When something is true, it’s fact, accurate, correct and verifiable. That truth may change with knowledge, like learning the earth is over 5 billion years old as opposed to 6, 000, but in that moment, best as we know, it’s true.
A truism is an obvious truth, a self-evident truth that often results in a cliche’. Although, not all cliche’s are truisms and not all truisms are cliches, truisms tend to have staying power. It’s truth that grew legs.
Christians like cliche’s. They’re handy little pat answers to complicated or unanswerable questions or dilemmas. Many of these sayings are said by Christians and non-believers alike. But they aren’t necessarily true.
Here’s one: America was founded as a Christian nation.
The fact is, America was founded on the principle of religious liberty. Here we can worship or not worship the god of our choice and freely practice or not practice that religion out from under the thumb of a governing authority. (Within the confines of the law, of course. No human or animal sacrifices allowed!)
Over time, I grew weary of our beloved Christian sayings. Why? Because I learned that most were not only untrue, but dangerously untrue.
Being in ministry for so long, I not only heard a ton of cliches but I used them. And I grew to dislike them. I am particularly bemused by the cliche: Everything happens for a reason.
In a Christian context, it implies that everything happens as a result of divine orchestration. Everything.
The word everything would include but not be limited to: incest, child abuse, domestic violence, sink holes, lottery winning child molester, women who murder their boyfriends, mango flies, malaria, toenail fungus, genital mutilation, rape, schizophrenia, Jared Fogle, spina bifida, zika, and a host of other tragedies, illnesses or misfortune … all of which, ‘happened for a reason.’
Great. This’ll come in handy!
While in ministry, I knew a woman in her 30’s who’d been incested by her father up into her adult life. She was a psychological train wreck. When she went to see Mel Gibson’s Passion of the Christ, she ended up in a fetal position in tears out in the hallway. Took an hour to talk her out to the parking lot. She was diagnosed with multiple mental issues but hey … I’m sure she’ll be relieved to know it happened for a reason.
While in ministry we buried a raging alcoholic who hanged herself in her basement after 30 years of praying, repenting, sobering, falling, pleading, and begging god for deliverance. Her family suffered for three decades as she fell deeper into her disease. But I’m fine with that because … everything happens for a reason.
A decade ago, a member of my family became the victim of domestic violence. Her husband flew into a rage and broke her jaw. She faces yet another surgery and lives with chronic pain. When she’s been up all night dealing with the throbbing ache and brutal headaches, I remind her … everything happens for a reason.
While in ministry, I prayed and cried with a woman whose young son had been molested by a neighbor. His therapist is hopeful that he’ll develop normally with continued counseling. He’ll need it for an indeterminate span of time. She fell apart in my arms, so I told her …
Everything happens for a reason.
Oh … and monkeys with bibles flew out of my butt, too.
Clearly there’s a danger to slapping a cliche on a serious, potentially life altering or threatening situation.
It was a cliche I heard during a TV interview that made me stop and examine each and every Christian cliche I’d ever heard or used. It was for me, the proverbial straw that broke the camels back.
And I use that cliche to say this before I tell you about that: There were lots of straws on my back right up to the moment I heard the TV interview. This one thing in and of itself wouldn’t have been enough for me to react so strongly. But things do mount up to a breaking point. And this was mine.
I was about three years into the four year period of coming out of Christianity. Sitting in my living room with a morning cup of Joe, I turned on the news. On the screen was John Mark Karr, the man who claimed he killed JonBenet Ramsey.
The local news covering the story showed up at the courthouse and thrust a microphone in the face of JonBenet’s aunt and asked, “How do you feel about the apprehension of JonBenet’s killer?” And she replied with …
God’s timing is always perfect.
I flew out of my chair and began ranting at the TV.
Perfect? How could god’s timing possibly be considered perfect?
It’d been ten long, agonizing years for the Ramsey family. They endured murder, world wide accusation, rumor, loss of their business, cancer, and subsequent death of Patsy who died before she learned what happened to her little girl. And that is somehow perfection?
As it turned out, he didn’t do it. So where’s that leave god in this equation?
That day, after I calmed the hell down, I sat at the computer and banged out every Christian cliche and catch phrase I could think of. Then I thought about them critically. Pragmatically. And not one held up under honest scrutiny.
God never gives us more than we can handle
When God closes a door, he opens a window
It is God’s way of telling you [fill in the blank]
God is in control
God needed another angel
God loves each of us as if there were only one of us
If God brings you to it, He will bring you through it
God will provide
We can do all things through Christ …
Here’s one I found on Twitter a minute ago.
Let’s share that good news with the 12 year old girl who got sold into sex slavery and pimped out at the Stupid Bowl. Would that message have been a comfort to one of Jared Fogle’s victims during the assault? And how about this … is it part of god’s divine plan for me to write this post that utterly denies him?