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Jesus As Number One

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One thing I’be been thinking about lately is the importance of Jesus in the lives of Christians. Nothing else comes close to their dedication to him. Not their love for their families or respect for others, nothing. This post on Ruth Hadock’s blog really brought it home for me. I had a similar experience growing up.  I remember singing worship songs at church that have pretty full on lyrics. I used to sing them with all my heart:

“All I am is yours,”

“Every breath I take I breathe for you”

“Everything I am for your kingdom’s cause”

Now I cringe whenever my parents play songs like this at home. When I was becoming an atheist, it was a harsh realisation when I understood that my parents loved God more than they loved me. I wonder if they would go as far as their beloved Abraham did, sacrificing their own child on His command.

In church a few months ago, one of the speakers was talking about the death of his non-Christian father. When he found out his dad had only a couple of weeks left to live, he went straight to the hospital and started preaching to his dying father. His father did not want to hear it, so much so that he spent his last days with his lawyer, taking his son out of his will.

Some Christians seem to lose all sense of human decency and respect for others when it comes to proselytising. Instead of spending the precious last moments having quality time with his father, he ruined the entire relationship. All for the sake of Jesus.

Matthew 10:34 -37 jumps to my mind:

“Do not suppose that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I did not come to bring peace, but a sword. For I have come to turn a man against his father, a daughter against her mother, a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law—a man’s enemies will be the members of his own household. Anyone who loves their father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; anyone who loves their son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me.”

I had a really uncomfortable and slightly upsetting experience at church this week (my parents make me go, even when I’m hungover like I was this week. Lol.) I’m moving away to go to university in a couple of weeks, and this same church speaker who preached to his dying father, wanted the whole congregation to pray for me. Now, this guy is a pretty close to my family. He knows I don’t believe Christianity. He knows that I don’t want anything to with the Christian God. Yet he called me up on stage to be prayed for. I said no. So he came down the aisle, put his hand on my shoulder and said a massive long prayer. It took all I had in me not to walk out. I was sitting next to my grandma (who still doesn’t know I’m an atheist) which made it even harder. Everyone in the church had their head bowed in prayer for me, while I sat there staring straight ahead, fuming. It was completely humiliating. I’m an atheist! Don’t fucking pray for me in front of a couple hundred people! He even prayed that God would help me through my questioning. It felt so patronising! Your God isn’t real, dickhead.

The guy even thanked God for my passion for law and that he would help me in pursuing it. I’m not even studying law. Thanks for getting to know me. (I only got accepted for law at shitty, small universities, so I’m doing International Studies instead. Which I’m totally cool with. Lot less debt.) As my boyfriend said after the service: “You’re not passionate about law, you’re passionate about what’s right and wrong.” Damn straight. And Christianity is bloody wrong. Especially when some Christians forget the “love your neighbour” verses in favour of the afore mentioned ones.

I fully understand that this guy honestly believes that enough prayer will save my soul. I know he means well. But please, have some respect for other people and their right to peacefully disbelieve without being put-on-the-spot unwillingly in front of so many people who are so disappointed in me.

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Just Saying: This post is more about venting than any logical objections to Christianity. Sorry if you don’t like swear words. Also, I understand that not all Christians are like this guy. It just made me a bit cross and upset and I need to let it out.

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About Ellen Rose

Blogger curious about how travel helps us to lead more meaningful lives.

10 responses »

  1. Hello! Ruth Haydock here 🙂 thanks for linking to my blog!
    your experience at church sounds horrendous – I am happy for you that soon you will be at university and you will be able to be who you want to be. Also it makes me angry that the pastor forced prayer on you like that! Well done for saying no.
    Hopefully your parents will be able to one day respect your choice not to believe and will stop expecting you to go to church

    Reply
    • criticofchristianity

      Hi! Thank you for such a great post!
      Yeah it was pretty awful, I cannot wait to move away.
      Saying no didn’t stop him from praying for me though. Grrr.
      Thank you so much! Dad just says that church is a family thing that we do together and if I refuse to be part of the family then he won’t support me financially. Which would mean no University. But only two weeks left now! Yay! 🙂

      Reply
  2. You showed incredible restraint, when the pastor was doing everything to publicly shame you into changing your mind.
    I’m pretty sure my mother reads Matthew 10:34-37 and feels justified that her faith pushed me out of her life; that she did the right thing by rejecting me. Christianity is dehumanizing, telling us to hate when we should love.

    Reply
    • criticofchristianity

      Oh no, that’s sad about your mother. I hope one day she realises that love is more important than God. Yeah, it really is so horrible, it breaks families apart and gives people justification for hating others. Thank you for commenting.

      Reply
  3. I’m sorry you had that experience. Please don’t let a pigheaded pastor pull you away from the love of God. Proselytizing gets a bad rap but it’s actually a good thing. I feel badly about human slavery. I am passionate in ending it. Therefore I will do everything in my power to convince others to end it. That’s proselytizing. I’m a Yankee fan. I love to argue with Red Sox fans. That’s not. The difference? I’m not trying to truly convince that Red Sox fan to become a Yankee fan. I’m just trying to make my team and myself look better. Too often Christians are engaging in the latter while thinking they are doing the former. Yelling at someone’s dad on his deathbed isn’t proselytizing, it is ticking off a spiritual to do list. (And probably referring back to it later to show how persecuted he has been) Using prayer and a (literal) bully pulpit to embarrass someone is neither proselytizing or Christianity. I’m almost sorry you didn’t walk out on him. It might have given him, and your parents, a lesson it sounds like they need.
    Kudos for you on your passion for what’s right and wrong. More kudos on going in to International Studies. I have this great cause I’d love to see you use that passion and experience to join. (And yes, that is me proselytizing) 😉

    Reply
    • criticofchristianity

      Thanks for commenting! Yeah, there’s a quote from Penn Jillette that sums up my thoughts on proselytising: “how much do you have to hate somebody to not proselytise? How much do you have to hate somebody to believe everlasting life is possible and not tell them that?”

      I have huge respect for Christians that are brave enough to share the gospel, but as you say, they need to be doing it for the right reasons, and with respect.

      Yeah I was completely torn! Looking back now I think maybe I should have walked out, but with only a couple of weeks before I leave it probably wouldn’t have been worth all the drama and disappointment it would have caused.

      Thanks for the encouragement! 🙂
      What’s your great cause?

      Reply
      • Wow that was a rough experience in Church no doubt. Yet another showing of the fact that we Christians are far far far far….far from perfect. I think BJ is right on a lot, but I disagree that yelling at your dad on his deathbed is a spiritual check mark. I think the son was probably preaching to the dad out of love/fear. Love because he no doubt loves His father and wants to be with Him in heaven. Fear because he doesn’t want to lose his father so he tries to force his father to agree and accept God.

        Your parents are probably suffering from the same fear which causes them to not act in love and therefore piss you off. From the Biblical perspective (or my Biblical perspective) they should really just be treating you with love, respect, and be praying and hoping for you to understand what they feel and believe in God again. Kinda like the father of the prodigal son in Luke chapter…15 I think it is. But let’s face it, you have put them in a tough situation and they have put you in a tough situation. Just try and understand that they probably do these things that hurt you because they love you and they are scared.

      • criticofchristianity

        Yeah, if you believe non-Christians are going to Hell, you would have a moral obligation to do everything you can to encourage them to accept Jesus. When I was a Christian I felt terrified for the eternal futures of my non-Christian friends. It’s just hard when that feeling conflicts with showing them true respect and love.

        I do agree with what BJ said; some Christians do have a sort of spiritual checklist – they just do things for appearances or self satisfaction when ignoring God’s actual desires for them. But in this particular situation it may have been an act of sincere concern, fear and love. It’s impossible to know someone’s motivations.

        Yeah, I feel awful for putting my parents through all of this. I never wanted to hurt them or become a disappointment. But oh well, it couldn’t have been avoided.

      • You are right many people do have a “Christian Check List.” I just like to think that – since it was the man’s father – he wasn’t following a “Christian Check List” but rather was succumbing to the fear of losing his father for ever, but bottom line a lot of us Christians can be real obtuse. I think from the Christian mindset there just needs to be a balance. Christians are supposed to be peacemakers and love people etc. like Jesus did. However, the Christian faith is offensive and Jesus offended many people. So, I think from a Christian perspective it just requires a balance so that you don’t take it too far in either direction.

      • criticofchristianity

        Well said. There are some pretty extreme people in the Bible though, so people probably think they’re doing the right thing when they really aren’t.

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