Why Christians Are Our Own Worst Enemies

By Nathan Watts - Guest Writer

487607_10150594666556010_1773592918_nI have been having rather deep convictions lately that I really need to put down on paper.

However, before I get to the heart of the matter I need to establish a point of reference where my opinions come from and why:

First off, I go to Church. However, I do not hesitate to say that I’m a “sinner.” I am far from being what someone could consider being a “good Christian example.”

However… I’m starting to wonder if being a “backslider” isn’t so bad of a trait after all. It tends to give me a ‘different’ perspective on many things stated at Church that blows my mind on how some people can actually be so naive to “The World” around them and how it actually works, thinks, lives, and breathes.

I often think of the “Rich Man,” born with a silver spoon in his mouth and wealthy his entire life. Do you think he actually has a gauge, a benchmark of his value of what he is successful at? He already has everything… It’s not possible. He’ll never know his true measure of worth because he will never have had to work for anything. And much more often than not, we see these individuals grow up and live their lives in a completely distorted and fantastical fairy land version of what reality actually is.

I was raised in a fundamental Pentecostal – dancing in the aisles – speaking in tongues – fire and brimstone – makeup, rock and roll, and TV were sins to be avoided or suffer eternal damnation – Church. (Some of you who are not believers of the faith may think this as being ridiculous, but do me a favor and put that on a shelf for a moment and just follow along. You may be surprised at the ending.) I followed this lifestyle until around 16 when things in my life started changing. My point to this though, and the “Rich Man” analogy is this: I was born with a “spiritual silver spoon” in my mouth.

Spurgeon-QuotesI did not have a measure, gauge, or benchmark to understand the true value of what following Christ was. I was “born into it.” I have often told my wife, “If I am completely honest with myself; because of my youth, the peer pressure of wanting acceptance, and that Church literally being my only influence at that time, I cannot state with absolute assurance which times my worship was because I knew someone was watching or when it was actually faith based… if ever at all.”

This is how children are. At its core: If you put them in an environment and tell them “You have to do ‘this’ in order to get ‘that.’” they will do “this” repeatedly. Especially if they are as impressionable as 1, 2, 3….. 12…. and on. It’s called “psychological conditioning.” You can’t argue that. It’s fact. What part was real? What part was in my mind? What part was so strong in my mind that it ‘became’ real for me? God only knows… I sure don’t. So when I “backslid” and I began to experience the ‘real world’ around me I started realizing that I was living in a fantasy land and things weren’t “quite” the way they preached it to be. I woke up to a LOT of things…

It is from this experience, my subsequent 25 year “backslide,” my recent renewal of Church fellowship and listening to “some” around me that I have come to a very unorthodox conclusion: I feel that in some ways I am actually better off and have a deeper appreciation for the faith BECAUSE of my backsliding instead of staying in the Church my whole life. My 25 years of “fun in the sun” has given me a reference to base my opinions and comparisons on – which, although the Bible is the end all be all “Word,” it is often times esoteric to our base nature to desire something tangible to hold onto. My past IS my reference point, and it is solid.

So… my recent convictions that have been keeping me up at night for the last several months based on MANY conversations in and out of Church and with MANY different people, from Clergy to Pauper:

AngryBigots“Why Christians are our own worst enemies (a personal opinion):”

In its most basic form the Bible says sinners shall reap what they sow… we all know this. But what we as Christians seem to get confused on is where our jobs “start” and where it “STOPS.” Nowhere in the Bible does it say that ANYONE in the Christian Church are to take it upon themselves to be the “tools” and “arbiters” of his disfavor – whatever he chooses his disfavor to be. But we sure like to pretend it does…

A vast amount of us Christians seem to forget that… and so we flush politician’s pockets with money to pass laws so that others “have” to live by “our” standards.

That whole “Freedom of Religion and the Pursuit of happiness…” yeah… that’s taken out of context. What we REALLY meant was “Freedom to obey MY religious beliefs and MY religious beliefs only.” At least, that’s how we act many, many times.

This is a glass house philosophy, and “dangerous” to utter in some Churches. But I honestly, honestly believe the greatest challenge to the Christian Church today is NOT fear of persecution for our beliefs, but it is to know when OUR statements stop being “witness testimonies” and start becoming “judgmental religious vilification.” There is a REASON many people look at us in derision… because our OWN statements are hypocritical by default when we do things like this and yet we simultaneously and ignorantly act oblivious to it. We are literally FEEDING our OWN condemnation from the masses – and we only have ourselves to blame.

Let me put this in about the most basic nutshell possible as how I see it, and I’ll use myself as the guinea pig: The sole purpose as a Christian follower when I am communing with those in the world around me is to portray myself as a living road-sign of God’s grace by how I live my life and through witness testimony.

(We all know I don’t fit that description. Don’t get confused; I’m not trying to insinuate that I’m a good enough “witness” of anything yet. This is for purposes of analogy so I don’t have to say “you” and sound… ironically… “judgmental” or antagonistic to whoever reads this.)

bigotry posterHowever, the moment I start making statements that are spiteful, incendiary, or vilifying which cause the person not to even want to go to church… what have I done? I have FAILED my mission. I have disobeyed the word…. all the while trying to profess it. Oh, my excuses will surely be “I was only telling him the truth.” or “Nonbelievers simply don’t want to hear God’s word.” then nonchalantly shrug my shoulders in a “not my problem / responsibility” fashion, and walk away. But really these would be nothing more than self justifying cop outs to make myself subconsciously feel better about driving people off because of an attitude that is inappropriately obtuse and sanctimonious.

There’s no squirming out of that. If I say something that causes a person to NOT want to go to church because I made a judgmental opinion on something, then no matter my “intent”, I have failed. We wear the mantles of our Churches. What comes out of our mouths is immediately taken as what our Church says. Hence, if my attitude could be considered to be, “hateful” and I belong to a local Baptist Church, then it is an immediate and subconscious assumption by everyone around me that the entire Church would have the same attitude. Here’s what my repentance prayer should sound like if you walked by me:

“Dear God, please forgive me for driving yet ANOTHER soul away from your grace and into the burning pits of Hell because of my own selfish sanctimonious indignant attitude toward my fellow man.”

Anyone want to join me in that prayer?

Anyone?. Here’s the real kicker:

No-one can look at me in the eye with any integrity, state that they believe in our American freedoms and what we are founded on, and then simultaneously fund and force-feed laws down people’s throats that effectively remove individual’s freedoms and rights of choice. This drives directly to the heart of where the line of appropriate and inappropriate Christian behavior ‘should’ be.

I will smile and nod at that person… but silently chuckle at how he or she simply doesn’t understand how oxymoronic their attitude is.

HB1A great fear among many believers is that if we fail to act enough and something that is absolutely diametrically opposed to the Bible becomes “legal” or accepted by society, then we have somehow condoned it. This is a fallacy in its purest form and I’ll use one of the most heated debates between both Christians and Non-Christians in our Nation’s history as a perfect example: Roe vs. Wade.

I can pretty much bet my entire life’s savings on the FACT that not one single Atheist thinks that because this activity is ‘legal’ that Christians as a whole “condone” it. They know exactly where the Church stands on this issue and no-one would have the ignorance to say that the church thinks otherwise. Why? Because the Churches voice was heard. Loudly. But once the decision was made and the law was passed, the Church understood and although not supportive of the outcome, moved on. Of course we still voice our opinions in the matter. But that’s the point: THIS is called WITNESSING. The ones that said “You’ll go to hell!” weren’t witnessing. They were making a determination on where that persons soul would reside for all of eternity.

I don’t know about any of you, but I haven’t ever seen a single human being on Earth recieve an appointment letter to serve for the “Board of Admissions to Heaven.” So since I’m not holding one… I know it’s not my place. (I am not arguing about the Roe vs. Wade decision. My point is solely about how we sometimes take it upon ourselves, very vocally, to profess our “omnipotent knowledge” of whether or not God will allow someone into heaven and whether or not we have the “right” to “decide” what is best for society – with or without their participation “for the good of their own salvation.” I’m willing to say the answer for both is a profound and resolute “NO.”)

What happened in California with a certain specific Christian group paying off the politicians for votes in regards to proposition 8 was “religious tampering,” not “witnessing” and nothing more.

The resulting backlash once the facts were known because of it has damaged each and every single Christian regardless of doctrine or ideology. If someone doesn’t think so, then they simply aren’t paying attention and has a “silver spoon” dangling from their mouth..

socas4Freedom of choice without fear of religious or government persecution.

It’s Constitutional. It’s Biblical. And none of us are special enough to argue it.

Tough pills to swallow I know. Let me know if anyone needs milk… I have plenty.

(Yes, I AM the “loose cannon.” I always have been, anywhere I go, in any organization I am a member of, and I always will be. I’m proud of it. Loose Cannons keep you on your toes and make you “think” outside of the box.)

But ya know… if someone doesn’t like this, there IS a religion they might be more compatible with that forces specific law into its government to dictate to their people as a country how to live. If they wanted to follow this instead though, they’d have to get a Qu’ran. I have a feeling the transition would be a difficult one…

Just sayin’

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10469297_10152497730296010_7299212602779892117_oNathan Watts is an avid writer, armchair philosopher, businessman, and computer geek of the highest order. He is also a retired US Navy Veteran with 20 years of service to our country.

He hails from California and makes his home in the suburban Atlanta Metro area with his family. He is the founder and co-organizer of a local writers group, and a personal friend. Look for more of his writing here.

  1 comment for “Why Christians Are Our Own Worst Enemies

  1. Chris
    October 16, 2015 at 12:25 pm

    Nathan,

    Thank you for writing your article. It resonated with me in many ways. I don’t think I’ve ever agreed so much with an article.

    I was not born a Christian. I was born into an agnostic family in the middle of Kentucky. I was taught that religious organizations were zealots and hypocrites, who like to thump the bible at you and tell you what they’re doing wrong while refusing to look at their own faults. Unfortunately, this was my experience with most Christians, growing up and in my personal life.

    I married a “backsliding” Christian woman who was born into the southeastern Kentucky Church of God, which is basically Pentecostal as far as I can discern. They went to Church anytime the doors were open. Regardless of that fact, they were poor examples of Christian, to put it mildly. As an agnostic, I passed judgment on them and regarded myself as much more moral than most of those who professed their faith. In many ways I still believe I was. But being on the outside looking in and seeing their “silver spoons” which they tended to want to show everyone else by declaring their love for Christ and absolution of their righteousness, I had no interest in joining what I believed was a cult.

    At any rate, my wife who had no problems living in the sun up until about 5 years into our relationship began to find her faith again. I had no problems with this. I was actually happy for her I encouraged her renewal, but reaffirmed to her that I had no desire to be a Christian. We got married and her sister, who was Gods right cross, led a riot with her family that ruined our wedding day. My wife was in tears the entire day. This basically sealed the deal for my hatred of Christianity. My wife continued seeking her faith with my encouragement and in doing so found the courage and strength to forgive her sister and her family, something I couldn’t understand at the time. Her sister began to lead her in her faith and eventually led her to placed that I found and still find disturbing. Conversations turned to how Obama was a dark leader that was a sign of the end times and how no one should read Harry Potter books because they encourage witchcraft; “butt” became a curse word and I felt woefully inadequate as a person, and even more so as a husband.

    I was in no way the perfect husband. In some ways I was a horrible husband. I was becoming increasing frustrated by the rules that were placed in our marriage that were simply not to be broken and I believed were ridiculous. I was desperately trying to keep my wife happy in our marriage and tried every way I could think of to do so. I was extremely frustrated by how it seemed nothing I did was satisfactory to her. Unfortunately, I had a bad temper and in this time of frustration it was hard for me to control. I was undoubtedly verbally abusive on many occasions. My yelling scared my wife and in June of 2013 she took our child and left. She filed a an emergency protection order against me, keeping me away from her and our son. My wife moved in with her sister and until September of this year I had only been allowed visits with our son at a visitation center for 2 hours a week.

    I should say at this point that I’ve never loved anyone the way I love my son. I don’t think I ever truly knew what unconditional love was until he was born. The week she left with our son I was devastated. I finally looked at myself the way I looked at everybody else and realized some, but not all of my poor decisions and bad ways. I went to Church the next Sunday and though I had been with my wife almost every Sunday, I actually listened for the first time. The pastor was discussing a story of woman who had lost her faith because of how badly Christians had treated her. He mentioned a quote by Ghandi on her Face Book page: “I like your Christ. I do not like your Christians. Your Christians are so unlike your Christ.” I realized at that very moment I had been blaming Christ for all the wrongs done to me by Christians. I realized that Christians are human just like me; they make mistakes, just like me. I also came to realize that Christ died for their mistakes and mine. He wanted me to blame him for their mistakes, but he wanted me to appreciate why he took the blame. I was accepted Christ 30 minutes later.

    The parallels of God giving up his only son were a conviction to me from the experiences of my own life. I was in so much pain from being away from my son. Because of this I have some understanding of the sacrifice God made in Christ. I can’t say I completely understand, but I do have a much better understanding than ever before.

    Through classes, Christian counseling and support groups I have learned a great deal about God and even more about myself. I know why I was verbally abusive and how to keep it from happening again. I learned that I can’t fix others only myself and that hardship is part of life that God intends us to go through to build character.

    I can’t say my faith has been rock solid over the last 2 years. I’ve questioned why my wife has been so resolute in keeping our son away from me. Why she has been so uncooperative to my transparency in all of this. How she could do this to our son who has been very vocal about wanted to see more of me since the beginning of all of this and even now cries almost every time I drop him off with his mother because he wants to stay with me. I’ve questioned God, His love for me and even denied God for allowing her to do so. I’ve come to realize that i have to forgive her as well as myself every day and realize that we are both human and imperfect. I’m still immature as a Christian and know it, but I’m doing my best to grow and hope I am doing so in Christ.

    What I’m certain of is God commanded us to love, and not to judge. We cannot as Christians act in Gods word by judging anyone, whether they be gay, lesbian, transgender, believe in abortion or don’t believe in God. What we should do is exemplify Gods love and let them decide for themselves, otherwise we just push them away, just as I was pushed away. God didn’t make us come to him he gave us a choice to do so, we should give others that same choice and not force them.

    Nathan, I apologize for running on. I felt like I needed to write. I hope this is somewhat of a witness you were talking about in your article. If I have offended in any way I am truly sorry.

    I wish you the best in your life and writings.

    God bless,

    Chris

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