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Sep 12, 2009

Are You Bitter?

In the last five years since I left my position as a pastor and began the Free Believer path, I have noticed a mentality in regards to the subject of bitterness that I believe has become more a sign of spiritual paralysis then godliness.

Most of us Christians have been raised in some form of the traditional church. I have found that most of us have endured peer pressure and religious manipulation that has disallowed us to think and move from our hearts. I have written about this in other posts, so I won’t go into too much detail, other than to say that because of fear of trusting our hearts and expressing our feelings, we have become a generation of spiritually paralyzed and numb-hearted people. For the most part, I don’t think it’s our fault. I truly believe this is a result of constant pressure to intentionally restrict certain human emotions from surfacing.

I think the results of this suffocating mentality are beginning to manifest in the hearts and actions of people everywhere today. I am honestly concerned with what I see. I feel like American Christians have lost their heart compass. They get angry when they should be sad. They get joyful when they should be broken-hearted. They feel excited when they should be troubled, and they become anxious when they should be feeling peace. In many respects, it’s as though someone has snatched their hearts and souls out of their bodies and replaced them with a virus-filled computer. 

If you stop and think about the teachings we grew up with, it’s no wonder we’ve become facessocially illiterate. We’re taught that when we’re suffering, we should be rejoicing - when we’re poor, we are supposed to say we’re rich. If we’re sick, we’re not supposed to admit it. If we get angry, we’re immature. A check in our spirit is called rebellion. Declaring something to be wrong is called criticism. Liking yourself is considered arrogant and sinful, and asking questions is faithlessness. 

When I watch modern day Christians, I am stricken by their lack of emotional normalcy. It’s as though something has caused their emotional compass to go haywire within them. There is a major problem when a Christian, without any emotion whatsoever, tells you that a person in Iran who has never heard of Jesus Christ, will go straight to hell when he dies because he’s not a Christian. The level of heartlessness to that statement is off the charts, yet I hear Christians spew it out as calmly as if they were saying their own name. 

I had the usual and predictable accusation posted in the comment section of one of my blog posts the other day. It basically accused me of being bitter. I’ve written about this several times trying to explain to people what my real heart is concerning the institution of Church. I fully understand that Christians have been programed to immediately shut down the moment they think they detect bitterness. Even Free Believers still think this way in many respects. I watch them almost compete with each other at how un-bitter they canmake themselves look and sound when they present the message of freedom. For some strange reason, everyone seems to think that being bitter is wrong all the time, no matter what the reason. People talk about it as though it’s the Aids virus of spirituality. Even the mere assumption that we might have it is terrifying to us. 

I want to make a final statement on whether or not I am bitter concerning the institution of Church. I’ve visited several forums and I’ve read conversations where some were accusing me of being bitter and others (who love me) were sticking up for me and explaining my heart. I have watched this particular conversation take place no less then twenty times over the last year. Today I want to put the entire argument to rest. 

I AM BITTER!!!!!!!!!!

I am angry. I’m full of resentment. I’m furious, enraged, incensed and downright mad.

For years I’ve tried hiding it because I know the way Christians are programed. I know they quit listening to me the moment they detect this truth about me. Unfortunately, I can’t hide it another day. Today, I’m coming out of the closet and announcing to the world that, “I AM BITTER.” Many people have suspected this for years, but were afraid to say anything. bitterMany others said it quite openly, and now are reading this thinking to themselves, “I knew it. I was right.” 

Yes. I am bitter!

I’m not sure what angers me more. I’m angry at how the institution has put people under fear and bondage for years. I’m angry at how they have made people feel that their God might abandon them, or that He doesn’t love them. I’m angry that they’ve made God out to look like an alcoholic father who abuses His children. I’m angry that the institution has made people think they have to give money and do works of service to gain God’s favor, and I’m angry that people are downright fearful and unsure about where they stand with God. 

More than anything at all, do you want to know what I’m the most bitter about? 

I am bitter over the fact that Christians aren’t bitter over this fact. 

In the last ten years I have been more than a little bitter at the lack of human emotion I see coming from Christian people in the midst of such obvious abuse and slavery. I sometimes feel like the ambassador from Rwanda trying to convince Americans to take notice and give a damn about the genocide taking place in my country. I find myself wanting to scream at the top of my lungs, “What the hell is wrong with you people?” 

If you’re NOT angry about these things, there is something desperately wrong with you. There is absolutely no way you can be a lover of people and not be enraged over what the institution is doing to them. EVEN THE WORLD IS BITTER ABOUT THAT! Even people who are unbelievers have the decency to be angry over the abuse and control of innocent people at the hands of religious con artists. What has happened to Christians to make them so socially illiterate? It’s as though our hearts and souls have been snatched away, and we think like dead rocks. How in the world are we not moved at what’s happening right under our nose? Martin Luther once said: "When I'm angry I find that I pray better and preach better."

williamThere is a principle in revolution that holds true to this day. You can’t change something until you HATE it. I believe that the institution launched an anti-bitter campaign many years ago for this very purpose. As long as Christians are fearful of becoming bitter, NOTHING will change. We will continue to sit emotionally unmoved at the spiritual torture of our brothers and sisters until we decide to break free from this ridiculous lie. 

Moses murdered an Egyptian, he was so angry. Samson took the jaw bone of an ass and killed thousands with it because his people were being abused and bound. When David heard the boastful words of Goliath against His God and people, he killed him and decapitated him. When Saul heard of how the Ammonites wanted to gouge out the eyes of his people, he “burned with anger” and slaughtered two oxen and sentkingthem all throughout Israel, telling the people to come together and fight. Over and over, history has proven that until someone gets angry, the wheels of change remain locked.

I had a man write me an email the other day and ask me to look into my heart to see if I’m not bitter at the institution. I looked, and he was right; I was angry. Now I would like to ask each Christian to look into their hearts and ask themselves why they aren’t angry over what’s happening. I honestly think that this is the question of the hour. 

There is a difference between being bitter at the harm the institution caused me, and being bitter at the institution because of the harm they have caused you. I can heal from any wrong that was done to me. My bitterness is NOT on my behalf; it’s on behalf of all the millions of people who are being spiritually abused week after week. My anger is on behalf of God, whose Name is being defiled and lied about throughout the world. These things infuriate me because I love both people and God. If Christians aren’t angered over what it taking place today there is one reason; they don’t love people.

Darin Hufford

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  1. Gravatar

    Get it off your chest, man. Our founding fathers were angry too. A nation was born out of that anger.

  2. Gravatar

    I've noticed that it seems the "church people" I have been angry on behalf of, don't give a damn to began with and actually resent the interference in their life, and so I'm left to help those people who I feel I can actually help in this world, people who are asking for help. I have mixed emotions about this one, because I was bitter, but I kinda believe the saying "bitterness is like drinking poison and expecting the other person to die". I do get angry, but I'm not bitter, because the only person who seems to suffer is me when I'm bitter. Anger I think is different, because I believe it's external and doesn't eat away at you like bitterness, reducing you down to nothing. I don't think you're bitter, because to me bitterness destroys us and makes us weak, but anger empowers us to action.

  3. Gravatar
    Darin Hufford

    I suppose it has to do with what each word means to the individual. If you look up "bitter" the word anger is in the deffinition. I think the bitterness that eats US, is when we are bitter on behalf of ourselves. When we are bitter or angry on behalf of others I think it brings motivation.

  4. Gravatar

    Yes, I would agree with that. I would add that I believe people have the right to be bitter, clearly there have been horrible crimes committed on individuals, so it's not bitterness that isn't warranted, I just believe as unfair as a situation has been to someone, if they aren't able to rise above it, they will spend all their time and energy in remaining in that world of hurt, which I believe can become very unhealthy for a person. IMO

  5. Gravatar

    I think Darin’s statement that he’s not bitter on his behalf is what makes the difference. I believe as we start getting free, we will be angry about what’s been done to us. In time we need to move through that but it is part of the healing process. However, we should never move past the anger that “empowers us to action.” It’s only as people get angry enough to speak out and to do something that those in bondage will be set free.

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    Darin, I enjoyed reading that. Although I, myself, wasn't really mistreated at the IC I last went to, when I think about all the crap, hypocrisy, and double standards that went on there, it's hard not to get angry about it. How to handle the anger in a healthy way is what can be a challenge to me.

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    Al Newberry

    Hi Darin,

    I think your comment is right about the way we define a word. To me, bitterness is not constructive anger but destructive anger--and anger that turns in on oneself. I've moved on from that (and it sounds like you have too) to being constructively angry for others. Another example is my job. I work with troubled kids, and there is a certain anger I feel at those who abused them and at my superiors for not allowing me to be truly effective. But I cannot be any use to them until I move past that anger (it's still there) and take constructive action. I think that's what most people are seeing as bitterness, where your definition seems to include the constructive form of anger.

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    Chris Pack

    Mike, your anger doesn't want to be handled, it wants to be experienced.

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    Stacey Robbins

    One of the things that I love in talking with you, Darin, is your fire. When I call you up and tell you some bone-headed thing someone in the church did, your outrage is protective and comforting in so many ways. It's a fierce passion.

    As for me: Still in the conversation about all this. Still learning how to be in my emotions. Still learning how to be connected with understanding to people who are where I was and at the same time be disgusted with the messages that they're promoting when those messages lack the oxygen of freedom.

  10. Gravatar

    Again-complete candor and open honest expression from Darin Hufford! This is why we don't have to hesitate to be honest with our questions, struggles, or fears along this journey. After all, didn't Jesus come to open up complete access to His Father for us...? Thanks Darin!

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    Ka;ren Gritter

    Yes! Thanks for saying this! I'm bitter too. I've seen way too much in the last 10 years that is the beast appearing as a lamb but speaking with the voice of the dragon. People swallow these demented teachings and take on a form of what they consider "spiritual," and it is twisted, evil, and gives God a bad name. Not to mention making the people themselves look stupid. We are to be the aroma of Christ, but I smell more rot these days than aroma....

  12. Gravatar

    Darin, this is a great post and I agree. I'm ANGRY too! When I hear the horror stories of victims of spiritual abuse, I can't help but be angry at a system that allows and encourages this. I don't live in anger and I know you don't either but somebody has got to speak out. The IC has for too long swept this under the rug and people continue to be hurt and devastated. Thanks for being willing to stir people up. I know this post will anger some but it'll encourage many.

  13. Gravatar

    Darin, Your honesty is what I so much appreciate about you. To me, rather than focusing on your coming out of the closet I see this as a call to true honesty. Some people might not like the word "bitterness" and might identify better with "Righteous anger". Whichever term you use it is hard not to feel it if you love the body of Christ and have watched it continue to be abused verbally and mentally. It is the same emotion you would feel if a relative you love dearly is being physically and mentally abused by their spouse. Not much you can do if she willingly stays with him but no one expects you not to be bitter/angry towards him.

  14. Gravatar

    You nailed it again, Darin. Thank you for your passionate anger on behalf of the discouraged and downtrodden. You truly show that you believe the people are the church. Most men of God I've known, even kind ones, seem to see the people more for their usefulness as cogs in the machine (or lack thereof) than who they really are. It is a priceless gift to have someone get so angry on our behalf. Thank you :-D

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    By the way I absolutely love the pictures you used here. I was the girl with the lock on her mouth. You are Braveheart.

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    LOL. I thought, the Lord himself is braveheart. Sometimes I'm a little slow, but it hit me. HE is angry for what has been done to his people. But hey, someone has to be a paper boy :-D

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    Evelyn Silsby

    Great article, love your passion as Stacey said and am still learning my emotions as well! Thanks!

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    Alice Scott-Ferguson

    So accurately and passionately poured out Darin. The key truly is outrage at what the IC continues to perpetrate. I have let my abuse (and personal bitterness!) go and am blissfully glad to be gone from it all, but my heart aches for my sisters (particularly) who are still numb to and ignorant of the outrage systematically executed against them--year after year at the hands of wicked and ignorant men. The further the view of the disgusting, dysfunctional enterprise retreats in my rear view mirror, the angrier I become--my LOVE is what causes me to continue to teach in homes wherever women will gather that I may FREELY share the good news of their emancipation and inclusion in the Triune Life. Thank God for you and the "permission" you grant us to be "bloody" bitter as the Brits would say!

  19. Gravatar

    I love this article, Darin. When the "lights came on" for me I was totally ticked off. The thought of going to a church building literally made me nauseous. I'm taking baby steps as I explore and experience my freedom the wild, but I am loving every minute of it! Again - thank you!

  20. Gravatar
    Jesus R

    In your previous post I thought you came off as bitter/angry too, but I was able to see deeper than that. I'm totally feeling you brother.

    When reading, Jesus often times came off as angry with/at the institution. He too was tired of seeing the people abused and chained by priests of the institution.

    Jesus was not persecuted by the Romans, or unbelievers, but by "church". (At least that is what I think)

    I love you brother.

  21. Gravatar

    Don't get it off your chest Darin, leave it on your chest and keep shouting it from the roof tops !!! Beware when all men speak well of you !

  22. Gravatar

    Anger is a godly response to injustice, and I think that's what you're talking about? It's so powerful that it motivates the angry to change the world they live in. And the first step toward anger is bitterness. God forgave the world but retained his anger at injustice. I think. Any correction from anyone? I'm thinking out loud.

  23. Gravatar

    Martin Luther was angry at the Catholic church for his entire life. He never stopped throwing fire their way. Why? Because he knew what they did to victimize believiers. American Protestantism is remarkeably similar to 16th century Catholicism: Both focus on guilting people to give money to build huge church buildings. Both told people they have to do religious works to be saved. Both taught you had to have a clerical "covering." Both told people that if you aren't with them, you're going to hell. A few months ago, I was listing to a preacher on Moody Radio say that we had to do good works so that when we pray, God will check how good our works have been done and then "draw on" those works to answer our prayers. That is the exact thing the RCC taught in Luther's day.

  24. Gravatar
    David Joseph Brncik

    I THINK MAYBE YOU GOT BITTERNESS AND RIGHTOUS ANGER CONFUSED. Because as long as ive known you you only are angry at those who hurt those you love. And you Love the church so much that it tears your heart apart. You love those who are victimized by this cruel tyranny. I have anger to at the same things. I love you you blessed man.

  25. Gravatar

    My daughter just accused me the other day of being bitter. I have been so angry that my nephew is leading my daughter and her husband down a spiritual path that I can only ending only in pain and disillusionment. I told my son that I was ready to go deal with my nephew and "repent later." (there's a spiritual sounding phrase for ya!)My son said that he didn't think that Jesus "repented later" when he drove the money changers out of the temple. This is all very timely for me. When people mess with the minds an lives of those I love, yes, it DOES make me angry!
    And I do believe it makes God angry too! TThanks,Darin, for shaking us out of our stupor!

  26. Gravatar
    Karen Gritter

    for Alice Ferguson: I have found the CBE (Christians for Biblical Equality) website very balanced and helpful re women in ministry and in the body

  27. Gravatar

    So how do you really feel, Sorry I often use sarcasm to hide my bitterness.The first ten years of my life I grew up in a traditional luthern home. I was tought about God and Jesus in sunday school and I believed. My mother died suddenly and after that I had little or no more church for many years. As a teenager I can still remember doing many things and feeling in my heart they were wrong or that I shouldnt be there, I avoided many situations that could have been tragic by listing to my heart. Tragicaly later as I got back into church I found myself not being able to do that insted I would have to listen to some teaching or wait for some evanglist to tell me what I use to know in my heart. your right on Darin it is a cause to get angry I'm with ya

  28. Gravatar

    The scars and pain brought on by IC may be more of a catalyst for change than any admonition against the IC. When we are done suffering, we see reality. Allowing people their experience in the IC may eventually bring their hearts to understand that they need a kinder God. If someone crosses my path, I'll tell them my story if need be. That's the platform I have. I believe my anger needed to be expressed for a season in order for me to see that God wouldn't get angry with me because of my own expression of it. That season is passed now and what I'm beginning to experience is love. I think there's an end to anger. Everyone has to be somewhere though. I have no problem with people feeling anger and letting it play itself out.

  29. Gravatar
    Bart Breen

    Thank you Darrin.

    I've been accused of being bitter as well. I spent 20 years in institutional churches and I watched others systematically eviscerated by fellow pastors, elders deacons and "good Christian people." I watched church justice and discipline exercised based on who was more influential in the church and gave more. Further, I watched everything done to keep things quiet by making the parties persecuted in this manner told to be quiet and not discuss the issues so they didn't gossip.

    What angers me most is that I allowed the system to mold me to where I did the same things to others.

    It's been 5 years for me as well since leaving formal ministry and a few months since leaving the last abusive church I was in for 9 years.

    I am bitter. The taste in my mouth remains.

  30. Gravatar
    Shannon Brown

    I really appreciate the distinction you made here Darin - "There is a difference between being bitter at the harm the institution caused me, and being bitter at the institution because of the harm they have caused you." This reminds me of when you described God's jealousy in The Love Series. God's isn't jealous for Himself, He is jealous on our behalf. Thanks for continually untangling the lies and boldly speaking truth.

  31. Gravatar
    Darin Hufford

    Thanks Shannon.

  32. Gravatar

    Darin, the picture that comes to mind is the one of Jesus, in his (yes!) anger, clearing the temple with a whip. I think of you as His temple-clearer today. The stupidest thing about Christians shutting off their feelings is that God already knows their hearts, and knows these feelings are there. They'd have a much better relationship with Him if they would just let it all out, and cry out their hearts before Him -- honestly. Thanks again for your honesty!

  33. Gravatar

    Hi Darin, A girlfriend put me onto your site and I'm so very glad I followed through. I've had only a brief look around and already I appreciate your earthy, honest, gracious style. I've been deeply affected by your thoughts on 'LOVE' and intrigued by this subject. At first I found the use of the word 'bitter' hard to come at so I researched its meaning and was suprised to find..."difficult to accept, intense dislike or opposition" and other similies like "hostile, acute, painful, savage. Now it makes more sense. Hard to see our humble, gracious Saviour in this light but as others have pointed out Jesus was harsh on those exploiting their brothers, abusing their positions and misrepresenting The Father. Many thanks, I'll be back.

  34. Gravatar

    Bart's comment is closest to my heart and experience but I was only a lowly sheep in the II(independant)C. It feels good to be able to say yes, I felt and experienced bitterness, first for my personal situation and then as my eyes opened, to the much broader effects. I was warned of bitterness, and truthfully, was afraid of it. So, I was in denial too.
    I appreciate Darin's openness and willingness to just say it like it is and get things rolling. God isn't surprised or offended, He dwells in truth... all facets. When we can finally be truthful, freedom comes. Let the process happen... everything will be manifest in it's time and Love prevails. It's okay.

  35. Gravatar

    Right again, Darin! And, for me, I do not want to stop being bitter, ever, because if I did I could fall in the IC trap again. My bitterness is for life :-)

  36. Gravatar
    Joe G.

    Darin, I empathize with you on this one; I was angry at the IC for years. The Lord has dealt graciously with me on this. When the young man came and wanted to follow Jesus but wanted to bury his father first (think IC, his father), Jesus told him to let the dead bury the dead and to go and preach the gospel. The gospel of the kingdom and His righteousness does it. That does not mean that we do not sometimes focus anger to a purpose. Jesus drove the money-changers out of the temple with a whip. I think we should do the same today. Yet, when Jesus was being crucified, knowing the damage the religious community had done to His people, he asked the Father to forgive them because they didn't have a clue. We should not be surprised. The prophets tell tell us of this mindset and what causes it.

  37. Gravatar
    lyn myers

    I was so angry and didn't know what to do with it that I turned it off and tucked it away! Thanks for helping me to learn to motivate me instead. I let my anger and bitterness go for myself a long time ago after putting up with abuse I didn't know was abuse. That's one of the problems in the IC - there are women who are used to being abused, some from childhood and don't know any different and they just 'submit' and go from one 'hell' to another in marriages etc and think they're doing it for God! How I could have put up with it all for so long is beyond me, but I am grateful God called me to seperate myself from the IC and be free. I now fellowship with others who feel the same and it's wonderful. Old habits die hard and it's easy to fall under the 'law,' but we are learning and growing..

  38. Gravatar
    Teri Undreiner

    I think of Martin Luther. In his passion against the CC's Indulgense heresy, he changed the church. But then later, the "persecuted" became the "persecutor". I think of a guy that I dated who tokk me to my favorite concert and then left early and I had to find a ride home, hoping I could find someone I knew. Now, that left me bitter! I could either use it as a bitter taste in my mouth whenever I felt "tempted" to date him again, OR I could use it as bitterness(a contamination of soul/spirit)and hate all men and see no good in them at all. Jesus was angry but didn't he refuse the vinegar they gave him at the cross? Vinegar is bitter. He graciously forgave. When I am tempted to "date" the IC, I just recall what it "does" to me. Not what it "did". Bitter taste, not bitterness. There's a diff.

  39. Gravatar

    God, what can i say other than you have really hit on something. If i speak up I am concidered a "troublemaker" and a Jezabel in the church. I see so much wrongs in the IC, and it has left me with a sour taste in my mouth, Like after vomit.
    It breaks my heart becasue there are people that are good people, being hurt because they are not in the "click" in church. If you are not one of the "chosen ones" you are not of any use.
    I have seen so many families hurt over the years and have puzzled why christians shun those who have left the church like they have a plague. Are they still not our brothers and sisters? Just because they do not attend that body did they drop off the body of Christ?
    It just hurts to see this attitude in the church.

  40. Gravatar

    I changed churches - again, for the 3rd time - I have now realized I am not going to find what I am looking for. All I hear in my head is, "I am so broken-hearted, I am so broken-hearted." When I go to church I feel like I am watching the movie "Stepford Wives" and I want to scream. Thank you for your bravery.

  41. Gravatar

    Bitterness is destructive. I have been bitter for years, for many of the same things mentioned. Jesus was sad, not bitter. The church is guilty of many wrongs, but most christians are doing the best they can, why we are commanded to forgive, but we can still be bold. Sometimes we have to embrace the persecution of the church by embracing people that hurt us, eventually, you will see God's justice worked out around you, "it is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God." God chastises, we have to keep loving, even when hated in the church, eventually the HOly Spirit always has the last word, in this life and in the next. Love bears all things, hopes all things....

  42. Gravatar
    Darin Hufford

    Tom I think you are missing the entire point of the article. This is not about being angry on behalf of yourself because the church hurt you. This is about being angry on behalf of others who are being abused and enslaved. If you translate Jesus' words and actions towards the Pharisees and teachers of the law as "sadness" I think you might have retranslated "sadness" to mean something quite different from what the rest of the world sees it to be. Being angry on behalf of others is NOT a sin.

  43. Gravatar

    Well said! The last year+ of not doing the IC and finding that most of what goes on there, (elders, pastors, buildings, etc) is NOT what God has in mind, makes me mad too.

    I met with a business associate this week. He was letting me know that he goes to church, takes communion, is part of a Christian mountain biking group, etc. We talked about church, but not Jesus. I want to tell him that his church is duping him on one hand, but really just want to focus on Jesus on the other. In the past, I have been way outspoken about the abuse of the IC. For a long time, it got me more abuse because I was trying to live within the IC. Now that I am out, I am trying to figure out how to guide others out too. After reading your blog, maybe I should have said to this guy "RUN!"

  44. Gravatar
    Vickey Close

    Darin I just finished you book last night. I loved every word. You have spoken for me, you have put into words what i have longed to say and you have given voice to my pain. I was ripped apart by my church 8 years ago,because of all the spiritual abuse, and lies I had been taught I nearly lost my life....... After being rejected from a church I deeply loved and served with all my heart because i questioned what was going on more than once I was thrown to the dogs... I fought to survive, it was a nightmare, a living hell because i believed my father was upset with me, left me, rejected me,and was punishing me. I nearly lost my mind, after suicide attemps and alcohol abuse to numb my pain and fear I survived to begin to see He was there as a matter of fact He was the only one left standing.

  45. Gravatar
    Darin Hufford

    Vickey, thanks so much for this. You've made my day. It sounds like you could have written this book:-) You really seem to have the heart of this and it seems like you've been through the lowest parts of institutionalism. Feel free to email me personally anytime.

  46. Gravatar
    Jacob Botha

    Well here's my pennies worth from South Africa. I have had this revelation since 1989. Tried to share this with the IC and got short of a boot in the buttocks for it. But for me it has become not an issue of IC or not IC but covenant.The object of Christ's sacrifice. Indwelling of God's Spirit/Presence in our lives. Hebrew 9:1.The old covenant had regulations and even an earthly sanctuary. Ok so why mention it? Hebrew 9:8 As long as this first tabernacle remains standing access into the Most Holy Place remains closed. So I decided to the amusement of my family to go solo and seek to partake in the covenant and God's Presence at the cost of the IC which to my understanding has become another "Place of worship, with regulations in some form or the other"excluding ourselves from His Covenant.

  47. Gravatar
    Laurie Jackson

    Darin, Darin, Darin... I love you man. your book and pod casts are making so much sense to what has been happening in my heart for so long..I was so mad at everyone when I was touched by the Holy Spirit.. I was not brought up pentacostal.. But nothing can separate a heart seeking in total honesty. I have never been good at being fake.. been accused of being too transparent though.. then I sought out the pentacostal peeps.. and got really screwed up.. sheesh...I am mad too... I feel like I have an edge. I married a Black man, home-schooled and now know that I know the GRACE/LOVE message of Jesus.anger is there..but It turns into pity really quick. the narrow narnia. child like realness will always find it! FOLLOWING MY HEART! :) Thanks!

  48. Gravatar
    greg sallee

    I totally agree with every deficiency you listed about the modern church.

    I am not bitter.

    Niether is God bitter. He cannot be bitter because 2 thousand yrs ago when all of mankind was declared innocent for all time, He entered His rest. He saw enough of His image and likeness in His Son to forever be at peace with all men. If God is not angry, I dont think i will be either. I think the more we declare the truth in love the more we will see the church raise up in the full stature of Christ.

  49. Gravatar

    If I could have cobbled together coherent thoughts on this topic, I would have written this. Verbatim. Thank God I'm not alone, and
    thank you, Darin, for raising your voice for all of us who haven't yet figured out how.

  50. Gravatar

    I just spent the last year attending an "extreme" charismatic church trying to be more "filled with the Spirit". I thought I was being more open minded towards God but some of what I experienced felt more like mind-(f-bomb). I also just spent this past year watching my best friend try to escape a spiritually/emotionally abusive marriage. What I could write would shock many. I have been stunned how at tolerant the church is of abusers, and how some Christians have been enlisted in stalking and harassment. I have a huge lump of hurt stuck in my chest. There are though many Christians who have maintined normalcy despite what they've been taught...but maybe, like me, have felt they weren't "onfire" Christians. Thanks for your book and website. Thanks for this article!

  51. Gravatar
    Darin Hufford

    Faith, you are the reason I do what I do. Thank YOU. It's nice to know there are people who didn't surrender their hearts to Baal in this religious craziness. You were kept by Him.

  52. Gravatar

    I understand your anger and bitterness! I too am bitter for what the organizations have done! They have given us nothing but what they want to give us, not the heart of God! I was taught in my previous church that we have to "tune out our emotions and not allow them to control us and our thoughts". That we were immature if we allowed emotions to come into play when making decisions, even though we are grown adults and have made many decisions prior to being a part of that body of so called believers. I loved God, but as I stayed for 8 years, I began to fear Him if I didnt do as I was told. So yes, I am bitter, because I have all this crap to undo they put into my head and heart! mad at myself for allowing it, and at them for doing it so austenaciously!

  53. Gravatar

    All they know is all they choose to know and all they will ever know if they do not start to listen with their hearts. I also heard the junk about emotions being "only feelings" followed by a few bars of the song "feelings, woe, woe, woe, feelings" to really mock and drive home how unimportant feelings are. I used to ask "then why did God bother to give us any..." no real answer to that, just advice to be discerning. Get real is it discernment or suspicion???? Anyhow, my heart aches terribly for the people stuck in that place of apathy and fear. Jesus experienced feelings.. compassion, anger, abandonment, frustration, joy (this feeling made him leap... I'd say that's very heartfelt). He celebrated at a wedding, laughed with his friends, cared for his family, all very normal feelings.

  54. Gravatar

    hahaha Yes Yes Yes and AMEN!! I to have been accused of being bitter.....but up until I read this article I had defended myself. I am angry at the manipulation, use of affirmations and possitions and straight out spiritual abuse going on in some IC's. Because I pulled the curtain back on something at my former IC in conversation I was accused of bitterness.....funny thing is the person recognized most people who left and were leaders feel the same way. Next time because of your article I will have the freedom to say "yes, yes I am" and here's why. Thank you for your candor and guts to say it out loud.

  55. Gravatar

    If people don't want to hear message they will always shoot the messenger and question his/her motives. It is a great pity. Admire your courage, Darin, and your love for people.

  56. Gravatar

    Darin, Thanks for being angry. I am a former "Big Church" member and at 62 am looking hard for my God. I read the misunderstood God and for the first time in years felt the freedom and love I was never taught came from that God. I am still searching for understanding about Christ and His need to die. I still don't quite get it, so I am going to read your book again. I think it was in there, but I missed it through the tears.

  57. Gravatar
    Rob McKenney

    I just finished reading your book,'The Misunderstood God". I started reading it and couldn't put it down until I'd read it through. Yes, I was bitter...BITTER AT GOD for many, many years----until I read your book. Thanks for telling it like it is. No wonder I hated God...It was the "GOD" of religion, not the true God I was hating. BRAVO! I have hope again!My wife is reading it next!God Bless!

  58. Gravatar
    Darin Hufford

    Thanks Rob. You'll have to let me know how your wife likes it. Blessings.

  59. Gravatar
    Jeff Rush

    Hey Darin thanks so much. I am looking forward to reading your book. I have spent 35 of my 38 years really angry at religion,church,christians and especially God. Praise the Lord that 3 years ago last month He saved me. Saved into a Independent unfundamental Baptist church (did i say that right ..hmm). Anyways, i knew very early on that so many things were wrong in the church. i prayed and prayed for 3 years that God would give me wisdom and show me the truth on these things, such as AKJ 1611 only (which not a single person in the church actually even has), divorced men cannot be preachers, women must wear dress's, Jesus turning wine into grape juice and so many more. My anger grew and grew especially when i would see a new convert leave angry at God and turn to booze or drugs or...

  60. Gravatar
    Jeff Rush

    or some other hollow form of satisfaction to ease there anger. i was young in Christ and felt i had know right to question authority. I even tried leaving state and just forgetting about it, but God didnt allow me to just forget, so He brought me back and gave me the courage to ask questions. needless to say, it didnt go well. i have been labeled a heritic, poisoned by the devil, and finally as an enemy to the church. Heart breaking, but pretty much what i expected to happen. Anyways, i am very bitter at how the church tries brainwashing people and totally shuns them if they are not 100% in agreement with them. my anger is not for what happened to me but for the people who cannot see the truth. Didnt mean for this to be so long sorry :) I thank God for what He is doing through you.

  61. Gravatar

    I understand all the hurt that people have gone through with the church, and that makes me sad, and i am sorry for the pain it has caused you and others. However, I do know that the Bible says, "Let no root of bitterness spring up lest it defile many." That is in Hebrews. I know Jesus was angry at institutionalized religion. In the end, thankfully the Lord will be the judge. Our job is just to love people and love the Lord and try to live our faith the best we can.

  62. Gravatar
    Broken Heart

    I too have been very angry at a LOT of churches for various reasons. 1st and foremost is that most of them still discriminate against women.

    If a godly man has a troubled wife, everybody feels sorry for him and he is allowed to keep serving. If a godly woman has a troubled husband, she needs to step down from ministry, because obviously she is not living 1 Peter 3 in her home or her husband would be a wonderful Christian.

    When women and children are going through abuse, the churches will NOT stand up for them. WHY? My guess is that too many in leadership are NOT called by God and thus have a love of "power and control" which is probably manifesting in their own homes. How can they call a man out for his sin of abuse when they are committing the same in their homes.

    I took a poll a few years back and 2/3 of the women in conservative churches said their husbands are sexually, physically, and/or verbally abusive to them. But the church tells them to stay and be a quiet spirit. :(

  63. Gravatar

    someone once said... anger is a demand for change.
    ok, this will seem pretty abstract and maybe even fanatical, but bear with me as I use Scriptures to explain. the church is heartless because she has broken the holy covenant. Jesus is an indulgence, a ticket into heaven. In Leviticus 17:11 it says, "For the life of a creature is in the blood, and I have given it to you to make atonement for yourselves on the altar; it is the blood that makes atonement for one’s life."

    Now read Hebrews 8-10 about Jesus' blood as the new covenant. Figuratively, the blood that flowed through Jesus was the Holy Spirit (God's spirit of love) which he pours out into the hearts of believers. Romans 5:5. "God is love." 1 John 4:6. This is also very abstract. Keep in mind, Jesus was willing to heal on the Sabbath. We spend all the days of our lives toiling and laboring. During our lifetimes we work. Then, we enter into a time of rest that God created to be sacred and holy. Hebrews 4:9,John 20:29

  64. Gravatar

    there is a difference between being cleansed by Jesus' blood and using him as a substitute (an indulgence.)

    I am repelled by the institution's cruel concept of sacrificing an innocent life as a substitute payment for the lives of the guilty…
    Why in the world does the institution embrace this pagan belief, and deny true forgiveness of trespasses without any sort of payment in return? (Demanding payment… if not by us, then by God’s own son.)

    When sins are not forgiven, but instead, must be paid-for-in-full it denies God’s grace, His mercy, and His compassion... God's love.

  65. Gravatar
    Doug in Denver

    Even recently, before even reading this blog I have read the comments of readers and they would use that term bitter, or angry. I would be like and your point is.....? So. When Jesus flipped the table upside down in the temple he was.....? Oh, but he is Jesus. He rebuked non stop the religious system of His day.....oh, but he is Jesus.

    The bitter or angry accusation is designed to shut reformers up.

    Nice Job Darin!!

  66. Gravatar

    I loved this article on bitterness. My family has suffered spiritual abuse and because we are angry we are being accused of bitterness. The abuse is still happening to other people in that church (we left). They are being chewed up and spit out and thrown away like rotten banana peels! Of course I'm angry!. I would like to read every single article or podcast you have done on this subject. So far I have found two. This one and The Bitter Phenonomen. Thanks so much for boldly speaking truth. Church shouldn't hurt!

  67. Gravatar

    All of that spiritual abuse happened to me as well, but I am very happy to say I am not bitter, I have forgiven and moved on. When I speak of it, it is even hard to remember now, and liked it has happened to someone else. I am also a little surprised at how bad it was. I am very sad that it still happens today but am very glad that I am free from it and not emotionally bound by it. I am also not angry that it happens today, sad yes and not in agreement with it, but I can't change the fact that each person has chosen what they believe is right for them, even if it is hurting them. I will influence anyone that comes my way and help them to escape this tyranny, however, there are many stuck in it, through their own choice and need.

  68. Gravatar

    Sorry - not liked it has happened to someone else - meant to read "it was like it happened to someone else", but I understand Darin being upset for others, as I can be too. I think Darin you would have contact with a lot more people because of your influence and blogs in this area, so you would hear about a lot more abuse happening.

  69. Gravatar

    Thank you Darin for putting my heart felt BITTERNESS into words. I've been chomping at the bit not to tell the Christians I know off when they spew nonsense that defiles God and behave in a ridiculous manner. Yeah I'm BITTER!

  70. Gravatar
    Roger Perkins

    When children are abused they truly are victims. When adults feel abused they have permitted themselves to be connected to abusive situations and people. I have been raised in the same envirionment mentioned by others here. I know individuals who feel as if they were abused...and they are bitter. Why am I not bitter? I am not entirely sure. I tend not to depend on religious leaders or the system for my spiritual center. I attend church but it is a minor part of my spiritual growth. I feed myself from Scripture. I meet with men and confess sin weekly. I read and work at finding solutions to deal with my sin. I don't go to church to be fed or inspired. I go to encourage others and try to take one or two ideas away that I can act on. Even a crummy sermon contains nuggets if one is praying for the preacher and listening to God.

  71. Gravatar

    I do admit I have felt bitter as of late because I haven't found any young people to talk to. I struggle with forgiveness, too. I was told recently by God that I'd end up in hell if I didn't forgive. Now thanks to that, I'm sadder than all get out! It makes me think he loves some of my classmates and elders better than he does me. Hope I can reach that point before it's too late. wish I'd reach this point. I feel so competitive now. I get tired of being around judgmental old people who have the raw nerve to judge my character. I just felt the people who judged me always got away with their judgments but I never could. I kept thinking maybe it was because they didn't know how else to console. I wish I could just move on and find peace. I can't seem to find God all that well. All I can do is stumble it seems like. I'm like lost. It seems I just can't solve my feeling of loneliness. just can't. despite the fact I've read the Bible and prayed. I feel so forgotten by God.

  72. Gravatar

    I'm just bitter. I have had nasty remarks aimed at me. I've been laughed at. I feel like I just hate God because I feel like He doesn't at all care that I'm hurting. I've been downright miserable and kind of resenting happiness in others. Sorry to say. Nothing seems to make me laugh or smile. It seems like God can't work too well in my situation. I just know God loves me but I feel so screwed up that He can't work all that well for me.

  73. Gravatar

    I wholeheartedly agree brother!!

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