Searching For God In Religion: Day 5 of 6


Your Words Betray You

-Susan Cottrell

“If you claim to be religious but don’t control your tongue, you are fooling yourself, and your religion is worthless.” James 1:26. 

YOU get a car, YOU get a car, YOU get a car…” I would love to be able to say along with Oprah. What joy and life that kind of blessing imparts!

But, “YOU’RE going to hell, YOU’RE going to hell, YOU’RE going to hell…” I would never say to anybody, for any reason. What pain and death that kind of cursing imparts.

I have received many lovely affirmations in my advocacy work, from the kindest, most beautiful people over the years. “Thank you for everything you do. Your labor is not in vain. You are impacting lives and changing hearts.” “One word comes to my mind about you: brave. I wish I could be half as brave as you.” “So thankful for you for standing up and reaching out like you do—you help me be a letter mom to my amazing gay daughter.”

Who couldn’t use words like that? I tell you, that’s about as good as Oprah saying, “YOU get a car!” And yes, I printed out these and other affirmations and put them in my journal to encourage myself.

I encourage YOU TOO to own these sweet words… for whatever ways you have stood up, been brave, changed lives—even your own! You deserve much more encouragement than you’ve gotten, I have no doubt about it! Take it and let it be yours.

But I have gotten my fair share of hatred too. “Cottrell is a straightup heretic and an enemy of the Church. She is not only supporting sin herself but encouraging it in others. If you want to justify sin, feel free to do so, but don’t put words in God's mouth. May God in His rich mercy rescue you Susan before it is too late.” This person is paralyzed by fear—the words are simply untrue.


The license people give themselves to speak like this to others! Good heavens! And it is invariably religious people who speak like this. But, to repeat James, religious people who but don’t control their tongue are fooling themselves with their worthless religion.

Now Beloved, let me tell you something:

YOU TOO may have received vile words… and I invite you to lay them right here and let them go. They don’t belong to you and they never did. You get to reject ANYTHING that doesn’t make you feel good about yourself. AND YOU CAN TELL THEM I SAID SO!

Words have power. The words we speak carry great responsibility. Those who claim to be religious—those who claim to speak for God—need to be most careful how they speak. Not least. Most.

Don’t be fooled by the worthless religion of those who don’t control their tongue. Instead, take the words that encourage you and own them. And let the rest go.

You do you. I’ll do Oprah. “YOU get a blessing, YOU get a blessing, YOU get a blessing…”


Susan Cottrell is the prominent voice for faith parents of LGBTQI children. She is an international speaker, author and spiritual director. Through her nonprofit organization—FreedHearts—Susan champions the LGBTQI community and families with her characteristic tender-heartedness, and she zealously challenges Christians who reject them with her wise insistence that love—of God and others—is the foundation of faith. She spent 25 years in the non-affirming Evangelical church, is the Founder and President of FreedHearts, has a Master of Arts in Theological Studies, served as the Vice-President of PFLAG Austin (Texas), and was featured on ABC's 20/20, Nightline and Good Morning America. Her books “Mom, I’m Gay”—Loving Your LGBTQ Child and Strengthening Your Faith (published by Westminster John Knox Press), and True Colors - Celebrating the Truth and Beauty of the Real You, have been endorsed by The Human Rights Campaign, PFLAG, The Gay Christian Network and many others. She and her husband Rob have been married for 30 years, have five children, two of whom are in the LGBTQI community, and live in Austin, Texas.