Dear Religious People,
Let’s get just a bit real here until we are uncomfortable. This thought attacked me in the middle of the night as I was trying to sleep much earlier than I needed to and now I’ll let it torture you as well. As you were filling that University Application and they asked what your Religious Affiliation is, did you tick Christian? Muslim? Hindu? Buddhist? Did you understand what you were ticking? Or why you were ticking it? I’m more familiar with Christianity so I’ll address this from a Christian point of view, but for any readers from other denominations and religions, please feel free to apply this to your own circumstances because the principle is the same in as much as the practices will differ.
I was having a debate with a friend of mine, concerning homosexuality; for those who know me, they know that this is one of the longest thorns in my flesh. As I was in the throes of shooting out my moot points like Pacquiao against Mayweather (rigged), the defendant said something that at the time, I did not consider until after the phone call. She said, “Have you ever met a homosexual? Are you even friends with any of them? I am and if it was not for my religion I’d definitely be okay with it. They are some of the sweetest people I know.” Of course at the time I was trying to wrack my brains, wondering whether I had any gay friends. Well, there really weren’t any. She was right. I felt strange because I thought she had made a good point, and she made sure I remembered that my decision was out of bias and that I had no personal experience. Later on, it hit me that I actually did not need any gay friends. If I claim to be a Christian, it is clear what the Bible says about homosexuality so why do I need gay friends?
To the religious person reading this, let me give you a few definitions real quick:
- Religion: according to the Merriam Webster definition, religion is “ the service and worship of God or the supernatural; commitment or devotion to religious faith or observance; a personal set or institutionalized system of religious attitudes, beliefs and practices”
- Cultural Christian: people who call themselves Christians because of heritage or culture
- Congregational Christian: Christians who have some connection to the local church, but rarely attend
- Convictional Christian: Christians who call themselves Christians but attend church services regularly, are saved and order their lives around their faith convictions
I am writing this not because I am perfect, hell no. But because I need you to think about all this, just as I am.
This starts getting real here.
We call ourselves Christians; true, in fact, 60% of Kenya’s population identifies as Christian according to a survey done by religiouspopulation.com in 2014 and 70-75% of Americans identify as Christian. That’s great yes? Then you start to see the breakdown of who actually devotes to living their life as a Christian and you get shocked. Cultural Christians are the most; they tick in every application form that they are Christian because their parents are Christian; because their entire lineage identifies as Christian, yet they never go to church, have never picked up a Bible, do not know how to pray and are definitely not saved. That’s not who I want to deal with, let’s talk to the congregational Christians.
So, Congregational Christians are those of us who actually go to Church albeit not as often as other Christians would like us to; we live our lives with Christian precepts at the back of our minds but our pursuit of personal worldly pleasures at the forefront. We may believe in God, we believe in heaven and eternal life but we also believe that in this life, we need to enjoy every pleasure that God has granted us in our own ways, at our own times and with our own methods. We believe that we can sin and repent after because God is a forgiving God. We believe that we can maintain a balance between living a life of pursuit of personal gain and still end up in heaven because we frequently do good works of service to God. We believe that personally we are religious buffs who know what God has promised us but openly we champion for homosexuality to be accepted into society because they are people too (no one denied that) and for people to drink but not get drunk and disorderly (who even thinks about that when they’re getting drunk) and that sleeping around is okay because everyone should mind their own business (yes yes, we are all guilty of that sometimes) and that it is okay to kill because someone has disrespected your religious cause (when has passionate murder ever been just?).
We essentially live a double life, on Sunday we are kneeling in mass, taking Holy Communion, praying and repenting because we all have skeletons in our closet. That’s all good; but it becomes a mess when our superficial intellectualism, pretentiousness and vague skepticism come into play. We sit in front of our computer screens and blog about how homosexuals should have rights, then we enter a law class or a Twitter conversation where we advocate for abortion to be legalized because everyone has a right to choice (but not to life?), then we sit for coffee with friends who encourage us to question the world by asking questions such as “Why are you so sure that God exists?” We think that if we try to stay above it all, “above the water” we can stay afloat, immersed in trying to be accepted by society by engaging with the “smart people” we surround ourselves with who question everything and believe in nothing. Then we turn around and also breathe the fresh air of “salvation in Jesus” because internally we know that we believe in Jesus for ourselves. We laugh when they laugh at us religious people and smile when they ask us to tell them the story of David and Bathsheba; we stay silent when they say that Christianity is a failed experiment that needs to be put to sleep forgetting that when Jesus died on the cross, He did it so that at moments like these we would have the confidence to speak up and remove at least one nail from that cross.
We ignore the nagging voice that resounds, saying that our faith is in direct contradiction to what these” smart people” are saying, but we refuse to move away because their company is refreshing. When we cannot ignore it any longer, because we are tired of keeping quiet and trying to reassure ourselves that “we are not the ones saying this, they are” we realize that we have been trying to be like them, free, seemingly intellectual and vain. But it is too late, because as human beings we often become the things that we have been pretending to be, and we become skeptical. We forget that sin is a desire to control our lives instead of letting Jesus take the wheel and we start going to church because that is what we have been doing, forgetting that our religion is our devotion to our God. In so doing, we develop two sets of religion: the one we feature God in and the one we feature society in. We reconcile our minds with this, lying to ourselves that it is okay to give God a platform to share with the world. LOL.
Dear religious people, I am not here to give a solution, I cannot, because I am just as flawed. The best I can do is share what I have realized and hope that some of you have the foresight to make a decision for yourselves. Will you honor God? Or will you make Him secondary to the deceptive, changing world that we are living in? Just keep in mind, the world is always changing, but Him? He stays the same.