5/28/2011 | Share this article: View CommentsBy ParticleMan ~
Why does God’s plan for my missionary friends always revolve around me sending money to subsidize homeschooling their n children? (where n ≥ 3)
One the things that we agnostics / atheists tend to get upset about is when Christian friends reject us once they find out our true beliefs. I don’t want to do the same thing in reverse, so I attempt to keep up polite contacts with people I knew from my ‘true believer’ days. In the course of corresponding with them there are sometimes intense moments of reverse-schadenfreude - seeing how silly I too must have sounded to the outside world. Except sometimes I can’t laugh about it – sometimes it is downright frustrating. I’d like to write about this partly to just get some of the dissonance ‘off my chest’ and partly to seek feedback from others on this site.
None of my old Christian friends know that I am no longer a true believer anymore – I don’t live in the same town or see them personally. These are people that I was good friends with in college, e.g., through campus ministries and mission trips I went on. My only contact now is through email and Facebook. So, I really don’t see the purpose or benefit in ‘rocking’ their world by spilling my guts about how I now see everything we used to believe as a delusion. That is, unless I was to be asked directly something like “what is God teaching you these days?” or “how is your walk?” Thus far, I haven’t been asked.
I’d be interested in knowing from other people on this site: What do you do when old Christian friends write you / call you? Do you come right out and let them know you are no longer “one of them? Or do you just try to be human and civil – a friend – as long as they will allow the civil discourse? What do you do when the delusion of Christianity leads them to, unknowingly, write insulting and socially-alienating things?
The other day I got an email from a missionary friend who has been ‘led by God’ to move his ministry and family back home to the U.S. I used to support him financially when he first got started - many years ago. Like direct-mail marketing, one thing I’ve noticed is that missionaries will keep writing you forever once you’ve given them a single dime. There is always the hope, I suppose, that you will take that ‘step of faith’ and join the team. I’ve written these letters myself for short-term missions – years ago of course.
One thing that really struck me about this letter was the odd disconnection from what is socially appropriate and the apparent lack of insight about how his readers would feel. My friend proudly announced that they will be back to the U.S. in 2 months (thanks for the advance warning) and that God has led his wife to homeschool their 3 kids once they are here. Hence, because they will rely on his income only (apparently God has ruled-out her working except to homeschool their kids), they will require more support and please can we prayerfully consider whether God would have us give…you know the rest. This is a not uncommon theme – I’ve gotten numerous letters like these over the years. And here’s what bothers me.
Apparently the ‘godless’ public schools in insert country where they currently reside, are sufficient, but not those in the U.S. where the majority of his letter recipients are currently sending their kids to public school.
Even though most of the people receiving his letter are probably hard-working, two-income families like mine that are sending their kids to public school, he is saying that is not good enough for his kids. Furthermore, it is not good enough because God told them so (apparently I haven’t gotten the same command to rise above the rif-raf and start my own private school).
So, after this implicit insult, he then proceeds to ask that we find extra money to send so that we can subsidize not his direct work, but his chosen lifestyle (homeschooling for his children).
All of this is requested without a hint that he just insulted and alienated most of his readers. This is a social-exchange that in any other context, would lead most normal people to avoid you forever, e.g., insult me because I am not living the kind of isolated-from-the-rif-raf-life that God has called him to, then ask me to support his ‘better’ life. It is dehumanizing and impersonal. So, why is it SO COMMON among Christians to write such impersonal, self-centered trash and then proudly send it out expecting great returns? Why do more Christians not find offence at this pattern of exchange? Is this just another result of believing in a magic invisible man in the sky?