This post was inspired by the post Sexual Purity: What They Said vs. What We Learned. That post is about how the lessons about sex learned by children of Evangelical parents don’t necessarily match the intentions of their parents. If that sounds like an odd idea to you, then go back and read that post before you continue on mine. 

That post got me thinking of the other things said by my parents and other religious influences — including my former pastor, my homeschool texts, and various media from Focus on the Family.

They said: You are valuable because God loves you.

I heard: Without God, you are worthless. 

They said: God has a wonderful plan for your life.

I heard: God will give me life and career guidance — or in Christian lingo, a “calling.” (That guidance never came, and I started my life planning pretty late.)

They said: The “fruit of the spirit” are signs of the Holy Spirit.

I heard: Only sanctified christians have the qualities of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness and self-control. (Needless to say, this is false.)

They said: You must stand up for what you believe.

I heard: Stand up for what you believe. But when I found myself believing differently I found out they really meant ‘stand up for what we believe.’

When I asked how you can know you are filled with the Holy Spirit, they said: Because God’s spirit testifies with our spirit that we are children of God. I asked what that means and got basically the same Bible verse repeated back.

I heard: We really have no idea what we are talking about. 

They said: We’re not trying to proselytize.

I heard: As Evangelicals our end game is always to try to ’save’ you, but we think you will not listen to us if we tell you that.

They said: The most important thing about a person is what they believe about Jesus.

I heard: No matter how many wonderful qualities a person has, they are condemned and we cannot truly accept them as they are unless they believe the same things about Jesus that we do. 

They said: God is speaking if you will listen.

I heard: If you don’t hear God speaking, it is because you are not trying hard enough to listen.

They said: Don’t worry about hell.

I heard: Don’t worry if God is cruel so long as his wrath is not directed at you. 

They said: Only people who believe in Jesus go to Heaven, regardless of what they have done, good or bad.

I heard: Good people will go to hell if they don’t believe in Jesus. (But how is that just?)

They said: We should emphasize God’s love, not hell, when witnessing for Christ.

I heard: We should downplay the ugly parts about our belief — because we do believe in hell — to make it look more attractive to outsiders. 

Do these seem familiar? If you have any other examples post them in the comments.
Thanks for reading!