“Having a good conscience, so that, when you are slandered, those who revile your good behavior in Christ may be put to shame.” 1 Peter 3:16
People are rightfully wondering why white liberals haven’t done a more effective job of calling out their friends and families who are on the other side when it comes to social issues. I think a lot of the problem comes from evangelical Christian thinking.
It goes like this:
- I have an opinion that I think is right.
- I can find support for my opinion in the Bible or in church therefore it is Godly.
- If people disagree with me on this, then they are disagreeing with God.
- Jesus told me that people will disagree with me and I need to stand strong in my beliefs.
- Therefore, if people call me out on my beliefs, I must be right.
“If you were of the world, the world would love you as its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you.” John 15:9
If you’ve never lived in that world it is hard to get your head around that warped mindset. Logical arguments about equality or fairness or ANYTHING bounce right off that kind of thinking.
“No wonder, for even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light. Therefore it is not surprising if his servants also disguise themselves as servants of righteousness, whose end will be according to their deeds.” 2 Corinthians 11:14-15
“Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” Matthew 5:10
The Christian persecution complex is real and powerful. But where the writers of the New Testament were talking about being killed for their faith, western Christians today take that to mean any disagreement. So call them out on not separating church and state? Persecution. Don’t say Merry Christmas? Persecution. Say that gay people deserve to live happy lives? Persecution. And they know what to do when they are being persecuted. Dig in and defend their position to the death if need be.
How do you get through to people who believe that? It is hard. I don’t know if it can be done by outside forces alone. People who have left tend to get there mostly by having one breaking moment like a crack in an iceberg. Something happens that doesn’t fit nicely with how they were told the world was going to be and suddenly the whole thing crumbles.
What I found really interesting is that while I was leaving Christianity, I was experiencing exactly what I had been told would happen. I was told that it would look like I had come across some great new wisdom. It would seem to make more sense than Christianity. I was told that these were signs that I was being deceived. Luckily I was able to push past those voices in my head and laugh at the church’s foresight in programing that one last thought into escaping people’s heads.
My hope is that things like having gay marriage and the sky not falling might be that crack that starts the iceberg tumbling. It is slow and it is hard but it is working. I have a lot of hope for people younger than me. They are seeing through this. They live in a world where this Christian mindset is not the only way they see. I think supporting them is the best way forwards.