I promised you all I would get deep this year, and in the wake of a heated debate about religion and the Bible last night, I felt I should share my thoughts while things that came up during our conversation were still fresh in my head.
A while back, I read an article in which the author slammed the Black church and organized religion altogether. As a matter of fact, I am constantly reading articles and debating with people regarding their disdain for the Black church, in particular, and Christianity, as a whole. In the article, I saw the same tired arguments against religion that I’ve seen and heard most of my life. I realize that the best thing to do when debating about something that is personal to you, is to remove emotion. So, much of my reasoning is not based on the fact that I am a Christian, but it is based on logic and irrefutable truths.
I read a book called, Mere Christianity by C.S. Lewis. In it, the author seeks to prove that God/Jesus is real. The author, now a Christian, was not raised as such. I highly recommend this book to those who have questions, not only about religion, but about life in general. Also, Mere Christianity helped me put things into perspective in terms of my own thoughts and beliefs about Christianity. Below, in bold, are the most irritating, and ironically the most popular arguments I’ve heard with regard to Christianity and the Black church, and how I reconcile them.
The Bible has been tampered with. Things have been added/taken away.
Where would one get the notion that the Bible wasn’t written by men inspired by the Holy Spirit? Likely, from books that were written specifically to refute the existence of Jesus/God. Therefore, in essence, the only thing that keeps us from seeing eye to eye is that you believe what was written in the book that refutes Jesus’s existence, and I believe what was written in the book that says Jesus was alive, and still is. At the end of the day, it is our faith that sustains us, and I choose to put my faith in Christ. During our discussion, my friend began to argue about the location of events that took place in the Bible. I went to a map in the back of my Bible which shows most Biblical events taking place in or around Africa and some parts of Asia. In claiming that this was not true, he told me to Google “The Garden of Eden” because this would tell me where everything truly took place during Biblical times, including the true location of The Garden of Eden. I was shocked that he would suggest that Google was a more authentic source than a proven ancient artifact, the Bible.
I don’t go to church because they just want to take all your money. Tithing is a hoax.
I read a book called, Missed Fortune 101. In it, it lists tithing/charitable giving as a means of growing rich. This was not a Christian author or a text written to advance Christian principles, so I found it interesting that it listed tithing as one of many means of growing rich. As many of us know, charitable donations are tax deductible. When Oprah has her huge give-away shows, whether she’s doing it out of the kindness of her heart or not, it is definitely a way of maintaining and growing her own wealth.
When I think of tithing, although it is important to give to the church to continue its existence, tithing is also a form of charity. If each week, I gave $20 to a homeless person, I would consider this tithing. Churches, in essence, are non-profit organizations just like any other 501 (c)(3) out there. They need our money to continue to do the work they do. Furthermore, the heads of these organizations are paid a salary using these funds, whereby the more money an organization may collect, the more its leaders are paid, just like a company. Therefore, the idea that “preachers are getting rich off of us” is a silly one. Apple, Cash Money and Sprint heads and celebrities are getting rich off of us too, but no one seems to have a problem with that. When we give, we are to give from our hearts. If you give begrudgingly to any organization or to any person, or to gain something in return, it is like you never gave at all. It is quite possible that the homeless person I gave $20 has collected $20 from thousands that day (I’ve heard of this actually), but will that stop me from giving to the homeless? No, because it was placed on my heart to do so. What is done with it after that, is frankly not my concern. The same goes for tithing and the church. Those who improperly use funds given to charitable organizations, including the church, will be dealt with accordingly.
There is no such thing as heaven or hell.
Much like the description and existence of heaven and hell, much of the Bible is written in parables and speaks figuratively, not literally. The Bible says that those who believe in Jesus/God will be saved. I interpret this to mean that He will walk with me and guide me through this life, and never forsake me even in death. The fact that there may be an actual hell or heaven isn’t what motivates me to follow Him. It is simply who He is, that makes me put Him first. It’s like an unconditional love that parents have for their children and vice versa. That’s why some children can love their parents and parents can love their children despite what they’ve done to hurt one another. It is without condition and without the expectations. It just is.
The Bible is not true.
I have met no harm by being a Christian, or reading and believing in the Bible. It has not steered me wrong or caused me to do anything to hurt another soul. If anything, what it tells me to do and how to behave makes perfect sense. How would my life improve by ceasing to believe in the Bible? Who am I hurting by believing in Jesus and the Bible? It has helped me build a personal and priceless relationship with my creator. Who wouldn’t want that?
Christians are hypocrites.
Christians aren’t hypocrites, they’re people. However, I consider myself more of a spiritual person meaning, I enjoy church as an uplifting experience, but spirituality exists independent of rituals. I don’t have to go to church every Sunday to maintain a relationship with Christ, but at times, it is my strong desire to do so, and I leave feeling refueled and ready to move mountains. We are all sinners. I know there are things I do that are not in accordance with God’s word, so I would never chastise someone for living outside of his will. My only issue stems from people who do wrong and try to convince me that it is actually right. Admitting that you have a problem is always the first step. Stop trying to change what the Bible says to fit your lifestyle or so that you can do what it is YOU want to do. I know what the Bible says, and won’t allow anyone to convince me otherwise.
Men wrote the Bible, not God.
Man is inherently selfish, corrupt and sinful, and we’ve been sinning since the beginning. We seek to advance our own agendas. If the Bible were written BY man to control man, it would not expressly prohibit us from doing the things that we love to do most! Why would it shun drunkenness and sexual immorality when this is exactly what our flesh desires? The Bible would have made it ok to sleep with your neighbor’s wife if man wrote it, because we can’t stop ourselves from doing those things now. Although the lines are becoming increasingly blurred with regards to what is right and what is wrong, there is still a very clear distinction drawn in the Bible.
I don’t go to church because there’s too many gay people and the preacher is crooked.
You’re absolutely right. The church is full of sinners because we are all sinners. God actually used hormongers, liars, and men and women of questionable character all the time in the Bible. The preacher is still human, and therefore imperfect. Preachers are essentially scholars or experts, if you will, who have studied the Bible ad nauseum. They are held to a higher standard in God’s eyes and in ours, but they will never be perfect. So, don’t look up to pastors or put them on pedestals. Men will ALWAYS disappoint you. Furthermore, the only difference between other sinners and you is that you may be able to see their shortcomings, but hide yours. We all have skeletons.
Why does God allow so much cruelty and suffering?
This is a big one, and not a completely unreasonable question. Someone asked me recently if I thought that human suffering, natural disasters, etc. were a result of God’s wrath or punishment. I answered no, but gave him this example to illustrate why.
A mother and her son are standing on the sidewalk. She tells her son not to run into the street. As soon as she turns away, her son darts into the street and is tragically hit and killed by an approaching vehicle.
God didn’t kill that child. That child was killed because of his disobedience. I believe the same goes for us. We are constantly misusing the gifts and tools that God gives us, abusing our bodies, our minds, and the Earth, and disobeying his word. Then, we wonder why bad things happen. All things that occur are a consequence of disobedience, not God’s wrath.
I could go on, but I just wanted to address these major points, not to persuade or convince but to offer a logical explanation and answer to illogical assertions and beliefs about the Bible and Christians as a whole. Lastly, I will say this. With all that I’ve experienced and felt as a result of having a direct relationship with God, I will never be persuaded that he is not real and ever present. With all the beauty that surrounds us, I wonder how some can doubt His existence and credit science for His creations.
What are your thoughts about religion and the church?