It is difficult to explain to some of my friends who are Christians why so many people are turned off by their conversations. They quote Scriptures a lot and they believe strongly that every word in the holy Bible is true. They just can’t understand why every one does not believe in the same thing.
Because they are such genuinely good people who sincerely try to live by their beliefs, the last thing one wants to do is hurt their feelings. Like most of us, they have not read the Bible in Hebrew and Greek and therefore, all they have read are the English translations. They seem to believe that every word is the same in all editions. Even to suggest that may not be true would hurt them deeply.
Consequently, I know many people of various persuasions who never learn to appreciate the good qualities in other people simply because they cannot get over their religious differences.
I have worshipped in churches of all kinds, and I have yet to find one in which there is nothing with which I can agree. Unlike the Catholic Church, Protestant churches do not have a centralized judicatory therefore, each faith group operates within its chosen organizational structure, practices its own theology and establishes its own discipline. But many groups strive to participate in as many ecumenical efforts as possible.
I realize that it is important for some people to believe that America is a nation of Christians. The facts however do not bear that out.
Americans belong to many religious groups and others are agnostics, atheists and some give no thought to religion at all. I think many people want to believe that we are all Christians because it is necessary to their moral code to think they live in the midst of good people and in their minds only Christians are good people. They simply cannot accept the fact that Americans are essentially no different from other individuals in the world, some good and some bad. In many ways that accounts for the obsession some have with patriotism. It is not enough for us to be good citizens, we must all be superior human beings to every group on the Earth.
I think many of us are thankful that the founders had the wisdom to establish separation of church and state. Others would like to see the country operated on the basis of religious beliefs. They believe a marriage license, which is a legal document, same as a property deed, should not be issued to people of the same sex, although they are legal citizens and taxpayers. They want the state to function according to the rules of their church in spite of the fact that different churches have different rules. I seriously doubt that these people would like living in a theocracy governed by the rules that were established by a church of which they were not a member. One can only wonder whether they would prefer a Catholic or Protestant theocracy.
It seems, sometimes, that people who claim to be so grateful for the freedoms they enjoy in this country try, in their own way, to restrict the freedoms of others. They seem determined to dictate to other people how they should live their lives. They actually believe that they are trying to help, and they are hurt when that assistance is resented.
One of the best ways to lose friends is by attempting to inflict your personal beliefs on them. As hard as it is to stand by and watch people you care about hurt themselves by their own behavior, only in a rare moment can you possibly prevent them from suffering the consequence of their actions.
When people have free will, they are allowed to make their own mistakes. The good news is that they often learn valuable lessons from them. A part of loving your neighbor is accepting her religious choice. More often than not, she’ll love you back in appreciation.
That’s how love works.
You can join the conversation with Rose M. Nolen by calling her at 882-5734 or e-mailing her at firstname.lastname@example.org.