Last week I posted about Adam4d’s comic about homosexuality. This post attracted attention on my Facebook page from an evangelist, who intoned, like the many who have come before, that I’m a “wretch” who needs Jesus to fix me. You can read the entire exchange on my under the heading of the relevant post on my Facebook page, but I’ll just give you the relevant bits.
Understand that just previous to this I had already indicated at this point that I rejected Christianity for intellectual reasons, yet, rather than listening to me, he choses to suggest, in the form of a “question,” that I must have been hurt by believers. I put “question” in quotes here because it becomes clear pretty quickly he wasn’t really interested in any answer I might give.
Notice that a no point does he even attempt to address anything I’ve said, or actually learn anything about me. Each answer I give is summarily ignored and in it’s place he concocts “reasons” I rejected my former beliefs that allow him to fit me, and other atheists, within his existing world view. He even outright says he is going to jump to another conclusion about me after being specifically asked not to do that. My own accounts of my life are discounted because he believes he can psychoanalyze me based on a few posts on Facebook and what his religious tradition says about atheists.
I spelled out that my reasons for leaving were intellectual, and rather than ask me what those reasons were, and then discussing that with me he leaps to the conclusion that the real reason I left was “pride.” Understand, I’m not demanding that he, or other Christians, accept my reasons as correct, I’m just asking them to actually engage with my statements as if they accurate portray my views. I’m perfectly comfortable having a conversation with a Christian that argues that my reasons for leaving are incorrect for some reason. I’ve had many such conversations, and I would, by definition, expect them to take that position. Unfortunately those evangelicals who are willing to engage in genuine conversations with non-believers seem few and far between.
Instead, they, disrespectfully, insist that my reasons for leaving aren’t actually my reasons, that my claims to be intellectually unsatisfied with Christianity’s view of reality are a smoke screen to justify a love of sin, pridefulness, or anger due to mistreatment at the hands of other believers. In doing this they opt to preach AT me rather than converse WITH me. This is a formula for convincing the person you are speaking to that you do not see them as an equal, and that you do not respect them. What’s worse is that when you try to point out this behavior and explain, very calmly and rationally, to them why this behavior is disrespectful they inevitably try to claim that it’s our fault, they claim we “get insulted easily,” or any other of a thousand ways to claim that that we are the ones at fault for the situation.
For any evangelical who happens to read this, being loving means also being respectful, and having respect for those that you love, even when you disagree with them, being loving means you respect people’s boundaries. It means you accept their own accounting of themselves and don’t accuse them of lying or being incapable of understanding their own thoughts and motivations without just cause. (no your bible saying so is not just cause) It means, when you converse with them, that you listen to them and take their ideas seriously, even if you think they are incorrect. Feeling “sorry” for someone is not love either, it’s pity, and most people don’t wan to be pitied. If you can’t respect me enough to actually listen to what I have to say then you don’t actually love me, you just love the idea of playing the pious Christian who says you love everyone because it’s what you are supposed to do.