Is Christianity false or is it just mean and judgmental?

Have you noticed lately that there is a decided lack of atheists who argue against Christianity on factual grounds? Instead of constructing arguments against Christian theism, what I am seeing more and more of is that people try to say that Christianity makes some group feel bad, and therefore Christianity is not worthy of pursuit and engagement.

Here’s how it works. You have a person who has some sinful habit or other that they don’t want to give up, and they notice that people are judging them and saying that what they are doing is wrong. And they feel bad. And they decide to attack Christianity to make the Christians stop judging them. So how do they do it? Do they argue that the concept of God is logically incoherent? No… Do they argue that some instances of evil and suffering are gratuitous? No… Do they argue that the universe is eternal so that it had no Creator? No…

What do they do?

What they do is pick on some statement by a conservative Christian that makes them feel bad, and then claim that they are victims of meanness. And apparently, making someone feel bad is some sort of disproof of Christian theism. Why is that? It’s because have decided as a culture that the purpose of religion is to make people feel good about themselves and to be “nice” to other people. And by “nice”, we mean not making other people feel bad about the sinfulness of their behavior. So people are making Christianity irrelevant just by assuming that the purpose of life is happiness, and that any religion that makes people unhappy can be dismissed.

Before, people thought about Christianity as something that you investigated, and that was either true or false. People understood that Christianity made claims about the external world that were either true or false. For example, Christianity claims that the universe had a beginning in the finite past. And the people who disagreed with Christianity would try to produce arguments and evidence that the universe was eternal, as with the steady-state theory or the oscillating model of the universe. And people were willing to change their behavior to match what was true, even when it made them feel less happy. But not any more.

I think somehow, as a society, we have internalized the following beliefs:

  • God wants me to have happy feelings
  • the purpose of religion is to give me happy feelings
  • God’s moral will for me is that I be “nice” to others
  • being nice to others means accepting whatever they want to do as “good”
  • accepting whatever anyone does makes them like me
  • when people like me, I feel happy, which is what God wants
  • there is no need for me to study God’s existence
  • God exists when I want to be comforted, and doesn’t exist when I want to sin
  • there is no need for me to study God’s character
  • God’s character is pretty much like my character, whatever I want is fine with God
  • there are no moral rules or obligations from God that apply to me
  • religions are all the same, I choose the one that makes me feel happy

So you can see that someone who believes things like this can claim to be a Christian, but would actually attack real Christians who hold to the old view of exclusive factual claims and moral judgments. The real Christians are people who have studied these questions, who know that God exists, and what he is like, and accept the Bible’s moral teachings as authoritative. So you could have a famous pastor who defends the Bible’s prohibition on sex before marriage, and have someone feel bad about being judged, and then a bunch of these “the purpose of life is happiness” people will appear and chastise that pastor for making people feel bad. And many of them will claim to be Christians, and attend church, too.

Now notice that this mob of happy-feelings people are not going argue against the pastor using the Bible, because the Bible is pretty clearly against fornication. What they’ll do instead is they’ll pick out some piece of the Bible that seems unfair, like the slaughter of some group of child-sacrificing pagans, and they’ll rail against that Bible passage in order to discredit the Bible’s authority on moral questions. And then the good conservative pastor is made to feel bad because he has broken those unwritten laws – he made someone feel bad using this evil book. That’s the new purpose of life.

No factual claims about God’s existence were made. No historical arguments were made. No evidence was presented. The mere fact that the Bible is mean to talk about killing the poor Canaanites is used to prove that the Bible has no moral authority at all, on any issue. “It’s mean” entails that it’s false. And you can have people who read the Bible for devotions, who sing in church, and who lead worship, who think that the Bible is false because it’s mean, and it’s mean because it can be used to judge people and make them feel bad.

An example

Now consider single motherhood, as in this case.

Excerpt:

She tells her children to do as she says and not as she does.

But the words of mother of 14 Joanne Watson – who receives more than £2,000 a month in state handouts – have fallen on deaf ears.

Her 15-year-old daughter Mariah is pregnant, the father has ‘left the scene’, and the youngster is about to start living off benefits.

Mrs Watson, 40, is raising her giant brood alone after parting from her husband John, 46, three years ago, and breaking up with subsequent partner Craig le Sauvage, 35, last year.

Despite this, she has still managed to squirrel away enough cash for a £1,600 breast enhancement and a sunbed. She claims she has always encouraged her daughters to use contraception – but, inevitably, it seems they would rather follow the family tradition.

Mariah’s pregnancy comes after Mrs Watson’s oldest daughter Natasha, 22, got pregnant with her son Branford, now six, when she was 16. Her second eldest daughter Shanice, 19, also got pregnant at 16 with her 22-month-old son Marley.

Mariah says she has no concerns about becoming a teenage mother, as it seems the most natural thing in the world. Initially, she and her child will be supported by the taxpayer.

She is expected to move into a housing complex for single mothers and will receive supplementary benefit and child allowance for her baby.

The youngster, who is due to have a boy, said: ‘I’m not nervous. I’ve been around babies my whole life so I know what to expect and that I can handle it. The father isn’t involved and I don’t want him to be either. I’m really excited and think I will be a great mum.’

Now there are two responses to this from people who profess to be Christians. The first response, my response, is to make a general argument against having sex before marriage, using the latest statistics to show the harm that fatherlessness causes to children, and more evidence besides. My response is not to pick on any one person, but to set moral boundaries, to make moral judgments against the selfishness of parents, and to not celebrate and subsidize anything that will harm innocent children. I defend the right of children to grow up in a loving home with two biological parents. However, even a general argument using evidence does make some people feel bad, so I am judged as “mean”.

But there is another response. This response comes from someone who professes to be a Christian, but they are actually a “God wants me to be happy and to be nice to people so they will like me and then we’ll all be happy” person. They would never dream of judging anyone for anything they do. And they are very angry with me for getting my moral rules out of that horrible Bible, and for using facts and evidence to make people feel bad. They believe in compassion, which is the idea that says that the moral boundaries of the Bible are false, and that we have to celebrate and subsidize any and every variation on the traditional family, regardless of the harm caused, so that the selfish adults don’t feel bad about their destructive choices.

And what do we make of a person who feels that saying “it’s wrong” is mean, because it makes a guilty person feel bad? Well, here is the truth. A person who argues against the Bible based on the happy-feelings model is no friend of God, and no friend of the victims of selfish actions. They may think that they are being a good person by affirming the decision of the 15-year old to have a child with no father, but they are not good. Stealing money from their neighbors without providing anything in return isn’t good either. They may satisfied their invented happy-feelings God, but they have grieved the real God, and hurt the real child. And they did it by refusing to set clear moral boundaries.

Positive arguments for Christian theism

23 thoughts on “Is Christianity false or is it just mean and judgmental?”

  1. Situations like this leave very little room for a not making a insightful observation and judgement (Please note – there is a VAST difference between observation and judgement).

    Here is a example:

    “She claims she has always encouraged her daughters to use contraception”

    Does this strike anyone as illegal beside immoral ? ( I dont know the age in England for sexual intercourse but I would have to venture to guess it is higher than the age of 15).
    – Did the mother encouraged the daughter to break the law ?
    – Is the mother capable of raising her daughter ?
    – Did the mother inform the daughter that sex between minors is illegal ?

    It is cases exactly like this that ‘encourage’ mandatory federal/state education. While the course may not mention morality (ie bastard children) it is against the law for minors to engage in sexual intercourse. In addition, could the mother be a aid in this matter by encouraging her daughter to have protected sex ?

    Please note, these are casual observations and not judgements. I believe by not passing judgement, further harm is done.

    I believe, this is one of the reasons why God removed Adam / Eve from the garden which prevented them from eating of the Tree of Life and being eternally condemned / separated from God. God meant what He said when He told Adam/Eve not to touch the tree (they believed a mammoth lie from Satan rather than believe God).

    Back on topic – I have a great idea !

    Lets lobby to start a national program with tax payers money to inform and support protected sex of underage illegitimate children from single parents who born illegitimate (bastard) children.

    Like

    1. I love to make judgments, and I think judging is good. And my judgment is that your idea should be made into policy. I will inform Michele Bachmann using my powers of ESP, in which I don’t believe.

      Like

      1. I agree that the modern mantra of “making any kind of judgement is always bad” is terrible and has tragic consequences. However, I think that in our zeal to avoid the trap of postmodernism, Christians need to recognize the numerous warnings in Scripture against judgment. Not only did Jesus explicitly warns us against judging others (Matt. 7:1-5) but in several other places the Bible condemns judgement (Romans 2:1-3; James 2:4). So is judgement right or wrong? I think the biblical answer is that judgement (discerning right from wrong; discerning good behavior from bad behavior) is good and vital. But at the same time, we must never, ever exercise judgement in a way that exalts us or our own behavior. We need to recognize that it is all to easy for fallen humans to go from saying “adultery is wrong” to saying “I thank you God that I am not like other men.” According to Jesus, I am just as much an adulterer as the most sexually promiscuous person on the face of the Earth. A huge dose of humility is always essential when judging behavior. There but for the grace of God go we. We should always recognize and admit the sin in our own hearts before confronting it in the world around us.

        Like

        1. I agree with the first half about judging being good with the limitation you specified. But the idea that thoughts of adultery are as bad as adultery is just wrong. This is Jesus using hyperbole in order to take the Pharisees down a notch. I do this all the time myself. In fact, I probably picked it up from reading Jesus in the Sermon on the Mount, etc.

          Like

          1. WK, I agree that Jesus used hyperbole. But he always used hyperbole to illustrate a very serious point. For instance, in what immediately follows his statement equating lust with adultery, Jesus says “If your right eye causes you to stumble, gouge it out and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to be thrown into hell. And if your right hand causes you to stumble, cut it off and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to go into hell.” Obviously, Jesus is not teaching self-mutilation, but he is teaching that sin is horrifying and that we need to take absolutely whatever steps we can to avoid it. In the same way, I think he equates lust with adultery and anger with murder to show us that in God’s eyes lust is indeed as hideous as adultery, even if adultery is more destructive and less socially acceptable. His point throughout the Sermon on the Mount is to show us how far short we fall of God’s law so that we cry out for a Savior.

            Incidentally, this is exactly the same point that Paul and James make elsewhere. Although there are “degrees of sin” in terms of its destructiveness, its willfulness, or its consequences, all sin is ultimately damnable. For instance, James says “For whoever keeps the whole law and yet stumbles at just one point is guilty of breaking all of it.” Jesus, James, and Paul are not just taking the Pharisees down a notch; they are taking us all down a notch! Until we see the depth of our own sin, we will never truly come to Jesus for salvation. We’ll still be trusting in our own basic decency and “righteousness” to save us, which is .exactly the terrible mistake the Pharisees made.
            -Neil

            Like

          2. You’re right about all of this, but I do think I should point out that not all sins are equal, and the degree of punishment in Hell is proportional to the sins committed. Although any one sin is enough to condemn a person to Hell, which is why the acceptance and appropriate of Jesus’ sacrifice to pay for our sins is vital. I don’t want to be answering for my sins on that day, big or small.

            Like

  2. Right on! You might add that in our postmodern Christian culture this “don’t make anyone feel bad” theology is viewed as the new definition of “Christ-like love” that is demanded of all true followers of Jesus. Of course that requires us to cut out of our Bibles all instances of Jesus’ making anyone feel bad, all instances of Jesus’ warning against false prophets (didn’t Jesus say “Judge not…”), etc.

    Like

  3. I think the best example given in the scriptures is the woman caught in adultery in John 8.

    What is often missed in this particular record:
    – She knew it was wrong.
    – Had to be scared out of her mind-she was facing a legal execution.
    – The man was nowhere to be found (ie typical).

    I freely admit I admire the reply given by religious crowd and Christ. However, current thinking (ie secular & Christian churches ) by removing the judgement, consequences, and stigma – it supports the behavior.

    The Christian stance given is one of protection, positive enablement, and direction:

    John 8:10-11
    …”Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?”She said, “No one, Lord.” And Jesus said, “Neither do I condemn you; go, and from now on sin no more.

    Like

    1. Wk’s right, it’s not in any of the best and oldest manuscripts. The translators know this, but they put it in anyway with a note telling the reader exactly what we’ve just said.

      Like

  4. Peter Hitchens recently posted about the fact the Bible makes clear distinctions between the deserving and undeserving poor.

    The response from one reader was that because there wasn’t an easily discernible line, we should just treat them all as deserving.

    Seriously.

    Like

    1. So what do you feel of the opposing argument that since there is no easily discernable line, we should treat them all as undeserving?

      The “discernable line” is something only defined based on the lens through which you look for it. I know of many who think that no one is deserving, because they hear of a sin and forget their own.

      Like

      1. Great observation – something to consider since the new covenant is obedience to Christ and the teaching of the apostles and direction of the Holy Spirit.

        There are plenty of scriptures in regards to judgement within the body of Christ – here are a couple

        Jude
        22And of some have compassion, making a difference:
        23And others save with fear, pulling them out of the fire; hating even the garment spotted by the flesh.

        1 Cor 5
        11 But now I have written unto you not to keep company, if any man that is called a brother be a fornicator, or covetous, or an idolater, or a railer, or a drunkard, or an extortioner; with such an one no not to eat.
        12For what have I to do to judge them also that are without? do not ye judge them that are within?
        13 But them that are without God judgeth. Therefore put away from among yourselves that wicked person.

        How many churches in the good ole USA are requesting their members who are knowingly doing these things to leave the church ? God always judges those closest to Him (ie His children).

        What is quite often missed is our life at that time, our roles in the Kingdom, are determined by the way we conduct ourselves today.

        Like

  5. To what extent is our “don’t make anyone feel bad” prevailing church culture fueled by our litigious legal culture that says in effect: “If you make me feel bad, I’ll take you to the cleaners in civil court”?

    Church discipline for seriously destructive sin among its members is history in churches more concerned about staying out of court than about the holiness of the body of Christ.

    Is such timidity a form of cruelty rather than real brotherly love? Is this posture rebuked by 1Tim 1:7?

    Like

  6. While I have to wrinkle my nose at the woman described in your article — as someone who is obviously quite selfish — I think that using it as an argument against single women with children in general is dangerous. You can’t “unbirth” children, you can’t murder them, and you can’t “give them away.” Besides the fact that law has made finding homes difficult, the public adoption system is horrendously broken — and that comes completely independant of that fact that giving up your children for adoption because you’ve become single is just downright idiotic and cruel.

    If you have a child, and you choose to take care of it and you do your best to see to their well being, then that is the best that you can do. Christians often, however, never see that: they see that you had a baby, you’re alone, and you’re obviously a bad person because you don’t spend every waking moment of your life on your knees. If it was a “bastard”, that should not make it a leper in our society, but some ‘Christians’ make it so. It’s a MISTAKE, and having to raise a child on your own in this society is its own punishment. Being the victim of a man who walks out on you is even worse, since at the end of the day many churches will welcome the man and say it was the woman’s fault — a response that is terribly akin to the one you’d see in backwater Islamic countries.

    Like

    1. Sarah,

      I came from a broken home of alcoholism and domestic violence. My mother went back to school at 48, worked full time, took care of my brother, grandmother (dementia), and myself and never dated. She is the most Godly woman and least selfish person I know. God placed 2 men of absolute integrity in my life to learn from ( He is a father to the fatherless – Gods word is true).

      Many single mothers I know have no interest in real Godly men. They are having to much fun being single, rediscovering their youth, and getting breast augmentations. Ironically, they wonder where are the good men ? Quite often, women want a church attender and not a real disciple of Christ. Actually following the teachings of Christ & the Apostles is too demanding (Btw, I dont have problem dating women across in their 20-40 age range, however, I still prefer women my own age). Finding real Christians in the church is difficult ( I estimate a handful in every church who are really seeking Christ and obey Him – See Rev 2 & 3)

      I know of no church that would embrace a man such as my father and not my mother – none. In fact, if one doesn’t have a good reason for divorce or if they have illegitimate children they should be shunned – if one professes Christ and lives in adultery then they are not a Christian and should be put out – that is what the scriptures says. Chances are when the consequences catch up they will be back “banging on the door” to ask for help and repenting ( that is how it should be, remember the prodigal son ? )

      However, to accept it without passing judgement is encouraging the behavior. Btw, I know of a woman who had left her husband for another man and had two children while still married. To date, neither of the men want her and there are 4 children( 2 from each guy). She is out looking to trap another man with pregnancy !!!!!!! She hasn’t learned yet and it is the kids who take the hit.

      Btw, in review of the article posted and how the 15 year old followed in the mothers footsteps ( frightening). I now understand why God told Israel to kill the men, women, children of the conquered lands.

      Like

      1. I am not saying that there are no bad women out there — but I do fear that a lot of “Christian” people think so. Christians often practice condemnation by default. If you KNOW a woman is just treating her kids like accessories while they go wild, then fine. But if you DON’T know the facts? Why are you trying to run them away from God, or damn them? What right have you as a mortal to do that?

        Take the case of my aunt. You said you know of no churches that would blame the woman and not the man in that kind of situation. She married a man and brought him into our church, where he got along with a lot of the other people. She even worked there as a day care specialist for people during services. Well, a few years ago she discovered that this man was selling crack cocain out of my grandmother’s house and keeping it in their home. He brought it around her son and around the very young children my grandma babysat. She told him to stop, he didn’t. She told him to get out. (To make matters worse, they had recently discovered a child this man had had with another woman — a hooker — who was training the CHILD to become a hooker. The girl’s real name was even a generic hooker name, and at the tender age of 12, she knew nothing of how to be a normal child. My aunt and grandmother took this girl in because she was abandoned, and after the divorce, this “father” sent the kid away and said he had no idea where she went.)

        The church, in response to hearing of their divorce, told her they didn’t want her looking after the kids anymore, and that she wasn’t welcome to the services because of what she had done. Where is the right in this? None of my family has returned to a church since (other aunts and cousins and grandmother included) because we are not welcome.

        And your last paragraph makes it sound like you condone genecide because of a story about a child raised to be ignorant by an even more ignorant woman. I don’t even know how to respond to that.

        Like

        1. Thanks for this story Sarah.

          Now I don’t think that you’re going to like what I’m going to say next, because it’s going to sound mean and judgmental. I think there are three parties to blame here. The first party is your aunt. No one forced to choose this horrible man, who was already horrible when she met him. It’s her responsibility to vet him with a list of questions like the ones I posted in the other post, and to load him up with duties and obligations that make sure that he is ready, willing and able to take on the duties of protector, provider and moral/spiritual leader. She has a responsibility to do her due diligence to make sure that the man she chooses will be able to fill those roles. You can see from my list of questions that I have no problem pushing women away from me with extreme prejudice, and I think that women have that same responsibility to equip themselves and to be able to tell a good man from a bad one. When you ask a man questions and impose obligations on him, a good man will respond and a bad man will push back, rationalize, avoid, and refuse to engage. He will have all kinds of excuses why he doesn’t have to read anything, know anything, or do anything. He will instead be focused on getting his physical needs met, etc. That’s when women need to kick him to the curb, and the sooner the better, no matter how good he is in the criteria that the world considers to be important. I think there are bad men in the world, but it’s no use complaining about them when we choose them – they were already bad when we got there! The right thing to do is to take responsibility for making good choices with men. I know a lot of Christian women who read this blog who have been tempted by non-Christian men and there was ENORMOUS pressure on them to settle. But they chose not to. Non-Christian men seem to have this desire to trick and seduce Christian women away from their faith by appealing to a woman’s emotions with pre-mature romantic talk. It is enormous hard on them to see all of their female friends getting attention from non-Christian men while they are left to wait patiently, and there is enormous pressure on them to settle for a non-Christian, even to just get some basic attention.

          And that leads me to the second group who is responsible for this. CHRISTIAN MEN. This is something that my excellent female blog readers alerted me to that I had never dreamed of before. It turns out that Christian men have an obligation to give attention, approval and mentoring to Christian women to enable them to make good choices. What Christian men do is treat Christian women like sisters. They invest in them buy giving them books to read, by talking to them, by making them right and debate, and by encouraging every good thing that a Christian should be able to do. The most important Christian man who must do this is the woman’s father – which is why it is important that her mother choose a suitable Christian man for the job. You didn’t say anything about the father, but I would suspect that he was not proficient in apologetics, economics, etc. – all the things that stop relationships from being about emotions, and make relationships into being about serving God effectively. There is much more to having a relationship than romance and fun – there is learning how to make a marriage work, how to prepare to deal with the state, how to influence children to make them effective for the Lord, how to understand the needs of the opposite sex, how to test the opposite sex, etc. Christian men should have the view that it is their job to prepare women for marriage, no matter how messed up they are in the beginning. Men don’t have to go all the way to marriage, they just have to move the woman along without touching her so that she is able to be adequate for marriage. And that means mentoring her, but also giving her emotional support SO THAT she is not tempted by bad men. And I think the biggest

          Thirdly, I blame the church somewhat, but not in the way you think. I am all for the church setting out moral boundaries on who can raise the children, be a pastor, teach classes and so on, and I don’t think that their primary role is to make everyone feel happy by lowering more boundaries. I think that the church’s job is to teach apologetics, economics, politics, marriage, etc. – all the things I write about on my blog, and more, so that men and women who go to church are being constantly challenged to understand that marriage is not something that just flows effortlessly out of a romantic attraction. If every church decided that every child had to be able to answer that list of questions I posted by age 18, then we would have a lot less divorce, and a lot more effective children. The church has to stop lowering the bar for children and to instead raise the bar. Stop making church about singing, music, and fun, and start making it about things like the Laffer curve, the cosmic microwave background radiation, 1 Corinthians 15:3-7, and the grounding objection. Until we put aside the ridiculous notion that you can get effective marriages from a state uninformed Christians, we are never going to see the end of tragedies like this. If we don’t step up and define what marriage is about – not romantic emotional bliss, but an informed desire to love another person – then we will never see the end of these tragedies.

          Sorry if I spoke too bluntly. It’s 4:10 AM and I am on another production deployment call. I am actually the technical lead, but we are waiting for some overnight processing to finish. This probably isn’t the best time for me to comment, so please be lenient.

          Like

        2. Well, I agree a lot with WK as far as the aunt’s choice of who to marry – she obviously didn’t get to know the guy as well as she should have.

          However, I have a real problem with that church. The Bible gives three valid reasons for divorce (Roman Catholics say there is no reason); sexual immorality, abuse and abandonment (although usually abuse was considered a form of abandonment, so you really have only two reasons). Your aunt was apparently the innocent party with a husband involved in sexual immorality, which makes her divorce a biblical divorce. Ergo, there should be no punitive measures taken against her.

          Like

          1. Huh? The Roman Catholic Church allows ‘annulment’ for various reasons including the ones you mentioned. After getting a Church annulment if one get’s a divorce, the Catholic Church doesn’t stop that person from marrying again. Of course, I do know nullifying a marriage is different from dissolving it. But that’s the way Catholic Church goes about for valid reasons, so what you said isn’t true.

            Like

  7. Shalini,

    NO, the Roman Catholic church is anti-divorce. They made up this “annulment” thing, which is totally unbiblical. A couple could be married for 40 years with 10 children and then one of them can concoct some reason why the marriage should not have taken place and the Church gives an “annulment” as if the marriage never happened. So a civil divorce is accepted after that because they say the marriage was never valid. That is as unbiblical as it gets.

    There could be only ONE reason for nullifying a marriage and that would be if there was no consummation and the parties decided not to go through with it after the ceremony was done.

    I suggest you look at the Catechism paras. 1650-51, 2382-86.

    Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s