A Mega-Post on Guilt, Fear, Shame, Fire and Brimstone

Five anons:

I’ve always been on the receiving end of what you would call the ‘guilt-fear-shame’ tactics. When I was seven, I was handed one of those infamous “You’re a Sinner and You’re Going to Hell” pamphlets. Ever since then I’ve struggled … that I’m still doomed to hell simply because ALL I’ve ever known is the terror, the guilt, and the shame … How can they do this to others?

– I have always been told … “Don’t read anything that isn’t the Bible”, “You’re going to hell because you enjoyed Pokemon”, “Don’t you know Hollywood is a den of sin?” I constantly feel like it’s WRONG to have interests outside of theology/religion … I feel like I’m being trained to be a nun or monk. Is it right to feel this way?

– I sometimes feel like I’m sinning when I don’t have a bible in my hand 24/7. I feel that way when I’m doing my homework & watching cartoons. I feel that way reading anything that isn’t theology-derrived … Is this a natural part of growing on the journey?

– The word grace appears in so many bible verses, lessons and sermons… but I’ve never known what it actually means. so, what is grace?

– This isn’t an ask, but rather a thank you for your time writing. I feel I’ve grown more reading this blog than I ever have from being that person beaten in the face with all the ‘do not associate’ and ‘there is no depression if you believe’ tirades. Some of the things you say sting from time to time … but it’s a good hurt. I am VERY grateful for your condemnation-free encouragement…I would hug you and crush your ribs if I could.


Thank you for these very honest questions and for the awesome encouragement.  You and I both have been hurt by tons of churches that breathed condemnation: and for some of us, it could take a long time to recover. 

So please allow me the grace to break this down a bit with a little more nuance.  Please feel free to skip around.

Continue reading “A Mega-Post on Guilt, Fear, Shame, Fire and Brimstone”

Quote: Truly Respect

Watch how a person treats someone who they believe is wrong. You can tell much. If they are snobby, arrogant, hostile, and condescending, they are simple-minded bullies obsessed with control. If they are jealous, defensive, insecure, and petty, they are afraid and lack convictions of their own. If they compromise, enable, flatter, and fawn, they are sneaky opportunists ready to run you over. Such motives will force, coerce, or manipulate.

To truly respect someone even when they’re wrong is to have a heart that wants to help them see, since their “wrongness” is often just the blindness of being behind. This sort of heart is open to seeing the best in another, that there is good on both sides, and that there could also be wrong in the self. It is a harder way, but it treats a person with dignity knowing they are not the enemy; rather they need a light to see further ahead where you are. Be that for them.

— J.S