Anatomy of an Evangelical Christmas Card

It’s that time of year again, when cousins you never spoke to anyway decide that it’s time to SAVE YOU! It’s their way of being generous, even though most of us don’t define “generous” as badgering you to be anyone other than WHO YOU ARE.

Yes, the oldest daughter of a dead uncle I didn’t know well has been listening to my mother’s lament, and she has once again taken it upon herself to send me a little Christmas cheer in the form of her (and Jesus’s love). I will call her Denise.

No cards from Denise feature anything like Santas or reindeer or snowmen or wintry trees in front of glowing houses. Nothing like that. Here is the cover of the card:

When you see a cover like this, you know there’s nothing good inside. And lo, you open it to find these words that seem like they should be good and heart-warming and fuzzy, but there’s something that’s a bit off….

God loves me, and so do they. But do they really? Before I married (gasp!) a woman, I had never received any kind of correspondence from Denise, electronic or otherwise. It’s only been in the years since my marriage that these started to arrive. Denise barely knows me, and her husband knows me not at all, so call me skeptical.

Now, the underlined “love of Jesus” is very important here. Because they are quite sure that the “love of Jesus” will fix me — “save me” is perhaps the kinder term they will use — and they assume that I currently know nothing about this love of Jesus, but they are here to remind me that it exists and is there for the taking, like unlimited pretzels at the bar. Unfortunately, their “love of Jesus” is a lot like those unlimited bar pretzels, because I can only get them if I keep ordering Evangelical Jesus beers, one right after another, resulting in a permanently skewed world view.

“The Lord bless you and keep you,” which is circled, is one of those seemingly harmless platitudes (removed from the context that describes how “unclean” people should be removed from the tribe, adulterous women’s “womb shall swell, and her thigh shall fall away,” and the vows of Nazirite priests). After all, who in theory can arguing with asking for the prime Creator to bless and keep you? For Evangelicals, however, it is the functional equivalent of “bless your heart.” By wishing this for everyone, they are showing what good people they are. What godly people. What well-intended, kind people. Then, when you refuse their polite “suggestions” that you comport yourself and order your life in the way that they (and their vision of god) say is the correct way, they can say, “What a sad, depraved person [he/she] is. Here I am, just trying to help [him/her], but they refuse my help and the love of Jesus.” BIG SIGH. Anyone familiar with personality-disordered people should immediately recognize this “There’s nothing wrong with me; it’s all you” agenda.

When I first started receiving these cards, I was irritated. My relationship with my parents, whom I’ve cut off (or gone “no contact” because of their incredible toxicity and antagonism toward both my wife and myself) is none of Denise’s business. Further, it quickly became clear that any contact with any cousin in the family, near or distant, provided my mother an opportunity to spy on us and extend her toxic reach. The result was that I am now “no contact” with the entirety of my blood family.

But this year, I was not surprised to receive this missive and, I found, that I was no longer annoyed. Instead, I was highly amused. I have been married to my wife for 15 years. We have two wonderful children together. We have a good life together. How pathetic is it for these two to claim they love me and to hope that I embrace their religion, and then chuck out the last 15 years as though it never existed? Do they really think that their supposed “will of god” aligns with theirs? Do they really think that I would read a card from people I barely know and change everything about my life? It is beyond absurd.

I no longer consider myself a Christian (for me, it’s good riddance), but I do wish Evangelicals would pay a bit more attention to the loving philosophy of Jesus rather than their “I love you, but will happily burn you” jealous, Old-Testament god.

“Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye?

How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when all the time there is a plank in your own eye?

You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.

December 2019

Writer, painter, cat fancier, troublemaker, democratic socialist, & antifascist.