I’m a Christian and I know what that means. I know, but most of the world seems to know what I should be. Whatever you believe, other people will try to make you into what they want you to be. You might hear ‘You people should …’ They have a preferred image for people like you and you are wrong if you don’t do follow the program.Unmarried marriage counsellors don’t play the game, but they do make the rules.
When I was a student in a university, I took a course from a professor that we all liked. He was an excellent teacher, and we all enjoyed learning with him. He also talked openly about his connections with a church, and my family went to a church; I thought we had something in common. One day I had an appointment in his office, and after we finished talking about my assignment, I told him that my family went to … church. I expected a smile, at least.
I still remember that severe look on his face, like I was a criminal. Now, many years later, I remember his exact words; “Oh, so you’re a literalist?” That was stunning. I didn’t know what he meant, but it was clear to me I was in big trouble. If you don’t know the system at a university, a lowly student like me should never offend a tenured senior faculty member. The system is medieval and I wanted to graduate with my head still on my shoulders. There was more in that conversation than one word “literalist.”
I’m still not sure what he meant, but it was clear that he didn’t like the church my parents took me to. Really, he hated that place. It felt like he didn’t like the colour of my skin, or something else that I could not change. For me “literalist” was his academic-professor way of swearing at people like me. I wasn’t worthy.
Today, that church is still going, and it is quite large. We don’t go there, but some of my relatives do, and they seem OK with it. That word “literalist” probably meant people who believe what they read in the Bible. I am guilty of that, now. I don’t see the point in going to a church if you don’t believe. Go golfing or something.
After that conversation in the office, I left quietly and never went back. I avoided that prof for the rest of my academic career, and in time, I graduated and moved on with my life. I didn’t want to fail his course, but also, I was offended that a person in power rejected me and my family in such a bigoted way. I make choices in my life, and I wanted the freedom to live out my choices. I wanted to belong to me.
There is no future in being a puppet of sneering and superior people.
For Christians like me, the words in the Bible are “Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind” (Romans 12:2). It’s my duty to be free.
A video is circulating on the Internet showing a religious argument, and the Christian is braver than me. I would probably just leave, but he defends his right to be what he wants to be. In a verbal wrestling match, he is able to answer someone who calls him stupid. He can say, ‘this is me.’
If I can’t be me, who can I be? One person that I respect is the actor Denzel Washington. I like his statement in an interview “I am a human being.” I know, one of his choices as a human being, is to be a Christian.
Whatever we are, the best option is freedom, and your freedom is not convenient for some important people. I hope you are able to defend who you are. It’s the work of a lifetime.
Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect, keeping a clear conscience, so that those who speak maliciously against your good behavior in Christ may be ashamed of their slander. (1 Peter 3: 15 and 16)