When Christianity becomes too judgemental
I remember the day I learned about heaven and hell in Sunday school. My teacher told us that Jesus was the way to get into heaven, so I asked about my dad, who is Jewish. I asked if he could go to heaven, too.
She paused for a moment. “Well, sweetie, you have to believe in Jesus to get into heaven. So, I guess, no.”
I was seven years old. I never went back to that class.
I still find myself entangled in this debate. I was walking by the kiosk by the UMC when I saw posters for a CU secular society wrapped around it. I thought nothing of it, but a Christian I know said, “People just don’t get it. You have to believe in Jesus to get into heaven. These people are going to hell!”
I flashed back to an innocent question posed by an impressionable child, who ran out of class in tears. And now, 13 years later, I’m filled with the same doubts and fears when I hear Christians say these hurtful, judgmental words.
I am a Christian. I wasn’t raised Christian, it was a personal choice I made seven years ago. I didn’t grow up learning about Jesus. Instead, I grew up learning to love, accept, and tolerate all people, no matter who they are or what they believe.
So I find it disturbing when Christianity, a religion that is based on the idea of love, is intertwined with prejudice and intolerance.
The Bible says that Jesus is the way to salvation. So we Christians are supposed to believe that anyone who doesn’t accept Jesus is going to hell. On the other hand, Muslims believe that those who haven’t submitted themselves to Allah are going to hell.
But if Muslims were to casually say that Christians are going to hell for not believing in Allah, there would be an outcry.
Ironically, I hear many Christians complain about a lack of tolerance for their beliefs. Well, what do you expect? You tell people that nonbelievers will burn in hell and you expect them to shower you with respect? Why is it ok for Christians to be judgmental, but not members of other religions? Because we have Jesus on our side? I don’t think that’s what Jesus would do.
I think it’s fear that pushes us to condemn others to hell. Fear that we could be wrong, that what we believe isn’t the truth. Fear that we’re the ones going to hell. We don’t want to believe those things, so we say, “If he’s going to hell, that must mean I’m going to heaven. If I point out what he’s doing wrong, then I must be right.”
I admit, I’m scared for my dad. He’s my best friend, he’s my mentor, he’s my support. He strives to be a good person and to lead a good life, and I think he does a pretty damn good job. But because he isn’t a Christian, I’m supposed to believe he will spend eternity in hell.
Honestly, I don’t believe that. I realize that I’m supposed to believe that the Bible contains the full truth. So I’m a bad Christian. But I can’t bring myself to believe that the person I love most in this world is a sinner for not believing in Christ.
I’m not telling you to not believe in the Bible, or to change your entire belief system. I’m asking that you don’t judge my dad, or the other four billion nonbelievers, for not accepting your form of truth. If you want people to respect your beliefs, then you must be willing to do the same for others.
As I was browsing through pictures on Flickr.com, I saw an image that struck a chord with me. It was a picture of a man holding up a sign that read, “Sorry we Christians have been such jerks. We’re trying to fix that.” It was after the 2004 Presidential elections. Some days, I think all Christians should hang that sign from our necks.
It’s not our place to judge who’s going to hell and who’s not. Leave the judgments to God and accept those who believe something different than you. That’s what Jesus would do.
Contact Campus Press staff writer Marcy Franklin at email@example.com