TW: Misquoted scripture used to invalidate the experience of pretty much everyone in order to force a narrative that leaves old white men in power.
A good friend of mine is currently dealing with – you know what no. I cannot even say they are well meaning but misguided. They are willfully ignorant. They prefer the sound of their own voices as demonstrated by their removal of themselves from social media sites that flag misinformation to the unchecked echo chamber that is @^%&#%@ and their refusal to cite CNN or AP or MSNBC as credible sources but personally uploaded youtube videos are the golden standard. They have no room in their hearts from any truth that is not the bullshit coated, dubious translations of a dead brown man that they have been swallowing for decades. There. I said it. Let’s try again.
My good friend is dealing with internet trolls who happen to be related to her and at one point we both remember them being not so awful. So this one is for her. This one is going to scripture by scripture tear down this false narrative and burn it to the ground. It is going to be the script for anyone who ever feels as if these scriptures are being used to invalidate their experiences. Let’s get to it.
I am scripture by scripture refuting a post by David Jeremiah, a televangelist who announces in this post that he has never experienced inconvenience, let alone adversity, as this was the post used by the trolls mentioned above. Let us explore.
The first quoted material is found in Matthew 6:28-30, Jesus says:
So why do you worry about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin; and yet I say to you that even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. Now if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is, and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will He not much more clothe you, O you of little faith?
I know we’ve been told this is about not worrying our entire lives, but let us imagine that Jesus wasn’t saying “Everyone with faith will get clothed. Except those poor people over there. Nobody look at them.” Because that has never made any goddamn sense but saying “Guys. Trends change. No one gives a shit what you’re wearing. Look at your skin because its fucking magnificent. You are all so astoundingly beautiful. Don’t let any asshole in a Roman Times Gucci tunic tell you otherwise.” Because as the illegitimate son from a backwater town during a military occupation of their ethnic group and ancestral lands – I’m guessing Jesus was not magically unaware that death, poverty, and inequality were, have been, and sadly would continue to be rampant on earth.
Jesus was not a sociopath, probably. From all accounts, he genuinely seems to care about people. So when Mr. Jeremiah ends his mind numbingly pathological post with “He would never suffer and die for the same children He planned to neglect.” There are only two takeaways. 1) Jesus is utterly powerless because literal thousands of actual children die everyday (1) or 2) If you die young, if you die from poverty, or inequality, or murder, or tragedy, or you know – an act of god – its because you were never one of gods children and he cares for your life less than the animals he allows to remain alive. Your choice.
Now, to provide continuing guidance of all things bullshittery in your life, he lists 17 (he says 18 but one of them is from the above quotation and I’m not repeating myself anymore than necessary) verses for building courage. Which, I guess is supposed to be the opposite on anxiety? Weird. Anyway. Because I know these verses are going to be used by internet trolls the world over – let’s go over each and every one so that you know what to say the next time someone tries to use one of these to invalidate your experience and shut you up.
Deuteronomy 33:25 As your days, so shall your strength be.
For context, this is taken out of the old testament and is in the center of a long winded speech by Moses to bless the 12 tribes of Israel – in this verse, specifically, the tribe of Asher. Even weirder, it’s only half the sentence. The full sentence reads “The bolts of your gate will be iron and bronze” and then follows with “as your days, so shall your strength be.” Granted, I cannot make any fool proof critique on what appears to be an ancient idiom, but considering I have no gate and no ties to the tribe of Asher – this seems out of context for someone telling me to not worry so much.
Psalm 43:5 Why are you cast down, O my soul? And why are you disquieted within me? Hope in God: for I shall yet praise Him, the help of my countenance and my God.
This one especially pisses me off. Misquoting, decontexualizing menagerie feces – this one is constantly used to tell others to suppress any negative feelings – be it depression, anxiety, anger, helplessness, etc. I feel like the first 4 verses of this particular psalm are *rather* important contexually.
43 Vindicate me, O God, and defend my cause
against an ungodly people,
from the deceitful and unjust man
2 For you are the God in whom I take refuge;
why have you rejected me?
Why do I go about mourning
because of the oppression of the enemy?
3 Send out your light and your truth;
let them lead me;
let them bring me to your holy hill
and to your dwelling!
4 Then I will go to the altar of God,
to God my exceeding joy,
and I will praise you with the lyre,
O God, my God.
The singer of this psalm is straight up calling God out and saying he/she will return to praising when he/she is *vindicated*. So no. The meaning behind this scripture is not to “Turn your frown upside down” but to yell at your god until he makes it better. You’re welcome.
Psalm 55:22 Cast your burden on the Lord, and He shall sustain you; He shall never permit the righteous to be moved.
I’m not going to quote the whole thing because it’s 23 verses long. I will, however, sum up. “God, these fuckers are pissing me off. Why have you allowed such rampant fucking injustice? What the hell?” And I know that this is not a man praying for a peaceful end to the liars he specifically calls out *AHEM Trumpers AHEM* because the Psalm literally ends like this.
Psalm 55:23 But you, O God, will cast them down
into the pit of destruction;
men of blood and treachery
shall not live out half their days.
But I will trust in you.
So, when God starts bloodbathing people for warmongering – then we can trust in him.
Matthew 6:34 Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about its own things. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.
This one comes on the heels of the first speech, quoted above, but both of those are taken out of context from a whole chapter that is about humble giving. (We’ve referenced this before, it’s the opposite of Performative Holiness aka what Donald Trump does when he ‘donates his salary to charity’ (2) while golfing on the dime of taxpayers and lining his own pockets with each vacation. Also, not divesting from his business interests for his entire presidency.)
Also importantly, the verse immediately preceeding this lesson on anxiety is the again, often misquoted, Matthew 6:24 “No one can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and money.
(Sorry, have to pause here for my polyamorous fam. I’ve had this one quoted at me many a time. I cannot possibly love both of my partners, right? You can easily debunk this one by a) your partner is sure as shit not your master and b) just ask them if you can love your parents – both of them? – and your inlaws? Or just one of your kids? Yea, it’s clearly not about who you can love. Awesome. Next.)
Wait, what? Jesus was talking to rich ass people right before he was talking about not worrying about what you will wear? That’s not a lecture to a person wondering how they will afford a new pair of shoes for their growing kid – that’s a sass to a man more interested in his clean pressed tunic than on those suffering around him. So…this whole speech was to rich people? Yes. Yes it was. It is actually taken from a group of rather random sermon summations entitled “the sermon on the mount” which is not, actually, one long winded sermon. Considering he addresses multiple groups throughout the ‘speech’ I think it is important to consider the context of each snippet and the ones around it.
So directly after this ‘today has its open problems’ bit, he instructs us not to judge. To not “see the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? 4 Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when there is the log in your own eye? 5 You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye.”
So to be suuuuuper clear – these ‘do not be anxious’ quotes are smack dab directly in the middle of him lecturing rich people and judgmental assholes. So he’s not lecturing people who have anxiety disorders, or struggle with depression. He’s… he’s attacking the religious elite. Those who have to appear pure, and constantly try to ‘help’ other people out of their sin’ while ignoring their own blatant hypocrisy. Noted. Hey Mr. Jeremiah, you might want to take notes.
Philippians 4:6-7 Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.
Oh Lord, this one. This one has been used to keep people down and poor more times than I have heard the word purity ring used at a 13 year old girl’s birthday party. Paul goes on to thank the church of Philippians in the following verses for being the ONE church to send him money. Repeatedly. This is not him lecturing them on what they ought to do, but blessing them for what they have done. In the same way we send thank you cards in which we say, “Thank you! I hope all your wishes come true.” is the way he is ending this lengthly missel.
Let me be very frank – the peace that passes understanding is not a gift to the unanxious hungry, those trapped by debt but somehow carefree, but to those who have to cut off their family members because they erode their self worth into the darkest pits of despair with their inability to love freely and without condition. It is a gift to those who have discovered that thier god is not the horrible man in the sky they were taught he was, but that they are truly made in her image – gender nonconforming and loves on the whole spectrum.
Part 2 is next!