A Culture Of Fear & Guilt

Adventism has a problem. A time-honored problem. A problem that has, at times, been perceived as a solution of sorts.

That problem is that the Adventist church has been cherishing, enabling and relying upon a culture of fear and guilt. It’s acted as a sadly effective (and yet not guaranteed) one-two knockout punch for keeping butts in pews. Especially young butts. It’s also frequently employed to keep people from asking honest and tough questions. It frequently converts free-thinking Adventist young people into mindless GYC clones.

If you’ve been an Adventist for awhile (and especially if you consider yourself an ex-Adventist), you recognize the fists as they are flying toward your face all too well.

The first fist—fear—usually looks something like this: What will happen to me if I don’t…?

The second fist—guilt—usually looks something like this: What will my parents and family think if I…?

Sometimes they blend together and you can’t tell them apart.

These types of thoughts are bluntly or skillfully introduced by Adventists who are afraid of the answers to tough questions, who resist change, who are far too accepting of things that are not okay, who don’t care if young people are feeling lost because they’ve been handed biased maps and who have become comfortable basking in mediocrity.

It’s an attempt to emotionally beat people into submission. It’s time to stop pretending that this is acceptable Christian behavior.

And yet it is the very reason why so many young (and not so young) people find themselves feeling chained to this denomination. They don’t want to be—won’t dare to be—considered “anti-Adventist.”

Fear? Guilt? Don’t let them have any power over you any more. If the Adventist denomination can’t give you a good reason to stay, then what’s the point?

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