Being a germaphobe doesn’t always mean you’re afraid to leave the house without a bubble suit. Sometimes it means you don’t have time to get a bedridden illness, sometimes it means you rather keep your bodily fluids to yourself, and sometimes it just means you like to pretend cleanliness is actually next to godliness.
When you're both a Christian and a germaphobe, sometimes it seems like the church is actually trying to kill you instead of save you.
Tithing with greasy hands
Passing the plate in church is essential not only for the church but also for our personal lives. God’s in control of our income—even the gooey penny stuck to a gum wrapper on the bottom of your purse—and we should ideally give with joyful hearts. But it’s hard to do that when you're freaked out by germs. Here’s the thing: the actual action of tithing isn’t what turns your joyful heart into a disgusted guff. It’s actually the plastic bucket covered in greasy fingerprints coming right towards you that steals away your “joyfulness”.
Church suddenly warps into a disfigured scene from the Twilight Zone as dozens of thoughts flash through your mind: Are those unwashed McDonald greasy hand marks? Maybe those smears are actually remains of snot or other bodily fluids? How many germs, bacterias, and viruses are leached onto the dollars and coins we pull out, which are now probably oozing on the sides of the offering bucket? How many hands touch these buckets every week anyway? Does the church even wash them?
When you finally come to the conclusion of how unsanitary the church is, you lean back with folded arms and hope the person next to you is willing to stretch over your closed off body to pass the bucket to the next person over. Or you might choose to grab the bucket with your palms before passing it along, and then heavily dousing your hands with strong scented coconut hand sanitizer.
Communion is a death trap
Every church has their own unique way of doing communion. Some churches have it once a month, others might do it every other week, and some always have it available to whoever wants to take part. All of that is understandable since each person is on their own spiritual journey, therefore, it’s not when the church has communion that’s the issue. It’s how the church does communion that might send some germ haters into an early grave. These ways can vary from breaking out in a slight sweat to a full-blown heart attack.
The most common way to pass out the little cups of grape juice and oyster saltine crackers is with the round trays that we commonly see in the church. Each tiny cup is in its own slot, which is fantastic, but the crackers—oh the crackers—are all piled together with no individuality. When the tray is handed to you, there are typically two thoughts that cross your mind: how many dirty hands touched this tray and how many of those hands have spread their germs into the crackers? Let’s face it. People don’t typically take care when they put their disgusting hand in a tray full of food. They might filter their fingers through until they settle on that one perfect cracker.
So what do you do? You carefully pick the cracker on the edge that might not be as contaminated at the ones in the middle of the pile, and then you pray over that cracker with everything left in you before you have to pray again for communion. Before you know it, your communion prayer sounds something like this: “Lord, don’t let me get sick and I’ll be a better person this week.” This is the kind of situation that might break a sweat in someone.
But there’s much worse than people grabbing a cracker from the same bowl.
There’s the kind of communion where there’s only one loaf of bread and one cup of juice provided for the sea of people. Any germaphobe will know where this terrible idea is headed and I can feel the panic rising already. That’s right. When this kind of communion takes place, the entire church is expected to tear off a piece of bread and take turns sipping from the same cup. This is actually enough to make any sensible person squirm in disgust and could be the biggest death trap a church can set. Come on, who wants to potentially drink after someone with ebola or some other weird disease?
Hands from hell
Perhaps the worst part about being a germaphobe and being a Christian is having to greet people at church—physically—on the daily. You know what I mean. The church likes to think it’s a brilliant idea to “turn around and shake someone’s hand” every. Single. Service. And on rare occasions, we are even asked to hug the person next to us.
There’s always that first initial and awkward moment when you turn around and eye the person you're about to make physical contact with. During those crucial few seconds before extending your hand with hesitance, you quickly assess how filthy their hands might be. But not without making brash judgments first: They don't look like the kind of person who washes their hands after using the bathroom. They probably didn’t bother to use hand sanitizer after opening the door this morning. They seem like the type that can go to Disney and not wash their hands before they eat.
And then you are reminded not to judge and guilt fizzles at your gut like acid, so you willingly shake the person’s hand and try not to think about it. Meanwhile, you can’t help but imagine the germs crawling on your hands and hoping church will end early so you can submerge and scrub them in hot soapy water.
Things that sniffle and yack
Let’s just get something straight. Why do people attend church when they are sick? Everyone knows that most churches offer online services, so instead of infecting everyone, stay home and watch service WITH your germs. Alas, people will still be inconsiderate and drag their wheezing lungs and runny noses to church come Sunday morning. To make matters worse, these sick individuals never seem to cover their mouths—EVER.
This is a skin-crawling trigger for germ haters.
You can see it all so clearly: Worship begins and you feel the Lord’s presence and then the sermon begins and you are “amen-ing” and feeling the feels. But then you hear a shuttering barky, wet cough followed by a whoosh of air on your neck. And it occurs to you that you don’t remember there being an air conditioner blowing warm air behind you. Then you make the connection. Your eyes widen, heart pounds in your chest, you start to feel heated, and then you take a deep gasp of air because you realize you've been holding your breath the entire time. That’s when you facepalm your face, realizing you probably just sucked in some weird virus swarming around you. By the time you finally get your mind to stop freaking out, the sermon is over and you've missed the last half of the message.