On Being Christian …

I’d just like to clarify a few things. More and more often, I feel like Christians and Christianity are being disparaged by people who only know Christians by what they hear on the news. Generally speaking, Christians have become poorly represented in the media, and the Internet is full of haters who are only interested in one side of the story.

First of all, I’d like to say that you are free to believe whatever it is you want to believe — whether or not you’re right. And so am I. You don’t have to agree with me, but you do have the obligation as a fellow human being to respect me and my beliefs.  Just as I do you and yours. I know that nothing I say is going to change your mind. Likewise, nothing you say is going to change my mind, either. I know you find this frustrating, but stop calling me names. I’m not stupid, bigoted, ignorant or narrow-minded. I’m just as interested in scientific advancements and racial/gender equality as you are. I’m also not opposed to changing my mind on issues when it becomes obvious that I’m wrong. I don’t hate you because your skin is a different color, and I don’t care who you love as long as you’re not abusing or subjugating anyone.  I love science, and I try really hard to understand both sides of an issue before I make up my mind about which side I want to stand on.

What bothers me the most is that I cannot explain to you the peace and joy I’ve experienced because of my faith. I cannot effectively convey my experiences to you. I’ve tried, and you just smile politely and go away thinking about how quaint I am, and I go away thinking about how sad it is that you can’t feel what I have felt.

I am not and never will be a good apologist for Christianity, but here are a few things — in no particular order — that I think about that you might find interesting and contrary to how you view the Christian faith:

  • Jesus hung around with the people on the fringe — thieves, prostitutes, beggars, lepers, etc. These were the people who needed him the most. He wanted to make their lives better. He didn’t hold their sins against them. He encouraged them, healed them and simply asked them to love one another as they loved themselves and to stop doing the things that were hurting them and those around them. He held in disdain the aristocracy of his time, and they made him the most angry. That’s where the word “hypocrites” came from — they would go to Temple and act one way, but as soon as they walked out the door, they were back to wielding their power against their enemies, the poor and otherwise less fortunate. This still happens, and it wrongfully happens in the name of God. The human race can be so stupid.
  • I believe that God is our creator, which means that he created and loves each and every one of us. Again, it doesn’t matter what color your skin is or whether you’re gay or straight. It’s human beings who have created the biases present in our cultures. Again, we’re supposed to love one another as we love ourselves. We’re not very good at that.
  • When I say that God is our creator, I don’t believe that he sculpted us out of clay and then breathed life in. I believe that somewhere along the way, He set events into motion that allowed the human race to evolve into where we are now. In the process, he gave us free will to make our own choices. He wants us to love him as much as He loves us, but again, we’re not very good at that. That’s why we often abuse our free will and make stupid decisions that hurt people and actually turn people away from Him. Still, He lets us keep our free will because if we don’t come to Him because we want to, what good is it?
  • I don’t believe that The Bible should be taken literally. I believe that the Old Testament was written to explain the universe to us in a way we could understand at the time it was written. Just as we write and read stories to our children to explain the world to them, God gave us only as much as we could understand at the time. God sent Jesus to us to correct the misunderstandings that had become a way of life, and he did away with the ritualistic laws that were instituted by man. Again, he did this by relating to us in a way we could understand at the time — i.e., He spilled His own blood as a final sacrifice so we could feel clean. Before He died, He gave us sacraments that would allow us to renew ourselves in ways that didn’t involve slaughtering animals or our first borns. Jesus was one cool dude. I’m sure you would have liked him. He loves you.
  • I also believe in evolution. Are you surprised by that? I also believe in the Big Bang. Crazy, isn’t it? Believing in either one of these things does not make God impossible. If you understand how evolution works, then you will know that somewhere along the way, a mutation occurred and BAM: humans. Same thing goes for the Big Bang. Forces in the universe came together and what ensued is just too miraculous for me to believe it was a happy accident. It’s OK if you don’t believe this. One of us is wrong and one of us is right — or neither. We’ll probably never know which one of us is right, so let’s just agree to disagree. That way we can enjoy each other’s company without arguing about something that neither one of us can prove.
  • Our universe and everything in it is constructed in such an orderly fashion that I just can’t believe it’s a matter of coincidence. Isn’t it odd that the makeup of a galaxy is so similar to that of an atom? For example, the Golden Ratio can be seen in the measurements of a DNA molecule all the way up to the arrangement of the arms of a spiral galaxy like the Milky Way.
  • Every anti-Christian, agnostic and atheist I know was turned off to faith and religion by a misguided fellow human being who was acting in the name of a faith they didn’t understand. That doesn’t make faith wrong. That makes the human being wrong and far more damaging than someone who has no faith at all.

A final word: If you’re right, and there is no God then, as a Christian, I have lived my life well. Hopefully, I’ve made someone’s life better along the way, and I can die happy knowing that I have tried to live a good life in service to others. However, if I’m right, and God is real, I hope something happens to change your mind. Otherwise, I’m really going to miss you.

 

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4 Responses to On Being Christian …

  1. Randall Goodale says:

    Hi Julie! I really appreciate your comments and hope that others will listen to your intent and not get hung up on some of your points. I too am tired of the negative rant against Christians. But then I remember that Christ was persecuted and he promised the same for us.

    I was wondering if you would be interested in discussing some of your points privately. I have a different view on some of them and wondered if you would be open to discussing them. No problem if you don’t want to or can’t, just thought I would ask.

    Tell Jeff hi and thanks again for your words.

  2. Stiney says:

    Julie, you’re wrong in your last point. You know me, and I’ve been an atheist since I hit my teens. I wasn’t turned off by hypocrisy, or bigotry, or political issues–I realized I was an atheist because none of it made sense to me or for me. I would sit in CCD class or go to mass and itfelt the same as reading about the myths or rituals of any other culture–sometimes it could be interesting, but I just didn’t believe the basic premise, that there was a god who sent his son to die for us. I like some of the things Jesus said, but I think he was a historical figure, and the accounts we have of what we did and didn’t say can only be relied on so far, due to the long years that have passed since now and then, the years that passed between his life and death and the writing of the books that make the New Testament and apocrypha, and the politics that got inserted into the work.

    You also know I try not to paint all Christians with the same brush–there are all kinds, just like there are all kinds of Muslims. But I don’t see much persecution of Christians going on in the US–it’s still by far the dominant religion.

    • Julie says:

      Exception noted, Stiney. It was a mistake on my part to use such an absolute statement on the last point. And while I agree with you that Christians are the most dominant religion in the U.S., there has been a growing trend in the media, especially certain science communities, to highlight individuals who make poor representatives for the Christian faith. I felt that it was important to point out that the majority of Christians don’t fall into the stereotype that is being portrayed (or maybe “displayed” is a better word). Who’s at fault here? The people who perpetuate the stereotype or the people who highlight the people who perpetuate it?

      Regardless, I understand where you are coming from, and I appreciate your comments.

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