When Your Christian Friends Give You Reconversion Homework

I have several well-meaning believers in my life. These people, for good or for ill, often come to me with requests:

“Will you come to church with me?”

“Will you read the book of John for me?”

“Will you listen to this song for me?”

So far, I’ve only said no to one of these offers. Shortly after my mother discovered my deconversion, she said to me, “If I send you a Bible, will you read it?” I politely, but firmly, told her no.

A simple assignment isn’t going to “fix me”

I’m not inside the mind of the people who make these requests, but I imagine they believe that if I do what they ask me to do, it will cause me to discover Jesus, the RealJesus™. I understand why they want me to convert; it’s the same ole spiel, if you truly think people go to hell without Jesus, of course you want to spread your world view.

But I don’t think they understand why their technique doesn’t work.

I’ve read the Bible many, many times. In high school, I listened to a substantial amount of Christian music. I’ve been to a plethora of churches. They aren’t introducing me to anything I’m not familiar.

In a way, this is an extension of my “Condescension Isn’t Kindness” post and my “Please Stop Trying to Explain Why People Leave the Church” post. People are trying to be kind in how they approach me, but they still ultimately believe they can change my world view book-1209805_1920with a simple act. Like their instruction can revive my faith in a way that my prayers and own Bible study didn’t.

If there was a one-size fits all path to reconversion, modern Christians would have found it by now. I do think reconversion is possible; I’m not one of those atheists who thinks that those who return to the faith were never actual atheists. I think its healthy for beliefs to change and evolve. I could eventually start believing in God again, but I don’t personally think so.

But rereading books of the Bible that I’ve read time and time again aren’t doing it for me. Listening to worship song after worship song isn’t doing it for me. I haven’t been to church in well over a year, but I’ve accepted invitations that no one has ever taken me up on. If what I had been doing didn’t stop me from leaving the faith, why would it bring me back?

I didn’t leave the faith at a time where I was distant from my faith. I went to church every Sunday. I was involved in a small group. I was close friends with a pastor at my church and his wife. I read and studied the Bible frequently.

But I still left.

The man who asked me to read the Book of John is a man I respect a lot. He’s asked me to pray and say, “God, if you’re real, please make me feel something as I read this book.” I plan on doing this for him, but, after this, I no longer plan to indulge such requests from Christians.

Equal opportunity potential convert

If a Buddhist or a Muslim or what-have-you asks me to do something, I’ll likely do one or two things, just to keep it fair. I have a copy of the Qur’an gifted to me from the Masjid in Oxford that I’ve never read. I have read the Bhagavad Gita which, to be perfectly honest, really shook up my world view.

The closest thing I have to a belief in God right now is my Ganesha necklace, made from a chain and pendant purchased at my local Michael’s. I put it on and said to myself, “Remove all the obstacles in my path,” several times. It’s likely just placebo, but I do feel better while I wear the pendant. Regardless of any potential supernatural powers, it’s pretty and I enjoy wearing it. That’s enough for now.

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6 thoughts on “When Your Christian Friends Give You Reconversion Homework

  1. When friends have asked me if I’d read this or that, I tell them “yes” but I ask if they would likewise read something I’d suggest (a Bart Ehrman book, for example). The conversation always ends there. They never want to reciprocate.

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    1. I’ve given my mother a book to read. It doesn’t even argue against Christianity, it simple tells the story of a mother and daughter who struggle through their faith differences. As far as I know, she hasn’t read it.

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      1. That’s a shame. I guess for many (especially the elderly?), the fear can be quite intense to even read something that *might* be construed as open minded or anti-religious. 😦

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    2. I did the same. You’re right. They are never interested in a discussion. And when I’ve tried to be magnanimous and just read it, they seldom want to hear your honest thoughts about it.

      Sometimes it feels like they’re feeding “verse” quarters into a slot machine, hoping one little pull will line up all the symbols and hit the jackpot.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. It really blew my mind – I found a verse in the Bible that Christians use to say that men have authority over women, but a verse with similar construction in Sikh teachings was used to affirm the total and complete equality of men and women.I think what a lot of believers don’t understand is the struggle there is with the secondary teachings (which some consider to be of first importance) and the obstacles they pose to people outside of their married with kids ideal structure. I find a lot of people leaving Christianity agree with the heart of Jesus’ message: love others, treat others as you would want them to be treated, help the poor, speak out for the oppressed – but don’t get why Christians are often anti-poor (helping them is entitling them) anti-abortion (if you’re so interesting in babies being born, why aren’t you involved with orphanages and adopting them?) anti-lgbt (so God didn’t really mean “love” did he?) etc. It’s this disconnect that shows between preaching and practice – there’s a whole realm of things that Christians get wrong or miss entirely.

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