On earth as it is in heaven — Don’t forget about family, relationships in this life
Hi, my name is Kaitlin and someday I’m going to die. When I do, I want to leave behind a world where I’ve been the best person I can be. I want to have more family and friends around me than I can count. I want people to remember me as loving, caring and accepting.
I don’t want to be remembered as a Christian.
I was raised as a Christian my entire young life. And not in the “go to church on major holidays and for an occasional funeral” kind of way. I went to church at least twice a week and my entire family was actively involved in every aspect of church function. I’ve been involved with and attended many churches across the U.S. as my family moved around. I’ve seen it all, and quite frankly I can’t stand the thought of seeing anymore.
The Christian church is so concerned with getting themselves and everyone else they see into heaven, they often do so at the cost of relationships. They are so concerned with eternal life they forget they have an equally, if not more, important life to live here on earth.
A recent Pew Research study found that for the first time in recorded history, Protestants are the minority in this country. At the same time, the number of those who consider themselves religiously unaffiliated is at an all-time high. Why is this?
The Barna Group conducted a research project comprised of eight national studies that assessed the reasons young people such as myself leave the church. One-fifth said, “the church is like a country club, only for insiders,” while another 25 percent said, “Christians demonize everything outside of the church.”
I’ve lost countless friendships and family relationships because I decided I didn’t agree with one or more aspect of Christian theology. I’m the worst kind of non-Christian … a former one. I know the intricacies of Christian theology and I choose to reject it. And I have friends and family who have in turn rejected me because of that.
Which is to say, every single one of those people put their doctrine and dogma before their relationships, and they don’t seem to care one bit. Their treasures are “in heaven,” and so the fact that they might miss out on a few relationships here and there doesn’t seem to bother them.
Let’s do a reverse Pascal’s Wager, a philosophic test that said there is more to be gained from a Christian lifestyle than from an atheistic lifestyle. Let’s say you are a Christian who alienates yourself from people who don’t view the world the same way you do. They might have different religious views, or maybe they just like chocolate cake and you don’t. It doesn’t matter if they are family or close friends, you don’t want to be in a relationship with people who might “lead you astray,” or who “don’t have God in their lives.” You do all of this to keep yourself pure. Keep yourself focused on achieving the ultimate goal as a Christian — eternal life.
Then you die. And none of it turns out to be real. God doesn’t exist. You just turn into worm food. The end.
But you’ve left behind a wake of destroyed relationships, devastated family members and demolished lives. That, then, is the legacy you leave. That is your eternal life and the way you will be remembered among the rest of us.
It makes no sense for Christians to be so exclusive. Why can’t Christians be Christians and also be loving and inclusive of those around them, whether they believe the same or not? Why can’t we focus on developing relationships with people rather than being sure they get to heaven? And if they decide they don’t want to be “saved,” why does that give us the right to suddenly treat them with disdain and ostracize them?
Please, for the love of all that is good, we need to stop focusing on what comes next and start appreciating what we have right now, in this life. There is no need to trample everyone else while on the road to eternity.
Kaitlin Moroney can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org