22 October 2012

Atheists Have It Right

Much of my reader audience is Atheist. I actually like this. And, to be honest, part of the reason is because I've spent some time in a couple of Atheist forums. Ironically, I feel more welcome and at home there. If I do share my thoughts about Jesus in any Christian arena I'm usually shunned or ignored. I'm noticing more and more that most Christians aren't willing to step out of their comfort zones and don't like it when people challenge their ideas they've relied on for years. However, I don't mind being the bad guy.

Lately, I've learned a lot from Atheists and quite honestly, I agree with some of their views. So, I want to write this post for them so they can better understand why Christians say and do what they do.

For all the Atheists out there, it's important you know what's being taught in modern-day Christiandom. So much of what we learn is based solely on fear and performance. Most Christians understand that if you don't believe and do almost everything right, then you clearly don't have a good relationship with God (or you don't know him at all). This causes them to dramatize their beliefs and act in a constant defense mode. But, no matter how hard they try, no one seems to get it right (Rom 3:23-24).

The problem is much deeper than it seems and there's a couple of reasons for it. Most Christians don't view people equally. How can I say this without knowing them? Well, I've been in church long enough to know the difference. Christians claim that all men and women are God's children, but not all people are true family members unless they accept Christ as their Lord (Eph 2:11-22). Simply put, if you're not for them, you're against them (Mat 12:30-32). They see you as the enemy.

Also, if you don't believe in Jesus, then you're not forgiven. I know this doesn't mean much to you, but let me explain. Most Christians believe that everyone is a sinner. If you're a sinner, then you have to be forgiven of your sins; enter Jesus. They understand that you're not washed of your sins unless you believe in Jesus. His sacrificial blood on the cross is what makes us clean (sin has to be cleansed with a blood sacrifice) (Heb 13:11-12). Even though Jesus died for all sin a long time ago, they don't think it applies to people who don't believe (which is not Biblical) (1 Pet 3:18-222 Cor 5:14-15, Col 2:13-15).

However, this viewpoint causes them to immediately judge a person based on their beliefs. They feel safe knowing that as long as they believe in Jesus and continue to do exactly as he says, then they'll be forgiven and saved from eternal damnation (Mat 7:15-20). Otherwise, it sucks to be you.

This thinking limits them so they respond out of fear. Fear judges anyone who doesn't believe in Jesus to hell and it sentences you to be one of Satan's children (John 1:9-13). They're honestly scared because they don't want anyone to go to hell. This also produces religious believers that are very careful to follow all of God's rules and standards so they won't fall out of his good graces. Fear of hell is the driving force behind the modern-day Christian culture. It's also the reason they desperately reach out to others hoping that everyone will adopt their religious belief.

You can test me on this. If you were to ask any Christian what they thought would happen to you, they'd say you're going to burn in the lake of fire. They've decided they know how God will judge you well before you die. However, there's one other problem. They overlook that Jesus explicitly says to never judge anyone or you'll be judged just as harshly (Mat 7:1-5).

Now, Christians will retaliate against me and say something like, "No, Dathan. We don't tell them they're going to hell. We just tell them the truth and what the Bible says." Well, just because you say one thing doesn't mean you don't believe another. Yes, Christians contradict themselves quite often.

On the other hand, from my own experience I've learned that Atheists don't typically judge people as harshly as Christians do. Frankly, Atheists don't judge anyone to hell. It's kind of hard to judge people to hell when you don't believe in it. And, I'm honestly impressed with how Atheists view most people as their equal...even the religious that claim you to be the enemy. Atheists typically accept and love a person no matter what they believe. For the most part, you treat others the way you'd want to be treated (Mat 7:12). And, you don't quickly judge others based on their beliefs. This is a concept unfounded in Christian culture.

I wish more Christians would adopt your perspective on loving others just the same. Instead, we have God-fearing (literally) Christians all over the world trying to save people from certain eternal damnation.

In no way am I trying to convince you to go easy on Christians. I'm also not trying to make excuses for them. If anything, I want you to keep being you and make them uncomfortable. If they attack you or solicit their product, I want you to test their belief system and observe their reaction. I think Christians could learn a thing or two from you about judging others based on beliefs or lifestyle choices. Either way, you'll know Love when you see it.

Jesus said that we will know God's disciples by how they love others (John 13:33-35). And from what I can tell, you do a much better job of loving than Christians do (Gal 5:14). This is why I'd rather hang out with you than the typical church-goer. I resent some of their attitudes and decisions.

Most Christians hate my a** for some of the stuff I say. And, I'm perfectly fine with that.

Back in the day, God's people hated Jesus for bucking the system and for how much time he spent with sinners. Now, it all makes sense. He just couldn't hang out with the religious and he certainly didn't want to be identified as one of them (Mark 2:13-17). Honestly, over time, nothing much has changed (Ecc 1:9-11). Just because someone goes to church or wears a Christian t-shirt doesn't mean they know how to love. I'm proof of that.

I used to view people much the same. I've been in churches all my life and was taught that all people who weren't Christians were pretty much the devil. However, my perspective has changed and I'm unlearning a lot of traditional concepts. I don't judge people based on their beliefs or performance anymore (Gal 5:1-6). You go to church thinking clergy and fellow believers would know more about this Jesus stuff than anyone else, but for the most part they're clueless. They're the ones teaching you who's right or wrong. However, I'm learning more from church what not to do. I'm learning how to treat others from people who don't believe there is a God. And, for this I thank you.

Don't get me wrong. I still believe in this "unicorn" philosophy that Jesus and many of his followers preached. And, I'm still very much an advocate of the Bible. This will never change. However, I want more Christians to see people much the way you do. I don't want them to live in fear or be so judgmental because of what they believe is good or evil. I simply want them to love and be the shining example of what that looks like. I want them to be more like you.

Thanks for setting the example of how to accept everyone just as they are (Col 2:16-23). And, thanks for seeing everyone as your equal and not judging them according to their lifestyle or beliefs (Gal 5:6).


Beth Botwin said...

I think this is really thought provoking, Dathan. It's interesting to see what Christians read it and then think it over and which Christians immediately fight you. I see you got trolled big time on Facebook.

Also, I like the first picture you posted. :)

John Galyon said...

Echoing several points in your post, i think the hardest bridge for me to cross with religion (not just christianity) is that quite a lot of the followers of any of the major religions spend a lot more time dwelling on what makes people different instead of on what makes them similar.

For example, before I got married, I recall several friends telling me that once I did I'd "understand why gays marrying would cheapen my marriage" and I guess I was supposed to suddenly not be okay with it. I'm still waiting for that to happen. I guess it's the Libertarian in me, but I just can't be bothered by people doing things for themselves that don't have a direct negative impact on my own life.

I guess I just don't have the lust for control that it seems some religious types have. I can't imagine burning witches, for example.

Dathan Ellis said...

Beth, it makes so much sense now why Jesus did what he did! Once the weeds are gone, there's nowhere to hide.

John, I couldn't agree more. Religion always tries to separate people into categories. Essentially saying, "You belong here and you belong there." However, the real truth is that we're all so much the same that there is no real separation. There's no need for control when you see everyone as no different than yourself.