By Bill J
I've come to realize that loving someone without God is incredibly freeing. I mean, as a Christian I was compelled to love people, even my enemies, but to truly love someone you have to be free to do it. Christianity is not about freedom because the ever present threat of hell looms near. It’s also a commandment. It’s not an option. How would you like to be commanded to love everyone? I command you to love every vile dictator and every person that has ever done you wrong. I command you to love the homeless mentally ill drug addict in your city. I command you to love the man that raped your love one. I command you to love the neighbor who lets his dog shit on your lawn. I command you to love your spouse who keeps cheating on you. I command you to love the guy/gal at work who bugs you. Is this really what Christians do?
I work in corrections, so I see a lot of people who have done bad things. I've learned that being professional and reasonable goes a lot farther when dealing with people then being rude and thoughtless. I've also learned that pretending to care does nothing for people. But life is messy and commandments like love your enemy and do good to those that persecute you seem misplaced when dealing with dictators, sex offenders or serial killers. I should think that the Bible should say, "Be fair-minded and just with those who are your enemies. Respond with reason and integrity toward those who persecute you." That makes far more sense than loving your enemies.
There is no room for killing your enemy in the New Testament. Many Christians go to war just as easily as the next person. I hardly find killing Iraqi soldiers forced to do Saddam's bidding as loving. I hardly see collateral damage as loving. I hardly see using force to stop terrorism as loving. Don’t get me wrong, sometimes force is the right thing to do, but Christianity does not really allow for this kind of thing. Christians are told to turn the other cheek. They are under a new commandment to love. They are no longer allowed to take an eye for an eye. The Quakers seem to understand this part of the Bible.
Some Christians do their best to love people, but how do we know if it's because they really love you? Are they doing it to please God? Do they feel pressured by the Bible to love you? The last thing I'd want in a relationship is someone loving me because they have to, not because they want to. Now consider the person who loves people because they truly love people? They love their spouse because; guess what, they really love them. It's not because they are commanded to love them as Christ loves the church. In my opinion, any person who truly loves someone without the need of religion, the fear of hell fire or having to be commanded by Jesus is truly special, and I have far more respect for that person then the greatest Christian who ever lived.
Here's another thing to think about. If you are not redeemed by Jesus, no matter how loving you are, you will rot in hell for all eternity with the worst of them. It's sad to think that Christianity is pretty clear on this matter. As for me, I continue to work at loving people because it makes sense, it's rational; it makes people feel special and reminds me how important life is. I don't do it because a book tells me I have to. If I don't love people, then I honestly don't love them. I treat them fair, but I don't pretend. I don't put on a smile and act like they are special. It seems to me that loving means being real and honest with people. I'd rather spend my energy really loving those in my family I care about and those who treat me with equality then falsely love everyone around me because some error laden book tells me that some guy, from two thousand years ago, who claimed to be God, commands me to love everyone.
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Online Reading List
- An Outline of Intellectual Rubbish by Bertrand Russell (1943)
- Bible Teaching and Religious Practice by Mark Twain
- God is Imaginary
- Is there an Artificial God? by Douglas Adams (1998)
- Skeptics Annotated Bible
- The Age of Reason by Thomas Paine (1795)
- Which Way? by Robert Ingersoll (1884).
- Why I Am Not A Christian by Bertrand Russell (1927)