Jon Steingard, former lead singer of the Christian band Hawk Nelson, continues to be vocal about faith issues despite his deconstruction. In 2020, the musician announced he no longer believes in God, though he later said he still prays.
Earlier this year, Steingard challenged some statements by John Cooper, frontman of the Christian band Skillet. Cooper is a vocal critic of the deconstruction trend, in which public figures question and often leave the Christian faith.
In a Twitter thread Thursday, Steingard questions the implications of a common evangelical phrase.
Jon Steingard: ‘Better Than I Deserve’ Is ‘An Unhealthy Mantra’
On June 23, Jon Steingard tweets: “When people ask Dave Ramsey how he’s doing, he responds ‘Better than I deserve.’ I used to think this was admirable and healthy humility. I don’t anymore. … Aside from the fact that it’s kind of a weird humblebrag, I think this phrase is actually an unhealthy mantra. It’s rooted in the evangelical idea that each of us is born a sinner, falls short of perfection, and therefore deserves to DIE. Yes this is really taught. To kids.”
The phrase “better than I deserve,” Steingard adds, “teaches people that they do indeed deserve to suffer,” which “has a bunch of really negative effects. For many it teaches them to expect bad things to happen, and that anticipation often becomes manifest in reality. It also opens people up to abuse, manipulation, and harm, because… hey… they’re alive so they deserve even worse.”
For Christians, the fix is to “accept Jesus into your heart” so he’ll take your punishment and experience the pain that’s “literally *your fault,*” Steingard continues. As a result, “It’s easy for this to lead a young believer to think that non-Christians are in some way the enemy, and also that your own body and mind are also in some way the enemy – since they were so sinful that they were deserving of death until Jesus died in their place.”
This leads to “pathological shame” that can take a long time to unlearn, “even after leaving Christianity,” Steingard says. But the alternative, thinking we deserve bad things, feels “both unhealthy to believe and untrue.”
Jon Steingard: ‘We Each Deserve Good Things’
In his thread, Steingard shares, “I think we each deserve good things. Not in some entitled snotty bratty kind of way – but in a very reasonable practical one. … I think you deserve to be loved. You deserve to be safe. You deserve to be heard. You deserve to be connected to other people. You deserve to live a life free of oppression and malice.”
He continues: “I’m not saying you deserve to be rich like Dave Ramsey – you’ll find no prosperity gospel here. I’m not talking about wealth. I’m just talking about the idea Dave models when he says ‘better than I deserve’. I think he’s perpetuating an unhealthy idea without realizing it. It’s my hope that when good things come your way, you’ll let yourself unlearn the knee-jerk reaction of ‘I don’t deserve this’ because maybe – you do. You deserve good things.”