Saturday, August 12, 2006

I Love My Atheist

I spent a glorious morning by myself, watching TV. Ok, before you shake your head and run off, let me tell you what I watched. I found this show called 30 Days, a reality show on FX. I'd seen a part of a preview for it last night. The next show was to be about an atheist going to live with a Christian family for 30 Days.

Was I intrigued? You bet. Funny thing is, I had no clue when it would be on. I got up this morning, watched my show, then, reluctant to leave my cozy chair, I flipped through the channel guide and low and behold, there it was. I quickly switched it on and snuggled into my chair.

I found it very fascinating to watch how this Christian couple interacted with the atheist. The wife seemed to get the naturalist standpoint this woman came from, but the husband seemed to really struggle with the idea that their guest didn't believe in any higher power what-so-ever. I can understand that. I've had similar discussions with my husband. The idea can take some getting used to.

As the show progressed it was obvious this couple's goal was to show compassion and understanding to their atheist guest. She was a wife, a mother, a regular human being living her life as she believed she should. She also seemed to gain a greater understand of Christians in that they shared similar goals. To live their lives as they believed.

Toward the end they all gave their final input. The husband talked about realizing that just because this family didn't believe in God, didn't mean they were amoral people. They had standards they lived by, they were a happy family living "the good life," and chose to live by a different belief system.

Now, don't misunderstand my point here, nor this man's. I share his belief that the only way to salvation is through Jesus Christ. This is not the issue on the table here. What struck me again was that he had believed prior to this experience, that if you were atheist, you were immoral and unable to live decent life.

I've run into this several times. When we lived in Europe, I joined a small group Bible study in my neighborhood. One of the young women in the group was very outspoken in her faith. We had a gathering at a friend's one night and everyone was invited, including our families. I brought my husband and introduced him to my new friends.

The next time I saw this young woman, she told me she was amazed my husband was such a nice man. What did she expect, the boogeyman? I've since run into this mentality several times, once recently.

The Bible addresses this in Romans 2: 14-15:
13 For it is not those who hear the law who are righteous in God's sight, but it is those who obey the law who will be declared righteous. 14 (Indeed, when Gentiles, who do not have the law, do by nature things required by the law, they are a law for themselves, even though they do not have the law, 15 since they show that the requirements of the law are written on their hearts, their consciences also bearing witness, and their thoughts now accusing, now even defending them.) 16 This will take place on the day when God will judge men's secrets through Jesus Christ, as my gospel declares.
God recognized that some people would live by the "law" naturally. It even talks about the requirements being written on their hearts. They know right from wrong. Atheism doesn't mean you don't know right from wrong, it means you don't beleive in God. Seeing this quick association and assumption as to what an atheist is makes me wonder if we've come to associate religion with morals in the strictest sense. And I'm seeing how destructive assumptions truly can be.

Speaking from a personal standpoint. My husband is one of the most moral people I've ever met. He's also one of the most forgiving people I've ever known. Does that surprise you? It does me sometimes in the sense that I expect that from my Christian community, yet see it exibited in my atheist husband more.

I think watching this show really helped me to affirm the difference between "agreeing to disagree" vs. judigng vs. tolerance. I can still love my husband even though he's chosen to reject God. In fact, God commands me to. Just like he commands us to love our neighbor. He didn't say judge them worthy to love. He just said to love them.

The Bible says to overcome evil with good. I personally believe that has to come from love. I want more than anything to see my husband embrace Jesus as his savior, but the judging part, that I'm leaving up to God. For me, it's simple. I love my atheist.


Jennifer Tiszai said...

I was just thinking today in particular about how we as Christians seem to be so willing to sit in judgment of others. I'm not sure why that is.

And I bet your husband is a cool guy because he married you. :)

Heather Diane Tipton said...

I have to agree with Jen. He's a cool guy because he married you.

Great post. Love you girl!

:-)Ronie said...

Neen - Your hubby is a *most impressive* man. He is so pleasant and sweet-spirited.

Ignorance fuels foolishness...we see it all the time in everday life and in prejudices.

Heather said...

Great post. Imago Dei and all that jazz.

Spiritually Unequal Marriage said...


Wise words!! It is not our place to judge the heart of others. Jesus will handle that job. I can only examine myself. You are right, love is the key to revealing the truth to others.

Be blessed!!

Gina Holmes said...

Wow, well said.

Camy Tang said...

That's a really great post, Dineen! Something I hadn't really thought out to myself. This will change the way I think about atheists.

Tracey, in MI said...

Tagged! CHeck here for more info:)

Then stop by and visit me..... then post your own;) Have fun!

Betsy Ann said...

Hey I tagged you too! Now you really have to do it! hehe

Robin Caroll said...

Who are we to judge anyone else by our own standards? And, excuse me, but doesn't the Bible tell us we are only to hold accountable our brothers and sisters in Christ....for those who don't believe, isn't God the only one to sit and pass judgement? Hmmm

Michelle Pendergrass said...

From a former atheist--thank you. From a Christian--thank you.

I'm afraid that there are a lot of well-meaning Christians out there but to me it looks like they've went by way of the Pharisees.

I have an athiest best friend.
A homosexual born-again best friend.
A Christian best friend.
One of my friends was a stripper. More than one have had abortions. We never thought we were "bad" people. We loved each other, we loved our families, we loved our friends. We are passionate, we love to cook and get together. We loved life and lived it to the fullest that we knew how to live.

I could go on. We are quiet the motley crew (Yes, I did used to like them...a lot) ;)

When a Christian sent by God to save my soul and lead me to the Lord judged my atheism, it did nothing but ignite my passion to never be like that.

I want people to understand the God that loves you no matter what. (NO MATTER WHAT.) The God that carries you just because He loves you and no other reason. The God that loved the atheist (me) enough to show me. The God that watched that my friend at the tender age of 13 accept Him into her heart--the same God that loves her today, even though she's living with another woman. The same God that loves me when I slip up and lie. The God that loved my uncle enough to save Him in his addiction and carry Him home when the fight was too much.

You've hit on a hot-button issue for me. Thanks for saying it the way you have.

CHickey said...

Wonderful post! It's the "unsaved" that Christ came to save. It gives my heart a jolt when I run across someone who doesn't believe. To me, believing is so simple. What's the point of living if there isn't something better after we pass on. But, although my heart may ache for that person, I don't shun them. I've always tried to "judge" a man by who he is. It is sometimes our actions that may sway an unbeliever into becoming a believer.

Craig Alan Hart said...

I believe we as Christians need to be careful about the treatment of others who believe differently. Not that we have a "whatever" attitude, but understanding that they are entitled to their own beliefs and aren't necessarily ax murderers simply because they don't agree with us.

I've seen a disturbing tendency on the part of fellow Christians to shy away from unbelievers, as if they are afraid they will be somehow "tainted." Unbelievers are actual human beings and deserve love and respect. It is only by first gaining their trust and friendship that we have any hope of sharing our own knowledge of truth in a meaningful way.

Dineen A. Miller said...

Thanks for all the afirmation, guys. I really appreciate it. Wasn't sure how well this topic would go over. It's close to my heart, just like my hubby. :-)