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So why are Christians often so joyless?

"So why are Christians often so joyless? It is , I think, because too often Christians have only enough religion to make themselves miserable. Guilt they know, but not forgiveness. Nietzsche correctly noted, 'Christians should look more redeemed.'"
William Sloane Coffin, "Credo."



ETA:  A friend posted this on his facebook and I found it intriguing. 


Asked by MamaK88 at 1:09 PM on Mar. 16, 2011 in Religious Debate

Level 33 (62,090 Credits)
This question is closed.
Answers (34)
  • if what he has experienced is joyless Christians its because he surrounds himself with joyless people

    Or it could just be he was surrounded by people affiliated with the branches that value suffering. Calvinists feel that monetary gain is granted by the will of God to the faithful, and anyone who isn't rich is being punished. Catholics believe contemplating the sin is as bad as committing the sin, and a constant accounting of sins must be kept to be confessed, or they can cause even physical pain. Baptists insist you recount and repent all your sins or you burn in Hell for all eternity. Those are just a few examples. Denying the existence of sects that value misery and guilt is as disingenuous as saying ALL Christians are joyless, but so far nobody has actually suggested that, despite people insisting on reacting as if they did.

    Answer by NotPanicking at 8:45 PM on Mar. 16, 2011

  • Disagree. I know plenty of Christians full of Joy. I also know bitter heartless ones. It's a personal character flaw IMO and not really tied to their religion. Some people are just optimistic while others are pessimistic. The only thing "religion" can do is make these characteristics appear heightened or more extreme, but that's just because we notice it more.

    Answer by KristiS11384 at 1:13 PM on Mar. 16, 2011

  • i dont think being happy or bitter has anything to do with what religion you're a part of.

    Answer by tnm786 at 1:16 PM on Mar. 16, 2011

  • Disagree. Even on my worst day, I have great joy, and love to share it with others. I can remember my life before I was saved,and I can tell you without a doubt, I NEVER had the joy in my life that God adds. Yes, I had joy from my children, and all, but none of it really made sense until I added God, and then the blinders came off my eyes, and the joy was just increased more than I can even express. God doesn't promise us it's going to always be roses and beauty,in fact, He tells us in His Holy, Written Word, that we will suffer for our beliefs, but that the joy comes with the morning,and I'd rather suffer for God WITH God, than suffer without Him, and wonder what the use is any day of the week!

    Answer by cbk_mom3 at 1:24 PM on Mar. 16, 2011

  • It's probably true for some, but I don't think I would say that it's true for most. I think 'guilt' is more prevalent in Christianity than in some other religions, and that may have something to do with it--at least for some people. Guilt is not really found in Buddhism (or it's something we try to transform--it's not productive), and Tibetans do not even have a word for 'guilt' in their language. I've known Christians who were often serious and generally miserable or even depressed. I've also known Christians who were very joyful and generally happy people too. I would say the more joyful ones I've known are typically more accepting of others, less fearful of differences between them and other people, and are usually quite generous, compassionate people. It could depend individual personalities as well as attitudes in different denominations, but I bet some denominations have more guilt and fear than others.

    Answer by pam19 at 1:58 PM on Mar. 16, 2011

  • I am Catholic & I am Very Happy  so are all the other Catholics I know. That's like saying all Italians are in the Mafia or all Irish people are Drunks! Just another dumb assumption in my opinion.


    Answer by ILovemyPaulie at 1:25 PM on Mar. 16, 2011

  • Haha, not all of us are joyless. I think it all comes down to perception - how do you see God? Those with a more vengeful, wrathful version of God tend to have emotions that reflect that. Those who believe in a God of pure love tend to be more at peace and full of love themselves. Or at least, that's been my experience.... ;)

    Answer by bandgeek521 at 3:37 PM on Mar. 16, 2011

  • disagree, it's one thing to be a Christian and another to be a chucrh member....BIG DIFFERENCE some people just go through the motions to put on an act for Sunday morning service, others live their lives as Christians not trying to impress anyone but to live in a way that is pleasing to the Lord

    Answer by josiesmommy00 at 1:31 PM on Mar. 16, 2011

  • In some denominations, suffering on Earth is seen as a road to happiness in eternal life-


    Answer by Sisteract at 4:11 PM on Mar. 16, 2011

  • My thought is the author is pretty joyless-in my experience birds of a feather flock together- if what he has experienced is joyless Christians its because he surrounds himself with joyless people- I consider myself pretty joyful as are the people I surround myself with- I know joyful people of all paths- JMO

    Answer by soyousay at 8:32 PM on Mar. 16, 2011