Nov
08
2013

The Pattern of the Fallen

I consider it tragic when people walk away from God. Sometimes they leave in a huff, sometimes they’ve intellectually wrestled, sometimes they dive into crazy sin and blow up their lives. Whatever the story, they are no longer walking with God, and that’s sad.

Carving Pumpkins

A quick read and application of 1 Corinthians 13:4-7 solves a lot of problems in our household.

I’ve seen a pattern, though. This may give you hope. Wendy and I see this time and time again. Any separation between man and God can be attributed to a lack of love. Look around the life of the person who blows up his or her life: love is difficult to find. Love got lost in the shuffle somewhere long ago.

I put this to the test last week when a Christian leader announced he had an affair. (What else is new, right?) I asked: Where in the fortress of this leader was there talk of the Greatest Commandment? I went to the front page of the organization he resigned from — a dozen projects, issues and events listed — and did a simple word search for “love.” The only summary that mentions “love” is the leader’s resignation letter, his personal appeal to his followers for “mercy and love” for his betrayal.

My first thought was “hypocrite,” but my second thought was “good for him.” Perhaps he’s relearning the importance of that which he and his ministry were missing: love. So many other good things tend to get in its way — missions, projects, fundraising, conferences — they sound like such great ideas, but without love, they boil us alive. Before long, we are nearly dead with dogmatism and dysfunction, love nowhere in sight. If this leader rediscovers the great depths of the radical love of Christ, then God will be in on it and something great could come of the lives wrecked by his affair.

I also see this pattern in lower-profile situations. One is of a former student of mine who, on the surface, is angry with God. He and I have had rich conversations, but he’s struggling with some genuine relational hurdles that he finds bothersome. Here’s what I find encouraging: this young adult has a deep heart of compassion and love for people. He’s justifiably ticked at people who treat others wrong. His doubts about God stem from the lack of love from the so-called Christians in his life. Funny, I believe God is love (1 John 4:8), so though he is denying God’s love, he’s still running with God whether he believes it or not.

I find this fairly common among atheists. “There is no God” is often coupled with intense humanitarian works and genuine compassion for others. I wonder sometimes if atheists are lashing out at God like they think. Perhaps they are lashing out at religion, dogmatism, and its proud leaders. In these ways, they are more Christlike than the most pious religious leaders. Who knows? Maybe God is more for them than against them.

There is a pattern here, don’t you see it? You probably see it in your family. For me, every single squabble or fight we have (sibling vs sibling, parent vs parent, parent vs child) can be attributed to a lack of love. Wendy and I have found that when we focus on love, solutions to the fights work their way out. A quick read and application of 1 Corinthians 13:4-7 solves a lot of problems in our household.

Remember: LOVE is the most excellent way (1 Corinthians 12:31). This reality slaps us up now and then. The trials, heartbreaks, disillusions, confusion, and turmoil in life can often be whittled down to a lack of love in our lives. Someone along the way failed to love, it is as simple as that.

Jesus Christ spoke, lived, died and rose on love. For those who lost the true way (or are disillusioned by those who have), a rebirth may be right around the corner. God is love, and we should let this truth direct our path. When all you have left are faith, hope and love, just remember that the greatest of these is love. Start building — or rebuilding — on that.

Wendy and I learned this years ago. We lose step now and then, but Love is patient and kind with us. You may not know this of our family, but we left a dysfunctional movement nearly a decade ago, and we’ve written quite a bit about our journey. The experience led to a relearning of love that has forever changed our family for the better. Though it was a heartbreaking journey in many ways, we do not regret any of it, and we wish everyone I knew would discover the same in their life journey.

If this strikes a chord with you, I recommend these books, two of which were extremely helpful to our rebirth, and one of them written by my Wendy and me:

  • Love in the House by Chris & Wendy Jeub
  • Leading With Love by Alexander Strauch
  • Repenting of Religion by Gregory Boyd
About Chris Jeub

Chris is the father of 16 children, busily running the family businesses and learning the depths of love along the way.

  • http://lorialexander.blogspot.com/ Lori Alexander

    The greatest commandment is to love God and others. You do these two things and you fulfill all the requirements of the law {which we are no longer under, thank goodness}. I have always felt, like you, that all sin can be traced to a lack of love.

    • http://www.chrisjeub.com/ Chris Jeub

      Exactly.

  • Daniel Hayes

    This is a great post! I think I’ve almost always been pretty good at “specific love” for those close to me (family friends, etc), but not good at “general love” for acquaintances or those I’m not more familiar with. Even using those terms may highlight a shortfall…but I’m working on it. Just reading your post has me thinking about that for the first time. And that’s progress…

    • http://www.chrisjeub.com/ Chris Jeub

      Love definitely comes through on your podcast, Dan. In all honesty, we’re all working on it. I love SIMPLE LIFE TOGETHER! http://simplelifetogether.com

  • http://www.tumbleweednews.com/ Vickie

    Great post!!! I believe that a lot of sin is more the love of self more than anything. People have this mentality of “what’s in it for ME” vs love God and others. It is a humanistic world we live in….out for self. I also agree with your comments about atheists. Some of them seem more Christ-like than a lot of professing Christians I know.

  • Annie

    I also read that letter from the ministry leader, and where you saw “hypocrite” I saw heartbroken repentance. I wept for him and his wife and prayed for them, because “there but for the grace of God go I.” What about love for that man? :( I agree with your premise, but disagree with your attack on one specific man and a ministry that truly is a bright light in a dark world.

    • http://www.chrisjeub.com/ Chris Jeub

      My only point was that nowhere in any other summary was the Greatest Commandment mentioned. I find this common in leaders who fall. We tried hard to make that point without piling on the guilty, but needed to say it nonetheless.

      • Annie

        Point well taken. Thank you for your response. :)

  • SW

    If only my family had figured this out two decades ago…

  • galacticexplorer

    Unfortunately, I simply do not think love is enough. My family loved me to death… or very nearly to death. They still love me, and I cannot stand to be near them or talk to them because their love is abusive. I would trade their love for respect any day, but I know that won’t happen. Instead they will continue to say “you know we love you, right? Then what do you have to complain about?” The thing is, you can love someone and still hurt them. You can abuse them, control them, treat them like crap because you love them too much to let them be. You can love someone so much that you would rather drive them to suicide than risk letting them make their own choices in their own lives. You can love someone so much that you would isolate them, verbally abuse them, threaten them, shame them, bully them, and blame them in order to try to force them to be what you want them to be. And, in the end, all that love does is cause you to lose them… either when they flee you to save their lives, or when they cave in to the urges and cut their arms open. Love is utterly worthless without respect. No, it’s worse than useless. It is toxic without respect.

    That isn’t to say that there isn’t a place for love. There surely is. But pain doesn’t just come from a lack of love. Sometimes love just makes the pain worse.

    • http://www.chrisjeub.com/ Chris Jeub

      Interesting thought. I suppose a study of what love really is would be in order. I don’t agree that you can abuse/shame/etc. in love. If someone claims to be doing that, they likely don’t have an understanding of love.

      • galacticexplorer

        Perhaps. I don’t know if it’s that simple though. I am certain that my family loves me. I believe they would die for me, they truly want the best for me, and that I am one of the most important things in their lives. It is because of that devotion that they abused me. Can I then say that they don’t really love me? Definitely not. They love me, they just show it in an awful way. They believe that being gay will send me to hell, and as such, they would do anything to me to stop me. My father told me “if I thought breaking both of your legs would stop you, I would.” It was only a joke because he knows that breaking my legs won’t actually turn me straight… but if he ever thought otherwise, I’ve no doubt he would do it. That is toxic love… the sort that says “I care about you too much to let you ruin your own life, so I will do anything to stop you.” And it’s deadly. If you do not believe that complete devotion, willingness to sacrifice, and desiring the best for someone is love, what would you call it?

        • http://www.chrisjeub.com/ Chris Jeub

          Yeah, it does sound complicated. I’m trying to picture someone who loves who is also abusive, and I can’t fathom it, as I understand love to be. Please don’t take this wrong, but are you sure you understand what love is?

          • galacticexplorer

            I think I do. Webster defines it as “a feeling of strong or constant affection for a person”. I feel like that might be a little simplistic, because I think love is deeper than strong liking, and involves placing the other before yourself and desiring the best for them in all things. But, by that definition, it is still quite possible to love someone and abuse them. If you do not think that abuse and love are compatible, then what do you call the feelings of a parent who cares about their child more than anything, would die for them, and always want the best for them? Would you call that love? Because that is what my family feels for me. And they are still abusive. If there is another, better word for what they feel for me, I’d be interested to hear it though, so that I can better understand your view as well.

            • http://www.chrisjeub.com/ Chris Jeub

              Yeah, Webster doesn’t really capture the idea of love very well.

              I think of love as a bit daring, a journey. To walk in love, you have to display quite a bit of humility, vulnerability, transparency. An abuser uses manipulation, control, legalism on his/her victims. The only time I see an abuser as walking in love is when he/she seeks mercy and forgiveness for past abuse. Situations like that can be extremely loving, but the dysfunctional abuse is anything but.

              “Abuse” is a tough word, but I can definitely say that I have been cruel before, even to those I loved. But that cruelty was not because of me loving them “too much,” they were low moments in my journey when I was not in step with love. If I were more focused on the person I was dealing with (more loving) I probably wouldn’t have been as cruel as I was.

              That’s why I cannot fathom “loving” abuse. Sure, people can be cruel at times, but those are not examples of their love. They are examples of the lack of it.

              Make sense?

              • galacticexplorer

                I do see where you’re coming from. I still think love and abuse can exist side-by-side, but yes, the abusive behavior itself is not “loving”. It is a misguided application of the feeling of love. I also agree that, if abusers were able to love perfectly, they would not abuse. However, I do think that abuse and love can still exist side-by-side and can even exacerbate each other, so long as that love is imperfect (which all love is). I guess it gets difficult to separate out the definition of “perfect” love from human love. If love is perfection, then abuse could never be loving. If love is devotion, caring, self-sacrifice, and a desire to protect, then abuse could very easily be loving. It all comes down to how you define the word.

              • tereza crump

                Read I Corinthians 13 to see God’s definition of love.

              • galacticexplorer

                I have read I Cor. 13 enough times that I used to have it memorized. Unfortunately, it is very vague. It tells us some of the properties of love, but it does not tell us what love IS. In addition, as with most things in scriptures, it can be interpreted to mean just about anything you please. Indeed, I suspect that my family drew some of their encouragement and inspiration to behave abusively from this very verse, where it says “rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth in truth.” True love, according to them, required that they refuse to accept my homosexuality and instead try incessantly to get me to see the “truth”. So, again, “God’s definition of love” could still include abuse and, for many people, it does.

              • tereza crump

                I can see how things can be very confusing when you get mixed messages from fallen people. We are all fallen. There is only one that is just, perfect and sinless : Jesus!

                The only person that will offer you unconditional love is Jesus. We all have been abused by people, family and society one way or another. May I invite you to listen to Joseph Prince? He does an amazing job introducing you to the Love of God, to the Person of Jesus, to God’s Grace Himself.

                I know God loves you and has wonderful things in store for you. Be blessed today!

              • galacticexplorer

                Thank you for your kindness. I truly do appreciate being engaged in conversation without judgment or assumptions. It is a welcome change of pace. =)

                Unfortunately, it is not just people that have given me mixed messages, but the bible as well. The bible does not offer unconditional love, and so I have decided to look elsewhere for my understanding of God. Obviously, I am also only human, so I am sure I will not ever have much of an answer, but a good question, to me, is better than a false answer. All the best!

    • http://family.bob-space.com BobTHJ (Roger Hicks)

      I would suggest that using “I love you” as a tool for manipulation and abuse isn’t really love. Love by definition is respectful. I know a lot of people can mean well (myself included at times) but end up failing because we forget the principles of what love is (1 Corinthians 13). Christ modeled it well for us in his demonstration of love: completely accepting of where we are now without condemning us – while at the same time completely ready to take us beyond the flaws that hold us back and make us into something we couldn’t even dream of!

      • galacticexplorer

        But then what would you call it when someone is utterly devoted to their child, would die for them, wants the best for them, and sees them as one of the most important things in their lives? Is that not love? If that child then does something that the parent believes will cause her to go to hell, would it not be love to try to stop her? And if the methods for stopping her become abusive, does that suddenly mean that the parent does not love the child anymore? I think that the parent still loves the child… but that love and abuse are not mutually exclusive. In fact, I think they very often go together. What do you think?

        • http://family.bob-space.com BobTHJ (Roger Hicks)

          I don’t want to trivialize your situation by giving a simple answer. I sympathize with you – though I haven’t been there myself I’ve repeatedly seen well-intentioned friends and family members mistreat the person they are trying to love out of an effort to “rescue them”. Again, I look to the example of Christ though – and that’s not what he modeled. Don’t get me wrong – Christ certainly provided the way for us to be rescued, but He didn’t try to force us to accept his rescue. Since Christ (God incarnate) claims to be love I think He is a good standard for defining our usage of the word.

          • galacticexplorer

            Hmm… I do understand better your point of view. In some ways, I’d like to agree, because God supposedly showed the way to love perfectly, and that often doesn’t resemble what we do as human beings. But that shouldn’t sully the term “love”, right? In which case, I can understand the point of view that abuse cannot be love.

            On the other hand, I really don’t know what else to call my family’s feelings for me. “Intense liking”? “Devotion, but not love?” And then it becomes awkward and uncomfortable for me to try to judge if someone else loves or not. After all, I think most parents love their children (not all, sadly). However, some parents are still bad parents, and sometimes they mess up when they are honestly trying to do the best thing. Does that mean they are loving their child less at those times? I really don’t feel comfortable trying to make that claim. Often, I think the parent feels they are loving the child more than ever at a time when things are going wrong. So how can I judge who is loving and who is not? Much easier is judging who is respecting and who is not because respect is a more precise action.

            So, I do see your point. I just wouldn’t know how else to describe my family’s situation outside of the word “love” but also “abuse.” If love can only truly be attained by God, then I suppose none of us can really claim that we love anyone, and that’s fair enough. But then what word should we use in its place, to describe the human sort of love that is imperfect but still powerful?

            Finally, I regret to say that looking to God for the definition of love has pretty much lost its meaning for me. I abandoned my faith not too long ago, in large part, because I realized that the “loving God” I thought I believed in wasn’t really that loving at all. I can respect the teachings of Jesus, but when he came to try to save us from the wrath of a god that claims “I will not force you to come to me” but then threatens to torture you for all eternity if you don’t… I don’t see love. Rather, I see exactly the same sort of controlling dictatorship that my family imposed: “I love you and your life will be wonderful and full of blessings until you fail to measure up. Then, suddenly love will become abuse, you won’t be good enough anymore, and you will be cast out, while I pretend to act pious and justified in condemning my own child to pain and suffering.” I’m done with that sort of love. I sometimes still believe that there is a God out there that really is loving and cares more about me than the fact that I’m gay. I think I’ve met him/her before. I think he stopped me when I was going to take my life. But I just can’t see it in the christian God… or at least not the biblical God. So, defining love by the acts of God is a bit difficult for me, is all I’m trying to say with all of that, haha! Sorry… long comment.

            • http://family.bob-space.com BobTHJ (Roger Hicks)

              I appreciate your honesty and your willingness to talk. Even though I disagree I can see why you’ve come to the conclusions you reached. I don’t think the semantics of the english language can capture well the distinct difference between perfect love and good intentions marred by ignorance.

              Something to think about – but you imply that if God is loving he wouldn’t threaten us with eternal torture if we didn’t accept him, but I think you’re blaming God for something that lies with us. Death (hell) is the natural consequence of our actions – not some “penalty box” imposed on us by God. By your own definition God would be abusive if he didn’t permit us to reject His standard and face the consequences that resulted (isn’t that what you felt was abusive about your parent’s response to you? their attempts to force you to fit their standard?). This is why I think love and abuse are mutually exclusive. God demonstrates (embodies) love by letting us walk away.

              To illustrate: I’m dangling off a cliff. God reaches out His hand. “Grab my hand, I’ll help you to safety! If you don’t you will fall to your death!”. It would be silly to respond “No God! I think you’re just trying to force me to do things your way! You must not love me since you won’t save me from falling even if I don’t do as you ask!”.

              • galacticexplorer

                The problem with that illustration is that God has infinite power. He does not just need to take your hand… he could save you a million ways. If you didn’t take his hand and fell, he could just cause you to float, or give you something soft to land on. But instead, he chooses only to offer a hand. If you choose not to take that hand because you think you are safe, or you don’t hear him calling for you, or you’re scared he will betray you and just throw you off the cliff, he doesn’t give you a second chance. He says “well, I tried, but you weren’t good enough, so now I will let you die, because… apparently you’re not that important to me.”

                According to the doctrines I know, God created hell as a place of punishment for Satan. God created it. God chose to banish people there if they fail in this life. God chose not to give them second chances. God chose not to reveal his plan of safety more clearly to them. God chose to set up a situation in which most people will be doomed to eternal torture. If you say “hell is the natural consequence of sin” that implies that either a) God created it that way, with full intention of sending lots of people there (thus making it basically a penalty box, as you put it) or b) something greater than God set these “natural” consequences and he is powerless to alter them. Since God is supposedly omnipotent, then I must assume that he created the system of life on earth, heaven and hell, knowing full well that he would give people limited, short-lived chances to do the right thing and then banish them to eternal torture if they failed. So then his unconditional love becomes very conditional. “I will love you and treat you well if you happen to follow these rules. However, if you walk away from me, I will still love you, but I’ll also purposely condemn you to suffering and misery.” In the same way, my family decided “I will love you and treat you well if you happen to follow these doctrines. However, if you form your own opinions and want to live your life in a different way than we expected, we will still love you, but we will also inflict suffering on you and cast you out of our home.” And, most chilling to me, both God and my family unite in saying “you deserve this pain… you brought it on yourself. I am blameless because I love you and if you just did what I wanted, you wouldn’t have to go through this.” That sort of God is not loving, to me. That god is an abuser.

                However, I do have to agree with you that the English language is rather poor when it comes to the word “love.” It can mean so many different things. I believe there is a perfect love out there, but I think it is futile for us humans to think we can ever attain it (and I think you would agree there). We would have to be perfect beings. As such, I still see love as something that can combine with abuse, for lack of better words. Perfect love, though, would never abuse. I agree with you there.

  • lilaf

    Well, I know love is important. But there are alot of people who say they don’t see Christ in His church. I’d have to ask though, would they acknowledge Him if they did see Him?

    • lilaf

      I know I can always love more, but it still sometimes seems fruitless. One unloving action can undo 100 good ones. Sorry if that sounds cynical, but I also can’t blame myself for everyone’s rejection of Christ. It’s not all my fault.

  • Nathaniel

    “I consider it tragic when
    people walk away from God. Whatever the story, they are no longer
    walking with God, and that’s sad. Any separation between man and God can
    be attributed to a lack of love.”

    Allow me to say this in an equally “loving” manner: Would you kindly go get fonged?

    I don’t believe in God. I am not sad. My parents love me. My siblings
    love me. My grandparents love me. I am awash in love. And yet here I
    am. And not just me. My father. My siblings. My paternal grandparents.
    All atheists or agnostics.

    So either we are freaks of nature, or you are dead wrong. Dead wrong
    because of a disgusting prejudice so deep and foundational to your view
    of the world that you can’t even see it.

    Christian’s have never held a monopoly on love, Mr. Jeub. Your writing alone proves that. And I hope someday you realize this. But I’m not holding my breath.

    • http://www.chrisjeub.com/ Chris Jeub

      You’re right, Christians don’t own a monopoly on love. That’s a big part of this post. Did you read beyond the first paragraph?

      • Nathaniel

        I did read beyond your first paragraph. Meaning I got to see such sentiments such as “Any separation between man and God can be attributed to a lack of love,” and “love is difficult to find. Love got lost in the shuffle somewhere long ago.”

        Taking such statements at face value, they would indicate that in order for an atheist like me to exist, I must not have enough love in my life. Which is incredibly wrong and insulting.

        Now I must ask you if you read anything other than the last sentence of my post, seeing as I am merely reiterating thoughts previously written above. Are you capable of responding?

        • http://www.chrisjeub.com/ Chris Jeub

          You’re losing me, Nathaniel. My comment about my atheist student was kind, sort of a “do not judge on face value” compliment. You’re taking it totally wrong, on its face and its purpose.

          • Nathaniel

            Your “kind” comments about your atheist acquaintance are paired with condescending pats on the head about he doesn’t even know the God you think he is rebelling against.

            Here’s another hint: Saying that someone is acting like a Christian because they do good deeds is like me complimenting you by saying, “That’s mighty white of you.”

  • http://gamesgirlsgods.blogspot.com/ Feminerd

    This is a bit late, I know, but something you said really bugged me. You said that “[a]ny separation between man and God can be attributed to a lack of love.” Well, that’s just insulting to atheists. It assumes we would only not believe in gods because of a lack of love, not any of the myriad other reasons we have. It shuts us down and silences our voices before we even start talking.

    If you want to know why we are atheists, ask. And then set aside your preconceptions and just listen for a second. I know why I don’t believe in gods- I went looking for them, and I couldn’t find. Since I like to have what I believe substantiated by at least a little evidence, when I could find not one single iota of credible evidence for any supernatural entities at all, let alone omniscient, omnipotent, omnibenevolent, omnipresent deities, I let go of that belief. It went into the same box as my lack of belief in faeries, elves, Big Foot, and Invisible Pink Unicorns; that is, things that are theoretically possible but not worth putting any more effort into until and unless credible evidence arises.

    I’m not asking you to present me with evidence. I’ve probably heard it before, honestly. What I am saying is that my lack of belief in gods has absolutely nothing to do with love or the lack thereof. Please, just take a second and listen. Stop seeing us as a problem to be fixed. Just sit down and listen. We know where you’re coming from. We understand your position. Now sit down and try to understand ours.

    • http://www.chrisjeub.com/ Chris Jeub

      I didn’t expect atheists to take interest in my blog or this specific post. I was writing to my audience. I guess I can see what you’re saying; I take offense when I read from atheist sites sometimes. But…

      I am honestly not trying to offend or even convince anyone in this post other than love is the most excellent way — which is true for everyone, believers or not. Explaining that God exists whether an atheist believes it or not is just like an atheist saying he doesn’t exist whether a Christian
      believes it or not. How is that offensive?

      • http://gamesgirlsgods.blogspot.com/ Feminerd

        People read what you say and take it to heart. How could they not, when your larger message is so good? But then they internalize it; all of it. They meet an atheist, maybe me, maybe not. They say “well you just don’t believe in God because you don’t have enough love/your parents didn’t love you enough/you can’t feel love”. They learned what you taught, even if it’s not what you thought you were teaching. People have said that to me before, to my face, and they learned it places like your blog. Love is a defining characteristic of what it means to be human. It hurts, to be told that I’m not fully human, and yet you’re still teaching that.

        I understand that atheists are definitely not your general audience. However, this is the Internet, and the people you talk about are going to sometimes see you talking about them. The people who do read your blog on a regular basis are going to interact with the people you talk about. Would you say such a thing to my face? If not, then why say such a thing in public at all? I know you believe there is a god, and that’s not offensive at all. Explaining why you think there is a god and what that god stands for isn’t offensive at all either. What is offensive is telling people why atheists don’t believe in any gods and getting the reasons wrong, perpetuating negative stereotypes as you do.

        • http://www.chrisjeub.com/ Chris Jeub

          Sorry, Feminerd, I’m not following this logic. I like to challenge people’s thinking, but just because it offends some people doesn’t invalidate what I said. I’m really sorry you are this sensitive. I suspect there are some deeper issues at work here, and while I’d love to explore those issues with you, I can’t if you’re going to be offended when I express myself.

          Funny, I usually have to explain this kind of thing to religious zealots, not atheists.

          • http://gamesgirlsgods.blogspot.com/ Feminerd

            All right, I’ll try to break it down.

            I don’t care what you believe about gods. I really don’t. I’m not one bit offended that you think there is one, nor that you tell people there is one. I’m perfectly fine with you presenting your evidence and your interpretation of your god. More power to you. You preach a message of love, and that’s a good one.

            You said that atheists don’t believe in gods because of a lack of love. That statement is what is the problem. First of all, what kind of lack of love? Were we not loved enough in our childhoods? Many of us can refute that. Is it a lack of capability for love in ourselves? That is dehumanizing. Is it because God doesn’t love us enough? I highly doubt you’re making that argument. What do you think your readers are getting out of that phrasing? That we had miserable childhoods or that we are incapable of love? Both of those are hideous arguments to make. What does “[a]ny separation between man and God can be attributed to a lack of love” mean, if not one of those?

            The things you teach about atheists, your audience will learn. And they will take these negative stereotypes, that atheists are all from miserable backgrounds and/or incapable of love, and they will interact with the world with those lenses firmly in place. If you perpetuate negative stereotypes of any group of people, you have some small responsibility for the harm your readers might do or condone or tolerate. Offensive or not isn’t the point. The harm done is the point.

            You’re speaking for us. In activist language, you’re co-opting our voices. And, quite frankly, you don’t know why we are atheists. You’re projecting what you think are the reasons for atheism without listening when actual atheists tell you what those reasons are. Sit down and listen. You’re still not doing that. (This isn’t really to the point. It’s a side point, and I don’t want to derail with this)

    • anonymouse

      I agree with this. While I know you were not writing this TO atheists, Chris, it’s not a bad thing to present a fully researched position when making some sweeping statements. I do understand your point here, but to be considered a “fallen,” and someone to be mourned or prayed for, is hard for me. I’m not a mission project. I am a person with complex thought processes and multifaceted motivations. I mostly wanted to comment to give support to my atheist friend here. But also to encourage you to continue to think of the implications of even a “small” reach can have on something such as the internet. People notice what is said about them, and the best of intentions can still do damage – even if what you’re preaching is love.

      • http://www.chrisjeub.com/ Chris Jeub

        That’s fair. Point taken.

    • lilaf

      I see what you’re saying. But I think what we Christians feel is not so much that you don’t know love, but that we, as Christians, haven’t shown you love proceeding from our God. I sort of feel that with atheists, no one ever gave you a reason to love God. That’s what I feel when I read what you write.

      And as for me, and love being a defining characteristic of humanity, I can say that I never knew how to love before I knew Jesus. I still have alot to learn. If you know how to love, then good for you. I’m glad you can love on your own. I’m not that strong, that pure, or that whole on my own. As for me, apart from Christ, I can do nothing. When I see myself in His light, I see my lack of love, but also His teaching me how to change that.

      • http://gamesgirlsgods.blogspot.com/ Feminerd

        I’m sorry you don’t feel strong enough or pure enough or whole enough to love without Jesus, but I’m glad your belief makes you feel better. I’m not being snarky or anything, I promise. I am truly glad your belief makes you feel like a better person.

        I think you need to understand that before I get to reasons to love God, I need reasons to think God exists. That’s step #1. I really don’t want to get into a discussion about it or anything, but I do want you to understand my position a little better. I don’t think God is real, just like I don’t think faeries or elves or unicorns are real. It’s really hard to love something I don’t think exists.

        • lilaf

          Yes, I understand, and I don’t think you sound snarky. As for me, Jesus doesn’t exist to make me feel better, it’s a matter of my personal sinfulness, and love drawing me to repentance. I suppose our paths diverge at the fundamental point of “God is” or “God is not”. “I AM THAT I AM” says God to Moses, and “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom”. I’ve learned that with atheists, if we don’t agree on those fundamental points, our paths of thought diverge. Just my thoughts.

          • http://gamesgirlsgods.blogspot.com/ Feminerd

            I agree that the question of the existence of god is the main point of divergence between theists and atheists.

  • momzilla76

    I was once someone who was at the line of decision- Do I believe in God as Christians present or not? While I never doubted that there was some supreme being I had come to the point where I doubted and deeply questioned the Christianity I had grow up with, embraced and defended.
    The article is very accurate from my perspective. The God and Christianity I ended up around was very strict, judgmental and unloving. Basically conditional love. Unless you do this…, stop doing that… and act like this… God doesn’t like you right now. Sure Jesus loved you enough to die for you but everything after that, the love and acceptance, was earned by the outward actions of the Christian life. Not much Jesus just lots of do and don’t do. I burned out and wanted to throw it all out because it seemed so superficial. The Christians who believed that way acted it out as well. You were only acceptable if you did “xyz” like they did.
    I am so glad God got some material into my hands that stripped away the conditional love and poured out His true heart for me. The “while we were yet sinners” love does not lessen once we are saved. If it were not for my husband who lived Jesus towards me I would have run and never looked back.
    (I know some will read this and think I had some pet sin that I didn’t want to give up or that I didn’t want to stop living like the world and only wanted to be told God “loves” me and stay in my sin. Truth be told I was crushed by my inner realization that I had no power within me to force my flesh to conform to the image of Jesus. I was overwhelmed and over burdened by the sins I could not defeat on my own. The power of the cross was lost in the rules of conditional love.) Sorry if this was a bit rambling but I just wanted to say as an almost “fallen” this article has more truth than most folks realize.