Saturday, May 17, 2008

Where's the love?

I don't believe you. I don't believe Christians. If the stakes are truly as high as you say they are, if I and millions - billions even - of human souls are going to be punished for all eternity, why are you Christians (especially the moderate ones who exist peacefully in our society) so complacent and noncommittal about it?

It should go without saying that I prefer these kinds of Christians. I don't like getting hassled (although I do enjoy a good argument/debate) and I certainly don't like getting blown up, but if you think about it, their actions are not really in line with their beliefs.

I know quite a large number of Christians. In fact, I can only think of a handful of friends and relatives and people in my life that are specifically not Christian or religious in some way. To those who are "just spiritual but not religious," I have to wonder - why bother? As Pat Condell puts it (in reference to Buddhism), it's like a prison without walls.

But for everyone else who is a Christian, why aren't you on the front lines of the culture war? Why aren't you holding protests in front of abortion clinics and gay bars and opposing every shred of legislation that offends your god? Why aren't you at my door each and every day, bombarding me with email and flooding my mailbox with letters telling me how to get into heaven? Do you not love me? Don't you care about me?

I appreciate your restraint in conversations - I really do! I am glad that we can talk about the weather and movies and TV and books. I'm glad that we can avoid talking about the elephant in the room. I'm not so glad that you see me going to hell to be tortured and tormented for eternity and don't bother bringing it up for fear that it will offend me or jeopardize our relationship. This life is just a crumb, a drop in the bucket, a drop in the ocean of the experience of life - surely the souls of me and all our fellow man are worth fighting for. Even if this entire life is wasted, even if you don't have a job and have to live on the streets, subsisting on discarded sandwiches and garbage from restaurants, isn't that a small price to pay? In the grand scheme of things, you probably won't even remember this life! Think of the pain you suffered as an infant - all those earaches and teething pains and diaper rash and general frustration... you remember that, don't you? You don't? Well, I'm willing to bet that after just 300 short earth-years in the presence of God, you'll forget all about the embarrassment and pain you feel when you're doing the Lord's work.

So why don't you spend more time witnessing? I'm not just referring to the wealthy Christians, the big-box preachers with large incomes - I mean anyone who is living comfortably is wasting their money on junk. Give to the poor! Go and witness to the lost in Africa and China! Leave your jobs and take only what you need to keep spreading the Gospel. That is what Jesus means when he says that it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven.

Do you think that at the end of the day (and it's a pretty short day, isn't it?) God will look at your life and say - 'Good job on that great career and new car. I'm glad you spent all that time picking out curtains and china.' I'm betting that he would be far more likely to say - 'Because you wasted all that time I gave you and spent all your money on junk, I am going to torture three thousand souls for all eternity. Hope you're happy! The chapel is over there, the buffet's there - now piss off!'

Actually, I don't think God will say that at all, since I'm pretty sure he doesn't even exist. And I don't think that you do either. If you do think he exists, you haven't thought it through all the way. In fact, I know you haven't thought it through, because if you had, you'd be just like Pat Robertson or John Hagee or Osama Bin Laden. Those assholes have the fire of conviction in their eyes. They truly believe in what they are doing, and their faith in god makes your faith look like a magic 8-ball.

On the surface, where belief is convenient and easy, you accept Jesus as your personal savior. On the surface you think that god loves you, loves the little children of the world, loves the sinner but hates the sin. But you aren't willing to take that belief any deeper in case it's wrong. Lurking just under the thin veneer of your belief is doubt that there is any kind of afterlife. Because it would be just tragic if you were to waste your one chance under the sun on something foolish.

So here you are, between beliefs, teetering on the edge of reason. You have accepted a fool's wager that there is a god and you should be on his side when the cards are down. But that god, who you so readily believe will torment and torture me-us- your friends, will probably not appreciate the time you spent on yourself. And how can you even want to live like that? What kind of sick dementia makes you love this kind of character?

Your affections are not mine to judge, I suppose. But you should think about it. Pick a side. If there is a god, then he needs you to devote your life - all of it, all your money, all your time - to spreading his Gospel message. He told you so, he explicitly commanded this of you and I can't imagine that he would be pleased with anything less. He died, gave his life for you! Didn't that insane splatter film The Passion of the Christ teach you anything? If he can do that for you, can't you at least sell your possessions and give the money to the poor?

If you aren't willing to do that, then congratulations - you're really an atheist at heart. Toss your bible into the trash or file it next to the Iliad. Before you do, though, read a little bit of it and you'll see what a fantastic villain god is!

1 comment:

a said...

Hello Nathaniel. First off, I bet you do enjoy being hassled by Christians. Why else would you be so obsessed with Christianity and the God of the Bible? You enjoy interacting with Christians in order to ridicule them and blaspheme all that they might hold dear. Typically, the most fervent atheists are primarily anti-Christian, not just lacking a belief in a God. And those fervent atheists certainly are not anti-Semitist or anti-Muslim, nor would they go out of their way to offend someone of a non-Christian faith.

Why try to convert you? People already have tried. People who love you the most have poured their lives into you. You have heard it all. You know what I am going to say and have said. You know the Biblical answers for the reason of the Faith that is in me. Why would I cast my pearls before swine? If you have already rejected Christianity in its entirety, then why are you still fussing about your decision?

It looks to me like you have a nagging doubt about your apostasy, and that doubt continues to gnaw at your mind and conscience. That’s because you know the truth, deep down. You know that all along, you already have the “proof” that you need. Why do you feel guilt? Why do you fear death? Human beings are more than just flesh and bone. You know this, deep down. You suppress the truth in ungodliness. You would worship and serve the creature instead of the Creator.

Why does it bother you that some (or even most) professing Christians are hypocrites? Is there a universal moral law being broken? Does their lukewarm behavior disgust you? Are you vying for God’s own cause? Leave their judgment to God. It is because of that inconsistency in their behavior that people like you blaspheme. But what of it? Like I said, God will sort them out.

Someone in your position has been given much, who has grown up in Christianity, and has a father who loves God. More will be required of you than of someone who rejects the Gospel only once. For you reject it continually, in every way that you can think of, despite knowing the truth which you suppress.

To someone like you, who knows the Gospel and has professed Christianity for a time, and then rejects it, the only thing you can be sure of is a fearful expectation of judgment. It will be terrible for you, especially if you lead any other helpless person astray.

God had every right to send me to Hell for eternity. He had every right to let me curse Him all my days in this life, and finally, to let me die and enter the judgment that awaits me. Thankfully, He has chosen to save me from that fate through no desire or merit of my own. I have nothing to offer Him. My “good deeds” or penances would be no better than offering Him my used toilet paper instead. I have nothing to brag about here, and nothing that could possibly recommend myself to Him. If you come to God, you come to Him empty-handed in obedience to His Gospel command to believe in the Lord Jesus and be saved.

Those who take this seriously will take His yoke upon themselves, and it will not be burdensome to them because of their love of Him. From the discrimination and mocking and humiliations in this life for His sake, even to death, all of the work for His cause is a light burden, and not, as you portray Christian service, as an impossible servitude to an unloving dictator.

Consider the parable of the Ten Talents (Luke 19). “Then another came, saying ‘Master, here is your mina, which I have kept put away in a handkerchief. For I feared you, because you are an austere man. You collect what you did not deposit, and reap what you did not sow.’ And he said to him, ‘Out of your own mouth I will judge you, you wicked servant…”