Love thy neighbor...

A lot of Christians spend significant amounts of time preaching about love. Many like to feel that their faith has the market on love cornered: "The world's love is a joke. It is as temporary and failing as our hearts. God's love is vast and eternal, and yes He has a jealous heart."

And yet so many Christians in this country treat their fellow man as if they have never heard of the concept of love. Devout and conservative Christians have held back the advancement of Civil Rights since our country's founding. In the Antebellum South Christians used their bible to defend slavery. Now they use their bible to deny equal rights for the LGBT community.

But that's not the worst of it. Intolerance hurts those closest to you the most. The gay son or daughter that is forced into "therapy" to "cure" them. The atheist child that is thrown out of the home for not believing the family religion. The lover that refuses to commit to you because they sincerely believe you are not a good person without religion.

I came across a letter at the Friendly Atheist that is an example of the last case. The woman is asking for advice, she wants to marry this man, but despite how much he personally loves her, he believes he has to hate what she is.

...For over six years I have been dating a wonderful man who I love with all my heart. He is everything I’ve wanted in a potential husband, and I know he loves me deeply. We’ve both been through previous marriages and both understand the importance of making sure that a relationship is solid before committing to marriage. We’re at the point now where I would love to marry this man. I cannot even begin to express how compatible we are. We agree on our overall views of marriage, relationships, child rearing, and employment and most importantly, we love each others’ company. There’s only one problem: I am an atheist, and he is a devout Christian. I take no issue with his Christianity except that I am not willing to compromise my beliefs and become a Christian myself. That apparently is a show-stopper.

He is more than willing to continue our relationship and has never had an issue dating me, but he says he doesn’t think we could be married because the bible says he should not be “unequally yoked” and because, as an atheist, I am “closed-hearted,” “selfish,” “have no moral foundation,” and of course am “eventually going to hell." Strangely, this has never stopped him from seeing me, dating me, or…well…otherwise enjoying my company.

He may act like he loves her, but his faith has warped it into a condescending and judgmental love.

I am incredibly lucky that my wife choose to stick with me when I shared my realization that I was an atheist. After an initial shock she realized that nothing that made me me had changed. She realized that she had a choice between loving me for who I am, or making her love for me contingent on conforming to her religious background.

While lucky in that respect, I have experienced that two-faced Christian "love" as well: told by a family member that I am evil, that I am doing the devil's work, and in the same breath that relative tried to convince me they love me.

Love isn't about judgement, love isn't about conforming. Love is when you will do absolutely anything for the other person for the simple reason that you want them to be happy and to do well. Love is about being willing to give your life to someone who thinks differently than you, not stringing them along until they convert or leave you.

I know many compassionate and loving Christians. But their compassion and love does not come from their religion, it comes from within. They have no spiritual advantage over myself or my wife when it comes to love, that is about who we are and what we stand for. The idea that love only comes from a divine source ultimately hurts themselves as well. I feel bad for the people that think they would be incapable of love without their religion.

Christianity is a great dehumanizing force. For all of the parables about love and tolerance, at its core is the message that without blind submission to a supernatural entity, each and every one of us is evil and worthless. When I let go of Christianity I was better able to love my neighbor, and to love myself for who I am.

In search of reason,



  1. GREAT entry, Mike.
    I agree wholeheartedly with all of it.

    And yeah, that woman needs to leave that man. No matter how compatible they are, he clearly looks down on her.

  2. From the sounds of it he is almost two different people. I'm just speculating, but my impression is that for day to day things he loves her and is good to her, but as soon as marriage or children are mentioned the religion starts talking.

    He's been trained to see his commitment to god as more important in those aspects of his life than his love for his partner. He parrots these hateful and discriminatory ideas that have been put in his head, he can't see her as someone he loves, only as an unbeliever, in those moments.

    What jumps out at me and makes me think this is the "unequally yoked" comment. That is not language a modern American would use; unless the religious framework is leading him.

    She needs someone who will always see her as a person, not a "them" to be distrustful of.

  3. I hope you're right in the sense that there is a dissonance occurring within this man. If that's true, he may, some day, sense the conflict and seek to resolve it.

    But if he honestly looks down on her 100% of the time, she will never be able to have a healthy relationship with him. In his eyes, there's nothing to fix. Nothing except her, that is.


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