The Good News About Biblical Bitterness: A Short Talk

In March I was privileged to speak at the Awaken Network’s conference on abuse. My topic was Biblical bitterness, showing how in the Bible “bitterness” refers to one who has been poisoned and is grieving, and “bitterness” also refers to one who is doing the poisoning. Both are called “bitter,” but only one is sinful.

Megan Cox of Give Her Wings (with whom I also did a recent interview on this subject) said, “This is such good news.” Finding out that the Scriptures teach something different from the heavy burden of guilt and shame that church people often lay on the backs of the oppressed—well, that really is good news.

You can view that talk here:

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Denise
Denise
2 years ago

Thank you for sharing this post and video Rebecca.
It was very helpful to me in understanding the truth concerning the biblical meaning of bitterness.
My former church leaders twisted the meaning and used Heb. 12:15 exactly as you described.
It’s been several years since we left that environment, and I am still processing the mistreatment we received while we were under their “authority”.
It truly is poisonous.
A booklet they hand out to people who come to them for counsel is called : “How to Be Free From Bitterness and other Essays on Christian Relationships.” It is put out by Community Christian Ministries.
It is a collection of essays on various topics such as bitterness, forgiveness, anger, relationships with parents, etc.
I keep the copy which was given to my husband when he was struggling with something, not because I believe the counsel, but to remind me of the philosophies that were embraced by the leadership of that church.

HealingInHim
HealingInHim
2 years ago

Thank you for sharing Rebecca. So many of us have been berated with so-called Scriptural counsel which only causes us to draw away – because we know our Lord and Saviour loves us. He cares for the vulnerable and desires that especially the churched folks reach out and defend us. Protect us.

Cori
Cori
2 years ago

THANK YOU! no where can I find a message of compassion and grace like this on this subject. I have had a great burden that I could NOT understand relieved.

hope
hope
2 years ago

What do you call sin which is usually called bitterness, which would include things such as mulling over injustice or not letting go of a grievance. I struggle with something, whatever it is called, an attitude when I am faced with unresolvable injustice. I have your book Untwisting Scriptures and read the bitterness portions. I have really appreciated how thorough your study and exegesis have been.

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[…] Now, I can’t tell you how firmly I agree with this. All Scripture points to this, and I would draw our attention especially to Hebrews 12:15, which tells us that the “bitter root” (the sociopathic abuser) is to be cast out of the church. (More about that at this blog post, in my first Untwisting Scriptures book, and in this conference talk.) […]

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[…] There is a type of bitterness in Scripture that is a healthy response to trauma, oppression and abuse. We experience it as we plumb the depths of the loss, and the enormity of the wrongs we have experienced, and begin to move toward healing. We feel and express agony, grief and anger, accompanied by a deep cry for justice.1 […]