The following definition of Christianese can be found on Wikipedia.
“The related term Christianese (or Bible-speak) refers to the contained terms and jargon used within many of the branches and denominations of Christianity as a functional system of religious terminology. It is characterized by the use in everyday conversation of certain words, theological terms, and catchphrases, in ways that may be only comprehensible within the context of Christian belief.”
Now before I go bashing on this religious dialect, I would like to set the record straight. I am a recovering Pharisee, and as distasteful as I find the term Christian, I still align myself with this faith system. Without employing too much of the theological jargon I now despise, I simply choose to call my higher power God. I believe that Jesus personified mercy and grace, and today I know that I am broken, but loved.
A little background . . .
My grandmother raised my siblings and I in a small town Southern Baptist Church. Growing up in a dysfunctional family left me feeling lost and confused. The black and white nature of the Christian faith felt safe and inviting, and for as long as I can remember I loved going to Sunday school and “Big Church”, which was the term I used to define that sanctified eleven o’clock hour. I embraced the dogmatic traditions whole heartedly, and the rules were life saving devices in a world where I was tossed on the waves of instability. A defined sense of right and wrong made me feel superior, and each time my Sunday school teacher put one of those little gold stars on the memory verse chart, I would smile with pride and affirmation.
It didn’t take long before I became the president of the “holier than thou” club. As a teenager I mastered the art of condemnation, and I became fluent in Christianese. I acted all high and mighty, judging anyone and everyone who did not live up to my standard of perfection. When I got to college, I purposefully surrounded myself with other believers, and I guarded against the evil influences of the world. I refused to see rated R movies, and I waved my virginity around like a flag. The driving force behind every moral decision was this insane desire to remain “pure” and “holy”. I wanted to “glorify God”, and I this could only be achieved through a sinless life. Of course, I wanted others to be perfect too, so I could feel better about myself.
As a naïve sixteen year old kid, I vividly remember thinking about my future children. If they were ever faced with a moral dilemma, and they came to me for advice, I wanted to be able to stand before them and proudly say, “I avoided all the “big sins” like drinking and smoking and sex outside of marriage.” I was hell bent on eliminating regret from my life, which ended up reaping fruitless results. Today I am more ashamed of my pharisaical ways than anything I’ve ever done. I carry a deep sense of remorse for all the times I failed to truly love others.
Having emerged from this haze of self righteousness, I now judge those who remain stuck in the place I formerly lived. Perhaps I’ve made no progress at all. I read blogs and commentaries of right wing conservative Christians and I get pissed off. I know they are sincere in their presentation of truth, and I understand that their intentions are pure. However, when I hear the Christianese bullshit that claims our lives will be perfect if we simply follow a set of hard and fast rules, I literately want to vomit. Jesus is not the magic bullet.
Christianese divides. The language of the church separates. It makes seekers feel like outsiders, and it feeds the gods of pride and self centeredness. When I hear phrases like, “radiant bride of Christ” or “born-again believer” I cringe. Well meaning folks who spout off theological terms like “propitiation of sin” and “transfiguration” get on my last nerve. I have no tolerance for anyone who emphatically states Christians must act and look a certain way. No one has the right to judge my insides based on outside observations.
So, here I am. Still annoyed with my current inability to just let people be who they are. I wish I understood the concept of balance, but I’ve come to accept the reality that I am a pendulum swinger. I desperately want to embrace the ambiguous “grey”, but I am bent towards polarized thinking. Somebody has to be right, and somebody has to be wrong. For now, I’ll bitch about the conservative zealots whose Christianese gets under my skin. Who knows what tomorrow may bring?