If you’ve been around the IFB long enough, you’ll quickly realize that the phrase “you’re just bitter” or anyone of it’s variations is typically the IFBer’s first line of defense against logic and reason.
I’ve noticed this more and more over the years that I’ve been away from the IFB and I’m not sure if it’s just because I’m more engaged in debate and discussions about the issues or if it is being preached more in the IFB culture. It was certainly taught in the churches I was in growing up. If you have any type of emotion other than happy you were at risk of being labeled as bitter.
It seems that “your just bitter” (citing Hebrews 12:15) has become the manipulation of choice for the IFBer who doesn’t’ like what a person has to say especially if it’s a commentary against the IFB or against it’s dogma. According to the IFB, all those who would oppose the IFB are deemed bitter and not worth their time. Just read through the comments by those who visit and try to oppose the messages of this site and it won’t take you long to read the “your bitter” argument.
This is what philosophers call an ad hominem fallacy. It’s an argument directed at a person or a personal attack rather than a logical response to the idea itself. Instead of asking if I’m bitter, most will assume and judge in classic IFB style and end of story. Nothing more is said. I’m cast aside and my ideas and beliefs hand waved. Noses are turned up in snobbish holier-than-though attitude with no desire to continue the discussion or to expose themselves to such heresy.
People mistake what I and others like me are doing as bitterness when it really isn’t. I would say we are more like the Bereans of Acts 17 who are studying the scriptures to see if what they are being taught is true. Unfortunately we have discovered that much of what’s taught in IFB circles isn’t true. Luckily, unlike the Bereans, we have a much larger platform with which to voice our disgust and disagreement.
I will not lie, I am angry about what the IFB is doing, but I’m not bitter. Anger is a normal response to such injustice and danger. Even Jesus got angry at the money changers in the temple of his day (See Matthew 21, John 2). Just the same, I’m angry at the abuse and manipulation that happens in IFB churches around the world. I’m angry that people are being hurt and turned away from God and Christianity because of the teachings, beliefs and man made traditions of this cult like denomination. I’m angry, but I’m not bitter.
Even if I were bitter so what? Bitterness is a normal emotion and is not a sin. The IFB would like us to believe it is a sin. There’s even a website (http://www.greatbiblestudy.com/bitterness.php) that teaches that women who are raped and have trouble healing and getting closure from the trauma have trouble because they have bitterness. This is pure emotional abuse. The site goes on to also say that boys who have been abused by men and have trouble with healing and trouble with sexual identity (homosexual thoughts) are that way because of bitterness and an inability to forgive. I’m appalled at what I read on this site. How ridiculous and harmful – and unscriptural!!!
There is not one verse in the Bible that calls bitterness a sin. Ephesians warns that bitterness can lead to devastating consequences if left unchecked (see Ephesians 4), but nowhere in the Bible does it call bitterness a sin. In fact, we read in Isaiah 38 that Hezekiah was thankful for his bitterness because it helped him recognize the good that came from his painful experience.
Bitterness can actually be a good thing if we let it motivate us to do things differently. Just like this site, I use the bitterness I once had to motivate me to study the scriptures and use logic and reason to deduce the errors of the IFB. Now, no longer bitter, I can thank God for the good that came of my situation. I am now truly saved and have a much closer relationship with God because it is founded on truth and not the teachings of the IFB.
Finally, we must remember that bitterness and forgiveness are not necessarily opposites. It is not necessarily true that one hasn’t forgiven if one is bitter. And forgiveness doesn’t mean that the bitterness will automatically end. These are two separate issues and the Bible doesn’t say that if you forgive you will not have bitterness and vise versa. The IFB teaches this, but it’s not in the bible – at least I can’t find it anywhere in the Bible.