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Wednesday, March 16, 2011

In Which I Rant About Religious Pet-Peeves

I've been doing lots of reading and researching this past week. Plus it's been raining which makes me feel all melancholy and thoughtful. Plus my husband started trucking again this week so I'm lonely and single-moming it. All of which seem to enhance those little irritations and pet-peeves of mine. Plus several of them were triggered this week, resulting in a not-so-subtle brain twitch, that seems to be causing random and intermittent exclamations of "GAAAHHHH!!!!". So in no particular order, here are some mini-rants for your enjoyment (or not):

1. The Shepherd Breaking the Lamb's Leg Analogy

I'm really tired of this one. If you've been anywhere near a conservative church, you've probably heard it a few times. The story goes that shepherds would break the leg of a wandering lamb, then carry the lamb around on their shoulders while it healed. Thus the lamb would wander no more, but following the Shepherd everywhere devotedly until death do them part. And then this is applied to God and how He treats us, since the Lord is my Shepherd and all that jazz. Besides the inconvenience of having to carry a lamb around for weeks (what if you have 10 wandering lambs at the same time?), and having an entire heard of sheep co-dependant on you for the rest of their lives, and the possible historical inaccuracy of the illustration, I'm having trouble seeing how this applies to God and us at all. Sure, David did famously say "The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want" and poetically made an analogy between his own profession and his relationship with God. But I don't think you can apply it as far as some people want to. I mean, the Shepherd analogy is beautiful to a point but shepherds do lots of things that really don't apply to our relationship with God. (Artificial insemination, anyone?) I really think we should resist getting all analogy-happy and taking things farther then God did. Our theology tends to suffer when we do. Besides all that, where do people get the idea that God forcibly breaks people to get them to follow Him unquestioningly? I thought He bound the broken and healed the wounded? I thought He asks, seeks, and knocks, desiring us to give Him our hearts willingly? I thought it was His kindness that leads us to repentance? I thought that He draws us to Himself with His grace, love, and mercy? Where in scripture does anyone get the idea that God is sitting up there, with an attitude of "You don't want to follow Me? Well, fine, see how you like this trial! And I'll throw in a natural disaster, just for kicks"? Preachers need to stop using this false analogy and misrepresenting God.

2. Modesty and Shame

This could be a whole entire post by itself. Why do Christians reduce women to objects and men to base animals? Do we really think so little of men that we believe they cannot be responsible for themselves? That they can't be expected to choose righteousness and purity when a curvy body and pretty face walks into their view? And the women....how many of us grew up afraid of our own beauty, with eating disorders, or fear of men because we were taught that our bodies were somehow shameful and men were sex-crazed animals? How unfair it is that we take ordinary girls and force them to bear the weight of all men's purity on their shoulders! And the shame of all men's sins. If I never hear the word "defraud" in this context again it'll still be too soon. Girls, we are beautiful. God designed us that way. Guys like us. God designed guys to like us. We have boobs and cleavage and legs and butts. Don't flaunt them for the purpose of distraction, but don't fear them either. Don't be ashamed of being pretty. You are not responsible for what men think when they look at you. Someone's going to argue with me on that one but I don't care and I won't qualify it or take it back. Every good man I know declares the same thing. Even if a woman walked in front of them naked, they are still the only ones responsible for their thoughts. My husband says that any man that blames a woman for his lack of self-control is no man at all.

3. Parenting Wars

Guess what? The Bible never prescribes a parenting method. It just doesn't. So anyone that claims to know "The Biblical Parenting Method"(TM) is full of it. Parenting is a very personal, very individual thing that the Bible really doesn't talk much about. It is multi-faceted and complex and even changes from child to child within the same family. The only principles of parenting that the apostles ever addressed was summed up in two sentences: "Do not discourage and provoke your children to wrath" and "raise them up in the nurture and instruction of the Lord". That's it, folks. He didn't lay out 10 steps of how to do those two things....I think he left that up to us, to use discernment and wisdom and love and knowledge of our children to figure out the best way to "raise them up" and nurture them. I also think that everything we need to know about parenting, we can get from looking at how God "parents" us. And from following the "one-another" scriptures in regards to our kids. They are people too, after all, and I fail to see how "be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving each other" doesn't also apply to how we interact with our children. There are no Bible laws that say your kid must obey immediately every single time with a smile on their face. Do you obey God that way every time He asks you to? And isn't God still good and merciful when we complain and stomp our feet? How many times has God extended mercy to you when you didn't obey Him instantly and cheerfully? I'd venture to say more times then most people extend mercy to their own children. So why in the world do we think we should expect more of an immature child then we are able to do ourselves??? If God is loving and gentle and merciful and abounding in loving kindness and patience toward us, how can we not extend that to our children? Don't judge another parent because they are doing things differently than you. Until you have to raise their unique children, you don't know their story and you have no right to tell them they're doing it wrong. And do not feel guilty if others seem to condemn you for your parenting choices. If you are confident that you're doing the best you can to love and raise your kids in the way that THEY need you to, forget others' condemnation. They are not the scorecard on your parenting.

4. End Times Paranoia

Besides the fact that I'm a Preterist and don't believe in "End Times", even if I did, the extreme paranoia and second-guessing that goes on everytime some natural (or unnatural) disaster happens would still drive me crazy. I hate to break it to ya, but earthquakes, volcanoes, economic failures, wars, terrible world leaders, and every other Bad Thing has been happening, over and over again, since the beginning of time. Go Google "10 worst earthquakes" and you'll find historical proof that some of the worst earthquakes happened a very long time ago. The world didn't end then and I highly doubt it's going to end now. There is nothing new under the sun. I really wish people would stop sitting around wondering when Jesus is going to come take them out of this mess we've made and start putting their energy into fixing the mess. One of the last things that Jesus prayed about His disciples before He died was "I do not pray that You would take them out of the world, but that You would keep them from the evil one". So stop praying "Come, Lord Jesus and save us out of this wicked world" and start praying instead that He would give you the strength to change the world you live in. This attitude could make all the difference. And even if I'm wrong, and Jesus is coming back to whisk us all away, at least I won't have wasted any time worrying about it.

5. Stating that God is Judging Someone Because Bad Things are Happening to Them

This really irks me. Who are we to judge someone in their troubles? A wise man once said "Then I saw all the work of God, that a man cannot find out the work that is done under the sun. For though a man labors to discover it yet he will not find...for I considered all this in my heart so that I could declare it all: that the righteous and their works are in the hand of God. People know neither love nor hatred by anything they see before them. All things come alike to all; One event happens to the righteous and the wicked; to the good, the clean, and the unclean....the race is not to the swift, nor the battle to the strong...but time and chance happen to them all." (from Eccl. 9) You cannot know whether someone deserved love or hatred, blessing or cursing, just by what you see them going through. Other world religions teach this...some call it Karma, among other things. But our God is merciful and often doesn't give us what we do deserve and gives us what we don't deserve. That's called grace. You obviously haven't received everything you've deserved. Don't play God by assuming others are getting their just due.

6.Stupid Worship Songs

Being a musician, sometimes I sit in church and cringe. "I really want to worship You, My Lord!" After singing that ad nauseam, you'll start to wonder if it has any meaning at all. "Great are you, Lord, Great are you Lord, great are you Lord....." YES, wonderful, the Lord is great. We get it. Can we move on now? And can you songwriters please dig into your creative side a little more and come up with a harmony that's more than 1-4-5?? Oooo, you added a minor 6? Yay for you. Ever heard of the circle of fifths? Nope, didn't think so. :P Also, just because a song is played on the Christian radio station, doesn't mean it makes a good corporate worship song. There's nothing more awkward then watching a congregation trying to follow a guitarist who's jammin' and singing a song that should've been a solo. Tenors who are also worship leaders, please remember: not everyone is a tenor. Have a little heart. And I'll leave with one last, helpful word for all worship leaders to commit to memory: tessitura, my friends. Tessitura. ;)

I'm sure there's more but that enough ranting for the time being. I feel loads better now. :) Feel free to disregard all of this and go on your merry way. Peace, y'all!


  1. Ugh. I just wrote a big long comment and I think I lost it... oh well. Basically what I said was I agree with everything you said and that your husband's comment at the end of point 2 was very helpful as I've been wondering about that lately. :-)
    ~Melanie Anderson

  2. #4 gets me, too. In the words of Ernest T. Bass, "Irritatin', ain't it?" And #6, boy can I relate.

  3. The first one sounds mental, I have gladly never heard that analogy in my church. The other ones I have encountered to various degrees, in particular 4 and 5.

    Regarding 4, yes, one day the world will come to an end, I do believe that but you cannot go around thinking and worrying about that. I am going to die one day I cannot go around thinking about that all the time either. One day it will happen, as long as I know that it's enough. And regarding end times, that might be when I have been dead 1000 years, why worry now?

    Regarding 5, we simply cannot know god's plan to the full so we cannot pass that judgement and say that god is punishing someone. I try to pass as little judgement as possible, I find that the safest. I cannot however say that I don't pass judgement but I make my best effort not to.

  4. "Where in scripture does anyone get the idea that God is sitting up there, with an attitude of "You don't want to follow Me? Well, fine, see how you like this trial! And I'll throw in a natural disaster, just for kicks"?"

    Jeremiah is full of God doing just this. Judah refused to heed, to repent and return, and as a result God gave them over to Babylon. Many of them died by the sword, famine, pestilence...all sent and allowed by God's own hand. Many of them went into captivity, again by God's hand. And He also sent drought upon them (natural disaster).

    But God's incredible mercy and grace also shines through in Jeremiah. He gives Judah many opportunities to repent, warning after warning after warning.

    God is the perfect balance of mercy and justice. We can't be all about His mercy and forget that He does judge sin. But at the same time, the opposite extreme is just as bad and I really do see your point. I've never heard of the breaking-a-lamb's-leg analogy before. I don't like it.

    Becky (a new reader)

  5. Oohh... Tenor worship leader here; I resemble that! I've had more than a few congregants having to get on a ladder to reach for the notes I was asking 'em to sing. :)

    Jim K.

  6. I particularly like the slurred lyrics where it sounds like the singer had a few too many nips of the communion wine - "ooooooooOOOOooohh... can't explain it... yo' luuuuuuuuuve feh meeeeeeEEEeeeeaaaahhhhciaaanot tell so many thoughtsaregoing thru me..'ee''ee'ee.. "

    Thank you, thank you, you're a beautiful audience. Hey, I'll be here all week!

    Jim K

    (BTW, prior post just had a typo.. a Google weakness that you can't edit a comment!)

  7. I don't think comparing Israel to us is a correct comparison. They were under a covenant that they entered willing with God. The conditions of that covenant clearly said that if they followed Him, He would bless them and give them peace. But if they refused to follow their end of the deal, they would be sold into slavery and scattered to the ends of the earth (Deut. 28-30) God was just keeping His end of the bargain in Jeremiah. That has nothing to do anyone else on the face of this earth, and certainly nothing to do with us who are under a New Covenant, ruled by grace, that is unconditional and not dependent on our actions. (Heb. 8) SO while one might try to make a comparison, they would be Biblically incorrect.

  8. lol Jim...Reminds me of American pop and rock singers trying to sound British.

  9. #1: THANK YOU! Finally! Someone else who knows about the "breaking the leg" analogy and thinks it's hokum! The first time I heard that was when I was a little girl, and even as a child I though "What a load of crap..." but I didn't know how to explain why I thought so.

    #2: Again, thank you. I'm loving this rant. :D

    #3: It's funny, but I feel as though you wrote this specifically for me, even though you don't know me from a hole in the ground. ;)

    #4: I don't claim to know much about the "End Times" in general (I don't like the book of Revelations (ooh parentheses inside parentheses, is it okay to not like a book of the Bible?) it always confused and bewildered me so I just tend to stay away from the caboose of the Bible) but I have never understood the panicking and lamenting that I see from people who supposedly have such great faith in God.... I see lots of hand-wringing, and nail-biting, and I just don't get it. Especially since most of these people claim to believe in the Sovereignty of God.... I think if and when the End happens, it will happen in God's time. So why worry?

    #5: I personally believe that the people who judge others during their trials "They must have offended God somehow..." need a swift kick in the teeth. Preferably, by someone wearing steel-toed boots. (Whatever happened to "mourn with those who mourn"?)

    #6: "Tenors who are also worship leaders, please remember: not everyone is a tenor. Have a little heart." As a contralto, I thank you. :)

  10. I was delighted that your first peeve was THAT one! The Breaking-Leg Shepherd has fed my basic insecurity about God's goodness for many, many years. I'm in a double bind: If I stay close to Him, He'll notice things in my life that He needs to break me of; but if I run away, He'll come find me and break me.

    While God does use heartbreak to draw some people to Him, He has been much more gentle with me. He hasn't "broken" me, but has healed what's already broken. That's a very different picture of this Shepherd.

    Excessive modesty (I wore purple tights the other day! Defrauding!) and end-times stuff (happily haven't thought about it for years) just make me tired.

    Stupid worship songs have a long history. Many of the "good old hymns" that my fundamentalist culture cherished, as opposed to the new unGodly worship songs, are insubstantial and sometimes downright juvenile. Take "At the Cross," for example: someone took the weighty verses, "Alas, and did my Savior bleed, and did my Sovereign die?" and then pasted on a bouncy chorus "At the cross, at the cross, where I first saw the light...!" If I'm going to sing insipidity, I prefer to do it to modern tunes.

    -- SJ

  11. Darcy, how did you know all my pet peeves? :P ;)


  12. SJ,
    I totally forgot about ranting against stupid hymns! I had planned on it, too lol. :P

  13. Some of us at No Longer Quivering were talking about that shepherd-leg-breaking story, and one or two of us could say they knew actual shepherds or were themselves connected with sheep agriculture. They were able to tell us unequivocably that no shepherd would ever break a lamb's leg. It's ridiculous.

    As far as that thing about "If you're hurting, God's judgment is on you," that's exactly what Job's friends told Job. And God was very angry with them about it. Why does it seem like so many Christians have never actually read Job?

  14. Kristen,
    Where could I find info on the historical accuracy of that story? And do you know where it came from in the first place?

  15. Word. I just found a link to William Branham, told the story. Did it originate with him???

  16. Check this out:


    It is not true that any shepherds break a lamb ' s leg on purpose.

    What they sometimes do in certain sheep-raising nations is to "brake" a leg. This means they attach a clog or weight to the animal ' s leg, which keeps certain "rogue" sheep from getting too far from the shepherd until they learn their names, and not to be afraid of the shepherd.

  17. Hi Darcy,
    Regarding the sheep story- I happened to be looking through some old Gothard materials to refute another topic of his (or should I say sacred cow), when I ran across the leg-breaking story on p16 of a booklet called The Secret of Success. Quote: "Therefore, if he sees that one of his sheep is persistent in going its own way, he will resort to administering the pain of discipline. He will lovingly break one of its legs and then nurse the sheep back to health."
    That booklet was copyright 1986, but perhaps the story has been around earlier than that.

  18. As a poet, unoriginal worship songs drive me nuts. I want to sing about something that means something to me, not just sing "God is great" over and over again. Yes, God is great, but let's talk about WHY he is great. Let's use our creativity to express His greatness in new ways. Let's sing a NEW song for once!

  19. Darcy - I'll have to ask my hubby if he ever heard of that analogy in the Branham church he grew up in. William Branham was a crack-pot and a pervert.

  20. Like everything "child centered" parenting is fine for some families, but produces brats in others. I've tried it all but, happily, my kids survived and still claim me [well, the still ask for money--same thing!] Just love your kids and do what feels right for YOUR family.

  21. I love everything about this post.

    That break the legs thing (I think I might've heard that at PCC, but never been around many nutcases anywhere else in my entire life), sounds vaguely familiar like I'd heard it sometime, but is just like wow. Is a total case of people just taking a limited analogy and running as far as they can with it to enable & defend their abuse of other humans. Sad that people fall for it.

  22. Love this:

    "How many of us grew up afraid of our own beauty, with eating disorders, or fear of men because we were taught that our bodies were somehow shameful and men were sex-crazed animals? How unfair it is that we take ordinary girls and force them to bear the weight of all men's purity on their shoulders!"

    I wish (now that I'm over 40) that I'd had more confidence and appreciation of the beauty God had given me when I was younger, instead of slinking around shame-facedly. I love that Jesus told people that if their eye offends them, to pluck it out; He didn't say that the object of their lust (the woman) had to dress herself in an ankle-length robe because his lust was her fault.

  23. Referring to # 2 watch

    Mark Gungor - Sex is what men want from women.wmv
    Note: there is loving sex.

    Listen to the whole talk but zero into 1:34
    He is being VERY honest and behind closed doors you will find Christian men admitting to this. Do you women have any idea how many tears we have shed behind closed doors because you choose to dress inappropriately? We cry because we think we sinned again.
    Your husband says, “that any man that blames a woman for his lack of self-control is no man at all.”
    So is Paul less then a man?
    Read Romans 7:14-25

    Why did God tell women to dress modestly?
    See page http://bible.cc/1_timothy/2-9.htm

    Perhaps it has something to do with this.
    Best Possible Sex

    Note that many Christian men will admit that an inappropriately dressed women can drive a man crazy more then full nudity because it makes him wonder, and a properly dressed woman is viewed to be more precious.

  24. Anon., your tears are wasted. I have no respect for any man that blames his lack of control on a woman. You sound just like the original man that looked God in the face and said "The woman made me do it." Try that and let me know how it works out for ya.

    As for sex, women want sex too. Sex should ALWAYS be loving and mutual (or did you not read 1 Cor. 7??) yet you added that little statement like it was an exception. I'd venture to say that you haven't yet met a woman that loves sex as much as you do, only women who think it's their duty toward their husband. I'd also venture to say, due to the links you provided, that you get that satisfaction in many places, all the while blaming women for your moral failure. Get a grip and go complain to someone who actually cares.

  25. Anonymous...These "tears [by men] being shed behind closed doors" because of women dressing inappropriately - I'm just gonna go ahead and call BS.

    The tears you (if you're among this group) and any other man shed are the result of you needing to grow up, quit being a horndog, and quit placing blame elsewhere for your own horndog problems.

    Yes, I DO believe that some people (women AND men) dress inappropriately at times. I alone am responsible for my reaction to it.

    Note that many Christian men will admit that an inappropriately dressed women can drive a man crazy more then full nudity because it makes him wonder, and a properly dressed woman is viewed to be more precious.

    These Christian men are completely shull of religious fit.

  26. Darcy
    If Anon is a person, I’m not Anon.
    I’m very well of the response of Adam but again, why does God want women to dress modestly?

    I was hoping that you wouldn’t say something like “Get a grip and go complain to someone who actually cares.”

    Read John 13:34-35

    Does your statement show love?
    Read 1 Cor 13

    You think I am Bsing?
    I’m not. Even Peter wept.
    You are no different then me, a sinner.

  27. You can take your misquoted scriptures and self-righteousness somewhere else. You, a man, just came on my blog and blamed your moral failure on women, while daring to preach to me that I am not loving enough. If it's respect you wanted, you failed. I could care less whether or not you think my statement is "loving". Get a grip and get control of your own problems may be the most loving things someone has ever said to you. I'm blessed to know real men in my life. You are not one of them. So, yeah, you can go complain to someone else. You aren't even man enough to put your real name on your self-righteous finger-pointing. I have no use for cowards who won't own up to what they say and who blame their own moral failure and sin issues on someone else.

  28. Anonymous...

    What does this..."Lewis:
    You think I am Bsing?
    I’m not. Even Peter wept.
    You are no different then me, a sinner.

    ...have to do with this?..."Do you women have any idea how many tears we have shed behind closed doors because you choose to dress inappropriately? We cry because we think we sinned again."


    If you "sinned" again, deal with it without looking for someone to blame for it. Yes, Peter wept. Even JESUS wept. Neither instance had anything to do with too much cleavage or leg. You'd benefit to stop misappropriating passages from the bible. If YOU have heart issues, deal with them.

  29. So I'm coming to the game late :) Just found your blog a few days ago, and this particular piece is where I'm at too! I have a husband who is a Christian, believes in God, and only started going to church after we got married (at 20). He understands God better than I do (raised in ATI and church since birth) and is able to still laugh and cry with me when I go crazy-religious-weird upbringing story. He has been the first man in my family (I have a dad and bro) to say that modesty doesn't matter, a dirty mind is going to think dirty thoughts, whether you are showing off or wearing a sack.
    Do you know what I think about those perverts who go around telling women to dress like Muslims and get their rocks off from some porno website online?! Yeah, you cry tears, cause your heart tells you that your penis wants a real woman, but your head won't respect one, so you couldn't get one! I have a dad and a brother who tell me to my face that I dress like a whore (jeans and t-shirt, seriously). These same men have slept with over 30 women apiece (I am not making this number up) and my brother is 19!
    Its not about modesty or lack thereof, its about heart and conscience. Real men have sexual urges, and show self control. Wusses blame women for their sexual urges and turn into perverts.