I kissed a girl...and went to hell [bad.hack]

A bad.hack (read more about it here) is a manipulation of a Christian system either using illicit means to achieve an end, or achieving goals that leave the system worse off and less open than before. Read on for the hack!

Church signs are a favorite pastime of mine. Back in college we were to go on a church sign scavenger hunt, which was pretty easy in Oklahoma City! I enjoyed how churches do pop-culture twists or wordplays (this church is prayer-conditioned) to condolences to Packers fans (God will never leave you for the Jets). In fact, one of my favorite blogs is called "crummy church signs" which collects the bad and snarky ones. Check it out.

But in multiple places on the net, this sign is getting some attention:

(thanks to Matt Algren for the better picture)

Read on for more and how when we use limited space to condemn people, we forget to include the love of Christ.

In case you can't read it, the sign says: "I kissed a girl and I liked it...then I went to hell"

The reference is the song "I kissed a girl and liked it" by a female singer Katy Perry. It is obviously referencing some church's belief that gay behavior is sinful. While it is in the same genre of pop-culture intersections that the church signs attempt to achieve, I'm pretty sure this is a bad.hack.

Sure, it is the church's privilege to put whatever they want on a church sign, but I don't see how this fits with their expressed mission.  If we plug their vision statement into Wordle, here's what we get (click to enlarge)
If the biggest words in their mission are "People" "Want" and "Love", then how is this church sign expressing the love that people want?

As Church Marketing Sucks comments:
Dave Allison, pastor of Havens Corners, thinks the sign is a "loving warning to teens." He told The Columbus Dispatch that "The Scriptures tell us that you should not do what the song tells you to do. The Scriptures are not ambiguous on this issue."

It appears that Dave is forgetting that the Scriptures are also not ambiguous on how you're supposed to treat people. Last time I checked, there were more references in the Bible on how to love your neighbor than on how not to love them.
While the church sign has been replaced, one person who emailed in to complain got a response from the pastor.
I wanted to let you know that the sign has been changed. After
prayerful deliberation over whether or not to change it, it seemed
like there were too many questions over what the sign even meant.
Those who were unfamiliar with the song were at a loss to understand
even if they agreed. Also, some of you wrote thoughtful e-mails
rightly pointing out that the message and our church could easily be
misunderstood. There was no room on the sign to talk about love and
forgiveness, simply the consequence.

Pastor Dave
I think the church has learned a valuable lesson which we can learn too.

  • In what missions and ministries is your church too focused on condemnation to have room for sharing the love of Christ?
  • In the choices of how you present the "face" of the church, is it mostly focused on condemnation or riling against society rather than reaching out to it?
Church signs are often the only thing I know about a church. The letter to the editor, the coaching attitude of a parishioner, the sermons found on the internet...are all often the only thing people know about a church.

  • In what ways are preaching the consequences (or condemnation) defining your church more than that they seek to share the love of Christ?
Thoughts? Welcome to our visitors!


carolynsinger September 8, 2008 at 12:42 AM  

The really silly part is that the song in question actually agrees with their views, treating lesbian tendencies as a choice. That song treats sexuality (particularly adolescent sexuality) as something to be played with rather than taken seriously and treated with respect, probably not a message they want to be sending to teens. Their sign is all kinds of messed up... I question the wisdom and forethought of a pastor who doesn't even listen to the entire song he imitates before making such a bold PR statement. I also challenge the use of condemnation to hell on such a public venue: as you pointed out, it totally goes against the church's mission of giving love. Perhaps the entire church needs some soul-searching regarding the (wait for it...)

Integration of Theology and Practice.

Anonymous,  September 8, 2008 at 6:01 AM  

Homosexuality is a sin, just like lying, stealing, murder (there is more). All the pastor did was tell the truth. This is America; we do have freedom of speech I though, or is freedom of speech only for Non-Christians.


Rev. Jeremy Smith September 8, 2008 at 9:01 AM  

“Freedom of speech” does not mean speech should be devoid of responsibility. Therefore, evaluation and critique of a church's public face is exactly what we do here at HX.net

The Thief October 26, 2009 at 1:16 PM  

This church has always shown their true colors through their church sign. sigh.

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