genuine question from atheist - view on Christanity and personal responsibility

(1000 Posts)
kentishgirl Fri 21-Mar-14 11:26:32

Hi - promise this isn't just Christian-baiting.

I've come to the conclusion that Christianity is a substitute for having a personal conscience or taking personal responsibility. Being a Christian is like having a 'get out of jail free card' in that you are taught God will forgive you anything. So you can do anything, as bad as you like, go and pray for forgiveness and move on, slate wiped clean, feeling great about yourself. So it doesn't matter if you do wrong. As an atheist, if I do something wrong, it's always with me, it's always on my conscience, so that makes me always try to do the right thing.
I didn't always think this way. It's the only way I can make any sense of something that happened to me at the hands of a couple of serious, committed Christians. One of them even works full time for a church. They did something terrible to me but have shown no remorse, no guilt, and made no attempt to make things right with me. I'm positive they prayed for guidance at the time and then forgiveness afterwards, and now all's good in their world, while I'm still dealing with the fall-out.
Am I really wrong in interpreting Christianity in this way? Isn't it true that it enables horrible behaviour by teaching you that if you do wrong, all you've got to do is pray for forgiveness afterwards, and you are ok, never mind the effect of what you did? Basically if God is your only judge, and forgiveness is guaranteed, it gives you permission to act like a right bastard as long as you say sorry to God afterwards? there's no personal responsibility for what you have done.

capsium Fri 21-Mar-14 14:51:04

I think we all come from different starting points and have different strengths and weaknesses.

An atheist could of course behave more 'morally' than a Christian some areas, if the Christian has not worked that particular flaw out yet.

I believe Redemption occurs upon Salvation at a spiritual level, but it can take a while for the renewed spirit to change the way we behave. People come to Christ with a set of bad habits. It can take a while to even realize they are bad. We grow in Christ.

A person can even have been a Christian for years and years but still have bad habits. Some bad habits might be the last to go.

capsium Fri 21-Mar-14 14:53:11

things that people who want to call themselves Christian can pick and choose all those that reinforce their inherent bigotries and feel the smug satisfaction of being a good Christian, without having to change a single thing about themselves.

That has not been my experience. Some things I have found personally very challenging. I have changed since being more committed to my Faith.

Flicktheswitch Fri 21-Mar-14 14:59:42

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

BigDorrit Fri 21-Mar-14 15:02:25

It is a very common experience though. The late, unlamented Fred Phelps would back up all his atrocious behaviour and obvious bigotry with the Bible and claim he was going God's work.

I like Steven Weinberg's famous quote; “With or without religion, you would have good people doing good things and evil people doing evil things. But for good people to do evil things, that takes religion.”

capsium Fri 21-Mar-14 15:03:25

Flicktheswitch Why?

Do you not believe an atheist can behave more 'morally', in some areas, than a Christian?

Is it the fact I say this as a Christian?

Is it because 'morally' is in inverted commas? - I did this because people do not agree on what behaving morally is.

capsium Fri 21-Mar-14 15:05:19

Good people doing evil things does not take religion, only ignorance.

BigDorrit Fri 21-Mar-14 15:07:02

I think you've missed Flick's point. I believe most atheists believe more morally than most Christians, but the quote suggested that maybe, just maybe, an atheist could, maybe once in a while, behave slightly more morally than a Christian, although only a bad Christian.

capsium Fri 21-Mar-14 15:08:47

Don't get it.

Beastofburden Fri 21-Mar-14 15:09:00

cap I thought that was awfully patronising too.

An athiest might manage to be more moral than a christian, if the christian hasn't quite perfected themselves in that specific area yet?

Er, no. An athiest might easily manage to be more moral than a christian at all times and in all areas, whether or not that christian thinks they have attained perfection. Atheists are exactly as likely to be moral as christians are.

Believing in christ does not make you moral. All it proves is you that believe in christ. You might or might not be moral; so might I.

BigDorrit Fri 21-Mar-14 15:11:18

To be perfectly honest, atheists behave morally because they believe it is the right thing to do. Behaving morally because someone told you to and threatened you with eternal damnation if you didn't do so doesn't seem to be quite so moral to me.

capsium Fri 21-Mar-14 15:12:46

Beast

Being a Christian is a lifetimes work though. We are not perfected until the afterlife.

What being a Christian does or does not do for a person is a matter of belief. I am speaking about my beliefs as a Christian.

Flicktheswitch Fri 21-Mar-14 15:13:06

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

capsium Fri 21-Mar-14 15:15:33

BigDorrit You seem to have circumvented all ideas of God's Grace changing us from the inside out. Although this is a matter of Christian belief again.

But I do know what I believe. I don't need you to tell me.

capsium Fri 21-Mar-14 15:16:37

I never said good selfless or kind behaviour was the sole preserve of Christians, quite the opposite in fact.

capsium Fri 21-Mar-14 15:17:55

You lot seem to be assigning a tone to my posts which does not exist. Projection?

bluepen Fri 21-Mar-14 15:19:05

Have you thought about exposing them kentishgirl?

TheSporkforeatingkyriarchy Fri 21-Mar-14 15:22:20

No matter what the text says (and it is translated and can be interpreted in many ways, particularly since any prior to a certain point among many others were destroyed), it is and has been used the way you describe. People who dismiss that this happens or call those people not real Christians are only supporting these people and not bringing about any real change in any of the Christian movements. Historically and currently this is used as a way to covert people particularly in colonial and neoimperial situations.

My father is an abusive man in multiple ways who manipulates women to pay his debts, allowed his children to starve when we lived in his home, a drunk and a drug addict who threatened us that if we left the faith he would be morally obligated to kidnap "his grandchildren". His family's opinion is that we should forgive him and have a relationship with him because if God can forgive him then so can we (even though that threat still stands and is a knows carried out threat within multiple Christian groups across multiple countries). And these are not laypeople - my father's father is a high ranking minister, as is my father's brother, his BIL, and the entire family are important members of their religious community (it's sadly where he tends to find the women he targets). And that community has protected him from his actions with that line. He has had to take no personal responsibility because his family and their religion will protect him. And anyone who would say that he or they are not Christians ignores that it is Christianity that gives them and him the power to be safe from things that others would not be. The power comes from Christianity and it is only from within that problem can be corrected (as the rest of us will be ignored even when we are raised and studied it personally and academically for many years).

kentishgirl Fri 21-Mar-14 15:31:47

Have you thought about exposing them kentishgirl? Oh yes I thought about it, fantasised about it even, but no, vengeance isn't my thing. I'm not dropping down to their level.

bluepen Fri 21-Mar-14 15:34:41

If you are not felling vengeful, it wouldn't be vengence.

It is about justice. And you will be doing the church and the people concerned a favour.

BigDorrit Fri 21-Mar-14 16:05:09

Projection? Really? Is that the best you can come up with?

I'm obviously not the only person who read that sentence in the same way.

Avoidance? Or do you really feel that all Christians are automatically more moral than anyone else?

Flicktheswitch Fri 21-Mar-14 16:10:05

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

capsium Fri 21-Mar-14 16:15:35

Flick I have stated several times that I do not think all Christians are automatically more moral than anyone else.

Even if you read some ambiguity into what I was saying (I honestly do not see it) I have clarified my view several times and tbh it is frustrating.

Flicktheswitch Fri 21-Mar-14 16:19:33

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

capsium Fri 21-Mar-14 16:23:00

Flick I could not have clarified more clearly than in my last post!

How many times do I have to write it out? Is it like doing lines?

Flicktheswitch Fri 21-Mar-14 16:26:05

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

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