I’ve been thinking lately a lot about everything surrounding my faith these days. I don’t feel uncomfortable with a good discussion about the Church, but I do feel uncomfortable when people want to explain all the reasons why they think I’m wrong to subscribe to it. At first, I thought like those people do – if you’re uncomfortable with it, it’s because you don’t like having your worldviews challenged and you don’t have good answers to these Big Issues – you’d rather stay in your bubble. So I always try not to be uncomfortable with it.
However, I think that this debate is kind of a similar feeling to, say, buying a car. To set the stage, let’s say I have been considering which car I want to buy. I have done a lot of research, found some things I like and some things I don’t like as much, but I have weighed the pros and cons and have spent lots of time and energy coming to a conclusion about whether I feel like it is a good buy. Then, I buy the car. I drive it for a couple of years, and the more I drive it, the more I like it. There are some glitches sometimes, sure, like any car. The a/c makes a weird buzzing noise and only one of the spouts works for the windshield wiper fluid. But overall, I am very happy with my purchase.
Then, someone I know comes to me — someone who is my equal in the case of judging cars — and says that he has found a lot of things that he feels are wrong with my car. He feels like, had I known these things, or had I been of sound mind when I did learn them, I wouldn’t have purchased the car. Further, he feels like I should get rid of my car, because the things he’s discovered are, in his mind, fatal flaws.
First of all, I have ALREADY done my research and have been driving my car for YEARS, and have been happy with my decision. Additionally, I am not sure why he feels like my decision of which car to drive is any of his business. But let’s say he’s coming to me out of kindness. He knows and likes me and doesn’t want to see me in a bad car. That’s respectable, and I appreciate his concern. However, his arguments and the information he has brought to me are all things I learned when I was researching the car in the first place, and I have already weighed them, reconciled with them, or found contradictions to them, and in the end still found the car worth buying. If they aren’t things I learned when I was researching the car, they still seem to fall into just a few categories: They are related to the things I learned, they are fabricated or misconstrued issues, or they are solvable and not worth avoiding the car for.
Let’s say I have this experience over and over. Lots of people have bought my car and are just as happy with it as I am. I know and respect these people. Still, however, friends come to me with their concerns, and frankly, none of their concerns are news to me. I am tiring of this dialogue. Wouldn’t you?
Do they think I’m stupid? Do they think I don’t know anything about my own car? Do they think I can’t make a rational decision, or that I haven’t spent any time considering all the facets of my car that I can find? Do they think I haven’t heard any of this before, being knee-deep in experience with this particular subject? Do they think I WANT to choose a bad car? For heaven’s sake, I already own the thing, and I didn’t make the purchase lightly. Wouldn’t they assume that I would choose a car with the same amount of careful consideration with which they chose THEIR car, or that I don’t have the same opportunity for resources that they do?
To end the analogy, of course choosing a religion is not the same thing as choosing a car. But I typically make fairly informed decisions in most areas of my life – why would they suddenly assume that I don’t understand how to make a choice about something else that’s important, just because they disagree or they don’t like the way I made my decision? And WHY would they think that the only reason I could be offended about these challenges to my ability for rational thought, was if I was indeed incapable of rational thought? Wouldn’t ANYBODY be uncomfortable with and a bit offended by that assumption?
I don’t mind discussing individual issues on a personal level, with someone actually wanting to discuss and thereby come to a greater mutual understanding of truth. But I do not have to justify myself to these people. This anti-Christian crap is not news, I have almost always already reconciled it with my own answers (acceptable or unacceptable to the other party as they may be) it’s almost never delivered in any spirit other than a desire to be right or to convince me that I’m wrong. And THAT is not something I have to be okay with.