Love the Bride of Christ, or else

That’s a great title: Heckle Christ’s bride at your eternal peril! I knew I had to read it to find out how to heckle Christ’s bride, so it was successful clickbait (Christ’s bride, by the way, is the whole dang Christian church, so now you know…lots of target out there.) And then the article starts with such good news!

For the first time since the Gallup organization started to track the data, fewer than 50 percent of Americans now belong to a church, synagogue or mosque. Behind these numbers are, among other factors, the trendiness of not only leaving church, but announcing it on social media with a bit of shaming and blaming thrown in for good measure.

Many are not only leaving a particular house of worship but joining a growing demographic known as the “nones,” rejecting all religious affiliation. The Christian version of those who grew up in the Church but have become “nones” often go by another label: “exvangelicals.”

As you might guess, the article is all about agonizing over why people are abandoning the faith. It sets up a dichotomy: are they leaving the church because it fails to live up to their moral standards, or are they leaving because they’re already depraved sinners who don’t like a church that has high moral standards?

Go ahead, guess. Which answer do they think is the true one?

You knew it. It was the latter. They’re losing faith because they are bad people. They have evidence for this! And at the same time, their evidence exposes the real reason many are leaving the church.

Years ago, Pastor Tim Keller was widely criticized for reporting that whenever a student returned from college claiming no longer to be a Christian, he’d ask them who they were sleeping with. I’ve worked with enough students over the past two decades to know, it’s a good question to ask. And not just to college-aged students.

You know, for this to actually be a good explanation, he should also go around to all the people who are staying with the church and ask them judgmental questions to imply that they’re all sluts and whoremongers, since I suspect a lot of good Christian men and women return from college having had intimate relationships and even having fallen in love. He’s asking selectively, though, trying to find a post hoc reason to condemn the sinners leaving the flock.

But there you go, the real reason people don’t like the Bride of Christ: it’s because she is a censorious, hypocritical, gold-plated bitch.


  1. specialffrog says

    It’s like L. Ron Hubbard saying that whenever they investigated Scientology critics they found crimes.

  2. hemidactylus says

    Not a huge fan of the “Nones” demographic meaning much at all. Some are nonbelievers, but others “spiritual, but not religious” or unaffiliated Jesus folk. Possibly just a side-effect of the “bowling alone” trend.

    And of those who are atheist, how many are Galt’s Gulch loving Atheists for Liberty right wingers? Or logicbro adherents of unabashed scientism?

    Just finished rereading Stephen LeDrew‘s The Evolution of Atheism. It’s dated but touches on Elevatorgate and the rise of social justice. He does talk of PZ a bit which is itself perhaps dated material. Also of the alleged CFI palace coup of Paul Kurtz and shifting there in what secular humanism means. I was inspired to listen to some relevant Point of Inquiry podcasts. I think he cited one of PZ’s blogposts on Kurtz:

    But that was before the major movement wide rifts no?

    LeDrew differentiates scientism, humanism, libertarianism, and social justice as subthreads of atheism and talks of possible fragmentation. He did inspire me to watch The Unbelievers which briefly seemed to show PZ in the crowd at some convention (in Oz?).

    I’m also reading Pinker-basher John Gray’s Seven Types of Atheism again. Of Pinker LeDrew says: “ Pinker is not a historian and has no training in sociology, the fields of principal concern in the book. Instead, evolutionary psychology becomes the foundation of socio-historical knowledge and Darwinism the basis for the interpretation of his selected data. It could even be argued that Pinker veers toward Spencerism when he endorses the high incarceration rates in America for drug possession, which as a desirable side effect probably purge some violent individuals from the pool of society. In this view, individuals can be sacrificed for the greater good of progress.”

  3. raven says

    …he’d ask them who they were sleeping with. I’ve worked with enough students over the past two decades to know, it’s a good question to ask. And not just to college-aged students.

    What sort of creepy, strange person goes around asking people about their sex lives?
    The proper response is What!!! It is none of your business creep and get away from me.

    Correlation isn’t causation anyway.
    If you asked the kids who didn’t go to college about their sex lives, the answer would probably be similar.

  4. raven says

    What sort of creepy, strange person goes around asking people about their sex lives?

    Well, it was a rhetorical question.
    Unfortunately, there is an answer.
    Mormon church leaders, the Bishop (what they call a lay minister), an adult male.

    Mormon Church must end children’s sexual interviews … – BBC › news

    Jul 1, 2018 — Mormon Church must end children’s sexual interviews, members say … alone in a room by a bishop for what is known as a “worthiness interview”. ..

    Mormon Bishops interview the member’s children about their “worthiness”, according to Mormon standards, including their sex lives.
    It’s creepy, invasive, and abusive.

    Even a lot of Mormon parents are starting to get the idea there is something very wrong here.
    The Mormon church has high rates of child sexual abuse that they haven’t bothered to address.

  5. garnetstar says

    A good reply to that question is “Who are you sleeping with?” Besides the mandatory handmaiden wife, I mean.

    Because, the rate of that among “pastors” and the like seems quite high. Actually, it’s quite high among human beings, and does not correlate at all with professed religion/organized religion. So, a useless question.

  6. says

    Is it just me or does “Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves” (1991) come to mind? The bishop (fundy xian leaders) is pandering to the sheriff (Cheetolini) while doing satanic practices behind closed doors (adultery, raping children).

    And they wonder why no one trusts them as “moral leaders”.

  7. E says

    The Bride of Christ has always made my head spin with questions. So if the church is the bride of christ then that means every male christian is gay married to Jesus! Woo hoo! Would Christ the Groom wear a Kittel or tuxedo? Would the wedding be jewish or christian? The mother of the christian bride is jewish and the groom is jew-ish… And wouldn’t the bride of christ technically be marrying her own father?

  8. Corey Fisher says

    It seems pretty straightforward to me that of course that question would tend to get answers from people who leave the church…

    …because once they’ve left the church, what do they care about its sexual moralizing? If they want to sleep with someone they’re not married to, the church can’t get its invasive nose in it anymore.

    (The people pointing out that church members in good standing probably are doing it too are also correct, of course…)

  9. drew says

    If some religious authority asked me if I was seeing anyone now . . . regardless of my status . . . I would answer yes, I’m absolutely seeing someone else; I’m flattered but not interested; thanks for being kinder than a Catholic priest!

  10. says

    Well I left the church long before we heard anything about child abuse or other corruption, all of which was a secret back then. I left because I realized that religion is bullshit. I didn’t need any better reason.

  11. slithey tove (twas brillig (stevem)) says

    re #9:
    yes, it is an odd metaphor given Catholic nuns are married to Jesus for their calling.
    While being raised RCC, I had the impression their entrance ceremony into a Convent was a faux-wedding service, with Jesus as the virtual groom, prresent in spirit only. <–NB only my impression
    regardless of my imagination, all nuns are literally a [Bride of Christ].
    Why is he cramming The Church over them, isn’t that sacrilegious?

  12. blf says

    rsmith@5, (with my added emboldening) “If the churches are the bride of christ, he needs a divorce!”

    Many divorces, this seems to be a poly-marriage.
    Which, depending on the cult, may not be to their liking. (Either or both the poly-relationship and the divorces.)

    (There’s nothing wrong per se with fully-consensual poly-relationships. I’ll speculate they can be much(?) trickier for the individuals than monogamous variants, but that doesn’t make either “wrong”.)

  13. tacitus says

    Trump’s overwhelming popularity with conservative evangelicals puts the lie to the idea that their brand of conservatism has anything to do with their religious faith.

    The bad news is, it means their bigotry and hatred of the norms of a pluralistic society do not need religious belief to sustain them. The internet has more than enough secular right wing demagogues waiting in the wings to take over from the leaders of the religious right.

  14. says


    A lot of churches historically don’t get along. So I’d suspect that each one of those churches would say that only they are the one true bride of christ, the rest being heretics.

  15. blf says

    rsmith@16, Yes. I was reading “churches” as meaning the individuals “belonging” to a single building / priestchild-molester, rather than any collection of like-deluded such groups — a “(xian) cult” — and teh cults do indeed seem to usually(? often?) insist “only they are the one true bride of christ, the rest being heretics.”

  16. mnb0 says

    “he’d ask them who they were sleeping with”
    I don’t have any problem with this question: for 13 years with my ex-wife, then a muslima, now a christian; last 18 years I’m in a LAT-relationship (LAT is Dunglish for Living Apart Together) with another muslima. I’m still as atheist as she is religious.
    At the other hand I’ve never been in any church; I’m not even baptized.

  17. whheydt says

    The good answer to the pastor’s question would be… With your wife. (And that’s regardless of the gender of the person being asked.)

  18. says

    The prescribed responses during mass services are often temptations for uncontrolled giggling. One of my favorites was, “Taste and see the goodness of the Lord.” Really??

  19. unclefrogy says

    the nosy judgemental nature of christianity as it is practiced is one of the main reasons I became a fallen away catholic on the way to unbelief
    by definition leaving “the church” is sinful but you can be “forgiven” if you profess belief in what ever bullshit the preachers and priests say.
    How many fingers do you see?
    uncle frogy

  20. says

    Obviously, if Christian eschatology is even remotely correct, the Christian church must be under the control of Satan by now. After all, they believe that Satan is more powerful than any human, more intelligent than any human, capable of deceiving any human, and can only be defeated by the power of god, which for the time being is only available through the church. Being intelligent, Satan would know all this, and would focus all his efforts on disabling his one effective enemy. Sooner or later he would succeed, if not by corrupting existing church officials then by pre-corrupting people who would later become officials before they could gain proper understanding, and it has been thousands of years at this point so it would be extraordinarily unlikely that he hasn’t done so already. Therefore, if you believe in the existence of the Christian panoply of supernatural entities, any and all Christian churches must be at best using a veneer of correct dogma to advance an anti-god agenda.

  21. drsteve says

    Being raised Catholic, I already knew all about the imagery applied to both nuns and the Church as being Brides of Christ. But I think it’s only now that I’ve consciously made the connection this metaphor subliminally primed me for, that this particular choice of wording makes me think unavoidably of the Brides of Dracula, and then the role in the analogy of Jesus, He who wants us to join Him in eternal life through hematophagy, becomes all too obvious. . .

  22. says

    I’m raised as an atheist. Most of he time I can’t make heads or tails of what they’re talking about most of the time. It’s not even wrong, it’s meaningless.

  23. lumipuna says

    Jesus Christ is the son of God, and he is also God, and his bride is the Church, which is made of all Christian people collectively, but also members of the clergy are the husband of Church (and filler for Christ) and members of the laity are the children of Church (and of clergy, who are addressed as Fathers), but also nuns are the bride of Christ.

    It’s a very complicated family.

  24. Snarki, child of Loki says

    “Do you believe in God?”

    Yeah, he’s a nasty genocidal fucker that should be tracked down and scragged.

  25. PaulBC says

    Heckle Christ’s bride? Isn’t the minister supposed to give me a chance to object to the marriage?

  26. PaulBC says


    What sort of creepy, strange person goes around asking people about their sex lives?

    Well, there is the Kinsey report. I agree it’s personal, but it’s fair question to ask of a willing participant in a study.

  27. says


    What sort of creepy, strange person goes around asking people about their sex lives?

    Lots, depending on place and time.

    I’ve heard from several people of my parents generation that it was pretty common (pre WW2, IIRC) in roman catholic parts of the Netherlands for the priest to inquire what was wrong if a married woman of childbearing age wasn’t pregnant within a year or so after marriage or the birth of a previous child.

    Not to mention the pressure to keep land or business “in the family”.

  28. answersingenitals says

    The link PZ provides gets you to a Christian Post article that requires you sign up to read the article. But if you google: ‘gallup church attendance’ the first item gets you to the actual Gallup poll article at:

    This article shows the decline in church (and synagogue or mosque) attendance; 1937: 73%; then remains about 70% for next 60 years, then 2010: 62%; 2021: 47%. To understand what is going on it is important to know how these polls are typically conducted. The polling organization will buy a list of 5,000 names with associated phone numbers. They will pay several thousand dollars for this list since it has been carefully gathered to reflect the demographics of the US, i.e., it will have the same gender, age, religious and political, geographic, etc. makeup as the US population. They then higher and train a crew of interviewers. These are people who answer ads in the back of magazines for people who want to “earn money at home in your spare time”. They then enter the list in their computer which then robocalls the numbers on the list, usually at dinner time when people are home. If the phone is picked up the computer switches the call to one of the interviewers who asks for the named person and conducts the interview. The reason they start with 5,000 names is that they will typically get a 20% usable response rate, i.e., about 1,000 usable interviews. You might have noticed that they always say their poll is about +/-3% accurate. To get that number, take the square root of 1,000: about 30, and divide 30 by 1,000. You get 3%. That is, they assume Poisson statistics describe this process.

    This process and assumed statistics has many potential pitfalls and is subject to several bias errors. 1) the 1,000 people providing usable responses my no longer reflect US demographics, so the pollsters have to use weighting factors to rebalance the results; 2) the polling is restricted to people who are willing to respond to personal questions from a total stranger, usually disrupting their dinner or evening activity; 3) the weakest and most biasing assumption is the the interviewees will answer honestly, again, to a total stranger asking question about their most personal activities and attitudes; 4) the response pollsters get to specific questions asked on polls is influenced by the preceding questions and how they bias the issue; 5) the companies that produce the original list, like almost all companies, want to produce the most output for the least cost, and so will tend to populate the list with successful interviewees form past polls. This is not to say that such polls are useless, only that very large error bars should be attached to the numbers.

    I suspect that much of the church attendance decline this poll is showing is due to interviewees being more honest and not feeling they have to present an acceptable persona to a complete stranger. The younger generations, born after 1980 show the greatest decline and are also the most into social media where they are happy to discuss their personal lives on open forums. A poll taken of clergy personal asking if they ever were pedophiles or ever had pedophilia thoughts would probably show this had an occurrence 0.00 +/- 3%.

  29. wzrd1 says

    I’ve long had a policy against heckling the bride of Frankenstein. It never seemed to be an idea that’d end well.
    Still, if someone were stupid enough to ask me who I cohabitated and “slept” with, I’d happily answer and reply with a question of my own.
    “With my wife of 3 years, of course. Now, might I inquire as to your relationships with the pool boy and altar boys?”

  30. vucodlak says

    Whenever someone asks me why I’m not a Christian anymore, I tell them, in graphic detail.

    If someone asks me who I am sleeping with, I tell them that I don’t sleep with anyone, because I don’t trust anyone enough to make myself that vulnerable around them. I tell them I’ve never had sex, for the same reason. Then I would tell them why I don’t trust anyone, least of all their god and his self-proclaimed servants. I make it an accusation, and I make it personal, because it’s both.

    They tend to shut up and run away real quick. If they don’t, I can always start singing one of my favorite songs, “Wake of the Christian Knights” by Inkubus Sukkubus:
    From old Rome they come a-riding
    On a song with armor shining
    Christian sons with hearts of anger
    Bring the book, the cross, the chancre
    Halleluiah Halleluiah
    kiss the cross or they will burn you
    Halleluiah Halleluiah
    they have come to rape and murder

    Tell them we’ve had it all
    they’ve had their day, now they shall fall
    Tell them of the turning tide
    they can run but they can’t hide

    Across a sea of tears and blood
    Across a ‘scape of murdered babies
    They will cleanse and purify
    for their Christ and for their Lady
    They will take the joy of love
    and name it as a badge of shame
    They will steal and they will plunder
    They will tell you you’re to blame


    On the wheel and on the gibbet
    broken bodies, broken dreams
    In the church, the sheep, the traitors
    now they are both pure and clean
    Halleluiah Halleluiah Halleluiah Halleluiah
    Halleluiah Halleluiah Halleluiah Halleluiah

    [Chorus x3]

    As the church returns to dust,
    kiss our flesh and love our lust
    Know ye joy and desire,
    in the love-rent pagan’s fire

    I’m especially fond of the way the last verse turns the meaning of the chorus around.

  31. Rich Woods says

    I’ve heard the ‘Bride of Christ’ label all my life and it’s always struck me as creepy. Is this why some Christians look forward so much to the Second Coming? “Spread your legs, boys and girls! Daddy’s back, and after two thousand years he’s HORNYYYY!!”

  32. birgerjohansson says

    “…ask them judgmental questions to imply that they’re all sluts and whoremongers”
    I have found the perfect companion to help him preaching!
    ”The Witchfinder General Gives Relationship Advice” (using reconstructed 17 century English)
    – This guy is not very cheerful, is he?

  33. birgerjohansson says

    Trump makes an appearence 8 minutes in.
    ”The Witchfinder General v. The Mainstream Media”
    The English is 17 century reconstructed “Original Early Modern Pronounciation”,

  34. anxionnat says

    These people have sex on the brain. I stopped believing at age 11, in fifth grade. That was 1963. I didn’t even hear the word “atheist” for another 25 years, when I was in my mid-30s. However, when I went away to college at age 17 and made the first adult decision of my life, about my health, and was prescribed birth control, my mother (in consultation with her priest) immediately decided that I was an evil whore who was sleeping with somebody-or-other without being married, and tried (unsuccessfully) to kill me. She didn’t even bother to ask why I was taking the medication. (Of course not. She was the one who had decided, without any evidence, that I was lying about my symptoms.) That’s the way that people like my mother and her priest think. That’s why I say they have sex on the brain.

  35. Frederic Bourgault-Christie says

    Everyone should respond to those questions from church leaders by asking “I’m sleeping with a consenting adult. What about you?”