Answer Tough Questions

Many students feel like there is nothing special about the Bible. They feel it is a collection of religious sentiments and is therefore just like any other religious book. It may also have a more subversive agenda in that it is meant to promote one particular view of Christianity at the expense of more “tolerant” options.

Because of an American view of slavery, it is often assumed that all slavery--including slavery in the Bible--was and is as horrific as the transatlantic slave trade. The reality is that there are more humans being sold into slavery today than in the entire transatlantic slave trade. There are 27 million slaves in the world today.

No one who reads through the Bible can ignore the blatant misogyny and barbarity toward women. There are examples of sexism toward women in both the Old and New Testament, and Christians today still use those scriptures to oppress women.

A common misperception of Christianity and religion is the claim that most violence and war is caused by religious belief/intolerance. The argument goes: religion is intolerant and divisive, thus promoting violence and being at the root of most wars/conflicts in history, and should, accordingly, be dismissed in the name of peace and societal progress. At best, this claim is a fundamental misunderstanding and/or lack of knowledge of historical conflicts. At worst, it is a deliberate misconstruing of Christianity, religion, and history in general, based upon an anti-theistic worldview.

Some skeptics of the Christian faith root their apathy or rejection of Christ in a fundamental assumption of religion in general. Namely, they see religion, and Christianity by association, as merely a means of “living a good life” or becoming a “good” person. While this goal may be the focus of some religions, secular society, and many individuals, it is not the primary goal of Christianity. This misunderstanding, coupled with a culture of self-made morality/truth, creates room for the assumption that we can understand what being a “good person” means apart from God and attain it on our own.

Many students were dragged to church at a young age by a parent or grandparent simply because it was the proper thing to do. At church they would hear things like “love your neighbor” and “turn the other cheek” when they had friends who were excommunicated from the church for a teenage pregnancy or for “coming out.” The hypocrisy that they felt was personal and affected many of them in a number of ways. So…I would start this conversation by asking more questions. What this person is struggling with is a surface knowledge of God, with apathy, laziness, and hurt. Start by asking questions to hear their story and get them to think about what they really believe, and then… let them experience Jesus.

Many of you may have experienced a conversation where someone says, “How can you believe in a God who allows so much hurt and pain in the world.” And many of you, including myself may have responded with something like this, “Because people are inherently bad and we have an evil nature. God doesn’t do this we do.” Although this is technically the correct answer, this often doesn’t fully satisfy students in today’s culture wondering about this issue. These students are often the activists on campus, the ones that are passionate about justice, who want change, they have a sensitive nature and care deeply for people.

Don’t we all want scientific, verifiable evidence that God exists? The seeming lack of evidence can drive people to dismiss the possibility of God’s existence, especially those with a more scientific or logical bent. Christians, when confronted with the accusation that no tangible evidence of God exists, often find themselves confused because it sounds like an atheist “throwing down the gauntlet.”

In the media today, we often hear accusations of how outdated the Bible and the church are, especially as it relates to issues like women’s rights. The implication is that Christianity is irrelevant to the world today. These types of accusations are often made as authoritative blanket statements, yet rarely does anyone stop and question the validity of these accusations.

First, it seems totally inconsistent with the idea that God is love. If God is love, wouldn’t God find a way to bring people everlasting joy and life instead? Second, is it really fair for finite mistakes or bad choices in this life to result in everlasting (eternal) punishment? The punishment doesn’t fit the crime. Third, has everyone even had a fair chance to learn about God and Jesus? Do those people get sent to hell because they grew up in the wrong country where no one believes in Christianity?