An Honest Letter to An Honest Unbeliever (Response to Jake)

Please note that there is some adult content in the post below.

I was Christian once. I was southern baptist. My father was a preacher. He attended Clear Creek Baptist Bible College in Pineville, KY and spent many of his years preaching at various Baptist churches throughout the area and in Ohio as well. I do not hate Christians. I do not hate them for their beliefs. Like all free human beings, they are granted the right to believe in anything they choose.

Now that is out of the way. I do not rebuke Christianity for a lack of evidence so to speak. It is not the lack of evidence that drove me away. It first started with the attitudes of some Christian churches. Growing up my family was very poor. Some churches actually helped us. I remember one christmas, the only presents I received were found in a large black trash bag on our front porch and it was donated by a Christian community. On the other hand, the first thing I noticed was the looks my family would receive. Mind you I was young but always very observant. I had noticed that when my father went to preach, as a guest preacher, at some churches we would receive the nastiest of looks. They were very unwelcome. We didn’t “look” as if we belonged there and were quite literally shunned. It was quite literally at the point when some of the congregation would not even speak to my family. It was very disheartening.

Then it was the forced baptism. I didn’t even understand what was going on. I just know that in order to be a member of our current church, I had to embarassingly walk up in front of the congregation, admit that I was sinner, and ask that Jesus wash them away. And then an event was held in which I was dunked in a large, water filled glass tank and I was saved. Mind you, it isn’t the act that bothered me, it was the fact that I had to undergo this ritual in order to be a member. Was I not a member just for simply attending? It made it feel like some special club which bothered me.

Then I got older. I actually began to understand the world around me more and more and the Bible less and less. I just can’t agree with some of things it states. For example:

Leviticus 20:13:
“If a man lies with a male as those who lie with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination and they shall surely be put to death.”

I am not sure if that even condemns homosexuality, just because of the times and exact interpretation, but it has been commonly referred to by some christians in order to back-up their claims to the evil of homosexuals. I find that to be hateful and down right wrong. Are christians not supposed to love everyone regardless of their supposed “transgressions”? Was it not Jesus that invited sinners to his table?

Noah’s Ark. Just does not seem possible to me. I wonder, if all living animals were contained on a boat, then how could there be such a diverse and large deviation in one single species? Take for example dogs. Are all variations of dogs due to crossbreeding? No. Okay, so did Noah’s Ark contain every distinct and different breed of Dog? Or did Noah’s Ark contain only wolves and evolution took over after the flood creating a wide range of breeds? That is my train of thought.

Let’s look at the ten commandments.
“Thou shalt not covet thy neighbors wife”

I didn’t pull that from a website, and I do not claim it to be sexist or outdated. What bothers me is I covet a lot of things and not just my neighbors wife… lol. Do I have to ask forgiveness every time I look at another female and just want to [censored]? Lol… I am sorry for the language but I am a man, and though I would never do such a thing, I think about it. Women are beautiful to me. Not all, but some. Once again, I will admit I am probably somewhat shallow. I don’t find that to be a sin. I feel it is natural for me to feel that way. I love women. I love sex. If I see a beautiful woman, I think about having sex with her. I will not apologize for that I do not feel it is a sin. I don’t think I need to suppress my urges. Just control them.

These are just a few examples. I hope they give you an idea of how I think. I am could care less about evidence. I do not claim to be an atheist, or anti-theist, or agnostic. I just do not believe. I think that science will one day tell us why we exist or how we came to be. And if not, then so be it. I will live my life the way I see fit and I expect you and everyone else to do the same.

Jake,

Thank you for commenting with your story. Let me see if I can shed some light on your objections before explaining why I do not think they are very good reasons for rejecting the Christian faith.

You claim to have been a Christian once, and specifically a Southern Baptist and son of a preacher. My difficulty here is that you do not seem to understand Christian beliefs very well, let alone Southern Baptist ones. For example, you object to “forced baptism” and rightly say that you “didn’t even understand what was going on” before mentioning that in order to be a member of your church you had to “embarrassingly walk up in front of the congregation, admit [you were] a sinner, and ask that Jesus wash [your sins] away.”

According to the Bible, you were never a Christian. (1 John 2.19) Sometimes non-Christians get really upset when I tell them this, but please understand what I mean. I do not mean to say that you did not go to church, or that your father was not a preacher, or that you did not jump through all of the hoops of Christian piety, and the like. None of those things make someone a Christian. Rather, I mean that you were never saved by God from your sin. You never had the blood of Christ applied to you, nor did the Holy Spirit take up residency in you. Once I put it like that people usually agree with me that they were never Christians.

Remember I claimed that you do not understand Christian or Southern Baptist beliefs? The reason I made that claim is because Christians do not believe that water baptism washes away a person’s sins. They do not believe that a person is “dunked in a large, water filled glass tank” and is thereby saved. More than that, Southern Baptists strongly affirm that a person must understand and believe the Gospel prior to being baptized. A forced baptism is not a real baptism as far as Southern Baptists are concerned. All of that is to say that the experience you describe is not representative of Christianity and is not officially accepted by the Southern Baptists either. What you are objecting to is not a true representation of the Christian faith.

You also complain about the way you and your family were treated when you were young. The reason you feel you were treated differently is because your family was poor. You claim that you noticed “looks my family would receive…the nastiest of looks.” At least that is how you interpreted them. (On a side note, if you rejected your faith because some people at a church looked at you funny then you should really revisit the level of critical thinking you put into that rejection.) It is also odd that you say you and your family were “quite literally shunned” and “some of the congregation would not even speak to my family.” Again I am not saying that your story is not true, but it has some strange details, particularly the one where your family is shunned on the one hand but travels around to various churches where your father was invited to speak.

Still, I can imagine people in churches looking down on others who are not as well off as they are. It is a shame, but it is not uncommon. However, your lack of understanding concerning Christianity comes into play here again, for you should have known already that people are sinners. Sinful people do sinful things like think of themselves as better than others for whatever reason. That is not an objection to Christianity. In fact, it is an objection to the very same things that a Christian should object to! The Bible is very clear in its condemnation of the type of behavior you describe. (James 2.3-4) The Bible repeatedly calls for something quite different, and something you already conceded you saw in churches that helped your family and even provided Christmas gifts. (Galatians 6.10) You have not really objected to the Christian faith, but to the sinful behavior of some of those who professed it. Jesus would do the same.

Your objections become a bit stronger when you suggest that there are Bible verses with which you “just can’t agree.” You quote Leviticus 20:13 as one example, asking whether or not Christians are “supposed to love everyone regardless of their supposed ‘transgressions.’” The answer to that is, of course, yes, Christians are supposed to love people regardless of their transgressions. The verse you quoted was not directed toward Christians, but to the nation of Israel. There are differences between the two.

There are also similarities. The similarities are probably the reason that Christians quote the passage from Leviticus to justify their thinking that homosexuality is wrong. In this verse we have a clearly stated principle that homosexuals commit an abomination. That means that homosexuality is wrong in the eyes of God. The principle does not change throughout history. The culture surrounding that principle, as well as aspects of the covenant during which that principle was given, may have changed. Christians can disagree about the application of this verse today while retaining the principle that homosexuality is a sin. The New Testament builds upon the reference you cited and reinforces that same principle. And yes, it is loving to hate sin, even to the point, as it was when the verse in question was spoken, where sin must be punished by death for the sake of deterring those we love from doing something not only dishonoring to God, but harmful to society itself.

We need to examine what you mean when you write that Noah’s ark is not “possible.” First, is it logically possible that we see the diversity in dogs that we do today even after their ancestors, comprised of whatever group, were saved in the ark during a global flood? Yes. Second, is it metaphysically possible that the aforementioned observation obtain in the way described above? I do not see why not. So it is certainly possible that Noah had an ark, saved the ancestors of dogs, they became what they are now, and the like. What you seem to be questioning is whether or not it is probable that such a process took place. But what one considers probable or improbable depends upon other beliefs that a person brings to the table when discussing some alleged fact. If you are asking me for some detailed explanation of the diversity of dogs given the fact of Noah’s ark, then I am afraid I do not have much to say. Scripture does not either. Yet what you describe is not impossible, and I would say it is not improbable, though you will need to ask someone else about the various creationist models which explain the diversity of dogs given the fact of Noah’s ark. Perhaps someone will help you out in the comments.

I appreciate that you are honest about your covetousness and lust. (Matthew 5.28) You admit that you “covet a lot of things” and ask if you “have to ask forgiveness every time [you] look at another female” and fantasize about sexual advances. My answer would be yes. (1 John 1.9) And I praise God that there is forgiveness for sins like covetousness and lust and every other perversion of God’s gifts to us, because we all face temptations to sin in such ways and often give in to them. (1 Corinthians 10.13) But you describe the act of asking for forgiveness as though it were a burden, when in reality it involves, among other things, a joyous recognition that we stand forgiven in the Lord Jesus Christ by grace through faith in Him!

You are right to say that women are beautiful, and it is natural to love them, and sex is something great, and you are not shallow for affirming any of those things. Each of them was made that way by God. But ever since the Fall in the Garden of Eden our sinful inclination has been to pervert and twist that which God has given us to be enjoyed for His glory and our good. So for example, immodesty and lust and promiscuity are not anything great, but are offenses against God and deserving of death. God knew what He was doing when He created the world and created us in His image. He is the standard of good, and we make fools of ourselves when we think we know better than Him in our thoughts and behavior.

The world’s view of sex is almost completely backwards. The constant message of the world is that Christians limit sexual pleasure through their rules and regulations and restrictions. Christians are believed to have only a thin slice of the picture that those in the world have concerning sex. But that view of the matter could not be more false. It is the perversion of sex that takes away from it, not its protection. The reason that Christians are so careful concerning sex is not because they are helpless prudes, but because they value it more highly than those outside of the faith. (1 Timothy 4.3) You said that you only need to control yourself. But if you cannot control the thoughts you confessed already, then what makes you think you will be able to control something even more tempting down the road? And once you have given into those sins, what will you do about the law of diminishing returns? As desire for an addiction grows, so also does its satisfaction decrease. The proper place for our sexuality is within the bounds provided by its Creator. That’s not a form of oppression. That’s true freedom from it.

If I had to take a guess as to your real problem with Christianity, it would not be anything like the mere queerness you find with church ordinances or sacraments like baptism and membership, nor would it be with the allegedly nasty looks that made you feel self-conscious as a kid, nor would it be the subjective dislike you have toward the particular teachings of Scripture you mentioned above. Rather, your problem with Christianity is that if it is true, then an all-knowing, all-powerful, ever-present, loving God who is the standard of good and your Creator has set forth commands in Scripture which you hate. You know who this God is, and what He requires of you, but as you confessed above you also know that you fall far short of meeting those requirements. For even if you kept the entirety of God’s law, even failing in one point makes you guilty of the whole thing. (James 2.10) The commandments of God stem from His nature, so that they are all equally representative of who God is, and are equally offensive to Him in legal terms.

Try as you might to fight sin, you will never conquer it on your own. (John 15.5) You have taken this realization to heart and sought out excuses to reject the faith that your parents tried to teach you. We both know that they are really terrible excuses. I explained why above. More than that, most of them smack of a sense of morality that you want to force upon others. You talk about hatred, and people forcing others to do things, and people looking down on others, and condemnation. All are things you recognize as being morally wrong. You talk about freedom, and rights, and love, and even conclude by writing, “I will live my life the way I see fit and I expect you and everyone else to do the same.” You recognize these things to be morally good. Whether or not any one of these things is wrong or right is not my point in mentioning them. My point in mentioning them is that you assume that there is such a thing as good and bad, right and wrong. Let me suggest to you that the only way to make sense of such categories is to suppose that Christianity is true. If it is not, and you reject the Creator and His commands, then God [cannot] help us all, for you have rejected the only absolute, personal, objective standard for your moral beliefs. If you do that, then forget about all of your objections. In that case you are just a godless animal. So are all of the other people who have “wronged” you during your life. So much for that.

God loved the world in such a way that He sent His Son Jesus into the world so that all of those believing on Him might have eternal life. (John 3.16) I appreciate your comment, your story, and your honesty, but in the end I think you know every bit as well as I do that you do not really have a leg to stand on with where you are headed in terms of your beliefs and behavior. You are a slave to sin, but Jesus can set you free from it. Jesus is the suffering servant who gave His life to live obediently to God’s law, take sins upon Himself, and bear the wrath of God towards sin so that all of those who repent, confess, turn from their sin and trust, believe, have faith in the Son of God, the Lord Jesus Christ might be forgiven and have newness of life in Him. My prayer is that you will drop your confused view of the world and turn to the one true God through Jesus Christ the Lord. It is all of grace, and none of yourself. (Ephesians 2.8-9) People will fail us and we will fail ourselves. Come to Christ and He will not cast you away. (John 6.37)

Sincerely,

Chris


3 Comments

Svyatoslav

On the topic of Noah’s Flood, I would not say that Noah had to take two of every species. Rather, two of every “kind” (Barmin). Now creationist use different methods to determine what species belongs in a certain kind. A approximation of a kind would be that of a family (or sometimes Order). To understand post-flood diversification, I would suggest to you a paper on the AGEing theory.

http://www.grisda.org/origins/54005.pdf

Jake

Well, I appreciate your honest reply. I don’t know. I just can’t find a reason for me to believe. I mean, you make quite the argument. You hold strongly to your beliefs and speak about them with quite a passion. I am in know way a great debater. I am not here to pretend to be a theology major or expert in Christian beliefs and practices. There are things that I disagree with in the Bible or, I guess you could compare me to doubting Thomas… lol. I put a lot of my “faith” in science to explain the world around me or the origin of our species. I don’t know. I find your articles / blog / whatever you want to call it a very interesting read. Maybe I will stick around and see what comes next.

MrBsPapa

I enjoyed the reply. Hope Jake took some time to navigate through some of your responses to his objections. It’s been a few years now. heh


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