For years, I’ve operated under the determined belief that it’s possible for evangelical Christians and non-Christians to coexist peacefully with mutual respect and empathy. There’s an entire series on this blog called “For the Well-Meaning Christian,” for pity’s sake. I’ve long defended evangelicals and fundamentalists alike, insisting that if they could only understand the harm they’re perpetuating, they would change.
But I simply can’t keep clinging to that belief. Not when it’s proven wrong at every turn in the political sphere and my own personal life. I can’t continue, in good conscience, telling my non-Christian, queer, non-white, disabled, and trans friends to give evangelicals in their lives another chance.
I maintain that Christian cruelty isn’t deliberately malicious. But incidental maliciousness is worse in many ways. One of their own favourites, C. S. Lewis, agrees with me on this concept:
Of all tyrannies, a tyranny sincerely exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive. It would be better to live under robber barons than under omnipotent moral busybodies. The robber baron’s cruelty may sometimes sleep, his cupidity may at some point be satiated; but those who torment us for our own good will torment us without end for they do so with the approval of their own conscience.C. S. Lewis
As Members of Society
It is “with the approval of their own consciences” that most Christians in my life — and in the lives of almost every formerly-conservative person I’ve ever talked to — sincerely weep in concern…as they tell you that you’re going to be tortured for eternity. The capital crime varies, but ultimately comes down to a disagreement on the existence of the supernatural (or the conclusions drawn about such a thing). Worse, they can’t fathom that a deity who would subject its creation to eternal torment for this is an evil being, not a benevolent one. Certainly not a loving one.
These Christians smile as they tell you that God loves you so much — that He butchered His son to prove it.
The devout apologetically remind abuse victims leaving their spouses that the only biblical allowance for divorce is infidelity — and even then, don’t you want to be Christlike and forgive? If not, then you’re no longer welcome at their church. They can’t have sin in the camp, you know.
The Christians I grew up with, despite being overwhelmingly white, are often racially inclusive! But they whisper to one another about how concerned they are with people “mixing cultures.” After all, won’t that be difficult and confusing? Is it really wise to do such a thing?
Conservative Christians treat anyone who’s not a virgin and not married as if they’re delusional and diseased. They can’t conceive of a healthy sexual ethic outside of monogamous straight cis marriage.
Even if a non-virgin is a Christian, many consider all decisions made by this person to be suspect. And if said person is committed to and/or living with their partner(s), they derisively say that those people are “merely playing house,” as if exercising bodily autonomy and sharing a life and love with someone is fake or pretend.
They told me to rejoice when I was sexually assaulted, and chided me for not using the opportunity to tell my attacker about Jesus.
Then, of course, conservatives become truly afraid and concerned if someone isn’t straight or cis. If someone is queer, surely they can’t be trusted around children. And if you’re a gender they could be interested in, it’s not safe for you to be alone with them, either!
It seems that sex is inconceivable to Christians as something that mutually consenting adults enjoy. It can only be something that a man enjoys with an object of his choosing.
As Loved Ones with Prodigals
Some believers, when they hear about one of their own leaving the faith, will forbid their children to keep in contact with the person. It’s almost as if there’s concern that evangelical belief can’t withstand outside scrutiny or debate.
And heaven forbid if that former Christian shows up to an event where many of the fold are also gathered. Good Christian parents will clutch their children and turn their backs. Look not upon the unbeliever.
Nothing we former Christians say is considered trustworthy. Only true followers of Christ can correctly interpretation the contents of our lives and souls. No amount of explanation or demonstration can change their minds.
When Christians learn someone who’s “backslidden” (or otherwise noncompliant) is having trouble in life, they offer their love to the struggling soul and vow to pray. And they do pray! They pray that the person will be further broken, further hurt — “whatever it takes to bring them back to the Lord.” Maybe it’s an abusive relationship. Or being raped. Or losing their job. Or losing their home. Even if the believer could help, they must refuse — because helping could interfere with the Lord’s plan to win his lost sheep back, whatever it takes.
Go in peace, be warmed and be filled.Modern Evangelicals who are apparently unfamiliar with James 2:15–17.
And if such a person dies, they weep genuinely sad tears. They’re so heartbroken over the loss. It’s so sad that this prodigal fell so far from grace that the Lord had to take them out of the world lest they defile His name any further. God must have the glory, no matter the collateral damage.
Shaking the dust off my feet
I maintain that evangelicals and fundamentalists are well-meaning. Full of care and feelings of love and compassion.
But these believers refuse to see the results of their actions for what they are. They refuse to accept responsibility for the impact of their words and deeds. They suffocate us with kind intent and then blame us for not being able to breathe. The importance of a good testimony is stressed among the fold, but the testimony of the flock is considered spotless when it drives people away. After all, anyone who leaves is bitter and hateful and broken. It’s certainly not their fault.
With their cruelty in Christ, evangelicals demonstrate their preference for Barabas. And, like Pontius Pilate, it is with the approval of their conscience that they wash their hands of the consequences.