“Do you believe that Jesus Christ died on the cross for your sins and that is your only hope of heaven?” The question hung in the air…I knew this moment would come. I actually looked forward to it in some ways. Pretending to be someone I’m not, is not my strong suit. I had two choices, lie and make her feel better, or tell the truth and get it over with.
I took a deep breath and said, “No, I don’t believe that–not anymore.”
I expected the anger, the defensiveness. and the hurt. Even though she was my sister, she was also a staunch Christian and I had basically just told her I was doomed.
“What?! This can’t be true, why, how, do you realize what you are saying? Don’t you ever tell mom and dad. It would kill them. This is a nightnare!”
I struggled to answer her questions, seeing she was about to lose it, and we were in a very public p;ace. but I was surprisingly calm. I told her I hoped to never tell mom and dad, that I had never wanted to tell her.
“Do you really want to hear why my views have changed? Do you want to listen with an open mind or do you want to argue?” I asked.She said that she really wanted to hear my reasons and would listen with an open mind. By the way, never believe a hardcore Christian when they tell you that.
I won’t go into the sorted details about the back and forth arguments, which I honestly did not want to engage in, but suffice to say they went nowhere. How do you have an intelligent debate with someone who says they don’t need evidence, they just simply know that what they believe is true and they would never read or study anything outside of Christianity because they don’t need to and the Bible tells them not to anyway?
She said that she knows beyond a shadow of a doubt that Christianity is true because she feels it to be true. I reminded her that people from all religions feel that way and asked her if she thought they were right too. She said that they weren’t; they were deceived. I let that answer sit there for a moment. As I looked at her, it was as if I were looking at a pod person or someone who had been hypnotized. I don’t really know how to explain it. She then told me that she had never heard of anyone who had been truly born again and then had “turned away.” I told her that she would be surprised. The lunch actually ended well, surprisingly.
It was the next day, after she had had time to talk to someone, I don’t know who, that she called me and informed me that what I was dealing with was a “heart issue.” She wanted me to tell her why I had rejected Christianity, “from my heart, not from my head.” I was stymied…I finally responded by telling her, I couldn’t do that, because it was my brain that had given me the ability to sort through all the evidence and well, my brain is in my head so… She proceeded to ask me if perhaps it was because I had taken philosophy at school last semester that I had become confused. It took everything i me not to burst out laughing. To be honest, I took philosophy because of my questioning, not the other way around.
She finally told me she wasn’t really worried because she “knows that I’m just going through a phase.” I calmly, but firmly told her that I was not. Then things got ugly. She began to explain to me (loudly), that I was destined for hell if I didn’t “turn back.” She said that she is going to be my “intervention” and not let up. She was not about to let me go to hell. She said that if I thought that all my Christian friends were not going to confront me I was wrong and that I would have to move to another state if I wanted to be left alone. I felt my heart rate increase–she was pushing all my “fear buttons.” I asked her to please not do that and to respect my beliefs. She said she couldn’t do that. The Bible commands her not to. I remained calm, but I was shaking. I asked her if she was going to force me to estrange myself from her. She said she didn’t care, she would not ever give up.
Let me just stop here and explain that because I come from the same religious background, I completely understand where she is coming from. A couple of years ago, I would have said the same thing….ugh, I hate that, but it’s true. She feels it’s her God given responsibility to “save me from the flames.” I understand it, and at the same time it scares the hell out of me (excuse the pun) because how am I ever going to live my life openly and honestly in the city where I have lived for 20+ years as a Christian? Right now I’m thinking that will probably be impossible. But, I digress…
Our phone conversation ended with her yelling at me that I will literally burn in hell if I don’t come back to Jesus. Okay then, bye-bye and have a nice day…..
She called me the rest of the day leaving voice and text messages, I didn’t pick up. She said she was sorry if– if she had hurt me with anything she had said and that it was all said (yelled) in love. She hoped I wouldn’t cut her out of my life. I finally called her back. She didn’t answer, phew! I left a message telling her that I only mentioned cutting her out of my life after she had said she will never leave me alone and that the whole, “you’re going to burn in hell scenario did make me feel a bit uncomfortable.” I accepted her “if” apology. I love those. I agreed with her that the subject of religion will be taboo for us from now on, which I think is sad.
So now I have a pretty good idea about how the whole “coming out” thing is probably going to go. I’m already learning from it. So, the next time one of my Christian friends or family members asks me if I believe the only way to heaven is through Jesus Christ, I will say, “Say, have you lost weight?”