Non-toxic religion

My daughter Brittany wrote this on one of her friends’ Facebook status this evening after he announced that he had decided that he is an atheist. This is what religion looks like when it is non-toxic, and I could not have said this better myself:

Everyone that knows me at all knows I am a devout Christ-follower, but here is my opinion in this matter. I believe that my God is a God of love, compassion, and mercy. I believe that the word “religion” can put a bad reputation on those seeking a true relationship with God and that “religious” people should simply just be let to believe. I believe that He loves everyone, including people of other religions and those of no religion, no matter what and I find immense peace in that. All that being said, I love [person’s name] with all of my heart. [Person’s name], you are one of my truest and most dearly loved friends and I support you in whatever you decide is right for you. Yes, it does sadden me that you have chosen this path, but I have neither lost respect for you nor am I going to try to change your mind. Nobody really should. Like I said earlier, believers should be free to believe without the stereotype that all of us are in-your-face, trying to change your life, Bible-thumpers. On the other side, Atheists should be allowed to not believe without the stereotype of being immoral and ignorant. Both sides can be immoral and ignorant and frankly both sides have done their fair share of being arrogant. People have free will to do, think, and believe what they will. This should be allowed to go on without all of the arguing and bickering between “religions.” Because in the end, we are all just people.

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic. A request for me to defend some of my comments does not obligate me to do so.

  • Racheal Dishner Downes

    Hi Dave,

    What your daughter wrote is gentle, accepting, and insightful. Must confess I feel the same. I like your stance on someone’s relationship with God being private. I like your blog, Dave.

    • Hi Racheal. So glad to know you are reading. Thanks for your comment. Yes, I do believe that to some extent spiritual things fall under the umbrella of private. The exception to this would be in a faith community where members make vows to the church that they will remain accountable to the church and to each other on some level. But this, of course, must be handled with great care.

  • Lynn

    So let’s just ignore he is on a path to hell?

    • Let’s assume for a moment that what you say is true (of course there’s no way a person can know this, though you can certainly believe it). Even if that were the case, argument, pushing, Bible-thumping, etc. is not going to help. Somehow religious people got in a mindset that we need to do things Jesus never did in his own ministry. We don’t have to push, argue, force, be passive-aggressive, or anything else. That’s true not only with this but with everything in life. So it’s not that you ignore it. To “ignore” something implies that on some level it is your business in the first place. Someone else’s decision about God is none of your business — unless they make it so by inviting your opinion.

      • Lynn — I have stood by too many hospital beds while people are losing loved ones, anguished that they didn’t have a “personal relationship with Christ” so they are probably going to hell. As a pastor, all I can do is tell those people that it is always good and proper to rely on the love, mercy, and grace of God — that we never know what happens inside of a person in their final moments, and that either way, our lives either are or are not safe in the hands of God. I choose to believe they are. I don’t exactly know how this jives with some particular passages of scripture, but I’m okay with that. Every Christian believes things they can’t explain Biblically, and doesn’t believe certain things that ARE in the Bible. That’s a very real tension we all have to live with.