Understanding Christian Behavior: A Guide for the Curious Secularist
Secular friend, I realize you are perplexed by us. You aren’t one of those who wants to feed us to the lions.
You just want to figure us out. We are a mysterious bunch. Why must we stubbornly resist the cultural flow?
Why can’t we just get on board and bake some cakes, arrange some flowers, snap some photos and otherwise celebrate so-called same-sex marriage (SCSSM)? After all, wouldn’t our make-believe God show us a little understanding now that the Supreme Court has given us every excuse we could have hoped for?
If you really want to understand the behavior of Christians, you must start with our convictions. Christianity is about convictions, not preferences.
To say nothing of professing Christians who have been “Osteenified” into believing it’s all about personal happiness and existential fulfillment, genuine Christians realize our faith imposes demanding requirements on those who believe it. It’s not the kind of thing anyone would choose if he didn’t think it was actually true.
Jesus said if I want to be his follower, I have to give up my life for others and put their interests ahead of my own. He said that I should prepare to be hated and be willing to accept mistreatment. He tells me to forgive my enemies when they do horrible things to me; revenge is strictly off limits.
He explicitly guarantees a life of trouble. Those are your member benefits. Jesus, is this any way to market your organization? Who would sign up for that if Christianity wasn’t true? Not I.
You see, it is not that we like being hated. It’s not that we were born into Christian families. It’s not that we simply want Christianity to be true or that we haven’t studied the alternatives. (I, for one, have taken the time to study the alternatives thoroughly.) It’s because we are convinced of the truth of Christianity, and this on logical grounds.
“But what is so convincing about it?” you ask. Secular friend, Christianity is compelling because it best explains what we know of ourselves and our world. Let me explain.
Various aspects of human existence cannot be reasonably explained apart from God. Take morality, for example. We all use words and phrases like “should,” “wrong,” “immoral,” “ought not.” Because our world is inescapably moral, secularists and Christians alike use these words without even thinking, as does even the nihilist, even the hedonist. But only the theist (one who believes in God) has rights to their use because there is no ought in an atheistic world. In such a world, there is only is.
But, we all know that “is” is not the only reality. We all know there is an “ought” aspect to the reality we share. What explains the moral absolutes we all seem to know exist, regardless of the verbal denials offered by some? God.
What is said of morals can be said of meaning and of values too. Why do we all assume that justice exists and that it is better than injustice? Why do we place value on kindness and beauty and truth? If the Christian is confusing to the secularist, the secularist is equally confusing to us. We wonder how you fail to realize that without God, everything is mere preference and there is no ranking of values. But you do it anyway.
The secularist daily joins the Christian in living as though one thing is actually, factually better than another. In spite of what you say, you live as though objective values exist. You place demands on others and are outraged when their values fail to conform to yours. You think people are sometimes wrong or mistaken, not merely different.
Secularist friend, you are living in our world and using our words. And that’s fine. We simply ask that as you refuse to live consistently with reality, please show some tolerance and understanding toward those who do.
The examples cited are only the start. The physical Universe itself testifies to something beyond. Big Bang cosmology requires a beginning for the Universe. Anything that begins to exist must have a cause. Any cause that is not acted upon by an outside force must be personal, possessing the power of spontaneous choice.
The eternal, uncreated God is that cause. Nothing else qualifies. God is the only reasonable answer to the question: “Why is there something rather than nothing?”
Much more could be said, but we’ll quit on that one.
Suffice it to say: Christianity has greater explanatory power than the alternatives.
It is that very fact which has led a considerable number of thoughtful atheists to reverse themselves and embrace Jesus Christ, not as therapeutic, but as true. Christianity is not something Christians want to believe; it is something we are logically compelled to believe. The unifying explanation for humanity and the world in which we find ourselves, is the God of the Bible.
This being the case, we are forced to trust God on the question of ethics. Many secularists think Christians won’t jump on board and bake cakes and take pictures for same-sex couples because we hate homosexuals. It’s not that at all. In general, we love homosexuals and, in many cases, we even like them. Theoretically, and for all anyone really knows, some Christians might even like the idea of SCSSM while opposing it with all their strength. I certainly do naturally like the idea of living for myself, being greedy, and striking someone on the cheek if he hits me first. (At least part of me does.) But all of these things are off limits according to the God I am convinced exists and has spoken. And so is baking a cake to help celebrate that which God declares morally wrong.
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