When God is Love, but God is a Monster

[ Image is a meme I have seen in multiple places, but can’t find credit for. ]

What do you do when you love a monster?

(Cue In Love with a Monster by Fifth Harmony in the background… Zoinks.)

I’ve been struggling so much in the past month… a few things always on my mind, and of course, all of them have to do with God. It doesn’t help that Tyler Glenn’s been dropping a new song every Friday and his album (EXCOMMUNICATION) debuts on October 21. GDMML Girls, Gates, and Midnight all have me wrecked further than I already was.

So unfortunately I’m not feeling irreverent or cheeky today. I wanted to let you all know about the Ex-Religious Resource Directory I’ve been working on; celebrate me realizing that I want to become a social worker to help the ex-religious (it was so exciting); spotlight Tyler Glenn and how incredibly important his songs are to me from one non-heterosexual religion-leaver to another. But this is the post I have to offer you, here, today.

I don’t know what love is. To be completely honest? I don’t think it exists. And if it does, the last thing people should do is trust it.

I used to know what love was. God was love. God was the paragon of true love itself. God was the only person who would EVER love me fully and permanently. That was because God knew how ugly and selfish I was, am, and will be, and he still accepted me anyway. No human, even people who were supposed to love me like my parents, could ever love me like God did, because God was love. In fact, the only reason humans are capable of love is because even while we were still sinners, Christ died for us (Romans 5:8).

Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love. (1 John 4:8)

So we have come to know and to believe the love that God has for us. God is love, and whoever abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him. (1 John 4:16)

I used to know what love was. God was not just love, he was Love. Love died on the cross for me and he died once more every time I sinned. Love shaped me while I was in my mother’s womb, knew me before I was born. Love walked with me beside still waters. Was with me through the valley of the shadow of death. Love restored my soul.

Love was there when I worshipped in a sanctuary steeped in silhouette and melody, the lights dim, my voice up, when singing praise felt as intimate and warm as resting my head in the crook of Love’s neck. Love was there at every single daybreak as the sun, eviscerating light, anointed my bowed head and gilded every holy page. Love was there at every funeral, during every test, through every night I lay awake with seemingly nothing but Love left to live for.

Love was sacred and looming. Love was gentle and furious. Love was more ancient, arcane, terrifying and beautiful than the whales that sang, the winds that whistled, the stars that hummed on frequencies the human ear cannot even fathom, as the whole earth sang for Love’s glory.

God was Love. Love loved me. And I loved him. Love was my everything. Love was the only Love there was, the only Love that mattered, the only Love that could be.

And then I started ninth grade. And I learned that Love…

Love commanded rapists to marry their victims and pay the victims’ fathers.

Love said to stone to death men who slept with men… their blood be upon them.

Love told the Israelites to murder every man, woman, and child of a people who did not worship him… but to keep the virgins for themselves. God killed the entire world because people weren’t good enough for him. 

Love struck a couple dead on the spot for lying to Peter.

Love caused the earth to swallow alive 250 men and their innocent wives, children, and servants… for daring to rebel against Moses.

Love caused a bear to fatally maul teenage boys for making fun of Elisha’s baldness. Talk about not being able to take a joke.

Love (in Jesus Mode) said he did not come to bring peace, but the sword.

Love will ship me off for an eternal dunk in the lake of fire, a place of wailing and gnashing of teeth, where the flame does not cool and the worm does not die, unless I give up everything I am, own, and care for to serve him alone.

And I still love him. And I don’t know what to do with that. Because God was love, but God is a genocidal, slavery-enabling, misogynistic, narcissistic abuser with a taste for blood. And I lived the past few years thinking I no longer loved him… but I do. It should be disgusting, shameful, a betrayal of my self and everything he and his people put me through. But I still love him: God, Love, monster, master, father, husband… the face hovering over dark waters, the blinding light and the rushing wind he has always been.

If that was Love to me so profoundly and completely for so long, then how can I ever trust what “love” is again? Is love even real? If it is, is it good? What is love?

I don’t know. Maybe someday, I will. But right now, I find that… hard to believe. Hard to even want.

Do you know?

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