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?