If you know someone who is wrestling with whether or not to follow Christ or believe in God anymore and want to ensure that they never do again, then here’s the best way I know of to take the sickly beast that is his/her faith, tie it to a tree, and shoot it in the head:
Stop being their friend.
Don’t call. Don’t keep in touch. Don’t talk to them. Treat them like a stranger.
I write this out of painful experience. I once confided in a close friend that I was very close to not wanting to be a Christian anymore. At the time, I didn’t see any reason to see Christianity as valid when so many of its non-adherents were good people who would still end up going to hell for not holding to the proper set of beliefs–especially when so many other Christians I knew were absolute a**holes.
They listened. They asked questions. I answered them. We parted ways … and I never heard from them again. They didn’t call or text anymore. Even when we were together in the same social group, they were different toward me. They were cordial, but there was something in their demeanor that told me they were keeping me at arm’s length.
For a long time, I couldn’t figure out how things changed–until I realized that this only happened after I confessed my doubts. That’s when I realized that the good friendship I thought I shared with this person was based only on how good of a Christian they believed me to be.
And once it seemed clear that I wasn’t up to their spiritual standards, I no longer met their pre-requisites for friendship, either.
That period was hard enough. It’s not an easy thing to consider abandoning the faith that has defined so much of your life, that you have held with love and perseverance since you were a child. Trust me when I say that it only gets harder when the people you love and respect suddenly abandon you for having the audacity to be honest about where you are in life.
So if this story reminds you of anyone you know, take my advice: don’t treat them any differently. Don’t cut them out of your life.
In addition to pushing them away, you may end up pushing them away from God, too.
Nancy: “Well, that was funny and awkward.” [pause] “You know what would’ve been the best comeback ever just now?”
Me: “That’s what she said?”
Nancy: “No. It would have been, ‘Your face is funny and awkward!'”
Me: “That would’ve been a great comeback … for a five-year-old.”
Nancy: “You’re five.”
For the first time ever, I’m observing Lent.
I don’t remember why I haven’t done so in recent years. If you had asked me as a teenager why I didn’t observe it, I might have responded by saying that Lent was a Catholic thing, and at that time, I didn’t think Catholics were actual Christians. They were the “religion” to my Protestant “relationship.” (Yes, that awful dichotomy was once held by yours truly.)
As I’ve grown up and my views toward Catholics have changed considerably, I’ve had an interest each year in participating in Lent but always forgot when it started. By the time I remembered, it was already too late to join.
Not so this year.
I’ll be ditching X, but of course, the point of all of this isn’t to give something up. After all, we could give up caffeine or chocolate or meat or whatever at any point in the year. We don’t need the church to put ashes on our heads before we can do that.
We do it now, though, in the shadow of the Resurrection (something that we’d also do well to observe throughout the year). In Jesus, we see the overthrow of death. We see hints of a new creation. We catch a glimpse of what heaven is going to be like and, in so doing, find that we ourselves become more heavenly in the process.
So if you want, feel free to drop your suggestions on how best to do Lent. What are you giving up this year? Any helpful tips for us newbies?
In his work On First Principles, Origen seems to argue exactly that.
“[The] divine wisdom has arranged for there to be certain stumbling blocks or interpretations of the narrative meaning, by inserting in its midst certain impossibilities and contradictions, so that the very interruption of the narrative might oppose the reader, as it were, with certain obstacles thrown in the way. By them wisdom denies a way and an access to the common understanding; and when we are shut out and hurled back, it calls us back to the beginning of another way, so that by gaining a higher and loftier road through entering a narrow footpath it may open for us the immense breadth of divine knowledge.”
I used to think that people didn’t understand the Bible–or, if I’m being honest, didn’t line up with my interpretation of it–because they weren’t listening to God’s voice. But I wonder if Origen is right in that God purposefully made the Scriptures hard to understand, not to put a stumbling block in our paths but to teach us how to walk.
(In case anyone’s wondering, this is a Boulmay original.)
I realize that this video has been around for a while, but that doesn’t mean that this cover of Adele’s “Rolling in the Deep” is any less cool.
A few things:
1. Where did the Day of Purity folks get the statistics that it shows toward the end of the video?
2. At what, exactly, do they think virgins have a higher success rate? Besides not having sex, I mean.
3. Why is Day of Purity using the Christian version of Pedobear to promote abstinence?
(H/T Matthew Paul Turner)