Overcoming the “Convert Everyone” Mentality
As I have left the faith this last year and half, I have watched old ideas shed themselves from my mind systematically. One of these ideas was the mentality that said I should always be paying attention to / worrying about what other people “think”.
The Protestant churches and schools I remember spent an inordinate amount of time with their finger to the wind of culture, constantly on high alert. Every slight change in culture or thinking outside the church should be brought to the attention of those in the church and critiqued for everyone’s “edification”. In particular, I remember spending a considerable amount of time discussing “post-modernism”, why it is bad, how it is bad, how we can counter it, and how we could witness to those confused post-modernists.
In many ways, I feel like some of the Christian commenters on this blog are doing this. They are here to “feel out” why people are leaving the faith, to get a sense of the changes in culture that are causing the church to lose members. I do not blame them for doing this. If one has the Absolute Truth of the Universe in their possession, it is only natural that they guard it – and themselves – from every “empty philosophy” the world offers.
But this post is not for them, it is for those who are leaving the faith and feel an overwhelming – and perhaps debilitating – responsibility to convert or immunize everyone around them from Christianity. In the time I have spent perusing blogs of ex-Christians, I have seen that there tends to be a period of militant anti-Christianity as people who are severely hurt by those beliefs try to protect everyone else from a similar fate. I went through this period myself.
But the other day it hit me that I no longer have the weight of the world’s ideas on my shoulder. It is no longer my responsibility to know what everyone else thinks, find the errors in their thoughts and beliefs, immunize myself from them, and “gently” and with “respect” correct them for being in opposition to the “Truth”. I feel a huge weight has been lifted from my shoulders.
I do not have to believe everything just right anymore. I do not have to walk around like an idea cop making sure everyone else believes everything just right anymore.
Recently I have had numerous opportunities to hang out with friends who were never involved in church. The peace in their eyes is so apparent. They are not weighed down with anxieties associated with beliefs and the associated tertiary existential dilemmas. They do not look at everyone around them and secretly think they are suffering from some deep void in their souls. They just don’t worry about it. What other people believe is other people’s business, not theirs.
What other people believe is their business, not mine.
As a Christian there was a consistent conscious push to turn every conversation into an “opportunity” into a way to “make the most of your time, because the days are evil”. This, for me at least, had produced a “convert everyone” mentality that still existed for quite some time even after I had left the faith.
But this attitude is something that Christianity taught and if I truly desire to enjoy my life and shed the old skin of Christianity, this is an attitude I do not want. If I want to convert other people, that is fine. But the burden that comes from the feeling that I must convert others can go.
And it has brought an even deeper sense of freedom. Christianity is slavery to slavery: slavery to sin to slavery to Christ. The freedom that comes from being a slave to neither is incredible. [And to those Christians who will say that I am a slave to sin now - and do not know it - my response is simple: if slavery to sin is so impotent that I cannot even notice it, I do not care that I am a slave to sin.]
Anyway, other people will believe what they want, and those who are gullible enough to fall for Christianity are not my divinely given responsibility. At least they will not end up in hell for believing something wrong.