A neighbour asked me recently if I was a believer.
I smiled and said that I had been raised in a Christian home.
Wrong? I don’t think so. This neighbour thinks giving kids candy on October 31 is worshipping the devil, but that it is ok for a pregnant woman to go to the bar in a sexy costume that same night. She has a lot of difficulties in her life, and she tends to hold grudges. I have no wish to add stress or be viewed as evil forever more.
But, we really aren’t so different. As my husband says, we still hold many of the same values and beliefs. (Although I’d take trick-or-treating over bars.)
Like my neighbours, my mom assumes that leaving Christianity will lead to a life of sin. We’ll be obligated to commit adultery and abuse our kids. Really, too many prominent Christian leaders do that, how could we escape it without fear of God and constant guilt trips?
As if fear of divine wrath is the best motivator for taking care of your family – sigh. While I’ve actually heard Christians say that if it wasn’t for fear of hell they would cheat on their wives, I’m pretty sure that most Christians don’t cheat because they love their spouses and respect them.
Regardless of my belief in god, I still believe in many of the values and ideals I was raised with.
I want to do what is best for my family. This includes respect, intimacy, mutual sacrifice and occasionally, cleaning up vomit.
I don’t measure my faithfulness to my family on how many times I did not commit adultery, but on how many times I chose to care for someone when they needed it. Many believers of deities would agree.
I believe abuse is wrong. Although we may differ on some of what constitutes abuse, most believers also hold this belief.
I won’t lie for Jesus anymore (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DoOY2wC9eNE&feature=related click if you’ve heard the lie about the States being founded on Christian principles) but neither would many Christians or Muslims.
But I will lie if I think the truth will cause harm. Just like my husband’s relatives did when they helped Jews in Nazi-occupied Holland. And, many Christians would do the same.
I believe in ethics, compassion, and trying to do what is best even when it is hard.
I value life. I value some forms of life over others: I have no qualms about killing spiders, although I don’t wish for all spiders to die. I’d save a human child over a dog or cat. I value fully formed life over potential life. (You want to spill your seed on the ground, I won’t strike you dead :p
I don’t believe I need to hold on to an imagined deity in order to value good things. But I still value good things.
We really aren’t so different. Many Christians have told themselves that beliefs about god shape their values. While partly true, their values also shape their idea of god. Many of their gods I like. But I recognize that I don’t need one to keep the values I hold. I am now free to be more caring and compassionate now that I’m not told to view certain groups as inherently ‘sinful’.
So, if someone asks if I’m a believer because they need someone they feel safe with to talk to like my neighbour- yes, I believe in compassion.
If someone asks if I’m a believer because they want a team member in pushing others outside the circle- well, I don’t believe in that.
Any more similar values and beliefs you’d like to add?