Believer?

A neighbour asked me recently if I was a believer.

I smiled and said that I had been raised in a Christian home. 

Deceptive?  Yes. 

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?

14 thoughts on “Believer?

  1. Ahab says:

    I’m always left scratching my head when Christians assume that morality is impossible without religious faith (more specifically, without fear of eternal punishment). Is the idea of being good for its own sake really so alien to them? It suggests an underdeveloped sense of ethics, in which fear of punishment is the only motivation to perform good acts and refrain from evil acts.

  2. Pascal’s Wager is a fraud. I would lead my life no differently believing in God or not believing in God.
    I wish I could find the quote, maybe you can, but it is to the effect that good people will always do good things; bad people will always do bad things but for good people to do really terrible things takes religion. I include Marxist-Leninist or National Socialist ideology as religion.

    • prairienymph says:

      A better version from http://de-conversion.com:
      Whether or not you believe in God, you should live your life with love, kindness, compassion, mercy and tolerance while trying to make the world a better place. If there is no God, you have lost nothing and will have made a positive impact on those around you. If there is a benevolent God reviewing your life, you will be judged on your actions and not just on your ability to blindly believe in creeds- when there is a significant lack of evidence on how to define God or if he/she even exists.

  3. theagnosticswife says:

    My mom has told me that without my Christan upbringing I would not have the values I have today and that those values will begin to fade as I stray further for God.

    She just doesn’t seem to understand. I agree with and stand for pretty much the same things as you.

  4. Cognitive Dissenter says:

    It scares me that some people behave only because of their fear of going to hell. I don’t consider such people to be moral. I would not trust them in a dark alley nor would I allow my kids to be alone with such people.

    On the other hand, an atheist/agnostic who chooses to do good things simply because that’s who they are and they take responsibility for their choices *is* moral.

    • prairienymph says:

      CD and Ahab – it is exactly an underdeveloped morality that needs fear of punishment to do the right thing. But for those types of people, I’d rather they be afraid of getting a ticket than for burning in hell.
      A’s Wife – isn’t it frustrating that some people keep saying the same things over and over, even with evidence to the contrary? Aarrgh. Any loving thing you do can’t actually be loving if you don’t believe. Any horrible thing the sky god did has to be loving and moral, just cuz.

  5. Macha says:

    I believe that fear of punishment is the absolute worst way to teach anybody to do the right thing. Why would an omniscient God know so little about developmental psychology??

    • prairienymph says:

      I’m glad that so many of God’s followers don’t actually do things out of fear. For the few scary leaders who claim they need the fear of hell in order to love their families, there are so many who actually do it.
      There is something to say for fear of punishment though. I probably don’t speed as much because I don’t want a ticket. Although a small fine isn’t quite the same as fear of torment. And maybe fear is ok as a substitute for maturity, as long as we don’t stay there?

  6. US says:

    We don’t teach our children to behave, listen, whatever because if they don’t they will receive punishment, we teach our children to behave because it is what benefits them and the others around them. Also teaches them respect and morals. As soon as you start behaving out of fear you often lose the respect and morals. Thats definetly not the kind of person I would trust at all. They have very little knowledge of right and wrong only of fear. I hope this makes sense.

    • prairienymph says:

      Yeah, and if you are afraid to disobey someone, I think you’d be more likely to do horrible things than if you chose your morality based on common good or something like that. The authority figure would just have to ask you to sacrifice your son and you’d do it.
      Although, Lil’T does clean up her toys when she knows she’ll lose them if she doesn’t. But, she isn’t afraid I’ll beat her.

      • Shauna says:

        But by taking away toys if she doesn’t clean them up your not teaching her fear, your teaching her respect. Respect for her stuff, respect for you, and respect for herself that she is worth having nicely cared for stuff.
        I’ve been a little louder and more harsh with my words around here lately, I’m sure almost everyone is afraid of me this week. While I hate it and wish I didn’t have to be, there have been some major rules undone these past few months that need to be re-established before baby arrives. There also needs to be respect re-established as I’ve listened to Kiwi and UncleR fight very nastily and ugly.
        So I think along the lines of fear sometimes a small amount of fear for the right reason may need to be instilled to create a positive outcome. Like kids fearing losing toys to respect them and listen. Or fearing being grounded or in time out or losing priveledges to learn how to treat others and themselves in appropriate ways.
        As with everything, there needs to be balance.

  7. Jen says:

    I guess I’m grateful that the people who need religion to be “good” have religion. Personally, I am grateful that I can trust me to know what is best at any given moment. I can rely on the best parts of me to guide me.

    And maybe I wouldn’t have learned my values without my religion – I’ll never know… I can be grateful they taught me the stuff I value, and I can be upset they taught me the things I don’t like. And just go on being me and doing the best I can.

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