397. God is kind of an asshole (part 2) – blasphemy as worship


Image by: Alvaro Tapia

I saw the best Christians of my generation destroyed by madness…

(Apologies to Allen Ginsberg.)

I’ve always been pretty open here on my blog, but I gotta say that putting up part 1 a few weeks ago kinda scared me. I hesitated before hitting the “post” button because I knew that calling God an asshole would push some people’s buttons. For some, calling God an asshole is out of bounds, it’s irreverent, and unworthy of a holy God.

I disagree.

I think the fact that we can’t call God an asshole, or even that we hesitate to, is more of an indictment of the church than the person cursing at God because the church should be the very place where we can be and bring our true selves – irreverent language and all. And yet, it isn’t. Instead, the church is often a place where people have to hide their true thoughts and feelings whenever they’re too far outside the silently accepted (yet vaguely defined) norm. Especially when their thoughts and feelings have to do with God.

And this is strange because the church talks a lot about how God is a relational God – that God desires to have a loving relationship with us – but a loving relationship can only happen when and where the people in relationship are able to bring the fullness of themselves to the other. A church that teaches (explicitly or implicitly) that only certain kinds of complaints or critiques can be brought against God isn’t teaching people to know and worship the God of the Bible. It’s teaching idolatry.

Photo by: Daniel Iván

I saw the best Christians of my generation destroyed by madness…

I began this post by paraphrasing Ginsberg because I have seen some of the best, brightest, most loving, generous Christians I know destroyed by the sort of madness that happens when people aren’t allowed to speak their truth. Their truth was not allowed or not welcome (if not outright shamed and rejected). And they loved the church and Christ and God and so they stuck around as long as they could.

But good, healthy, honest, self-aware people can only deny themselves and their true thoughts/feelings for so long.1 And so eventually they left because they knew better than to linger in a place where they were not welcome as their true selves.

And many of them didn’t just leave the church, they left Christianity. Some of them discarded belief in God altogether. I personally know people who’ve made these heartbreaking departures and lest you think, apart from church and God, that they lead lives of self-indulgence and debauchery, you need to know that they continue to live lives in service of others – beautiful, costly, healing work that’s making a real difference in the world.

The church is bleeding some amazing people.

And all because they weren’t allowed to speak the truth about their feelings/experiences/thoughts/doubts about God.

And that’s a shame.

Because there’s a biblical precedent for this kind of blunt, raw truth telling about God. It’s called lament. It runs all through the Psalms, it runs all through Job and Ecclesiastes, it permeates the writings of the OT prophets.

And you know who else models lament? Jesus.

In Matthew 27:46, Jesus cries out, “Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani?” Which could be loosely paraphrased, “where the fuck are you, God?”

The people who are able to lob honest, brutal, maybe even blasphemous words at God? They are the healthy ones. They are the ones truly worshiping God.

I still think God is kind of an asshole.

And there’s a kind of glory in that.

Photo by: Dan Allison


1 It strikes me that “good, healthy, honest, self-aware people” are the very sort of people the church desperately needs right now and yet, these are the kinds of people that they are turning away. Which sort of begs the question, who’s left?


396. God is kind of an asshole (part 1)


Yeah, I haven’t been writing in a while. Life has been… overfull with stuffs. I hope to get to the last installment of the Language is Fuzzy series soon, but there’s something more pressing on my mind right now.


Photo by: Herbalizer Art by: SAM3

My girlfriend and I broke up recently and due to some of the circumstances surrounding that breakup, I’ve been feeling something pretty heavy lately. Put bluntly, I feel like God is kind of an asshole.

But let me backtrack a bit to give that statement some context.

There are many things I learned from my most recent romantic relationship and one of them is this: you can speak about the truth of your own experience even when you know that your truth is not the other’s truth.

For example, my ex has lived through some pretty shitty life experiences and because of this, sometimes she could be really critical of me (often for good cause). Now our relationship was one where we always tried our best to talk everything out, and I mean everything. And so when she would be critical of me, we’d talk about the criticism as well as what might be going on behind the criticism (sometimes an artifact of earlier life experiences).

I’ve written before about how much of my life has been one where I’ve focused solely on the needs of other people. That tendency is still with me (thankfully, to a lesser degree) and so in these times when my ex and I would talk about some issue she had with me, it was really easy for me to just focus on her side. It was much harder to talk about how I was experiencing the issue.


Photo by: txmx 2 Art by: SAM3

Internally, I’d think: “well, yeah, what she’s saying about me does sting a bit, but I know that it actually comes out of this or that experience from her past, and so I should just focus on her and keep my hurt feelings to myself.”1 And one of the cool things about our relationship was that she didn’t want me to do that – she wanted me to express myself and what I was going through, even when they didn’t line up with where she was at.

And that brings me back to feeling like God is kind of an asshole.

Why? Because…

And I feel like God is kind of an asshole because all these things turned out to be utterly untrue. Even worse, these untruths played a role in my ex and I breaking up because even though I’ve rejected those teachings a long time ago, their residue is still with me.

Now at this point, I’m tempted to say, “well it was the church that taught me those things, so I should blame the church, not God.”

Yeah, maybe, but it was God’s church and God’s people who taught me, and that suggests that God didn’t care enough about me to intervene. And if that’s the case then yeah, I think I’m totally justified in feeling like God is an asshole.2


Photo by: Herbalizer Art by: SAM3

But here’s the thing.

The relationship between my ex and I was often at its best when I was able to stay true to myself and say the difficult, honest thing to her. This was really hard to do (again, partly because of what God’s church had taught me) and even though I did my best to pay attention to myself, and she did her best to help, the times when I was able to do this well were too few and far between. And that took a toll on our relationship because when I wasn’t able to connect with and/or express what I was feeling, that would leave her feeling alone.

Robust, loving relationships only happen when and where the people in relationship are able to bring the fullness of themselves to the other, including what feels true to them when they know it may not represent the whole truth of the matter at hand. That’s what it means to show up in a relationship and that’s what ultimately leads to good, healthy, strong, mutually loving interactions.

And so I want to believe that my relationship with God only gets better when I’m able to pay attention to my feelings about God and express them in a way that is raw and real.

And right now, I want to say that I feel like God is an impotent, worthless asshole.

And I’m betting that in hearing me say that, God is overjoyed and thinking, “YES! Randall is finally showing up!”

And God is ecstatic because that’s the only place where true relationship happens.

And that’s ultimately what God wants from and for me, and from and for us all.


Photo by: SantiMB Art by: SAM3


Stay tuned for part 2!

As always, questions, comments, and criticisms are welcome. Thanks for reading!

1 Often, this dismissal of myself was transparent to me – I didn’t even realize I was doing that.

2 I’ve actually moved to a process theology view of God and so I believe that while God did care deeply about me, God actually couldn’t intervene even if God wanted to. But I’m trying to focus on myself and my experiences/feelings in this post so please pardon the theological shorthand. 🙂