While working with my cousin on the local National Eating Disorder Association walk, which she is organizing, I became passionate about a subject that I had only thought a little bit about before. When I was growing up, we were taught to say “sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me.” This couldn’t be further from the truth.
We need to be careful how we talk to people, especially the young ones who are still developing their self-image. What we say can scar them for life and lead them to decisions that can ultimately kill them. As Christians, we are often taught to preach condemnation, not the fact that we were made in God’s image. Is God male or female? Black, White, Native American, Chinese, or any other race? Is God fat or skinny? Does God have pimples?
While God is referred to by masculine terms in the Bible, how can we be sure that God is really male? Does God really have a gender? Hebrew has no neuter form, so a gender had to be assigned to God. Is it any wonder that the male form was used? It was a patriarchal society. In that time, it would have been almost blasphemy to refer to God in the feminine form. Sure, other religions had female goddesses, but the main god was always male. Zeus. Odin. Jupiter. Osiris. ShangDi. These are some of the “gods” that were considered the greatest in various cultures. The Chinese ShangDi was similar to Yahweh, in that he created the earth and all that was in it. They also have a story of the great flood, which closely resembles the story found in the Bible.
So, does this mean God was Chinese? Hebrew? Could he have been both as well as every other nationality, all rolled into one? If God is all things, are we limiting him by referring to him as male or white? How can we be sure what God looks like? The Buddha is shown as a fat man. Yet, many consider him beautiful. It is said, “beauty is in the eye of the beholder”, but what does it mean to God? How can we possibly know?
When we tell someone they are fat, ugly, stupid, or any other number of things we say to put people down, are we being Christian? Would Jesus put people down, or love them? Too often, we condemn others without realizing the harm we are doing. Yes, we are supposed to tell others the truth about God, but we are not supposed to tear them down. What does the Bible say?
Therefore all things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them: for this is the law and the prophets. Matthew 7:1 KJV
Would you want people constantly condemning you, never saying anything good? Would you want to be torn down? Would you want people to make you think that, not only are you not worthy of God’s love, you aren’t worthy of anyone else’s either?
People who harm themselves by eating disorders, alcoholism, cutting themselves, or shutting themselves off from society, are often those who are bullied by others. Do Christians bully? Some Christians are the worst offenders. How many churches teach that, if you love someone, you will preach at them and condemn then until they repent? That isn’t love. That is just the opposite.
Notice I didn’t say preach “to” them. When you preach to someone, you tell them the news that God loves them and wants them to come to him and accept him, not that God hates them and if they don’t repent and become perfect, God won’t ever love them.
As it is written, There is none righteous, no, not one: Romans 3:10 KJV
For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. John 3:16 KJV
We love him, because he first loved us. 1 John 4:19 KJV
Remember to show God’s love to others through your words, as well as your actions. God wants you to lead the children to him, not drive them away.