Tuesday, May 14, 2013

I Used to Argue with Atheists

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I used to argue with atheists. All the time. Back when I thought I knew everything, back when I thought all Christians believed all the same things (and anyone who differed was not a "real Christian"). Back when I thought being right was the most important thing, and I wanted to change people's minds so they'd believe in Jesus.

I knew all the answers. I could tell you all about the evidence for the resurrection. I could argue against evolution. I believed dating was dangerous and did my best to shut down my attractions. I could recite all the arguments for how a loving God could send people to hell. I knew all there was to know about Jesus' death, about the bible, about God's justice. I could argue about how gay marriage would be a slippery slope to destroying society. I argued for the existence of God, for Jesus' transformation in people's lives, for every human being's NEED to know God.

Because that was the most important thing. People need to be Christians, so Jesus can change their life and bring healing and freedom, and so they don't go to hell.

Christians on one side, non-Christians on the other. Christians had all the answers, and that's what mattered. Being right.

Image source.
And oh how things changed.

It's a long story, but I'm a Christian feminist now. And I believe bringing the kingdom of God to earth is far more important than convincing everyone of the facts about God. What is the "kingdom of God"? I believe it's the way God intended the world to be: justice, freedom, love, peace, respect equality. With no corrupt governments, no senseless death, no oppression, no violence.

And oh, I still argue. I argue that Christians need to support all the gay rights. I argue that hell doesn't make sense because why would God have people tortured for believing incorrect information about him? And I will not for a moment tolerate "oh this person's not a real Christian because they said this."

I argue that we all must LISTEN to those who are different from us, rather than telling them we know all the answers for their lives.

But when I argue these things, I'm arguing with Christians.

And they tell me I'm not following the bible. And they tell me I've been led astray by the world.

And they probably think I've "fallen away" and I'm not a "real Christian."

And that hurts. That hurts more than any argument I've ever had with an atheist. It hurts more than being told I'm irrational for believing in God. It hurts more than all the times I've shared how I experience God and people told me it wasn't real.

As Psalm 55:12-14 says,
If an enemy were insulting me,
    I could endure it;
if a foe were rising against me,
    I could hide.
But it is you, a man like myself,
    my companion, my close friend,
with whom I once enjoyed sweet fellowship
    at the house of God,
as we walked about
    among the worshipers.
Why can't you see I'm just trying to follow Jesus? I want to love God and love others- the greatest commandments. Why won't you listen? You're so sure you know what the bible says, so I'm just wrong, no need to actually listen.

My friends, my evangelical Christian friends- you KNOW me. You KNOW how much I love the bible and how hard I've worked to follow God. Am I suddenly not a Christian because I voted for Obama? Am I suddenly not a Christian because I believe gay people actually matter and are part of the body of Christ? Am I suddenly not a Christian because I believe teaching girls about purity and modesty is a bunch of garbage?

And now I argue- not to defend doctrine, but to defend people. And I think that's what Jesus would want.


This post is part of a link-up on the topic of Psalm 55. To read other people's posts, click here: Psalm 55: aka, Praying While Wishing Others Were Buried Alive.


  1. There's not much that's more painful and frustrating in an argument than arguing against a fellow Christian. I know this all too well.

  2. That last line! That last line! First, incredible writing, amazing work. Second, you just summed up what so many in our generation are currently going through. So many young Christians starting to ask the big questions. So many searching and dealing with what the religious order says and the stories of their friends. Is doctrine ever good if it is harmful upon people's lives? (No) You are asking the right questions. Thank you for this

  3. Oh yes. I'm like "but we're supposed to be on the same side!" (Though I don't like the thinking of "our side vs their side"...)

  4. Great take on this week's Psalm! It's so true. I think arguing with Christians is so painful. We are supposed to be One Body. Why are we so divided? It's frustrating and difficult. I'm glad you are choosing to defend people.

  5. I was raised fairly fundamentalist, now agnostic, but this: 'What is the "kingdom of God"? I believe it's the way God intended the world to be: justice, freedom, love, peace, respect equality. With no corrupt governments, no senseless death, no oppression, no violence.' - this i still want - now more than ever. This was never a goal with the exclusivist Christianity of my childhood. we were mostly waiting on god to burn the world up, and helping ppl get saved in the meantime was a bigger deal than bringing justice, not that we didn't work to feed the hungry or help the exploited, but the emphasis was frequently on helping them so we'd have a 'right' to share the gospel with them. I'm done with god for now but I listen to voices of justice, love, and kindness (and reason) where I can find them.

  6. Yes- I totally get what you mean about helping people just as a means to an end, just to earn their trust enough to get them to listen to me talk about Jesus. But I no longer think that's loving or respectful- instead I think everyone should really value each other and not act like we know more about their needs than they do. :)