Thursday, 5 May 2011

of Forwarding "Guilt-Laden" Religious Emails

Photo Credit: Ron Mader, Flickr Creative Commons
“Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus”
(Romans 8:1)

Let me tell you about another of my pet peeves. It concerns all those emails that get forwarded back and forth with those little “guilt” sermonettes attached to the back of the message. I’m sure you’ve likely received many of them too. Irritating is what they are! One of the emails I received yesterday made this claim:
“This is a simple test … If you believe that God is alive and well, send this to at least ten people and the person who sent it to you ... It's an easy test, you score 100 or zero ... If you aren’t ashamed to do this, please follow the directions. Jesus said, ‘If you are ashamed of me, I will be ashamed of you before my Father’ … Not ashamed, pass this on.”
Sure, some of them have cute little stories, which may or may not be true. Many of them are probably designed to motivate or encourage us to do one thing or another. I’m fine with all that, but as for the “guilt” part at the end, well I loose interest the second I see that. Don’t tell me what will or will not happen to me if I choose not to forward your email on to at least 10 of my friends! Don’t tell me that I am somehow a lesser Christian, or an ashamed one, if I don’t follow your instructions!

The problem is that they have some truth in them. To use the above example, “God is alive and well,” there is no question there. But the way these messages are worded, it seems they would have us to believe that, unless we forward the emails, then we somehow must not believe that “God is alive and well.” Notice the second half of the above example, which asserts Jesus saying: “If you are ashamed of me, I will be ashamed of you before my Father in heaven.” While the email didn’t give me the reference, Jesus did say that in Luke 9:26. However, while that part is true, is it also true that I am to be counted among those who are ashamed if I don’t forward their email? Of course not! By the way they worded the above message, guilt and condemnation is precisely the impression I get. God doesn’t play these silly little religious mind games, and nor should we.

Photo Credit: Andy Roberts
Flickr Creative Commons
I only rarely will forward on email messages like that, but when I do, it is not because I have been told to. When I choose to forward them, it is because I like the message or story in the main body of the text. However, before I do forward such messages, I will always delete all that guilt-laden trash at the end of it.

Another thing I try to always do before forwarding any emails is to clean up the email by deleting that mile-long string of email addresses. How I wish everyone would do that before forwarding emails to me! To spend half an hour (OK, that’s a little exaggerated) scrolling through list after list of email addresses is also most annoying. Sometimes I’ve even given up and deleted the entire message even before getting to the main body of the message.

So there you have it; another of my pet peeves. If you really think I would enjoy or be blessed by your email message, then please do send it to me; I would love to read it. However, before you do, kindly clean up the message of all unnecessary email addresses and also delete all that “guilt-laden” religious junk at the end of the message. I don’t believe in that stuff, and I don’t believe that my God plays such mind games with me either.

What about you? What is your take on all this? Do these kind of emails annoy you too? What has been your approach to dealing with them? I would love to hear your thoughts on this. Thanks, and God bless.

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