Swearing at God

Yesterday evening I found myself trying out a novel style of praying, one which is unlikely to be found in the Alpha Course Prayer Manual.

I was walking home across Blackheath, praying, and suddenly all my long-felt frustrations, hurts and disappointments with God came tumbling out. Why won’t you answer the prayers about the things I really care about? Why won’t you speak to me directly instead of second-hand through the Bible? If you care so much, why does it so often feel like you don’t care at all? Why does your presence so often feel like absence; why do your supposed blessings so often feel like punishments?

And suddenly I was swearing repeatedly at God: ‘F— you! F— the Bible, f— church, f— theology! F— you for ignoring me, for never speaking to me!’ And so on. And the strange thing was, it felt really good.

Now don’t get me wrong; this isn’t something I’m planning to repeat particularly often, and I’m not recommending anyone to include it as a regular feature of their daily devotions. Nor am I claiming that it was a mature, wise, or admirable thing to do, nor in any way biblical (except by a very long stretch of some of the psalms, perhaps).

But in its favour, it did represent honest, heartfelt and passionate communication; and it sprang at least in part from a genuine desire to engage more deeply with God. I wasn’t swearing to insult God but just to express my deep-seated (even if unfounded) rage towards him. Crucially, I wasn’t telling him to get the f— out of my life but to get the f— into it.

I love God, and I need God. I’ve known his presence powerfully at times, felt his love, seen his action both in my own life and the lives of others. So his absence and silence (whether real or apparent) now feels all the more crushing, intentional and hurtful. I realise this is all part of the process; that the Dark Night of the Soul is something most Christians have to go through at some point and that in the end it can be a good thing. That doesn’t make it any easier when you’re in the middle of it.

Fight the good fight

I’d much rather be speaking words of love to God; seeking his tender embrace. But in the absence of that, I’ll settle for a fight instead. As Mike Riddell says in Godzone, ‘God enjoys a fight as much as an Irish Publican’. There’s something hot, something real, even intimate, in fighting; something which comes quite close to love. If I can’t feel God’s embrace at the moment, at least I can wrestle with him like Jacob did. And maybe in the end that’s just another pathway to receiving his blessing.

Postscript: transition and birth

Before our first child was born we dutifully attended the ante-natal classes put on by the NCT, where we learnt rather more than you could ever want to know about the gory details of labour and birth (though sadly not a lot about the steep learning curve of parenting that follows after).

One of the genuinely interesting things we learnt was about the stage of labour called Transition. It’s the interval between the contractions of dilation (the long period during which the cervix is expanding to a size where a baby can fit through) and the final contractions of pushing, when the mother exerts all her remaining strength in ejecting the baby into the world.

Transition, if I recall rightly, is excruciatingly painful and simultaneously frustrating. It feels like nothing is happening, but the pain is such that at this point the most mild-mannered and middle-class women apparently often find themselves shouting, screaming and swearing. Of course, it’s a crucial stage in labour, one that prepares the mother for the final push, but it’s reported to be the most difficult stage.

It strikes me that the Christian dark night of the soul – the transition point before starting to break free from the confining chrysalis – has a lot of similarities to this. It is painful, frustrating, seemingly fruitless. You may find yourself uncharacteristically raging, shouting and swearing at God, at faith, at church, at everything you’ve held dear. But out of all this eventually comes birth.

And then the next set of challenges begin…

Advertisements

About TheEvangelicalLiberal

Aka Harvey Edser. I'm a web editor, worship leader, wannabe writer, very amateur composer and highly unqualified armchair theologian. My heroes include C.S. Lewis and Homer Simpson.
This entry was posted in Anger at God, Dark night of the soul, The faith journey and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

32 Responses to Swearing at God

  1. Terry says:

    I, too, have a novel way of praying. It starts with great expectations, but usually I find myself in a catch-22 situation.

    Seriously, I’ve never understood why so many seem to balk at the idea of swearing at God during ‘angry prayer’ (a bit like angry sex, but without the same kind of climax). While Scripture doesn’t seem to record any taboo words, the psalms of lament certainly convey angry sentiments. So you’re not alone in these thoughts, Harvey.

    Like

  2. harveyedser says:

    I’ve sworn in prayer quite a few times, but rarely directly at God before. It feels risky and blasphemous to swear at God; there’s the risk of incurring divine wrath and lightning-bolts. And so much of church teaching is geared towards expressing praise and positive feelings that it feels strange and even wrong to express such apparently negative ones. In some ways, it’s a challenge – God, are you big enough to take this? Do you really love me enough to accept crap from me, profanity as well as praise?

    Liked by 1 person

    • Think4yourself says:

      YES, God is big enough! AND…God LOVES honesty and He LOVES us coming straight to Him in everything…our swearing as well…as long as it’s aimed at Him. This is the freedom we have in Him…our honest hearts being poured out to Him, our only Rescuer in Jesus Christ. Their is NO vanity in an honest heart. Swearing at Him has NO vanity in it…but our outcry to Him…which He adores. Profanity and praise are equally good, as long as it comes from an honest heart having communion with Him alone. He knew our words and actions in any case long beforehand.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Hi Think4yourself – thanks for your comment and I’m sorry for not replying sooner. It’s been one of those weeks when I actually found myself swearing at God again (honestly not something that I do all that often!) – my young son was very ill and in a lot of pain, and I felt powerless, helpless, sleep-deprived and both angry and upset with God. However, this morning I was in church praising God in gratitude for my son’s recovery. (What I’d have been doing had he not got better is something I’m not sure I can ponder.) I think praise, lament and complaint/rage are all legitimate and necessary parts of a long-term relationship with God.

        Interesting point about ‘he knew our words and actions in any case long beforehand’… that’s something I’m not sure I totally agree with, but I certainly take the view that nothing we can say or do surprises him!

        Thanks again,
        Harvey

        Like

        • Think4yourself says:

          Harvey,
          Thanks for your reply. With regard to your comment on God having known all along….I’m not there to convince anybody of anything, BUT, I’m good at questions. Something to ponder on – If we say God is omnipresent, omnipotent and omniscient (we as Christians believe this, right?), which means He is sovereign…does not mean that He is in total control ALL the time? “EvangelicalLiberal” means just that…freedom in Christ.
          The sky is the limit when it comes to God…especially when it comes to His three O’s mentioned above. If we make that statement above…should we not draw that golden line right through our thinking? I’m reluctant to give you my website as that will show just how much my liberated thinking around God really is. It’s all about our freedom in the sovereignty of God…however scary it sometimes (most of the times rather) can become. But oh so incredibly liberating and exciting.

          Like

          • Hi Think4yourself,
            Thanks for your response. I very much believe that God is in control, and that nothing is impossible for him. However, my question is simply about the nature of the future – whether the future is actually fully knowable or whether it’s something that doesn’t exist yet. That’s not to say that God doesn’t know what he’s planning for the future, or that he isn’t able to work out to a pretty accurate degree what we’re all likely to do. But if free will is real and meaningful, there has to be some degree of uncertainty as to future events and outcomes – in my view. I might blog more about this at some point!

            So my view of the three Os is that God knows everything that can be known, and can do anything that is logically possible to do. I’m just questioning whether it’s actually logically possible to know the future – except those parts which he’s either pre-determined or which can be predicted with reasonable certainty.

            All the best,
            Harvey

            Like

      • Boss4life6 says:

        Hello I was thinking about the “unpardonable sin” blasphemy to the Holy Ghost one day.. And wondering what the meaning is.. I started to think to myself is it people who say “f- God” or similar things of that nature ?… My OCD took over and I started to think that Jesus or God himself would think I was saying these awful things.. It pops into my head randomly but I know I’m not the one saying that because I have never had a reason to nor had the desire to swear at God… I feel like he knows my heart and understands my brain is playing tricks on me but I can’t help but think he is mad at me or thinks I said these things… Someone please help and reassure me.. I know Jesus Christ died for our sins and I accept him as my savior.. Even if people do curse at God this would be a forgivable sin , correct ? Thank you. God bless

        Like

        • Hi, thanks for your comment! I too have OCD and have worried about exactly the same thing. Please let me assure you that cursing God – even if you really meant it – is always a forgivable sin. There’s nothing our OCD minds can produce that could be unforgivable.

          The stuff that comes out of our OCD minds isn’t real and doesn’t mean anything – it’s like mental wind. But I know that it feels very real and we can feel very guilty about it. I used to spend ages repenting of it; now I’ve managed to learn (by long practice) either to ignore it completely, or else just to hand it over to God with the briefest of prayers (‘Lord, I give this to you’).

          I believe that the only ‘unforgivable’ sin is simply to shut God out completely, which is not something we can do by accident or by OCD. And the only reason it’s unforgivable is we’re shutting out the source of forgiveness. But please let me reassure you that that’s not something that you’re doing or would do. Let me know if you’d like me to talk more about it.

          All the best,
          Harvey

          Liked by 1 person

        • Think4yourself says:

          Dear Boss4life6,
          We must never ever forget that GOD IS LOVE, as this is the essence of the whole Gospel. In ALL we do, ALL we say, ALL we think and ALL we feel, we must constantly be aware of these three words. It does not matter what we do, or say, or think, or feel…whether ‘good’ or bad’. What matters is what GOD says in His Word; that He is love, that NOTHING can separate us from God’s love. Please read Romans 8:31-39.

          When we say that Jesus died for our sins…it means ALL our past, present and future ‘sins’. There IS no sin any more…Jesus eradicated it all. Paul was still fallible, but he KNEW that is was the carnal man within him that was trespassing, NOT the one resurrected with Christ. Romans 7:24 & 25.

          God loves you, even before you were born. When we curse God, we have a RELATIONSHIP with Him. When do I curse God (and I speak for myself here!)? When I am in great pain, when I am in agony, when I am in despair. Only when one has a true and intimate relationship with God does one act spontaneous towards Him. It’s not the words we use that is important…it’s the heart from where these words come from…an honest and sincere heart. And God knows this…and He WANTS this…for us to rather ‘curse’ Him, than our fellow man.

          So to answer your question…
          YES, God has already forgiven you…goes without saying. Bottom line is…we all have to go to HIM with our pain and suffering…not to man. He is the only One that will understand…besides…it is GOD Who gives us our trials and challenges…to sanctify us.

          God bless you!

          Like

          • Hi Think4yourself (and Boss4life6), just to say thanks for the comment – I certainly agree that we need to go to God with our pain and suffering, and that it’s not about our words but our heart, and about our relationship with God.

            The bit I slightly disagree with (as we’ve discussed before!) is that God gives us all our trials. I think here we get into a more complex mystery, but I’d say that God is with us in all of our suffering and using it to bring good. That doesn’t mean he’s necessarily given it all to us. But I know we have different views on this, and that’s okay.

            Ultimately though, either way we’re loved and forgiven and accepted as we are, and we’re being sanctified to become Christlike.

            All the best,
            Harvey

            Liked by 1 person

  3. harveyedser says:

    PS I’ve just added a postscript to the post.

    Like

    • Julian Staniforth says:

      Psalm 88 is hardly one of praise……..it’s real anger and pain. Yes think it’s ok to be real before God……important to be somehow. Yet that doesn’t mean there’s no place for trust as the psalmist there still hasn’t given up on God……otherwise did he bother with the words could just have been silent.

      In ministry there are moments when people are angry and need to express pain…and the minister, the Christian will sometimes be the lightning rod for that……at times then all one can do is be there……

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Robin Parry says:

    You wrote: “I wasn’t telling him to get the f— out of my life but to get the f— into it.” Precisely. That is a critical point that lies at the heart of biblical lament. Thank you for articulating it so well.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. dsholland says:

    I threw my car keys at him once.

    I missed.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Think4yourself says:

    Harvey, Have ever read any of the the works of Adolph Ernst Knoch? He was a Christian universalist and through him God changed my life completely. Maybe you will resonate with what he had written…maybe not. His insights are just so incredibly phenomenal…at least to me they are. For what it’s worth…I’ll give you the link to his flagship publication (IMHO)…

    http://www.concordant.org/expohtml/TheProblemOfEvil/index.html
    God bless!

    Like

  7. Sarah Moore says:

    Hi there.It is so very brave of you to admit this.I too know that it is very wrong to swear especially at God himself.Nevertheless when you are under severe pressure/experiencing SPIRITUAL DEPRESSION,constantly praying to God and all the while the only thing he is doing to help the situation,is applying more pressure,which does not help at all.It will cause anyone to be extremely furious with God,as I am now.I myself have sworn a few times,directed at God,I do regret it,and I think sometimes he will severely punish me,for it someday,but when you are in the depths of despair,especially if you have been experiencing great distress for any extended period of time,most likely you will unleash the beast inside of you.As strange as this may sound,I thought I was the only one that ever did that,you have no idea,how much of a relief,it was to see your article.I really do hope that God truly forgives you,and will not place on you any severe punishment.May God truly bless you.I thank you.

    Like

    • Dear Sarah, thank you so much for your comment.

      Of course I can’t speak for God, but I’m strongly convinced that he won’t punish you for being angry with him, or even for swearing at him.

      I know that God is holy and he is to be held in high honour. But he is also the most loving Father imaginable, and above all he desires close relationship with us as his children (even as his bride).

      I know from my own relationship with my children that sometimes they get upset and angry with me, and say things they may later regret. Of course it depends on the context, but generally I don’t find that being angry or punitive with them in return is a helpful response. I know that God is a far better and more understanding father than me, and I believe he bears with us gently through these difficult times of spiritual depression, frustration and anger.

      I also believe that God wants us to be honest with him far more than he wants our words of praise. If we’re really angry with him, then I think that’s where we have to start – and that way he can work with us to restore the relationship. But if we just pretend all is well, he can’t really help us much.

      So please don’t worry about punishment. I’m not sure that Bible verses are always the most helpful things at times like this, but there are plenty which encourage us not to fear God’s punishment: ‘Perfect love casts out fear, for fear has to do with punishment’ (1 John 4:18); ‘There is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus’ (Romans 8:1); ‘everyone who speaks a word against the Son of Man will be forgiven’ (Luke 12:10); etc.

      All the very best,
      Harvey

      Liked by 1 person

  8. Dan says:

    I think you are not thinking clearly. If you really had a relationship with God, you wouldn’t swear and have rage toward the things that are going on in your life. Can you talk like an adult to people who anger you without swearing? Then why cry out to God like that? “I will never leave you nor forsake you.” God is always nearby, we are the ones that think he is not listening and create distance from Him.
    I believe it was Peter who went through so many bad things in his life, but every step of the way he would say “this is good.” Peter said this because he knew he had a duty, to carry out the will and teachings of God. If you can look past the negative things and say “this is good” and know there is a bigger plan, God will reward your faithfulness greatly.

    Like

    • Dear Dan, thanks for your comment. I appreciate your point of view, though I think we’re going to disagree on this one! I have a feeling you may be misunderstanding my point slightly, or perhaps we’re just coming from very different places on this.

      I’d also counsel you not to pass judgement on other people’s relationship with God when you don’t know them or their situations (“if you really had a relationship with God, you wouldn’t…” etc).

      I certainly don’t think that swearing at God – or indeed anyone else – is ideal or a behavioural norm. But nor is it necessarily always wrong. It’s an exceptional behaviour for exceptional circumstances, when we feel the depths of rage, frustration, despair or hurt and need to express them. Read all the Psalms and then tell me that Christians shouldn’t feel or say these things! The Psalmists clearly felt and expressed their deepest and most troubling feelings in an act of total honesty and vulnerability before God.

      I do know that God has a bigger plan, and I do ultimately trust him. But I also believe that we need to be real and honest with God, and we need to express the reality of our situations and feelings. Indeed, we need to be able to trust God with the worst of ourselves. If we can’t show our troubling darkness to God, we will never be able to deal with it and will spend our lives denying it. That is not the road to salvation and healing.

      All the best,
      Harvey

      Like

  9. Christina says:

    Trust me, don’t swear at God, ever. If you do this, please just stop. It’s one of the most horrible things you can do. Just because it feels alright to you, it doesn’t mean it is.. God isn’t a human being.

    Like

    • Hi Christina, thanks for your comment and I appreciate your viewpoint, even though I disagree. I do apologise for expressing views that upset or offend you, although I still stand by what I’ve said.

      I’m interested to know why you think swearing at God is ‘one of the most horrible things you can do’? I can see that you might find it offensive and upsetting, but I can think of far more horrible and disturbing things that human beings do to each other and our fellow creatures every day.

      As far as I’m concerned, swearing can sometimes be a valid and honest expression of difficult emotions such as hurt, anger, frustration, humiliation. It may not be the best or loveliest expression, but sometimes it’s all we have. And I believe that God understands and accepts that honesty.

      Now, I partly agree with you that ‘God isn’t a human being’. I wouldn’t ever advocate swearing at people, because it is incredibly hurtful. But precisely because God isn’t like other people, he can take it and understand the hurt and need behind it. (And because God is partly a human being – Jesus Christ – he completely understands our human condition and negative feelings.)

      I am personally convinced that God would prefer an honest expression of anger, even of hate, than a polite but false expression of praise and piety.

      Like

    • PS I’d like to make a distinction between swearing at someone and swearing to someone. Swearing at someone – calling them insulting names or telling them to, er, ‘go away’ in less polite terms – is generally pretty offensive. And I did call my article swearing ‘at’ God so I understand your point if you didn’t then read on further.

      But what I was really talking about was swearing to God, as in praying passionately and perhaps angrily, with pleas and laments and questions peppered with colourful language that expresses the anguish or frustration in your heart.

      Like

  10. Brice Snuggs says:

    Try saying these bad words at kaleb James furr
    When you get mad

    Like

  11. brent boren says:

    As an evangelical Christian man I believe it better to release my true feelings rather than to try to hide them because I believe that God knows our every thought. So when I feel like saying :FUCK YOU GOD”, I do so without hesitation. My son’s have grown up in this environment and they feel as good evangelical Christians to speak the same.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Wow, that’s very honest and direct! I agree that there’s no point trying to hide our feelings from God – or from ourselves. For myself, I’m a little bit more cautious about swearing directly at God in the ‘fuck you’ kind of way, as to me that feels overly disrespectful and offensive. But if I’m really angry or stressed I will often swear as part of prayer: ‘I’m really fing ped off about x, y, z’. I don’t think that makes me particularly big or clever – it’s just an expression of raw, gut-level feelings that I can’t always express more elegantly.

      Liked by 1 person

    • Brent Boren says:

      Please remove this comment. Thank you

      Like

  12. Brent Boren says:

    Jesus Cock-Sucking Christ can tool my fuckin hard dick until I cum in his holy bitchin mouth. HAIL SATAN. FUCK GOD, FUCK GOD THE SON, FUCK GOD THE HOLY SPIRIT. SATAN IS LORD.,. Especially of my wife’s slutty cunt, and my son’s cunt wives’. They won’t even let me next to my grand kids. FUCK YOU BITCH.

    Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s