d seen on TV. As people came up to him to see what his deal was, he began to tell them the story of the prodigal son. Some walked away, but a few stayed. Some understood the metaphor of how Christ was always waiting for them. A few had tears in their eyes. Some saw the metaphor as them being away from their parents who loved them. The banker finished up his sweet tea and told these people they were welcome to come to his church.

    Our pastor then charged us to go and do likewise. I had never heard anyone from a pulpit tell anyone to go and meet these people where they are.

    A few nights ago, my husband and I came across a pair of people who were having some car trouble in our parking lot. I imagine most fundies wouldn’t approach them based on their dress. He had on a kilt and she had on pants. Instead of trying to force religion down these people’s throat, like I’d always felt was my duty, we just talked to them. We found common ground in geekiness, agreed to do a cookout and gaming day, and just talked. I mentioned that I’d love for my husband to have a kilt, and I’d make him wear it to church, and they started asking questions about our church. It turns out that they’d both been hurt pretty badly by churches in the past. Because I’d heard that sermon from my pastor a few weeks ago, I felt fine in extending an invitation and telling them to come as they are.

    I don’t say all this to brag about how great I am in inviting someone to church, I say this as a testament to what God’s love can do. It’s made a radical change in me. Fundy me wouldn’t have given these folks a second glance. Fundy me would’ve been scared of them. I’m still dealing with fear from leaving my IFB church, but I love the freedom and LOVE that we’ve experienced since we’ve joined our new church. ๐Ÿ™‚

    1. Typical Fundy witnessing says: God will love you and bless you if you change.

      The witnessing you just did says: God loves you as you are. I am not waiting for any change in you to welcome you as a brother and a sister.

      There’s the difference.
      Now which kind of witnessing do you think is more likely to encourage someone to visit your church?

      1. Well stated, BG. As an aside, I always got the feeling in fundydom that they were willing to overlook any fault in someone they were trying to convert, but, once that person “got saved” and joined the church, the bashing started. They would tell non-believers that once they said the sinner’s prayer, they were saved no matter what. But once they joined the church, the MOG would make them question their salvation for “trespasses” as miniscule as missing a Wednesday night service because their child was sick or, worse, questioning the MOG. That double-standard makes me boil.

    2. Another thing that occurs to me while reading your story, Robot Gypsy, is how many, many, many people have been hurt by churches.

      I used to live in an apartment building that was small enough I knew all my neighbors. We would often all hang out in a common courtyard. One other person and I were the only neighbors who attended church (different churches). Most of the others had given up on Christianity after being harmed in different ways by the kind of “Christianity” they had experienced before. But some of them would ask me questions about religion, because they knew me, and they knew I wasn’t interested in judging them.

      Did that make a difference in their future lives? I don’t know, but at least they listened to me.
      Would they have wanted to have those conversations if I had knocked on their doors with tracts? I think not.

      1. Exactly! I probably wouldn’t listen to self righteous, starched shirted people handing out tracts if I had been hurt like they had. They seemed genuinely interested in going with us – they asked what time, and what to wear.

        You remind me too, Big Gary of how my husband goes out and has a beer or two with some Hispanic men downstairs that do the weekend grill and party thing. He speaks Spanish, but is a white guy and they told him how no one else really treats them like he does. I don’t even know if he’s really brought up his faith at all. He’s building relationships with them, making himself open. It’s a beautiful thing to see.

        1. A former priest of ours (they rotate every few years) used to have a standing “date” with whoever would sit at the bar with him at a local sports bar and restaurant, with the understanding that he is a priest and he will talk about religion if the topic turns that way. He said that guys who were struggling with the big questions tended to go somewhere where they could get a beer, not to a class at a church, so he should meet them where they were.

      2. “Would they have wanted to have those conversations if I had knocked on their doors with tracts? I think not.”

        And I think “Dr. Hamblin” would disagree. :mrgreen:

  19. Dar-El, this might be your best post yet. Let me put it in a larger context. Paul mentions that the fruit of the Spirit (God’s work in us) is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, gentleness, etc. Unfortunately, fundamentalism doesn’t display these fruits – the tree is rotten to the root. Being “right” just doesn’t cut it – even the demons believe, and tremble. So many professing Christians just don’t share God’s values. Let us pray that God would work these good fruits out in our lives!

    1. I agree. Every time I feel like I’m a “bad Christian,” I ask myself, am I demonstrating love, joy, peace, longsuffering (ok, that one I really do have a problem with), gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance … ? And that’s my goal. Not, “Am I going to church every time the doors are open?” or “Is my sundress too clingy?”

    2. I think the Fruits of the Spirit may have been the very thing that set me on a course out of Fundamentalism. Or more precisely, that separation and zeal were not listed among the Fruits of the Spirit and the ones actually listed were not the ones Fundamentalists typically displayed.

    3. Also, we were commanded to make disciples of Christ and love each other as He loved us. There’s less here about those stern virtues of sin avoidance in that than most see. And the fruit of the Spirit is indeed a great guideline on how you’re doing as a follower of Christ. I only wish I could see more of this fruit in my own life.

    4. Focusing on the fruit of the Spirit had a huge impact on me too. It was very easy to question myself with all the extra Biblical teaching I’d received over the years combined with the accusations that we were wrong, worldly, forsake the Gospel, etc. so I tried to turn off all the outside noise and focus on how the Bible described how a person filled with the Spirit would be like.

      1. Loving the unlovely is such a rewarding experience. If fundies would just try it their hearts would grow like the Grinch’s heart and it would change them forever!

  20. In I Corinthians 13, the famous “love chapter” the word “charity” comes from the Greek word “agape” which means “affection, good will, love, benevolence, brotherly love, a feast of love”. But in the New Testament it is also used in the context of God’s love towards man. So if one were to reread I Corinthians 13 replacing the word “charity” with the words “God’s love” then he would see if his love truly came from God or not.

  21. Since fundies do not apprehend real love as a function of their faith, they can’t tell the difference between loving and bashing. Anytime you disagree with them, their delicate sensibilities (narcissistic self) gets offended, and they accuse you of bashing.

    Please…fundies, get over yourselves. It isn’t about YOU. Stop being so offended and defend your ideas in a way that makes your tyranny excusable.

    Until you do that, your pleas to “love” you are hypocrisy.

  22. I had the conversation you related at the beginning of this post many times over. But the other person was my boss at Christian school and never even attempted to couch it all in love. I was just being retrained because I was a poor victim of secular education (at a Catholic high school and Presbyterian college โ“ ) and they had to fix me.

    1. I was taught the same thing in my fundy high school. Those poor, poor people in schools that weren’t ours. Oh, how they were being led astray. Oh, how much better we were. Oh, what a load of crap. I’m sorry someone did that to you.

  23. I think Darrell and my husband dated the same girl. . . (Not me, another girl).

      1. No, no. This girl would berate a man for a while then dump him, move on to another, berate him. . . Rinse, repeat.

  24. My former church’s pastor would say things about all the wrong churches like “and all those other churches that preach about loooooove (and he would say that word in a mocking tone) and all that mushy stuff.” Like, love was bad theology.

      1. Frankly, I think they fear love because love (proper love) diminishes the need for control.

        1. “There is no fear in love.” Fundamentalism needs fear to motivate the sheeple.

        2. I’ve always sensed their fear when people talk about love. It’s the fear that believing in God’s love will diminish the desire to follow all the rules, which are created out of the fear of God’s holiness and judgement.

    1. Love is the little voice that would tell the pastor to repent of his sins against his flock, if he hadn’t filled his own mind with such mockery that he couldn’t hear it anymore.

  25. This post reminded me of a similar situation that happened about 15 years ago. Rather than a boyfriend/girlfriend, it was a group doing an internship together. We used “speaking the truth in love” to our advantage against one person in particular. We patted ourselves on the back for being loving, but I knew that we were just using it as an excuse to selfishly share annoyances. There was nothing loving or constructive about it. I decided to go back to that person and apologize for my part in the whole mess.

    I’ve been hurt many times, but this post reminded me that I did plenty of hurting. Even after 15 years, it feels good to seek forgiveness and renew relationships. Anyone who thinks this blog is just angry bitter people, stirring up more anger and bitterness is wrong. It leads to healing for those who don’t even know it exists.

    Thank you.

    1. Hurt people hurt people.

      Loved people love people.

      Forgiven people forgive people.


      1. “Hurt people hurt people”

        I realized last night while chatting about this with my husband that I’d walked into that internship after receiving a lot of criticism from the leadership. I was licking my wounds and setting up walls to keep from being criticized even more. I found myself in tears recalling how hurt I’d been. For the first time in 15 years I realized why I was so bitter and angry that summer. This morning I woke up feeling like a weight had been lifted off my back.

  26. If your list of conditions that must be met before you can love someone lasts more than four hours seek help through Grace immediately.

    Side effects may include self righteous piety, 3rd and 4th degrees of separation from the appearance of associating with someone who may have a friend who doesn’t love up to your standards and illusions of spiritual grandeur.

    Check with your pastor before beginning a relationship with a sinner to make sure you are strong enough to withstand any sin they may expose you to. When the time is right to “in love” point out all their sin and deficiencies you’ll be ready.

  27. Great post – struck a chord. I remember, years ago, the Hyles-clone pastor telling us that love was NOT being nice to others, but doing what was best for them. It might be best for them if they suffered a while for their sin, so you didn’t help them with their needs. It might be best for them if they were told what was wrong with their manner of dress… and so on. This was love re-defined – Darrell put in so well above.

    I felt that there was something wrong about this definition, and it took a long time to realize that it is a self-serving definition – one could always claim that whatever one wanted to do was really “best” for the other.

    In addition, it gives one the right to try to play God in other peoples’ lives, trying to determine what is “best” for them.

    How about just being kind to them, and praying that God will use the kindness to speak to them?

    1. “the Hyles-clone pastor telling us that love was NOT being nice to others, but doing what was best for them. ”

      I have heard this soooo many times. But the thing is, love shouldn’t hurt. It should NOT hurt. If love DOES hurt, there’s something very, very wrong.

    2. The problem with doing “what’s best” for others is that it rests on an assumption that I know what’s best for my neighbor better than my neighbor does. This usually works fine when the neighbor is a baby or a very small child. (Even then, of course, we see some Fundy nuts who think you should spank newborn babies, and spank them hard and long.) Just the other day, I told a little boy (preschool age) not to play with a filthy cigarette butt he found on the sidewalk. I didn’t even know the kid, but I was the nearest grownup.

      But when the neighbor is another adult, or a nearly-adult young person, it becomes a lot more complicated. How many people can really distinguish between “what I want” and “what’s best for other people”?

  28. To Josh, although I’m pretty sure he’s already flounced off with a hair toss:

    “Yeah, wow, sorry for stumbling into your crazy little hate group, and trying to talk about Christianity, mkx_comm. Iโ€™ll happily go to a friendlier place and leave you guys to yourโ€ฆhealing-through-love thing youโ€™re doing here.”

    So your first post here was rank sarcasm and criticism of Darrell’s post, and you’re surprised that no one reacted with “wow, you’re so right brother. We see the error of our ways, thank you, citizen, for highlighting our sin and bitterness.” And your last post drips with more sarcasm that your brilliance wasn’t recognized.

    I personally want to thank you for embodying every sermon, every street preacher, and every tract tosser I’ve ever encountered, who didn’t care to swim out to me, or even throw me a rope, but felt that they had done their righteous duty by standing on the dock and telling me all the reasons I shouldn’t have gone swimming. To continue with this tortured metaphor….well, the water is fine, and the gators here are less likely to bite than the men on shore, so I’ll just keep swimming.

    Unless you’re our new house-Poe, in which, wow, we’ll played. Not enough spit and spelling errors, but A-plus!

    1. They “didnโ€™t care to swim out to me, or even throw me a rope, but felt that they had done their righteous duty by standing on the dock and telling me all the reasons I shouldnโ€™t have gone swimming” — that is an incredibly powerful metaphor.

      1. It’s very similar to Max Lucado’s tale of Hermie & Wormie. The two are walking along when Wormie falls into a mud puddle. Hermie dashes off to get a towel, leaving Wormie in the puddle. Other garden bugs pass by, some offering criticism, others commiserate, and one announces his intention to go home and pray for rescue.

        In frustration, Wormie shouts, “I don’t need people telling me how bad I am for falling into the mud. I don’t need people telling me about their time in the mud. I don’t need someone to pray for me to get out of the mud. I don’t need a towel for after I get out of the mud. I need someone to help me out of the mud!”

        We’re either in the mud, or we were rescued so we can help pull others from the mud. When we start analyzing the depth and consistency of the mud others are trapped in, we’ve missed the point completely.

  29. When you redefine “love” to mean anything you do to make people more godly, it gives you license to do any number of normally unloving things and not feel guilt about it.

    When I was in the throes of fundy thinking, I lost the concept of what love feels like. Because it got confused with all the actions I had to do to love people. The idea of actions flowing out of love sounded well and good, but I wasn’t given the chance to let that happen. We were in such a rush to convert and change people, we didn’t have time to develop a real relationship.

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