5 Phrases Christians Shouldn't Say

There are some phrases that are worse than curse words. These phrases can be insulting, emotionally and spiritually coercive, or just make us come across as incredibly insensitive. .

Hat tip to Episcopal Cafe for sharing a link to Reluctant Xtian’s excellent post about “5 Phrases I Think Christians Shouldn’t Say.”

Here are his five phrases:

  • That’s not Christian…
  • I love the sinner but I hate the sin…
  • You need to surround yourself with good Christian people…
  • You just have to do God’s will…
  • It’s all in God’s plan…

You should go read his post. He provides a good breakdown of why these phrases shouldn’t be used.

Commenters on these two links shared their own contributions. Some expand on the ones above, some had completely new examples.

  • It’s not Christian for clergywomen to wear eyeliner or lipstick.
  • Said after a death: Well, God wanted him/her more than you/we did.
  • God doesn’t give you more than you can handle
  • They’ve gone to a better place.
  • The Bible says….

If I had to choose the worst, I would say, “That’s not Christian…” and “The Bible says…” Coercive, much? It’s not Christian to do yoga. It’s not Christian for women to wear pants. The Bible says that women must be submissive to men. The Bible says that women shouldn’t be “worldly.” These are often used among fundamentalist and fundamentalist groups to control people, because the people saying these phrases presume to speak for God. The poor people are coerced into obeying, because how can they disobey God?

Groups like the FLDS (especially under Warren Jeffs), Bill Gothard’s followers, the abusive twits who wrote and follow To Train Up a Child, Terry Colafrancesco’s “Catholic” Medjugorje cult and his dangerous “How to Change Your Husband” book–they all use these phrases and variations thereof to coerce people into following their rules, pretending that they came directly from God, and confusing the hell out of the Bible so that the people no longer know which way is up or down. The confused followers then help extend the leader’s control over others by also saying, “The Bible says women must wear the stupid prairie dresses in the Utah desert” or “It’s not Christian parenting if you don’t beat your children when they transgress.” And if people don’t obey, the leaders have made it such that disobedience is automatic excommunication/punishment/eternal damnation.

Okay okay, I digress, FLDS and Mormonism is not Christian in the proper sense, but rather an extension of Christianity (what with the Book of Mormon), but they call themselves Christians. So, I am referring to them as Christians for the purpose of this post

It’s heartbreaking to see people twist Christianity around just to hurt and control others.

Let me add my two cents to the list of phrases I wish other Christians wouldn’t say.

  • You should forgive [someone who abused you]
  • Honor your mother and father

Yes, forgiveness is good. It keeps you from getting eaten up by the anger. But the issue is that these people who want you to forgive really mean that they want you to go back to the abuser and pretend nothing ever happened and go ahead and keep getting abused. NO NO NO. That is not forgiveness. That’s stupidity. You can forgive to the extent you can, but you have EVERY RIGHT to protect yourself from further abuse. Sadly, I have heard variations on this phrase when I decided I had enough of my dad’s abuse.

Same goes for honoring your mother and father. It’s usually said by the abusive parents to keep you under their control, to make you feel like that by disobeying them you go directly to hell. But, by causing the abuse, the parents have forfeited their right to being called parents. I heard this from my parents, and variations on this theme from my mom, to try to get me to apologize and go back to them. My answer? Hell, no!

I know there’s lots more, but I will let you add your two cents. Please do share what you wish Christians wouldn’t say, in the comments.

Filed under: Becoming Episcopalian


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  • Forgiveness is not the same as letting someone get away with his transgressions. Your duty should also be to protect possible future victims by reporting possible criminal acts.

  • In reply to Mark McDermott:

    Exactly! Somehow it's hard to get other people to understand this simple concept. Some people do understand, but others....apparently forgiveness means being oblivious to the current and potential future damage by the abuser.

  • Stalin was an atheist and murdered more than 20 million people

    you might like the idea of coming from apes but many of us do not

    Darwinism , like creationism , is a theory , not any more provable

    You say you believe in evolution, that only the strong survive, but then object when it plays out

    you say you are the people who care but you support killing of babies
    keeping people on welfare and dependent

    and insulting people by saying that cant succeed without force ( affirmative action laws etc)

  • In reply to socialismisevil:

    Wow...what a bunch you must hang out with. How do you manage to stay sane when around those people when they say things like that? Geez. I'm going to be blunt and call those people simplistic numbnuts.

  • fb_avatar

    Excellent, excellent post.

    What I would like to replace 'the Bible says' is a rule that says the part of the Bible quoted must be referenced:

    'the Old Testament says' (sinners should be stoned, adulterers, etc)
    'the New Testament says' (things like the golden rule, he who casts the first stone, other things)

    Then we would have proper attribution. Thanks!

  • fb_avatar
    In reply to Scott Aspman:

    One more thing:

    The 'Old Testament' was written and quoted by the people who crucified our Lord.

    The 'New Testament' has all the guidelines Christians need to aspire to.

  • In reply to Scott Aspman:

    Good point! I ditto that, and add that it would be useful to know even which book of the Bible is being quoted, to make it more granular than simply Old/New Testaments. It does seem like a fair bit of the Old Testament is quoted out of historical context just to hurt people. Same goes for the New Testament...a fair bit of Paul's writings are often interpreted such to justify abuse.

    In regards to your other comment below, I wouldn't exactly throw the baby out with the bathwater with the OT...didn't Jesus quote from it extensively, too? Certainly Leviticus ought to be seen with a more critical eye, but the Psalms, Proverbs, Book of Job...all those kinds of books also have guidelines, support, and encouragement for us Christians to aspire to, too. One of my favorites is Ps 139.

  • Isn't honor your father and mother a direct quote from the Bible? And you say don't do that? I think you are twisting the words to mean what you want them to say. Christ himself said to forgive seventy times seven. Just because it is hard doesn't mean it's not the right thing to do. Same thing with "God doesn't give you more than you can handle". That is a direct promise from God. If you say that's not true then you are saying God not telling you the truth.

  • In reply to PaBullfan:

    It is, but the quote is frequently taken out of context of the entire Good Word in order to hurt people. Same goes for the idea of forgiveness. Many people believe forgiveness to include forgetting, and many people assume that the abuser truly wants to change. Well, guess what? The world doesn't work that way. That's why we have the penal system. That's why we have restraining orders. That's why we have shelters for people escaping abuse.

    Also, I'm pretty sure "God doesn't give you more than you can handle" isn't in the Bible. There's a ton of phrases that people think are in the Bible, but really aren't. So, how can this one be a direct promise from God? And honestly, there are several occasions where I truly couldn't handle things. I survived, but I couldn't handle it. And there are many who couldn't handle it...and didn't survive. So, through my own experience, and from some experiences of others, you've just basically called God a liar.

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